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Space


Analysis and insight on advances in space exploration and technology. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important space trends.

Venus: Could It Really Harbor Life? New Study Springs a Surprise

Earth’s sister planet, Venus, has not been regarded as a high priority in the search for life. Its surface temperature of around 450°C is thought to be hostile to even the hardiest of micro-organisms,...

Dark Energy: Map Gives Clue About What It Is—but Deepens Dispute About the Cosmic Expansion Rate

Dark energy is one of the greatest mysteries in science today. We know very little about it, other than it is invisible, it fills the whole universe, and it pushes galaxies away from each...

The 3D Printed Homes of the Future Are Giant Eggs on Mars

Last month, a 3D printed house that can float on a pontoon was unveiled in the Czech Republic. Last year, work started on a community of 3D printed houses for low-income families in Mexico....

SpaceX Wants to Build Floating Spaceports for Daily Starship Launches

The coronavirus pandemic stopped a lot of things, but it hasn’t done much to slow down SpaceX and Elon Musk. The company sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station last month in...

Meteorites From Mars Contain Clues About the Red Planet’s Geology

Despite the pandemic, NASA is on track to launch its Mars rover, Perseverance, this July from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its central mission will be to search for evidence of previous life on Mars. An exciting...

Hydrogen-Breathing Aliens? Study Suggests New Approach to Finding Extraterrestrial Life

The first time we find evidence of life on a planet orbiting another star (an exoplanet), it is probably going to be by analyzing the gases in its atmosphere. With the number of known...

NASA’s Plan to Build a Base Camp on the Moon Sounds Like Sci-Fi, But It’s Real

If we’re ever going to make Elon Musk’s vision of colonizing Mars a reality, we first need to figure out an essential component of the plan: how to get there. After all, it’s somewhere...

What Would Life on Mars Be Like? Millions of Us Are Getting a Taste

I live in California’s Bay Area, so for the last week and a half I’ve joined around seven million people in a shelter-in-place mandate. While my family is adjusting to this new normal, I’ve...

How to Optimize Your Headspace on a Mission to Mars

Imagine being confined to a metal cell with a couple of other people and few amenities for months or even years. Maybe after that, you’ll be moved to a new compound, but you still...

The Company That Wants to Fling Rockets Into Space With a Giant Centrifuge

The rapidly falling cost of getting into orbit has spurred a boom in the space industry as a host of new applications become economical. Now a secretive startup plans to slash the cost to...

This Marvelous Machine Splits Moon Dust Into Oxygen and Metal

Like the settlers of old, space explorers will live off the land. But if self-sufficiency on Earth is difficult, it’s orders of magnitude more challenging in space, where there are no trees to build...

Here Are the Stars the Voyager and Pioneer Spacecraft Will Visit in the Next Million Years

Humans are nowhere near an interstellar species. No Zefram Cochrane has emerged to make warp drive practical. No alien protomolecule has erected a gate to other solar systems at the edge of our own....

Our Place in the Universe Will Change Dramatically in the Next 50 Years—Here’s How

In 1900, so the story goes, prominent physicist Lord Kelvin addressed the British Association for the Advancement of Science with these words: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.” How wrong he...

NASA’s TESS Spacecraft Is Finding Hundreds of Exoplanets—and Is Poised to Find Thousands More

Within just 50 light-years from Earth, there are about 1,560 stars, likely orbited by several thousand planets. About a thousand of these extrasolar planets, known as exoplanets, may be rocky and have a composition...

3D Printing Rockets in Outer Space? This Company’s Going for It

There’s a startup in California with dreams of enhancing the future of space travel, and they have their very own Stargate. Not the teleportation portal from science fiction, of course. The Stargate owned by Relativity...

How Can We Protect Alien Life From Us—and Us From It?

Is Earth the only known planetary body with life on it? Nope. In fact, there are 96 bags of human waste on the lunar surface. These were left over by the Apollo astronauts and...

