Planets Don't Need A Stabilizing Moon To Be Habitable

There's a long-held view among astrobiologists that planets need the stabilizing influence of a large moon to foster life. But a new study suggests that a stable tilt isn't a prerequisite for habitability — and that off-kilter planets may be more hospitable to life than stable ones. » 4/16/14 2:58pm 4/16/14 2:58pm

NASA's Next Mars Mission Launches Today – Watch it Here Live!

NASA's newest Martian explorer – the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft – is finally ready for lift-off. Currently poised atop an Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida, the Mars-bound orbiter is slated to launch this afternoon at 1:28 pm ET. Live coverage of the launch begins right now! » 11/18/13 8:00am 11/18/13 8:00am

What created such enormous craters on the Moon's nearside?

Earth's moon has been blasted by a lot of space rocks in its 4.5-billion-year history. While these impacts have left a near-uniform distribution of craters across our satellite's surface, planetary scientists have shown that one of its sides – the side that faces Earth – bears significantly larger scars than the other. … » 11/07/13 12:58pm 11/07/13 12:58pm

The Sun's polarity is about to flip (and here's what that means)

The Sun's magnetic field is poised to reverse its polarity in the coming months. NASA's not sure exactly when – something in the next few months or so – but when it does, it'll mark the midpoint (aka "solar max") of this, the 24th Solar Cycle. » 8/08/13 2:20pm 8/08/13 2:20pm

Curiosity Rover's first year on Mars, distilled down to two minutes

Tuesday, August 6th will mark the one-year anniversary of Curiosity's epic arrival on the surface of Mars. To celebrate, here now is a rover's-eye-view of the Mars Science Laboratory's first twelve months on the Red Planet – full of scooping, drilling, laser-ing and plenty of driving. » 8/01/13 1:32pm 8/01/13 1:32pm

Anakin Skywalker's hometown is about to be overtaken by sand dunes

If you build your home in the middle of a dune field, you're gonna have a bad time. Consider the buildings of Mos Espa (the Tatooinian city featured in The Phantom Menace), which are about to be buried by a hill of sand advancing steadily across the Tunisian desert. » 7/22/13 8:00am 7/22/13 8:00am

Soar through the largest canyon in the solar system

At 10 km deep and over 4000 km long, Valles Marineris is not only the largest canyon on Mars, its the biggest in our entire solar neighborhood. Here, thanks to data collected by ESA's Mars Express, is your chance to get an up-close view of this craggy Martian scar. » 7/15/13 4:00pm 7/15/13 4:00pm

2013's solar maximum could be weakest since the dawn of the space age

So this is unexpected. The Sun is currently at the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. It should be awash with sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections and the like. And yet, observations indicate our parent star has actually been pretty quiet this year – so quiet, in fact, this year's solar max could go down as the … » 7/12/13 1:20pm 7/12/13 1:20pm

NASA is getting ready to search for signs of life on Mars

The goal of NASA's Curiosity rover is to determine if Mars was ever capable of supporting life. But the Agency's next rover, set to launch in 2020, could take things one giant step further. Given recent findings, says Jack Mustard, chairman of the Agency's Science Definition Team, "past Martian life seems possible, and… » 7/10/13 12:17pm 7/10/13 12:17pm

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Using two high-resolution photographs of the same surface, geologists can produce Digital Terrain Models (DTMs). DTMs are hugely useful to researchers looking to measure and model geological processes on other worlds. These DTMs of Mars are also absolutely gorgeous to look at. » 7/02/13 8:00am 7/02/13 8:00am

Why it might be possible to go snowboarding on Mars

NASA scientists think that sliding chunks of frozen carbon dioxide — dry ice — may be responsible for creating track marks on some Martian sand dunes. Which brings up a totally awesome idea: Snowboarding down a Martian sand dune on a block of dry ice. » 6/12/13 9:00am 6/12/13 9:00am

Feast your eyes on the first global topographical map of Titan

For the first time ever, planetary scientists have created a topographical map of Titan, the largest of Saturn's many moons, and the second-largest in the entire solar system. The map is a boon to researchers who study Titan, a mysterious moon that is arguably the most Earth-like body in our solar system – and it's… » 5/23/13 3:40pm 5/23/13 3:40pm