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Space Perspective Puts Tickets for Stratospheric Balloon Tours on Sale

Florida-based Space Perspective is opening its ticket window for 20-mile-high balloon flights that provide an astronaut’s-eye view of Earth. The list price for a six-hour trip up into the stratosphere and back is $125,000. Flights are scheduled to begin as soon as late 2024. Space Perspective’s co-CEOs, Taber MacCallum and Jane...

Betelgeuse's Mysterious Dimming Solved. It was… Dust

At the beginning of 2020, the red giant star Betelgeuse started to dim significantly. Betelgeuse has been known to vary in brightness, but this one was unusual. It grew much dimmer than usual, and for a longer period. Since Betelgeuse is a star at the end of its life, it led some to speculate that perhaps it would go supernova. Astronomers didn’t think...

NASA is Finally Sending a Lunar Lander to the Moon’s far Side

The far side of the moon has been getting more popular than a Pink Floyd album lately.  A variety of missions are planned to visit the previously overlooked side opposite Earth.  Recently NASA announced a few more, including two landers which will measure properties of the Moon’s interior.   One mission, known as the Lunar Interior Temperature...

China and Russia Announce their Future Plans for the Moon, Including a Human Base

In the coming years, multiple space agencies will be sending astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the closing days of the Apollo Program. For NASA, this will represent the long-awaited “return to the Moon,” while every other space agency will see it as a tremendous step for their space programs. One thing they all have in common is that this...

Astrobiologists Detect a Signature of Life Remotely. Don’t get too Excited, Though, it was With a Helicopter Here on Earth

Chirality is a word normally found in biological textbooks that will occasionally pop up in the astronomy community, usually when discussing potential biosignatures.  Typically the term is explained by analogy with left and right hands – how the molecules are curved in one specific way or another, similarly to how human hands are formed either as left...

Teeny Tiny Space Telescope has Taken Thousands of Pictures of Both Earth and Space

A new nanosat has been quietly snapping over 4500 pictures of the Earth and the sky after its launch on May 15th.  Rocketed into orbit on a Falcon 9, the nanosat, known as GEOStare2, actually contains two different telescopes – one focuses on a wide field of view while the other has a much narrower field of view but much higher resolution.  Together...

Space Telescopes Could Provide Next-Level Images of Black Hole Event Horizons

Back in 2019, the world was treated to the first ever image of a black hole, which was originally captured in 2017.  The feat was widely heralded as a leap forward for astrophysics, supporting Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Now a team led by the Radboud University proposes sending instruments into space to estimate black hole parameters more accurately...

Supermassive Black Hole Winds Were Already Blowing Less Than a Billion Years After the Big Bang

At the heart of most galaxies is a supermassive black hole. These beasts of gravity can play a crucial role in the formation and evolution of their galaxy. But astronomers still don’t fully understand when the influence of black holes becomes significant. Did large black holes form early in the universe, causing galaxies to form around them? Or did...

Juno Captured This Image of Earth on its Way Out to Jupiter Back in 2013

Since the Juno spacecraft has been in orbit around Jupiter for nearly five years — since July 4, 2016 — you may have forgotten about that time back in 2013 Juno flew past Earth. The spacecraft needed a little extra boost to reach Jupiter, so it used Earth for a gravity assist. Image editor Kevin Gill reminded us of that flyby with some stunning newly...

Astronomers saw the Same Supernova Three Times Thanks to Gravitational Lensing. And in Twenty Years They Think They’ll see it one More Time

It is hard for humans to wrap their heads around the fact that there are galaxies so far away that the light coming from them can be warped in a way that they actually experience a type of time delay.  But that is exactly what is happening with extreme forms of gravitational lensing, such as those that give us the beautiful images of Einstein rings. ...

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