Extraterrestrial news, from the skies above planet Earth and beyond, including strange or unusual news.

This artist's concept shows a hypothetical planet covered in water around the binary star system of Kepler-35A and B. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Searching for Planet B? Earth-Sized “Tatooine” Planets Could Be Habitable (4/12/2017) - By Elizabeth Landau, Jet Propulsion Laboratory With two suns in its sky, Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine in “Star Wars” looks like a parched, sandy desert world. In real life, thanks to observatories such as [...]
JPL's AREE rover for Venus is just one of the concepts selected by NASA for further research funding. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA Invests in 22 Visionary Exploration Concepts (4/10/2017) - By Andrew Good (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Gina Anderson (NASA HQ) A mechanical rover inspired by a Dutch artist. A weather balloon that recharges its batteries in the clouds of Venus. These are just two of the [...]
This illustration shows Cassini above Saturn's northern hemisphere prior to one of its 22 Grand Finale dives. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA’s Cassini Mission Prepares for “Grand Finale” at Planet Saturn (4/5/2017) - By Preston Dyches (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, [...]
Artist's concept of an atom chip for use by NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) aboard the International Space Station. CAL will use lasers to cool atoms to ultracold temperatures. Image Credit: NASA. NASA Wants to Create the Coolest Spot in the Universe with CAL (3/7/2017) - By Andrew Good, Jet Propulsion Laboratory This summer, an ice chest-sized box will fly to the International Space Station, where it will create the coolest spot in the universe. Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber [...]
The TRAPPIST-1 system contains a total of seven planets, all around the size of Earth. Three of them -- TRAPPIST-1e, f and g -- dwell in their star's so-called "habitable zone." The habitable zone, or Goldilocks zone, is a band around every star (shown here in green) where astronomers have calculated that temperatures are just right -- not too hot, not too cold -- for liquid water to pool on the surface of an Earth-like world. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA Telescope Reveals Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star (2/23/2017) - By Elizabeth Landau (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Felicia Chou and Sean Potter (NASA Headquarters) NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are [...]
This artist's concept illustrates a close-up view of a cool brown dwarf. Objects like this, drifting just beyond our solar system, have been imaged by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and could be discovered by Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA-funded Website Lets the Public Search for New Nearby Worlds (2/15/2017) - Written by Francis Reddy (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center), with Elizabeth Landau (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) NASA is inviting the public to help search for possible undiscovered worlds in the outer reaches of our solar system and in [...]
Aaron Curtis, a post-doctoral scholar at JPL, measures gases inside an ice cave. Carbon dioxide levels can be especially high inside the caves, so gas monitors are necessary for safety. Image: Dylan Taylor. JPL Tests Robotics in Ice Caves Near Active Volcano (2/13/2017) - Descent into a Frozen Underworld By Andrew Good, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, jpl.nasa.gov Mt. Erebus is at the end of our world — and offers a portal to another. It’s our planet’s southernmost active volcano, reaching 12,448 [...]
Supernova SN 2014C (Optical and X-Ray). Source: NASA JPL. NASA’s NuSTAR Finds New Clues to Chameleon Supernova (1/24/2017) - By Elizabeth Landau, Jet Propulsion Laboratory “We’re made of star stuff,” astronomer Carl Sagan famously said. Nuclear reactions that happened in ancient stars generated much of the material that makes up our bodies, our planet and [...]
The SBIRS GEO Flight 3 satellite will provide key capabilities in the areas of missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness once launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Source: Lockheed Martin. Watch Jan. 19 Launch of SBIRS Missile Warning Satellite (1/17/2017) - US Air Force, Lockheed Martin Prepare for Launch and Plan Live Viewing of Event By Lauren Fair, lmco.com The US Air Force and Lockheed Martin will launch the next Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite [...]
Artist's conception of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Kuiper Belt object, part of an extended mission after the spacecraft’s July 2015 Pluto flyby. New Horizons is set to fly past 2014 MU69 – a KBO currently about a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on January 1, 2019. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI NASA Hosts Facebook Live Jan. 19 on New Horizons Mission (1/17/2017) - By Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) and Michael Buckley (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory) Members of NASA’s New Horizons team will discuss the achievements of the first encounter with Pluto and look [...]
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland. NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries (1/3/2017) - By Felicia Chou, NASA HQ NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such [...]
An artist's rendition of 2016 WF9 as it passes Jupiter's orbit inbound toward the sun. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA’s NEOWISE Mission Spies One Comet, Maybe Two (12/30/2016) - By DC Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Laurie Cantillo and Dwayne Brown (NASA Headquarters) NASA’s NEOWISE mission has recently discovered some celestial objects traveling through our neighborhood, including one on the blurry line between asteroid and comet. [...]
John and Annie Glenn ride a float in a parade at the NASA's Glenn Research Center. In 1999, NASA Lewis was renamed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Glenn's honor. The parade was one of many festivities that celebrated the name change. Source: Frank Jennings. NASA Glenn Director’s Statement Concerning Passing of John H. Glenn Jr. (12/9/2016) - By Frank Jennings, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland OH The following is a statement from NASA’s Glenn Research Center Director Dr. Janet Kavandi concerning the death of retired US Marine Corps Colonel, senator and NASA [...]
JPL's Steve Chien with several of the underwater drones used in a research project earlier this year. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Sea Robots: From Monterey Bay to Europa (12/5/2016) - By Andrew Good, Jet Propulsion Laboratory If you think operating a robot in space is hard, try doing it in the ocean. Saltwater can corrode your robot and block its radio signals. Kelp forests can tangle [...]