Maybe Dangling a Space Elevator Off the Moon Isn’t as Ludicrous as It Sounds

When astronaut Chris Hadfield serenaded the Earth with Bowie’s Space Oddity, many of us got cracking with back-of-the-envelope calculations attempting to figure out how much the guitar cost to send up: probably around $75,000. On...

Where Is Everyone? 4 Possible Explanations for the Fermi Paradox

As we go on with our everyday lives, it’s very easy to forget about the sheer size of the universe. The Earth may seem like a mighty place, but it’s practically a grain within a...

Nuke Mars? Here Are Some (Hopefully Better) Alternatives

Scientists and science fiction writers have been toying with the idea of terraforming Mars for the better part of a century. Turning the red planet green is seen as a crucial step towards humankind...

Inside the Story of LightSail 2, a Solar Sail to the Stars

Right now, there’s a piece of reflective fabric about the size of a boxing ring orbiting the Earth. On the surface, it looks like an emergency blanket stretched tight by two tent poles. But...

A Layer of ‘Aerogel’ Could Make Mars Habitable and Even Enable Life to Develop There

Transforming the red planet to support life has long been a dream of science fiction. Mars is now too cold to support life. Its atmosphere is also too thin to protect any living organisms...

The LightSail-2 Mission Launched Last Week. It Could Shape the Future of Solar Spaceflight

Just like the early explorers harnessed the wind to sail around the world, scientists have long dreamed of using light to sail through the cosmos. Last week an ambitious trial of a technology called...

From Miniature Satellites to Giant Sun Shields–the Extreme Technology Transforming Space Engineering

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. This was possible thanks to an extraordinary acceleration of space technology. Within a remarkably short period of time leading up to the...

A Closer Look at the Robots Helping Us Explore Space

Buck Rogers had Twiki. Luke Skywalker palled around with C-3PO and R2-D2. And astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) now have their own robotic companions in space—Astrobee. A pair of the cube-shaped robots were...

Lunar Gold Rush Is About to Start—and We Could Exhaust the Solar System in Fewer Than 500 Years

The US president, Donald Trump, has stuck to his plan to send humans back to the moon in the next five years, recently giving the project a US$1.6 billion shot in the arm. Whether...

The Next Space Race: Bezos vs. Musk

We are witnessing the next great space race. But this time, it's not the US vs. USSR. This race is between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The aerospace industry has always been driven by competition....

The Electrifying Mission of the First Private Lunar Spacecraft

In September 2007, I was joined on stage by Larry Page, Buzz Aldrin, and the deputy administrator of NASA to announce a $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. The challenge we set was for a private...

The Private Space Industry Is Breaking Out of Earth’s Orbit

Hopes for the first ever privately-funded moon landing were dashed last Thursday after the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet crashed on its final descent. But despite the disappointment, the episode signals the start of a new...

NASA Twins Study Provides New Insight Into How Space Travel Affects Human Health

Thanks to 18 years of humans continuously working on the International Space Station (ISS), we already have a basic idea of what happens to our Earth-grown bodies in zero gravity. Our hearts morph in...

SETI Is Making a New ‘Mixtape for Aliens’, and You Can Contribute

For centuries, people have looked up at the sky and wondered whether we’re alone in the universe. Science fiction and popular media have imagined various ways humans might encounter and communicate with life from...

What It Will Take For Humans to Be Self-Sustaining in Space

We take for granted that we live on a planet that is rich in life. With over 14 million identified species, the sheer biodiversity on Earth is outstanding. We depend on this diversity for...

Twins in Space: The Impact of Space Travel on Gene Expression

Researchers have had a rare opportunity to see how conditions on the International Space Station translated to changes in gene expression by comparing identical twin astronauts: one of the twins spent close to a...

Why the Future of Solar Power Is from Space

Over seven decades ago in 1941, Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, “Reason” (PDF), in which energy captured from the sun was transmitted via microwave beams to nearby planets from a space station. Flash...

