The Very Large Telescope, or VLT, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert. VLT’s instrumentation was adapted to conduct a search for planets in the Alpha Centauri system as part of the Breakthrough initiatives. This stunning image of the VLT is painted with the colors of sunset and reflected […]

Evidence indicates that large amounts of cosmic dust are produced as the stellar winds of massive stars collide in Wolf-Rayet binary or multiple-star systems. As the stars orbit each other and dust is produced, a distinctive pinwheel pattern is formed, as shown in this image from the European Southern Observatory. […]

This illustration shows a concept of how the NASA Mars Ascent Vehicle, carrying tubes containing rock and soil samples, could be launched from the surface of Mars in one step of the Mars sample return mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The National Strategy for Planetary Protection reflects the critical importance of planetary […]

During this next phase, the program will mature critical technologies and make critical design decisions as well as assess industry partnerships. NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are moving to the next phase in a campaign to deepen understanding of whether life ever existed on Mars and, in turn, better understand the origins […]

This figure illustrates a cross-section of Enceladus, showing a summary of the processes SwRI scientists modeled in the Saturn moon. Oxidants produced in the surface ice when water molecules are broken apart by radiation can combine with reductants produced by hydrothermal activity and other water-rock reactions, creating an energy source […]

For decades, robotic missions have been exploring Mars to learn more about the planet’s geological and environmental history. Next year, the Perseverancerover will join in the hunt and be the first mission to send samples back to Earth and by the 2030s, the first crewed mission is expected to take place. […]

Illustration of solar wind flowing over asteroids in the early solar system. The magnetic field of the solar wind (white line/arrows) magnetizes the asteroid (red arrow). Researchers at the University of Rochester used magnetism to determine, for the first time, when carbonaceous chondrite asteroids first arrived in the inner solar […]

This artist’s conception of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa shows a hypothesized cryovolcanic eruption, in which briny water from within the icy shell blasts into space. A new model of this process on Europa may also explain plumes on other icy bodies. Credit: Justice Blaine Wainwright Scientists have theorized on the […]

The dusty side of the Sword of Orion is illuminated in this striking infrared image from the European Space Agency’s Hershel Space Observatory. This immense nebula is the closest large region of star formation, situated about 1,500 light years away in the constellation of Orion. Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech An international team […]