News in Brief
India’s first moon lander is on its way to the lunar south pole.
At 5:13 a.m. EDT on July 22, the Chandrayaan 2 mission launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s southeast coast. The mission consists of an orbiter; a lander named Vikram after Indian space scientist Vikram Sarabhai; and a rover named Pragyan, the Sanskrit word for wisdom.
The spacecraft was originally...
High in the sky, sunlit wisps remain aglow even after sundown. This summer, a surprising number of such noctilucent, or “night-shining,” clouds have been spotted in the Northern Hemisphere — and, unusually, as far south as Oklahoma and New Mexico, scientists report.
These clouds typically float in the mesosphere about 80 kilometers above Earth’s surface, and are visible at high latitudes...
To cover humankind’s first steps on the moon, Science News needed a backup plan.
“We didn’t know what kind of pictures we’d get, when we would get them, who we would get them from,” says Kendrick Frazier, who joined Science News as a writer just two months before Apollo 11 touched down on lunar soil. So the staff took pictures of their home television screens during the July 20, 1969...
I’m not allowed to touch the moon rocks.
In the room where NASA stores the samples that Apollo astronauts brought to Earth decades ago, I peer at rocks and trays of dirt through glass. But my tour guides are firm: Nobody touches the moon rocks.
This is the pristine sample lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Being here is a big deal for me. I’ve spent years looking at...
Once on the moon, Apollo astronauts had two major goals: get themselves and the moon rocks home safe.
To make space on the cramped lunar modules for the hundreds of kilograms of moon samples, the astronauts had to go full Marie Kondo. Anything that wasn’t essential for the ride home got tossed: cameras, hammocks, boots and trash. Downsizing also meant abandoning big stuff, like moon...
Reviews & Previews
Astronomy lovers are not the only ones excited about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Publishers are also taking note, serving up a pile of books to mark the occasion.
Are you looking for a general overview of the birth of the U.S. space program? Would you rather geek out on the technical details of the Apollo missions? How about flipping through a collection of photographs from...
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has made its second and final attempt to grab a pinch of dust from asteroid Ryugu. At about 9:06 p.m. EDT on July 10, the Japanese spacecraft briefly touched down near an artificial crater it had previously blasted into the 4.5-billion-year-old asteroid’s surface. If the dust grab went well, it’s the first spacecraft to ever collect a sample from an asteroid’s insides...
Look up at the moon and you’ll see roughly the same patterns of light and shadow that Plato saw about 2,500 years ago. But humankind’s understanding of Earth’s nearest neighbor has changed considerably since then, and so have the ways that scientists and others have visualized the moon.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, here are a collection of images that...
The sun’s rhythm may have set the pace of each day, but when early humans needed a way to keep time beyond a single day and night, they looked to a second light in the sky. The moon was one of humankind’s first timepieces long before the first written language, before the earliest organized cities and well before structured religions. The moon’s face changes nightly and with the regularity of...
Letters to the Editor
Heat keepers07/06/2019 - 06:15 Planetary Science, Earth, Neuroscience
Long ago, molten iron could have erupted from metal asteroids in a process scientists refer to as ferrovolcanism, Lisa Grossman reported in “Metal asteroids may have once had iron-spewing volcanoes (SN: 5/11/19 & 5/25/19, p. 5).
“In the cold vastness of space, how long are these rocks expected to keep their thermal energy?” asked online reader Bronze Condor.