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceflight and the Power of Grit

Moonshots are hard. Sometimes they take decades, or cost billions of dollars, and sometimes they take human life. Early this week, I jumped in my plane and flew up to the Mojave Spaceport at 5am to...

Whale-Watching from Space: Why Satellites Are Monitoring Wildlife

A new study of whales shows that advances in satellite imagery and related technologies mean we can now recognize specific features of animals all the way from space. It is the latest in a...

Research in Zero Gravity: 6 Wild Projects on the International Space Station

It’s been 20 years since the first components of the International Space Station (ISS) were launched from Earth. Orbiting the planet every 90 minutes at about 250 miles above Earth’s surface, the ISS has...

How One Researcher Is Using VR to Help Our Eyes Adapt to Seeing in Space

It’s not like moon-walking astronauts don’t already have plenty of hazards to deal with. There’s less gravity, extreme temperatures, radiation—and the whole place is aggressively dusty. If that weren’t enough, it also turns out...

What Happens to the Brain in Zero Gravity?

NASA has made a commitment to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. This is an ambitious goal when you think that a typical round trip will anywhere between three and six months and...

The Fascinating, Creepy New Research in Human Hibernation for Space Travel

No interstellar travel movie is complete without hibernators. From Prometheus to Passengers, we’ve watched protagonists awaken in hibernation pods, rebooting their fragile physiology from a prolonged state of suspended animation—a violent process that usually...

NASA Wants to Send Humans to Venus. Here’s Why That’s a Brilliant Idea

Popular science fiction of the early 20th century depicted Venus as some kind of wonderland of pleasantly warm temperatures, forests, swamps and even dinosaurs. In 1950, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Natural History...

AI Is Kicking Space Exploration Into Hyperdrive—Here’s How

Artificial intelligence in space exploration is gathering momentum. Over the coming years, new missions look likely to be turbo-charged by AI as we voyage to comets, moons, and planets and explore the possibilities of...

A Decade of Commercial Space Travel—What’s Next?

In many industries, a decade is barely enough time to cause dramatic change unless something disruptive comes along—a new technology, business model, or service design. The space industry has recently been enjoying all three. But...

First-Ever Grad Program in Space Mining Takes Off

Maybe they could call it the School of Space Rock: A new program being offered at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) will educate post-graduate students on the nuts and bolts of extracting and...

What Would It Take to Build a Tower as High as Outer Space?

The human desire to create ever bigger and more impressive structures is insatiable. The pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—now the tallest edifice in the...

Five Reasons to Forget Mars for Now and Return to the Moon

Hopes of colonizing Mars rest on the premise that we could terraform the red planet, making it habitable for humans with a breathable atmosphere and clement temperatures. However, a recent study cast doubt on...

We Discovered That Life May Be Billions of Times More Common in the Multiverse

Why is there life in our universe? The existence of galaxies, stars, planets, and ultimately life seem to depend on a small number of finely tuned fundamental physical constants. Had the laws of physics...

How We Discovered 840 Minor Planets Beyond Neptune—and What They Can Tell Us

Our solar system is a tiny but wonderfully familiar corner of the vast, dark universe—we have even been able to land spacecraft on our celestial neighbors. Yet its outer reaches are still remarkably unmapped....

Microbes in Space: Bioengineered Bugs Could Help Colonize New Planets

As humans spread out into the cosmos in search of life, the most alien organisms we encounter may be those we bring with us. Researchers at NASA and elsewhere are engineering microbes so they...

5 Space Companies Zeroing in on First Launch of Tourists Into Orbit and Beyond

It won’t be cheap, but your holiday plans could include a trip to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere or beyond—before the end of this year. Several space tourism companies are zeroing in on their...

Astronomers May Have Just Discovered a Dozen Black Holes in the Center of Our Galaxy

Astronomers first noticed an enigmatic object, dubbed “Sagittarius A*”, at the very heart of our Milky Way galaxy in the 1960s—the earliest days of radio and infrared astronomy. But just how extraordinary this source...

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