Onward!: NASA Selects Next Destination for New Horizons in Kuiper Belt

Artist's conception of New Horizons at 2014 MU69. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

Artist’s conception of New Horizons at 2014 MU69. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

It has been nearly a month and a half since the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, and now the mission team has selected its next target for exploration: a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69, which […]

Back to the Ice Giants: Proposed New Mission Would Re-Visit Uranus or Neptune (or Both!)

Uranus (left) and Neptune (right). These two ice giants and their many moons are awaiting further exploration. Image Credit: NASA

Uranus (left) and Neptune (right). These two ice giants and their many moons are awaiting further exploration. Image Credit: NASA

The outer Solar System has been a busy place lately, with the ongoing Cassini mission at Saturn and New Horizons’ recent spectacular flyby of Pluto. Literally in-between those two worlds, however, it has been […]

The Early Solar System Could Have Hosted a Fifth Giant Planet, According to New Study

Artist’s impression of a rogue gas giant planet, free-floating in interstellar space. According to a new study, the early Solar System hosted a fifth gas giant planet besides Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, which was eventually ejected into interstellar space through the gravitational interactions with the rest of the Solar System’s giant planets. Image […]

Kepler Update: Earth's 'Bigger and Older Cousin' Discovered Orbiting Distant Star

Artist’s conception of Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-sized exoplanet discovered orbiting in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star. Image Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

One of the primary goals in the search for exoplanets is to, hopefully, find an Earth analog or “Earth twin,” an alien world similar to our own. That search is still […]

One Day to Pluto: Looking Back at Humanity's First-Time Successful Encounters With the Sun's Planets

Tomorrow’s historic flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and its binary companion, Charon, will mark the completion of humanity’s first-time exploration of each of the Solar System’s nine traditional planets. Photo Credit: NASA

Tomorrow, the United States will become the first nation to have conducted a close-range reconnaissance of all nine “traditional” planets in […]

The Science of Pluto: The Gates of the Planetary Underworld (Part 1)

A computer-generated impression of the view from the surface of Pluto. The Sun looks like a very bright star on the sky (upper right), while Charon, Pluto’s biggest satellite, looms large near the horizon (at left). The scientific study of the Pluto-Charon system, has been one of expanding horizons and increased awareness of our […]

Five Weeks to Pluto: The Strange Discovery of Planet X and a World Like No Other (Part 1)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during closest approach to Pluto on July 14. Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)

In the dark, outer reaches of the Sun’s realm lies a world unlike any other. Discovered in the spring of 1930, Pluto—named by an Oxford schoolgirl, who was […]

Astronomers Find First Evidence of Possible Volcanic Activity On a Super-Earth Exoplanet

Artist’s conception of super-Earth exoplanet 55 Cancri e, before and after volcanic activity on its day side. The surface may be partially molten. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

Discovering new exoplanets has become rather routine in the last few years, but determining just what conditions exist on any of them is naturally more difficult, since […]

Shedding New Light On the Solar System: Celebrating 25 Years of Hubble Science (Part 2)

A series of images of Uranus and Neptune that were taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The top row reveals the ice giant planets in natural colors, showing the planets as they would appear if we could see them through a telescope. The images at the bottom were taken with certain types of different […]

'Old Earths': The Search for Ancient and Habitable (But Dying) Exoplanets

Illustration depicting the life cycle of Sun-like stars. Billions of years from now, our own Sun will expand into a red giant star, scorching any life that exists. Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Researchers at Cornell University are taking a new approach to the search for alien life: looking for habitable planets older than Earth, […]