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06.19.17 | 12:04 pm

NASA just found 219 possible planets and 10 of them look a lot like Earth

The team behind NASA's Kepler space telescope has just unveiled 219 potential planets, which kind of makes NASA's space exploration sound like the most dramatic season of The Bachelor ever. The planet candidates were announced at a press conference on Monday, where scientists said at least 10 of the 219 options were similar in size to Earth and were neither too near nor too far from the nearest star, making it possible for water to collect on the planet's surface (which is important characteristic for humans looking to find a new permanent home planet).  

NASA says that with this latest release of data, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler; 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. That means humankind has a lot of possible options for where to move once we've ruined this planet. Perhaps NASA will launch a reality show to help us find the right one. 

[Illustration: NASA/W. Stenzel]

06.15.17 | 5:48 am

This NASA map will prepare you for August’s rare total solar eclipse

On August 21, 2017, North Americans will be able to see an eclipse of the sun. But depending where you are, you may be able to see something even better: a total solar eclipse, in which the sun's corona will appear like a halo around the moon when it passes in front of it. NASA has dedicated an entire site to help people get ready for the rare total solar eclipse, including an awesome map that shows where and when you need to be in America on August 21 if you want to witness one of the most beautiful natural events in our solar system.

[Image: NASA]

05.31.17 | 11:21 am

NASA is headed to the sun 

NASA is sending a probe to the sun. Yes, this time NASA is the alien entity probing a helpless star. NASA's Parker Solar Probe, named for astrophysicist Eugene Parker and outfitted with an almost 5-inch thick coat of carbon-composite solar shields, will set off next year in the hopes of exploring the sun's atmosphere. The mission is to send the probe within 3.7 million miles of the sun's surfaceNASA announced during a news conference on Wednesday.

Scientists hope the trip will provide insights into the sun's mysterious corona, teach us more about the physics of stars, help explain solar wind, and improve forecasting of space weather events that affect satellites, astronauts, and the Earth, according to NASA. 

The mission is slated to begin in the summer of 2018, giving sunblock companies plenty of time to come up with clever marketing schemes. Coppertone-branded solar shields, anyone?  

[Photo: NASA/SDO]

05.23.17 | 6:37 am

Watch live as NASA astronauts spacewalk to repair the ISS

Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will replace a data box that controls solar arrays and other equipment on the space station.

05.22.17 | 6:09 am

ISS astronauts are going on a spacewalk tomorrow

Two astronauts on the International Space Station have been given the go-ahead by NASA to conduct a spacewalk to fix malfunctioning equipment on the station, NASA announced in a blog post. The spacewalk is expected to last around two hours and begin around 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, "or earlier, if the crew is running ahead of schedule with its spacewalking preparations," NASA says. Earthlings will be able to tune into NASA Television beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT to catch all the action.

04.20.17 | 8:56 am

Star Search: NASA’s amazing photo archives are now available online

The final frontier is now available to search on the digital frontier. NASA has updated, streamlined, and generally vastly improved its website. Now anyone on a star search can now look through the databases of all 10 of NASA's field centers, including the Kennedy Space Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab, in one search, as Creators Project reported

The photo archives go all the way back to 1958, so conspiracy theorists can study photos of the moon landing for signs of staging, while wannabe Peggy Whitsons and junior Neil deGrasse Tysons can pore over photos of asteroids, supernovas, nebulas, distant galaxies, and robot astronauts to prepare for a future studying the stars—or just a sick new screen saver.

[Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI]

03.30.17 | 6:48 am

Watch Peggy Whitson break the record for most spacewalks by a female astronaut

The historic event will begin at 8 a.m. EST when Peggy Whitson steps outside the safety of the ISS. When she does, she'll break previous record holder Sunita Williams's seven spacewalks. You can check out the walk here.

03.21.17 | 4:46 pm

NASA’s super accurate atomic clock gives new meaning to the term “space time”

In the past, NASA tracked time on board its spacecraft using what it calls a "two-way" method in which ground-based antenna measures how long a ping takes to reach the craft and how far it has to go. But now, thanks to the deployment of a brand-new atomic clock on board the Surrey Orbital Test Bed spacecraft, the space agency will be able to tell time in the heavens more accurately than ever before.

That's because the clock uses "one-way" tracking in which the measurements are taken on board "and processed with a spacecraft-based navigation system to determine the path and whether any maneuvers are needed to stay on course," NASA wrote today. This is big. "This will be a key advance for safely navigating future human exploration of the solar system by providing astronauts with their position and velocity when they need it," NASA wrote. "It will lighten the load on the antennas in NASA's Deep Space Network, allowing more spacecraft to be tracked with a single antenna."

Photo: Surrey Satellite Technology

03.03.17 | 7:50 am

NASA just released a crazy amount of software you can use for free

The agency has released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which includes code for everything from drones, to data and image processing, to health and medicine, to propulsion, reports TechCrunch. All software is completely free and without any royalty or copyright fees. Announcing the software release Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington, said:

"The software catalog is our way of supporting the innovation economy by granting access to tools used by today's top aerospace professionals to entrepreneurs, small businesses, academia and industry. Access to these software codes has the potential to generate tangible benefits that create American jobs, earn revenue and save lives."

10.31.16 | 7:22 am

We didn’t get hit by an asteroid last night, and we knew we wouldn’t thanks to this new NASA tool

NASA is testing a new computer program, called Scout, that scans data from telescopes to find space objects in Earth's neighborhood. It then calculates the risk of those objects hitting Earth and orders follow-up observations from other telescopes to better understand the risk.

NPR reports that Scout located an asteroid on Oct. 25-26 that looked as though it would pass near Earth. Last night, as predicted, it missed us by 310,000 miles.

[Image: NASA/JPL]

10.13.16 | 1:51 pm

NASA’s next big Mars mission: A VR Reggie Watts and Buzz Aldrin to entertain lonely astronauts

Traveling to Mars is a long and lonely trip. Astronauts lucky enough to make the trip will surely get bored and wish they had someone to keep them company. 

Who better, then, to come along for the ride than one of the most famous astronauts of all time (oh, the stories he'll tell) and one of the most entertaining musicians of our time?

That's why NASA, in conjunction with the virtual reality company 8i, plan on sending Mars astronauts holograms of Buzz Aldrin and Reggie Watts that they can interact with on their holodeck.

09.27.16 | 6:08 am

NASA finds water vapor plumes on Europa

It's not quite as exciting as finding alien life, but it makes it much more likely. NASA accounted that its Hubble telescope has confirmed sightings of water vapor plumes "spewing water jets" from the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, reports the BBC. The finding is significant because it is believed that Europa has a liquid water ocean underneath the moon's icy crust, and such water vapor plumes are a good sign this ocean exists. This liquid ocean could contain microbial life–or even forms of life more advanced. The fact that water jets are being spewed into space makes finding out if life exists on the moon somewhat easier, too. Instead of actually needing to land a rover on the moon, a NASA spacecraft could theoretically do a flyby through the vapor plumes to see if it can detect signs of microbial life.