2011 view of Apollo 17 landing site, captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University. “Revisiting Apollo 17” Lecture at DC Library of Congress on Dec. 6 (12/2/2016) - NASA Scientist Leading Lecture, Discussion By Rob Gutro, Lora Bleacher and editor Rob Garner, NASA Goddard The public is invited to a free talk called “Revisiting the Apollo 17 Landing with Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)” [...]
NOAA's GOES-R weather satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, was launched on November 19, 2016, on an Atlas V rocket form Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Source: Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin-built GOES-R Weather Satellite Launched (11/20/2016) - New Weather Satellite for NOAA to Greatly Improve Weather Forecasting and Warnings By Gary Napier, Lockheed Martin NOAA’s GOES-R weather satellite, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), was successfully launched yesterday at 6:42pm (ET) from [...]
One of eight microsatellites in the CYGNSS constellation under construction. Credit: University of Michigan. NASA Small Satellites Will Take a Fresh Look at Earth (11/8/2016) - By Alan Buis (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Steve Cole (NASA HQ) Beginning this month, NASA is launching a suite of six next-generation, Earth-observing small satellite missions to demonstrate innovative new approaches for studying our changing planet. [...]
Artist's concept of a near-Earth object. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA and FEMA Conduct Asteroid Impact Emergency Planning Exercise (11/5/2016) - By DC Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Dwayne Brown & Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) What would we do if we discovered a large asteroid on course to impact Earth? While highly unlikely, that was the high-consequence scenario [...]
Arriving at Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 observed a bluish orb with extremely subtle features. A haze layer hid most of the planet's cloud features from view. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Thirty Years Later, Researchers Think Voyager 2 Data Shows More Uranus Moons (10/23/2016) - By Tara Roberts (University of Idaho Communications) and Elizabeth Landau (Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Uranus 30 years ago, but researchers are still making discoveries from the data it gathered then. [...]
spidery channels on Mars. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona. Citizen Scientists Seek South Pole Terrain “Spiders” on Mars (10/21/2016) - By Guy Webster (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Alan Fischer (Planetary Science Institute), Peter Michaud (Gemini Observatory), and Dwayne Brown and Laurie Cantillo (NASA Headquarters) Ten thousand volunteers viewing images of Martian south polar regions have helped identify targets for closer [...]
The Orbital ATK Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, is raised into the vertical position on launch Pad-0A, Friday, October 14, 2016, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. Antares Launch Delayed to Oct. 17 (10/16/2016) - **Update: Change in launch date.** By Keith Koehler, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia The NASA Wallops Flight Facility and Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport were set to support the launch of Orbital ATK’s Antares rocket [...]
Glenn scientists test Saffire components. Credit: NASA. NASA Glenn Experiments to Launch on ISS Resupply Mission (10/13/2016) - When the Cygnus spacecraft lifts off on its resupply mission to the International Space Station, it will carry three experiments designed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. NASA commercial cargo provider Orbital ATK is [...]
At the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 49 crewmembers Shane Kimbrough of NASA (left) and Sergey Ryzhikov (center) and Andrey Borisenko (right) of Roscosmos pose for pictures Sept. 9, 2016, in front of their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft during a pre-launch training fit check. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko will launch on the Soyuz MS-02 vehicle for a five-month mission on the International Space Station. Source: NASA/Victor Zelentsov. Next Space Station Crew Set for Launch Oct. 19, Live on NASA TV (10/12/2016) - By Tabatha Thompson (NASA HQ), Dan Huot (Johnson Space Center), and Karen Northon (Editor, NASA) Three crew members of Expedition 49/50 are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station at 4:05am (EDT) on Wednesday, October 19, [...]
This four-panel graphic illustrates how the binary-star system V Hydrae is launching balls of plasma into space. Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI). Hubble Detects Giant “Cannonballs” Shooting from Star (10/6/2016) - Released by Elizabeth Landau (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Donna Weaver / Ray Villard (Space Telescope Science Institute), and Felicia Chou (NASA Headquarters) Great balls of fire! NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected superhot blobs of gas, each twice [...]
Artist's concept of Rosetta shortly before hitting Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on September 30, 2016. Image: ESA/ATG medialab. NASA TV to Provide Coverage of European Mission Comet Touchdown on Sept. 30 (9/29/2016) - Released by DC Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the conclusion of ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Rosetta mission from 3:15-5am PDT (6:15-8am [...]
Image: Photo Composite of Suspected Water Plumes on Europa (Annotated). Source: Space Telescope Science Institute. Hubble Shows Possible Water Plumes on Jupiter’s Moon Europa (9/26/2016) - Released by Preston Dyches (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Sean Potter and Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ), and Ann Jenkins and Ray Villard (Space Telescope Science Institute) Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off [...]
Racin' the Station duathlon is September 24, 2016, at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama. Can You Outrun the Space Station? (9/20/2016) - Nearly 200 Expected to Race the International Space Station This Saturday Released by Janet Anderson, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center The fifth annual Racin’ the Station duathlon is coming up September 24, 2016, at NASA’s Marshall Space [...]
Since NASA's Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn, the planet's appearance has changed greatly. This view shows Saturn's northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its northern hemisphere summer solstice in May 2017. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. Cassini Begins Epic Final Year at Saturn (9/16/2016) - Released by Preston Dyches, Jet Propulsion Laboratory After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific [...]