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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.

Earth Has Stayed Habitable for Billions of Years. Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?

It took evolution three or four billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that time, then evolution would have come to a crashing halt and we...

How Many Galaxies Are in the Universe? A New Answer From the Darkest Sky Ever Observed

Ordinarily, we point telescopes at some object we want to see in greater detail. In the 1990s astronomers did the opposite. They pointed the most powerful telescope in history, the Hubble Space Telescope, at...

NASA Will Soon Choose One of These 3 Landers to Go Back to the Moon

America’s going back to the moon. It’s been over 50 years since the Apollo missions, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon in 1969. Both NASA...

The World’s Oldest Story? Astronomers Say Global Myths About ‘Seven Sisters’ Stars May Reach Back 100,000 Years

In the northern sky in December is a beautiful cluster of stars known as the Pleiades, or the “seven sisters.” Look carefully and you will probably count six stars. So why do we say...

SETI: New Signal Excites Alien Hunters—Here’s How We Could Find Out if It’s Real

The $100 million Breakthrough Listen Initiative, founded by the billionaire, technology and science investor Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, has identified a mysterious radio signal that seems to come from the nearest star...
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‘The Secret History of the Moon’: The Epic Story of How the Moon Was Made

Where did the moon come from? The leading theory suggests the moon was formed after a massive collision between a Mars-sized planet Theia and Earth in the early days of the solar system. Theia was...

‘WTF?’: Newly Discovered Ghostly Circles in the Sky Can’t Be Explained by Current Theories, and Astronomers Are Excited

In September 2019, my colleague Anna Kapinska gave a presentation showing interesting objects she’d found while browsing our new radio astronomical data. She had started noticing very weird shapes she couldn’t fit easily to...

Autonomous Ravn X Drone to Launch Satellites From Airport Runways

Huntsville Alabama’s Lowe Mill arts and entertainment center offers studios to artists of all kinds—sculptors, bookbinders, woodworkers. It’s the kind of place where, in more normal times, visitors might wander open studios and take...

SpaceX Starship Prototype Exploded, but It’s Still a Giant Leap Towards Mars

Private company SpaceX launched SN8, a prototype of its Starship spacecraft, designed to go to the moon and Mars, on December 10. Its short flight attracted a great deal of attention for its final...

Lunar Gold Rush Could Create Conflict on the Ground if We Don’t Act Now—New Research

When it comes to the moon, everyone wants the same things. Not in the sense of having shared goals, but in the sense that all players target the same strategic sites—state agencies and the...

Breakthrough NASA Study Discovers Surprising Key to Astronauts’ Health in Space

Thanks to SpaceX, traveling beyond Earth now seems pretty tangible for us commoners. True, a ticket to the International Space Station currently runs $55 million (ouch). Technologically, however, the triumphant splashdown of SpaceX’s astronaut-carrying Dragon...

Solar Power Stations in Space Could Be the Answer to Our Energy Needs

It sounds like science fiction: giant solar power stations floating in space that beam down enormous amounts of energy to Earth. And for a long time, the concept—first developed by the Russian scientist Konstantin...

The International Space Station Is Ailing. Its Replacement Will Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Humans have now had a continuous presence in space for 20 years thanks to the International Space Station (ISS), but the facility is unlikely to survive into the next decade. What comes next could...

There Could Be 300 Million (or More) Earth-Like Planets in Our Galaxy

The first planets discovered outside our solar system were strange, unfamiliar worlds. These were giants like Jupiter, hotter than Venus, tearing around their suns inside the orbit of Mercury. Astronomers have since discovered planets...

NASA’s About to Try Grabbing a Chunk of Asteroid to Bring to Earth—and You Can Watch

If you’ve seen the movie The Martian, you no doubt remember the rescue scene, in which (spoiler alert!) Matt Damon launches himself off Mars in a stripped-down rocket in hopes of his carefully-calculated trajectory...

Space Mining Should Be a Global Project—But It’s Not Starting Off That Way

Exploiting the resources of outer space might be key to the future expansion of the human species. But researchers argue that the US is trying to skew the game in its favor, with potentially...

2020 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Work on Black Holes—an Astrophysicist Explains the Trailblazing Discoveries

Black holes are perhaps the most mysterious objects in nature. They warp space and time in extreme ways and contain a mathematical impossibility, a singularity—an infinitely hot and dense object within. But if black...

The Far Side of the Moon Is an Ideal Place to Listen For Alien Civilizations

Are we alone in the universe? It’s a question whose answer—whether it's yes or no—would philosophically and scientifically rock our world to the core. To find out, scientists have long been turning powerful radio telescopes...

The World’s Space Agencies Are on a Quest to Deflect a (Harmless) Asteroid

People have a bottomless appetite for all things space these days. Some space news is truly mind-blowing, like the first image of a black hole last year or this year’s time lapse of said...

The Four Most Promising Worlds for Alien Life in the Solar System

The Earth’s biosphere contains all the known ingredients necessary for life as we know it. Broadly speaking these are: liquid water, at least one source of energy, and an inventory of biologically useful elements...

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...

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