Space research and astronomy

Perseverance rover returns videos from its descent to the Martian surface

By Bryan Dyne, 25 February 2021

The rover also returned the first audio recorded on Mars.

The Mars rover and the Texas catastrophe: Scientific possibility vs capitalist reality

By Bryan Dyne, 20 February 2021

If society operated on the principle of rationality and human need, not the insatiable greed of the rich, the scientific advancements that made possible the Mars rover would be used to end the many ills that plague humanity.

Perseverance rover begins three-year mission on Mars

By Bryan Dyne, 19 February 2021

Alongside seven primary instruments to study Mars, Perseverance brought along a small helicopter, which will attempt the first powered flight on another world, and will leave behind sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil as the first step for future attempts to return samples of Mars to Earth.

Third data release from Gaia spacecraft maps 1.8 billion stars in the Milky Way

By Bryan Dyne, 17 February 2021

The spacecraft has provided a trove of data that will be studied for years as well numerous jumping off points for further research.

UAE and Chinese spacecraft safely enter Martian orbit

By Bryan Dyne, 11 February 2021

The orbital insertion is an important stage in the process of solar system exploration.

The collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope

By Don Barrett, 15 December 2020

Far from being an unforeseeable disaster, the loss of Arecibo directly flows from decades of impoverishment of all activities that do not most directly channel the riches of labor into the overflowing coffers of the ruling class.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft touches an asteroid, attempts sample collection

By Don Barrett, 23 October 2020

High drama unfolded to a worldwide audience Tuesday as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made a safe and seemingly successful “touch and go” sample collection from its target, asteroid 101955 Bennu. It will return a sample from the asteroid to Earth in September 2023.

Challenger: The Final Flight: A four-part docuseries on the 1986 disaster

By Joanne Laurier, 2 October 2020

Challenger: The Final Flight, a docuseries on Netflix, deals with the tragic explosion of NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986, which killed seven crew members.

Three missions to Mars are now under way

By Don Barrett, 31 July 2020

Spacecraft from China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have been successfully launched on trajectories that will take them to Mars by next February.

SpaceX launch of astronauts marks new stage of the privatization of space exploration

By Bryan Dyne, 2 June 2020

The fact that the event was so heavily promoted by SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk, the American media and President Donald Trump should give the excitement around the launch pause.

Thirty years of the Hubble Space Telescope

By Bryan Dyne, 2 May 2020

While it has been a public relations boon for NASA, Hubble’s true importance lies in its continued and vast contributions to astronomy.

Trump executive order asserts US property rights in outer space

By Don Barrett, 10 April 2020

The assertion of property rights follows the creation of the US “Space Force” branch of the military, as capitalism demands a return on investment in space.

Hubble Space Telescope detects water vapor on habitable-zone exoplanet

By Bryan Dyne, 13 September 2019

The discovery is another step toward finding a world with an environment, and possibly life, on a planet outside our Solar System.

Preparing for great-power war, France creates space command

By Will Morrow, 31 July 2019

The implication, covered over by the media and political establishment, is that the French ruling class is preparing for war against militarily-advanced, nuclear-armed powers.

Fifty years since the first Moon landing

By Patrick Martin, 20 July 2019

The first Moon landing remains an epoch-making scientific, technical and organizational achievement.

First imagery of black hole by the Event Horizon Telescope

By Bryan Dyne, 11 April 2019

The results from the planet-wide array of radio telescopes are the first direct measurements of the structure of a black hole and its surrounding environment.

Preparing for “tomorrow’s wars,” India shoots down satellite

By Deepal Jayasekera, 1 April 2019

Modi’s order that India demonstrate its “space war” capabilities was driven by both strategic and immediate electoral considerations.

China’s moon landing to exacerbate tensions with US

By Peter Symonds, 7 January 2019

Like the Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 and the first manned space flight in 1961, China’s landing of a probe on the moon’s far side has provoked consternation in Washington.

