space

Could there be life under the icy surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus?

Scientists have found a promising sign.

NASA announced on Thursday that its Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn has gathered new evidence that there's a chemical reaction taking place under the moon's icy surface that could provide conditions for life. They described their findings in the journal Science.

Exoplanet Discovery and Other Space Mysteries

Mar 17, 2017
An illistration of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, which contains seven Earth-like planets.
R. Hurt, T. Pyle / NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today at 11am. 

NASA recently discovered seven Earth-like exoplanets orbiting a star 40 light years away from Earth. Any one of the planets could possibly harbor life, but the three outermost planets lying in the star's "habitable zone" have the most likely chance. Whether they do or don't, this discovery will give scientists insight about the conditions under which life is able to evolve. We'll talk about this discovery and other space news this hour with a panel of guests.

Exoplanet Discovery and Other Space Mysteries

Mar 2, 2017
An illistration of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system, which contains seven Earth-like planets.
R. Hurt, T. Pyle / NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA recently discovered seven Earth-like exoplanets orbiting a star 40 light years away from Earth. Any one of the planets could possibly harbor life, but the three outermost planets lying in the star's "habitable zone" have the most likely chance. Whether they do or don't, this discovery will give scientists insight about the conditions under which life is able to evolve. We'll talk about this discovery and other space news this hour with a panel of guests.

Guests:

A small, faint star relatively close by is home to seven Earth-size planets with conditions that could be right for liquid water and maybe even life.

The discovery sets a record for both the most Earth-size planets and the most potentially habitable planets ever discovered around a single star.

On Wednesday morning, NASA rewarded five members of the public — two doctors, a dentist, an engineer and a product designer — for their creative ideas for how to poop in a spacesuit.

Yes, it sounds a little bit funny. But unmet toilet needs could have life or death consequences for an astronaut in an emergency situation.

That's why thousands of people spent tens of thousands of hours on the "Space Poop Challenge," brainstorming, modeling, prototyping and number-crunching to come up with a crowd-sourced solution to the problem of human waste in a spacesuit.

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts during a routine test on the launchpad. The accident shocked NASA as the agency was rushing to meet President Kennedy's 1961 challenge to have men on the moon by the end of the decade.

The test was a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 1 crew — Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. The ultimate goal was to check out the command module, NASA's first three-man spacecraft that would take astronauts to the moon.

The last person to leave footprints on the moon has died. NASA reported that Gene Cernan died Monday at the age of 82, surrounded by his family.

Gene Cernan flew in space three times, including twice to the moon. Cernan was big, brash and gregarious. And if he hadn't been lucky, he could have missed his chance to walk on the moon.

Unexplained, short radio bursts from outer space have puzzled scientists since they were first detected nearly a decade ago.

The elusive flashes — known as fast radio bursts, or FRBs — are extremely powerful and last only a few milliseconds. The way their frequencies are dispersed suggests they traveled from far outside our galaxy. About 18 have been detected to date. They've been called the "most perplexing mystery in astronomy."

The 24 juniors and seniors in the astronomy class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., sink into plush red theater seats. They're in a big half-circle around what looks like a giant telescope with a globe on the end. Their teacher, Lee Ann Hennig, stands at a wooden control panel that has enough buttons and dials to launch a rocket.

Terrorist attacks, hurricanes, a divisive U.S. election, Brexit — 2016 has not been easy. With the year coming to an end, we thought it was time to get some serious perspective — from the scale of the entire universe.

We're tackling big questions: what scientists know, and what they have yet to learn.

So before you ring in another year, take a moment to contemplate the billions of years that led to 2017 and the billions more yet to come.

On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn blasted off into space and became the first American to orbit Earth. Behind the scenes, thousands of engineers and mathematicians worked tirelessly to make NASA's Friendship 7 mission a success. Historical photos show them as white men in crisp white shirts and ties — but we now know there's more to that picture.

When a robotic probe finally lands on a watery world like Jupiter's moon Europa, what do scientists have to see to definitively say whether the place has any life?

That's the question retired astronaut John Grunsfeld posed to some colleagues at NASA when he was in charge of the agency's science missions.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson arrived at the International Space Station this weekend, making her the oldest woman in space at age 56. On the mission, she's projected to once again become the U.S. astronaut with the most time spent in orbit.

This is Whitson's third mission on the space station; she'll soon become its commander for the second time. Collectively, she's spent more than a year of her life in space.

Exploring the Night Sky

Apr 12, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

From unknown supermassive black hole discoveries to the new evidence that two million years ago supernova debris showered Earth — there is no shortage of exciting astronomical news. This hour, we'll talk explore the latest findings and ways to enjoy the night sky this spring.

Heads Up: A Guide to the Fall Sky

Oct 15, 2013

10:00 Astronomer Tom Burns has some advice: Look up! The night sky is full of activity this season, and it's not just Orion's time to shine. This fall brings a bright showing from Capella, and may sound a death knell for quirky comet ISON.   This hour of All Sides, we'll learn more about which little stars are twinkling and when to bust out the binoculars. Guest