Webb Space Telescope Nearly Set to Explore the Solar System

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the next of NASA’s Great Observatories; following in the line of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. JWST combines the qualities of two of its predecessors, observing in infrared light, like Spitzer, with fine resolution, like Hubble. … Read more

Ice giants and icy moons: The planetary science decadal survey looks beyond Mars to the outer solar system

The last time the planetary science community came together to conduct a decadal survey, Mars was ascendant. NASA had flown a series of Mars missions and was working on its most ambitious rover yet, Curiosity. The decadal survey endorsed continuing that Mars exploration strategy by backing a mission to collect samples as the first step … Read more

Solar flares: What are they and how do they affect Earth?

Solar flares are large explosions from the surface of the sun that emit intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation. The intensity of the explosion determines what classification the flare belongs to. The most powerful are X-class flares, followed by M-, C- and B-class; A-class flares are the smallest. These flares can be visible as bright flashes … Read more

Over 1,000 New Asteroids Discovered Hidden in Hubble Archives

Researchers have found over 1,700 asteroid trails in archived Hubble data from the last 20 years. While many of the asteroids are previously known, more than 1,000 are not. What good are another 1,000 asteroids? Like all asteroids, they could hold valuable clues to the Solar System’s history. As time passes and more and more … Read more

Survey of More Than 800 Planet-Forming Disks Reveals a Planetary Evolution Surprise

Is our Solar System comparable to other solar systems? What do other systems look like? We know from exoplanet studies that many other systems have hot Jupiters, massive gas giants that orbit extremely close to their stars. Is that normal, and our Solar System is the outlier? One way of addressing these questions is to … Read more

There’s a Total Lunar Eclipse This Weekend! Here’s Your Complete Guide

The first eclipse season of 2022 reaches its climax this coming weekend, with a fine total lunar eclipse transpiring on Sunday night into Monday morning. All of South America and most of North America will see the eclipse in its entirety, while Alaska and western Canada will see totality underway at moonrise, and western Europe … Read more

Mixed-up sunspot emits powerful solar flare

A mixed-up region of sunspots pointed almost directly at Earth has just emitted a major solar flare, which could cause havoc with power grids and communication networks over the next few days. NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) first detected the sunspot area designated AR3006 (“AR” stands for “active region”) several days ago; now the region … Read more

Parker Solar Probe: First spacecraft to “touch” the sun

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched on Aug. 12, 2018 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The Parker Solar Probe’s mission is to study the sun in unprecedented detail. The revolutionary solar probe became the first spacecraft to “touch” the sun when it swooped inside the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, during its … Read more

Instability at the Beginning of the Solar System – Implications for Mysterious “Planet 9”

All stars, including our sun, are born from a cloud of dust and gas. This cloud can also seed planets that will orbit the star. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech The Instability at the Beginning of the Solar System A new explanation for why our solar system is the way it is – and why others … Read more