New Horizons completes flyby of Ultima Thule

By Bryan Dyne, 4 January 2019

Ultima Thule is 6.4 billion kilometers from Earth, the most distant astronomical body ever explored by a spacecraft.

Moon targeted for further exploration, orbiting space stations and militarization

By Henry Allan and Bryan Dyne, 27 December 2018

The development of the Lunar Gateway cannot be seen outside the context of the plan to create a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military and the growing militarization of space in general.

Last light for the Kepler space telescope

By Bryan Dyne, 1 December 2018

The first and most productive space telescope designed to find planets beyond our Solar System has been retired after exhausting its fuel supply.

NASA InSight mission successfully lands on Mars

By Bryan Dyne, 28 November 2018

InSight will spend the next two years studying the tectonic activity, internal heat flow and interior rotation of the Red Planet.

Japanese space agency lands two rovers on surface of asteroid

By Bryan Dyne, 26 September 2018

Although an asteroid was first landed on in 2001, the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission is the first to successfully deploy rovers on the surface of one.

NASA spacecraft launched for close-up study of the Sun

By Bryan Dyne, 13 August 2018

The Parker Solar Probe spacecraft has begun its three-month journey to get closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft.

Evidence of liquid water lakes under polar ice caps on Mars

By Bryan Dyne, 26 July 2018

The previous 54 years of Mars space exploration have laid the groundwork for this remarkable discovery.

Martian dust storm covers the entire planet

By Bryan Dyne, 25 June 2018

The Curiosity rover and the constellation of satellites orbiting Mars are using the storm to study Martian weather and climate.

Falcon Heavy launch marks new stage in the privatization—and perversion—of space exploration

By Don Barrett and Patrick Martin, 9 February 2018

The new rocket has two purposes, neither of them connected with the advance of science: to boost the wealth of billionaire Elon Musk, and to expand the military arsenal of the Pentagon.

Neutron star merger observed through gravitational waves and light

By Don Barrett, 18 October 2017

The initial detections by the LIGO, Virgo and Fermi collaborations were followed up by observations involving more than 3,500 astronomers.

Observation of gravitational waves wins Nobel Prize in physics

By Bryan Dyne, 6 October 2017

The announcement comes seven weeks after the detection of the fourth gravitational wave by the two Advanced LIGO detectors and the Advanced Virgo detector.

The legacy of the Cassini spacecraft

By Don Barrett, 16 September 2017

After 20 years of insights into Saturn, its rings, its moons and the Solar System as a whole, Cassini’s mission has ended.

Curiosity rover marks fifth year on Mars

By Bryan Dyne, 9 August 2017

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of NASA’s Pathfinder mission, which paved the way for all subsequent Mars landers and rovers.

New evidence for life-capable environments on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

By Bryan Dyne, 6 June 2017

The Cassini spacecraft has uncovered molecular hydrogen in material erupting from the subsurface ocean of Saturn’s moon.

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The discovery of a system with seven “Earth-like” exoplanets

By Bryan Dyne, 24 February 2017

The discovery of the new planetary system was based on collaboration towards a common goal whose driving force was the pursuit of knowledge, not the amassing of personal wealth.

ExoMars mission has both success and failure

By Bryan Dyne, 21 October 2016

The Trace Gas Orbiter successfully entered orbit but data indicates that the Schiaparelli probe crash-landed.

Rosetta spacecraft completes mission with crash landing into comet

By Bryan Dyne, 14 October 2016

The past two years of data from Rosetta have provided an unprecedented understanding of comets and the formation of our Solar System.

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Potentially Earth-like planet found in habitable zone of nearest star

By Don Barrett, 27 August 2016

The main differences between Earth and the newly discovered Proxima b are the very different physical characteristics of their respective parents’ stars.

Astronomers reveal most detailed map of galaxy distribution

By Joe Mount, 15 August 2016

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has enabled scientists to make the most precise measurements yet of dark energy and the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe.

