• MRO Lifts Off Into Space

    The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) launched this morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will take seven months to reach Mars, arriving at the planet in March 2006.

  • Proving the Case

    On Earth, methane is mostly produced by life. The recent detection of methane on Mars therefore has led to much speculation about the possibility for life on the Red Planet. The strategies that may resolve this issue are revealed in the final part of this series on martian methane.

  • Titan: Greenhouse and Anti-greenhouse

    Recently, Chris McKay, a planetary research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, gave a public lecture, sponsored by the Planetary Society, in which he talked about the scientific results of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. In this, the third in a four-part series, McKay explains why Titan’s greenhouse effect is unique and how its anti-greenhouse effect works.

  • Earth Bends Messenger

    This week’s Earth flyby is the first of a number of critical mission milestones during MESSENGER’s circuitous journey toward Mercury orbit insertion. MESSENGER will conduct the first orbital study of Mercury, the least explored of the terrestrial planets that include Venus, Earth and Mars.

  • Tulips on the Moon

    In this essay, Bernard Foing ponders what steps will need to be taken to establish future human bases on the Moon. The Moon has one-sixth of Earth’s gravity and no atmosphere, but the difficulties of living there could be eased by something as beautiful and delicate as a flower.

  • Deciphering Mars: The Current Decade

    At the recent Earth System Processes II conference, Farmer gave a talk on the current state of understanding about Mars: what we know and what we’d like to know. In this, the second of a three-part series, he discusses what scientists have learned from recent NASA and ESA missions to the red planet.

  • A Milky Way Bar Please

    With the help of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have conducted the most comprehensive structural analysis of our galaxy and have found tantalizing new evidence that the Milky Way is much different from your ordinary spiral galaxy.

  • By Design

    Brother Guy Consolmagno, astronomer to the Vatican, discusses his views of the controversy over intelligent design, as well as the historical clashes between science and religion.

  • Sunshine on Comets

    Jessica Sunshine is the Deep Impact mission scientist responsible for the onboard infrared spectrometer. In the first half of this two-part interview, she discusses what the comet’s nucleus looked like before and after impact, and explains why it’s so difficult to piece together the spectroscopic data.

  • Stardust’s Return

    Samples of the comet Wild 2 will come down to Earth on January 15, 2006. But what kind of shape will they be in? Worries about the sample return capsule’s parachutes – and memories of the Genesis mission – add nail-biting drama to the event.

  • Deciphering Mars: Follow the Water

    At the recent Earth System Processes II conference, Farmer gave a talk on the current state of understanding about Mars: what we know and what we’d like to know. In this, the first of a three-part series, he explains why “following the water” is central to NASA’s program of Mars exploration.

  • Mars Not So Wet?

    A region of Mars that some planetary scientists believe was once a shallow lakebed and likely habitable for life may not have been so wet after all, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study.

  • SETI and the Cosmic Quarantine Hypothesis

    How many technically advanced civilizations exist in our galaxy? With this essay by Steven Soter, Scientist-in-Residence in the Center for Ancient Studies at New York University, Astrobiology Magazine initiates the first in a series of ‘Gedanken’, or thought, experiments – musings by noted scientists on scientific mysteries in a series of “what if” scenarios.

  • Triple A

    One of the thousands of asteroids orbiting the sun has been found to have a mini planetary system of its own.

  • Roving Mars

    The Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity are the Energizer Bunnies of planetary exploration. Designed to last for only 90 days, they are still going strong after nearly two years.