RZ Piscium, a star located 550 light years away in the constellation Pisces, has long intrigued researchers with its strange “winking” behavior. During the erratic episodes, which last as long as two days, the celestial body becomes about ten times dimmer and discharges a larger than normal amount of energy at infrared wavelengths, indicating the presence of enormous dust clouds.
Kids News - Space Articles
Science fiction thrillers frequently feature accidents that cause astronauts to float away into space. Though this has yet to happen in the real world, it is a risk every astronaut is well-aware of when embarking on a spacewalk or Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA). To prevent the nightmare scenario, space explorers are not only tethered to the spacecraft but also fitted with a backup safety kit.
After almost two years of traveling through space, on September 22, 2017, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) made its closest flyby of Earth. Moving at speeds of about 19,000 mph, the spacecraft passed within 11,000 miles of the planet’s surface just south of Chile, before zooming over Antarctica. The carefully orchestrated encounter was designed to take advantage of the Earth’s gravity to help launch OSIRIS-REx towards a tiny asteroid named Bennu. Referred to as the slingshot effect, or gravity assist, the ingenious method helps propel spacecrafts to great distances without expending precious fuel.
After providing the world with spectacular close-up images of Pluto and its icy moons in the summer of 2015, NASA’s New Horizons is zipping off into uncharted territory a billion miles away. On January 1, 2019, the spacecraft will fly past the most remote world ever explored by mankind. Dubbed (486958) 2014 MU69, the small frozen object that lies in the Kuiper Belt may help scientists reveal the origins of our solar system. To mark this historic event, the US Space Agency is asking the public to help find a nickname that is easier to remember than the elaborated moniker assigned by researchers.
Many kids dream of venturing into space to search for new planets or to conduct cutting-edge research on the International Space Station (ISS). In August 2017, twelve eager men and women came one step closer to realizing their lifelong ambition, when they reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to begin two years of grueling training. If they succeed, they will be NASA’s biggest graduating class of astronauts since 2000.
Earlier this month, millions of Americans were treated to a rare spectacle: a total solar eclipse that was visible from coast-to-coast. While Florence, a massive asteroid that will zip past our planet on September 1, will not overshadow the stunning event, it will make history of its own. According to Paul Chodas at the Center for Near Earth Object (NEO) Studies, the space rock is the largest to pass this close to our planet since the first near-Earth asteroid was discovered over a century ago.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which promotes and safeguards the science of astronomy, passed a resolution that classified all celestial bodies, (except satellites) in our solar system into three distinct categories – planets, dwarf planets, and small Solar System Bodies. To qualify as a planet, the body had to orbit around the sun, have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to pull it into a round shape, and have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. Since Pluto did not meet the third criterion, it was downgraded to a dwarf planet.
About forty light years, or 235 trillion miles, away in the constellation Aquarius lies a planetary system with seven Earth-sized planets, at least three of which could be habitable. The exciting news was revealed to the public at a NASA press briefing and through the release of a study in the journal Nature on February 22.