One year since the New Horizons flyby of Pluto

By Bryan Dyne, 15 July 2016

During the past year, the NASA spacecraft has sent back images showing canyons, plains, mountains and evidence for liquid water on Pluto.

Juno spacecraft enters orbit around Jupiter

By Bryan Dyne, 5 July 2016

Juno’s mission will reveal the interior structure of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, and answer significant questions about its formation.

Further steps in finding an Earth-like planet outside the solar system

By Bryan Dyne, 29 June 2016

The prospects of finding another planet similar to our own are steadily increasing.

The detection of gravitational waves: A scientific milestone

By Bryan Dyne, 13 February 2016

The discovery of gravitational waves is a vindication of science and the ability of human reason to tackle and overcome the most complex problems.

Astronomers detect gravitational waves predicted by Einstein

By Will Morrow, 12 February 2016

The LIGO Collaboration has published the first direct detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space and time.

Strong evidence for liquid water flows on present-day Mars

By Bryan Dyne, 29 September 2015

The dark streaks observed on Mars are most likely salt deposits left behind from liquid water flows across the Martian surface.

Discovery of the most Earth-like planet to date

By Don Barrett, 25 July 2015

At a time of the momentous discovery of planets around other stars, no money can be found to examine them.

Pluto and Earth

By Patrick Martin, 17 July 2015

The flyby of Pluto by the spacecraft New Horizons—a scientific achievement of the first order—stands in contrast to the seemingly intractable social crises on our own planet.

New Horizons spacecraft completes Pluto flyby

By Bryan Dyne, 15 July 2015

The Pluto encounter is the first time that a spacecraft has ever visited the distant world.

Pentagon chief outlines plans for space war versus China and Russia

By Thomas Gaist, 8 July 2015

The Pentagon is developing new space war capabilities and modernizing its nuclear arsenal to prepare for “great power struggles” against China and Russia.

New Horizons spacecraft prepares for Pluto flyby

By Bryan Dyne, 8 July 2015

Pluto, a world too small and distant to be seen in detail even with Earth’s best telescopes, is the farthest object explored by a space probe.

What we learned about Mercury from the Messenger spacecraft

By Bryan Dyne, 22 June 2015

Over the course of its lifetime, Messenger has sent back more than 275,000 images of the planet Mercury.

Twenty-five years of the Hubble Space Telescope

By Bryan Dyne, 24 April 2015

While it is a public relations boon for NASA, Hubble's true importance lies in its continued and vast contributions to astronomy.

New discoveries show that Mars may have once been habitable

By Bryan Dyne, 28 March 2015

Recent evidence of nitrogen in the soil and of an ancient Martian ocean increases the likelihood that Mars once housed life.

Dawn spacecraft enters orbit around Ceres

By Bryan Dyne, 7 March 2015

Dawn is the first spacecraft to successfully orbit two extraterrestrial bodies.

Orion spacecraft makes first orbital flight

By Patrick Martin, 8 December 2014

The unmanned test flight is only the first step in plans to resume US manned space flight by the year 2021.

New telescope reveals first detailed image of a planetary system in formation

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barrett, 1 December 2014

An international telescope array entering operation has produced the first detailed image showing a planetary system in formation around a young star

The comet landing: A new milestone in space exploration

By Bryan Dyne, 15 November 2014

The landing of Philae is an important reminder that humanity is capable of great things—capabilities that are constrained not by the productive capacity of mankind, but by the organization of society.

Philae spacecraft lands successfully on comet

By Don Barrett and Bryan Dyne, 13 November 2014

With its touchdown on Wednesday, the Philae module became the first spacecraft to land on the surface of a comet.

Capitalism and the space program

By Don Barrett, 12 November 2014

Technical limitations cannot explain the failure of mankind to maintain a constant tempo of more and more ambitious explorations throughout the solar system and into interstellar space.

