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

The Terksol Observatory. Image: INASAN Astronomers Complete First International Asteroid Tracking Exercise (11/6/2017) - By DC Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) An international team of astronomers led by NASA scientists successfully completed the first global exercise using a real asteroid to test global [...]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA - logo NASA TV to Broadcast Hispanic Heritage Event  (10/10/2017) - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the James Webb Auditorium in the agency’s headquarters in Washington DC on Thursday, October 12, 2017, with a discussion of the contributions of Hispanics to [...]
NASA's Next Mars Mission to Investigate Interior of Red Planet Bench Checkout of InSight's Seismometer Instrument Mars Lander Deck of NASA's InSight MissionArtist's Concept of InSight Lander on MarsHoisting NASA's InSight LanderCruise Stage of NASA's InSight Spacecraft Lockheed Martin spacecraft specialists check the cruise stage of NASA's InSight spacecraft in this June 22, 2017, photo. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin NASA’s Next Mars Mission, InSight, to Investigate Planet Interior (8/28/2017) - Preparation of NASA’s next spacecraft to Mars, InSight, has ramped up this summer, on course for launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California — the first interplanetary launch in history from [...]
AREE is a clockwork rover inspired by mechanical computers. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA Concept: A Clockwork Rover for Venus (8/25/2017) - By Andrew Good, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A good watch can take a beating and keep on ticking. With the right parts, can a rover do the same on a planet like Venus? A concept [...]
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft onboard, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on June 3, 2017. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls NASA TV to Air Launch of Upcoming Space Station Resupply Mission (8/10/2017) - By Tabatha Thompson (NASA HQ) and Amber Philman / Amanda Griffin (Kennedy Space Center); Edited by Karen Northon ASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting its 12th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch [...]
Research scientist Dr. Rebecca Bishop, left, and design engineer Steve Bielat of The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, test a sensor set to fly on the joint American and Brazilian SPORT Cubesat mission to study disruptive phenomena in Earth's upper atmosphere Credits: The Aerospace Corporation Joint NASA-Brazil SPORT CubeSat Mission Planned (8/3/2017) - Mission Will Unlock Complex Equatorial Phenomena, Lay Groundwork for Better Space Weather Prediction By Molly Porter, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama NASA and a team of Brazilian space researchers have announced a joint CubeSat mission [...]
This artist's concept shows hot Jupiter WASP-121b, which presents the best evidence yet of a stratosphere on an exoplanet. Image credit: Engine House VFX, At-Bristol Science Centre, University of Exeter Hubble Telescope Detects Exoplanet with Glowing Water Atmosphere (8/2/2017) - By Elizabeth Landau (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Ray Villard (Space Telescope Science Institute) Scientists have discovered the strongest evidence to date for a stratosphere on a planet outside our solar system, or exoplanet. A stratosphere is [...]
This diagram illustrates the positions of Mars, Earth, and the sun during a period that occurs approximately every 26 months, when Mars passes almost directly behind the sun from Earth's perspective. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame the Sun (7/16/2017) - By Guy Webster (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown (NASA HQ) This month, movements of the planets will put Mars almost directly behind the sun, from Earth’s perspective, causing curtailed communications between Earth [...]
Jupiter's Great Red Spot is 1.3 times as wide as Earth. This composite image was generated by combining NASA imagery of Earth with an image of Jupiter taken by astronomer Christopher Go. Juno Spacecraft Completes Flyby over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (7/11/2017) - By DC Agle, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot on July 10, 2017, during its sixth science orbit. All of Juno’s science instruments [...]
Source: asteroidday.org NASA Celebrates International Asteroid Day with Special Broadcast (6/28/2017) - By Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown (NASA HQ) and Guy Webster / DC Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) NASA will mark the worldwide observance of International Asteroid Day on Friday, June 30, 2017, at 9am PDT [...]
The different layers of Earth’s airglow can be seen from the International Space Station as it orbits Earth. The very thin green layer above the bottom of the window occurs 95 kilometers (59 miles) above Earth’s surface; the red region above is a different type of airglow. The rectangle represents the portion of the airglow measured in a single WINDII image. (NASA) Scientists Solve Mystery of Unexplained “Bright Nights” (6/22/2017) - By Lauren Lipuma, AGU.org Dating back to the first century, scientists, philosophers and reporters have noted the occasional occurrence of “bright nights,” when an unexplained glow in the night sky lets observers see distant mountains, [...]
Three teams earned a $20,000 prize check and a slot to launch their CubeSat on Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of NASA's Space Launch System. NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, Steve Jurczyk, Benjamin Fried of team CU-E3, Kyle Doyle of team Cislunar Explorers, Wesley Faler of Team Miles, and NASA’s Ames Research Center Director, Eugene Tu. Credits: NASA/Dominic Hart. DIY CubeSats Score Rides on NASA’s First Flight of Orion, Space Launch System (6/8/2017) - By Gina Anderson (NASA HQ) and Molly Porter (Marshall Space Flight Center) NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has awarded rides for three small spacecraft on the agency’s newest rocket, and $20,000 each in prize money, [...]
Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. Image credit: SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech. NASA Moves Up Launch of Psyche Mission to a Metal Asteroid (5/24/2017) - By D.C. Agle (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Karin Valentine (Arizona State University-School of Earth and Space Exploration), Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ), and Dwayne Brown (NASA HQ) Psyche, NASA’s Discovery Mission to a unique metal asteroid, has been moved [...]
The atmosphere of the distant "warm Neptune" HAT-P-26b, illustrated here, is unexpectedly primitive, composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. Credit: NASA/GSFC. “Warm Neptune” Has Unexpectedly Primitive Atmosphere (5/12/2017) - By Elizabeth Zubritsky, NASA A study combining observations from NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes reveals that the distant planet HAT-P-26b has a primitive atmosphere composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Located about 437 light [...]
NASA Spacecraft Dives Between Saturn and Its Rings Unprocessed image shows features in Saturn's atmosphere Unprocessed image shows features in Saturn's atmosphereUnprocessed image shows features in Saturn's atmosphere This unprocessed image shows features in Saturn's atmosphere from closer than ever before. The view was captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. NASA Spacecraft Dives Between Saturn and Its Rings (4/27/2017) - By Preston Dyches (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Dwayne Brown and Laurie Cantillo (NASA HQ) NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is back in contact with Earth after its successful first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and [...]
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 [...]