Latest Blog Posts

D-brief

NASA Bets on a Spacecraft that Can 3-D Print and Self-Assemble in Orbit

By Daniel Bastardo Blanco | July 15, 2019 6:20 pm

Archinaut One will test 3-D printing spacecraft components, and then assembling them, in low-Earth orbit. (Credit: Made in Space, Inc.)

Putting a satellite in space is news of the past, but launching a spacecraft that can 3-D print and self-assemble is a story of the future. NASA is now betting on the technology being ready for prime time as early as 2022.

Last week, the space agency announced that they had awarded a $73.7 million contract to a startup company called Made In Space, Inc.  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: spacecraft

The Crux

Ploonets: When a Planet's Moon Goes Rogue

By Jake Parks | July 15, 2019 6:15 pm

Could moons around hot Jupiters, like the exoplanet shown in this artist’s concept, be stripped from the planets they orbit? New research suggests the answer is yes, and the researchers have defined such objects as “ploonets.”
(Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

Astronomers can’t stop debating about the definition of a planet (see: Pluto). But one thing is for sure — there are a lot of objects that skirt the line between two types of cosmic bodies. 

Now, researchers are adding a new  …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: solar system

D-brief

SpaceX Aims to Test Starhopper This Week

By Hailey Rose McLaughlin | July 15, 2019 5:15 pm

An artist’s illustration shows the eventual Starship, SpaceX’s future passenger vehicle, launching above the clouds. (Credit: SpaceX)

Exploring space on your next family vacation is still a few years in the future. But Elon Musk now says that Starhopper, the prototype for SpaceX’s future passenger spacecraft, could be tested as soon as July 16 at the company’s facility near Brownsville, Texas. That would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo launch.

In a tweet on July 12, M …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: spacecraft

D-brief

Aerogels Could Be Used to Build Terraforming Domes on Mars

By Charles Choi | July 15, 2019 5:00 pm

(Credit: Discover; Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock)

(Inside Science) — Shields made of a material so light it is sometimes called “frozen smoke” could help make areas on Mars livable, a new study suggests.

Currently, the surface of Mars is too cold for water to stay liquid, often thought of as a key prerequisite for life as we know it. Moreover, its atmosphere is too thin to shield against hostile ultraviolet radiation, which is dangerous to life.

Scientists have suggeste …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Dead Things

Ochre Engraving On Bones From China Oldest Symbolic Use

By Gemma Tarlach | July 15, 2019 3:06 pm

Ochre engraving on a rib fragment from China is the oldest evidence for the material’s symbolic usage, say researchers behind the find (top: photograph; bottom: illustration). (Credit: Francesco d’Errico and Luc Doyon)

Two pieces of animal bones with ochre engraving, found in central China, are the latest evidence that members of the human family used the material to express abstract ideas much earlier than once believed — and much further from Africa.

Researchers studying the find ca …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: human evolution

ImaGeo

A dramatic view of Tropical Storm Barry unlike any you may have seen before

By Tom Yulsman | July 12, 2019 5:38 pm

An animation of GOES-16 satellite imagery acquired in the infrared reveals the evolution of Tropical Storm Barry on Friday, July 12, 2019. The crackling white and blue areas are indicative of lightning activity. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA GOES-16/17 Loop of the Day)

Tropical Storm Barry is now expected to make landfall as a hurricane.

As I’m writing this Thursday afternoon, July 12, Barry is churning slowly over the northern Gulf of Mexico, strengthening as it tarries over warm water. As it nea …

D-brief

Scientists Made a Microbe-Boosting Diet to Help Malnourished Kids Grow

By Daniel Bastardo Blanco | July 12, 2019 2:25 pm

A malnourished child at a camp in Bangladesh. (Credit: Pahari Himu/Shutterstock)

One in four children will never grow to a normal height. In developing countries, the number can be as high as one in three. The problem? Malnutrition.

Now scientists have developed a diet that can boost key colonies of gut bacteria in malnourished kids. The finding is important because past research has shown these bacteria are essential for healthy growth and development. The study paves the way for a new …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: microbiome, nutrition

The Crux

What Are Intermediate-Mass Black Holes?

By Jake Parks | July 12, 2019 1:52 pm

The hunt for intermediate-mass black holes (IMBH) has picked up over recent years, and there are now dozens of promising candidates. This artist’s concept depicts a 2,200 solar mass IMBH suspected to reside in the heart of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, located some 15,000 light-years from Earth. (Credit: B. Kiziltan/T. Karacan)

Black holes have long served as fodder for science fiction — and for good reason. These unimaginably dense objects contain so much matter trapped in such a small …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes

D-brief

NASA Built Rock Climbing Robots to Scale Cliffs on Mars and Beyond

By Korey Haynes | July 12, 2019 1:45 pm

LEMUR can climb walls with special gripping feet, and is only one of a suite of climbing NASA robots. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has built many adventurous robots that can fly in space, land on alien planets, roll across Martian and lunar terrain, and even fly helicopter-style across far-off worlds. But the next big challenge is climbing and clambering across rough or steep terrain, a common sight whether on rocky Mars or icy Enceladus.

To that end, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laborator …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: NASA

The Crux

Are These Supermassive Black Holes on a Collision Course?

By Alison Klesman | July 12, 2019 1:34 pm

This galaxy, which sits about 2.5 billion light-years away, hosts two supermassive black holes (inset), visible because of the heated gas, dust, and stars around them. The two black holes are on a collision course, but astronomers still aren’t sure whether they will – or can – merge. (Credit: A.D. Goulding et al./Astrophysical Journal Letters 2019)

By now, merging black holes and the gravitational waves they produce are a scientific surety. Astronomers have observed several black hole merger …

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: black holes
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar
+