Deadly SpaceShipTwo crash follows explosion of unmanned Antares rocket

By Bryan Dyne, 1 November 2014

The two space disasters in the span of one week highlight the growing prominence of private companies in space missions.

US and Indian probes successfully reach Mars orbit

By Patrick Martin, 25 September 2014

Mangalyaan is designed to showcase the growing technical abilities of the Indian Space Research Organization, especially following the failure of a Chinese mission to Mars in 2012.

A historic first in solar system exploration

Rosetta spacecraft becomes first manmade probe to orbit a comet

By Don Barrett, 8 August 2014

The European Space Agency probe reached its target comet after a journey of more than ten years.

Ten years at Saturn with the Cassini spacecraft

By Don Barrett, 4 July 2014

Over the past decade, Cassini has continuously returned data on Saturn's rings, numerous moons and the planet itself.

Earth-sized planet in a star’s habitable zone confirmed

By Bryan Dyne, 21 April 2014

This is the first exoplanet detected that potentially has liquid water on its surface.

Cosmos reboot falls short of the mark

By Bryan Dyne, 14 April 2014

The remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, has its moments, but does not go far enough either in its exposition of science or its criticism of anti-science.

Imprint of primordial gravitational waves detected

By C. Frederick Graves, 24 March 2014

The finding by astronomers working at the South Pole provides confirmation of a key aspect of the Big Bang theory, called the inflationary hypothesis.

US continues to militarize space

By Douglas Lyons, 18 March 2014

The US military is planning to launch two satellites later this year and two more in 2016 to lay the basis for space hegemony over countries such as China and Russia.

New study estimates billions of Earth-sized planets orbiting Sun-like stars in the Milky Way galaxy

By Bryan Dyne, 9 November 2013

Data from the Kepler spacecraft has established that Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars are common in the Universe.

Peter Higgs and François Englert awarded 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics

By Bryan Dyne, 21 October 2013

The theoretical prediction and subsequent discovery of the Higgs boson has provided a greater insight into the origin of mass of subatomic particles.

NASA scientists announce historic leap in human exploration

Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space

By Kevin Reed, 4 October 2013

Voyager 1 has done science continuously for 36 years and spanning a journey of 19 billion kilometers.

One year of the Mars rover Curiosity

By Bryan Dyne, 6 August 2013

During its mission so far, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found strong evidence that life similar to terrestrial microbes could have existed on ancient Mars.

A decade of infrared space astronomy comes to a close

The end of the Herschel Space Observatory mission

By Don Barrett, 7 May 2013

On April 29, the Herschel Space Observatory exhausted its supply of ultra-cold liquid helium coolant, required to do its most sensitive observations.

Two planetary systems with potentially Earth-like conditions

By Bryan Dyne, 22 April 2013

Earth-like extra-solar planets have been found orbiting in the “habitable zone,” where radiation levels would permit the existence of the building blocks of life.

US sequester cuts force NASA to halt outreach programs

By Bryan Dyne, 28 March 2013

NASA is halting all public outreach programs as a result of $900 million in budget cuts forced by the sequester.

Earth-mass planet found orbiting the nearest star

By Bryan Dyne, 24 October 2012

A planet with similar mass to the Earth has been found orbiting α Centauri B, our closest interstellar neighbor.

Voyager spacecraft approaching interstellar space—35 years after launch

By Bryan Dyne, 28 September 2012

Voyager 1 and 2 have flown through the Solar System for 35 years and now Voyager 1 is on the verge of becoming humanity’s first interstellar spacecraft.

The Mars landing

By Patrick Martin, 10 August 2012

Despite efforts to portray it as a triumph for “American values,” the successful landing of the Curiosity rover was the product of collective social effort and scientific planning that is the antithesis of profit-mad individualism.

Curiosity rover lands on Mars: A milestone of space exploration

By Bryan Dyne, 7 August 2012

Curiosity, NASA’s latest Mars rover, has successfully landed on target at Gale crater.

