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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

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