The 2012 transit of Venus

By Don Barrett, 5 June 2012

The Sun, the planet Venus and the Earth will line up so that Venus appears to pass across the disk of the Sun.

New search for life among Jupiter’s ice moons

By Aidan Claire, 17 May 2012

The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a €1.1 billion unmanned mission to the ice moons of the planet Jupiter.

The end of the US space shuttle program

By Patrick Martin, 19 August 2011

The American manned space program is shutting down indefinitely, an event that has considerable historical significance.

Herschel telescope discovered twisted ring of gas and dust at the centre of our galaxy

By William Whitlow, 5 August 2011

The Herschel Space Observatory has identified a twisted ring of dust and gas at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Parts of the ring have been seen before but this is the first time it has been observed as a whole.

Dawn spacecraft reaches the asteroid Vesta

By Patrick Martin, 20 July 2011

The NASA mission will study the two largest asteroids, first Vesta, then Ceres.

Extra-solar planet could sustain Earth-like life

By Bryan Dyne, 6 June 2011

The planet Gliese 581 d is believed to be twice the mass of Earth, and could sustain liquid water on the side that faces its star.

First spacecraft begins orbiting the planet Mercury

By Patrick Martin, 25 March 2011

MESSENGER is the first space mission to Mercury in more than three decades.

Large Hadron Collider will continue experiments into 2012

By Bryan Dyne and Don Barrett, 18 March 2011

The physics research conducted in 2010 has allowed for the Large Hadron Collider to extend its operations through 2011 and 2012.

Planet formation viewed by astronomers

By Chris Talbot, 11 March 2011

Astronomical observation directly confirms the nebular hypothesis of Kant and Laplace.

Stardust spacecraft gives second glimpse of comet Tempel 1

By a reporter, 18 February 2011

The fly-by took place on February 14, some 210 million miles from Earth

Smallest rocky planet outside our solar system discovered

By Chris Talbot, 28 January 2011

NASA has confirmed this month that its Kepler space observatory has now identified the smallest yet planet outside our solar system, exoplanet Kepler-10b.

Mars rovers mark seven years on the planet’s surface

By Patrick Martin, 22 January 2011

The two robot exploration vehicles have revolutionized scientific understanding of the planet.

Bacteria that consumes arsenic boosts search for “alien” life

By Chris Talbot, 10 December 2010

The new bacteria was discovered by a research team at Mono Lake, California.

Gamma-ray bubbles discovered around our galaxy

By Chris Talbot, 18 November 2010

A giant structure around our Milky Way galaxy has been discovered by the NASA Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.

Scientists directly image an extra-solar planet’s orbit around a young star

By Bryan Dyne, 19 July 2010

For the first time in the history of the search for planets outside the solar system, astronomers have observed a planet going from one side of its parent star to the other.

Solar Dynamics Observatory―an eye on the Sun

By Bryan Dyne, 13 March 2010

One month after its successful launch, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has begun capturing high-resolution images of solar phenomena at 10-second intervals.

Spacecraft Kepler discovers five extrasolar planets

By Bryan Dyne, 2 February 2010

NASA reported last month that Kepler, the first spacecraft dedicated to searching for planets beyond our solar system, has discovered its first five extrasolar planets. Though they are uninhabitable for Earth-like life—four of the five are even larger than Jupiter—their rapid discovery indicates that Kepler is fully capable of achieving its primary mission, finding a planet resembling Earth, in future years.

Moon experiment shows presence of water

By Patrick Martin, 17 November 2009

The deliberate crashing of a US rocket into the surface of the Moon has produced evidence of “a significant amount” of water ice, a discovery that could revolutionize the exploration of the Earth’s satellite and even open the way to long-term settlement.

Newly repaired Hubble telescope releases first images

By Bryan Dyne, 23 September 2009

The first images from the repaired and upgraded telescope include a dazzling combination of planetary nebula, star clusters and galaxies.