Where Aliens Could Be Watching Us

More than 1,700 stars could have seen Earth in the past 5,000 years. BY LISA KALTENEGGER Do you ever feel like someone is watching you? They could be. And I’m not talking about the odd neighbors at the end of your street. This summer, at the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University and the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, my colleague Jacky Faherty and I identified 1,715 stars in our solar neighborhood that could have seen Earth in the past 5,000 years.1 In the mesmerizing gravitational dance of the stars, those stars found themselves at just the right place … Continue reading Where Aliens Could Be Watching Us

It’s Time for a New International Space Treaty

With satellite traffic increasing and space tourism set to take off, the laws governing space are due for an overhaul. BY RAMIN SKIBBA SPACE IS MUCH BUSIER than it used to be. Rockets are launching more and more satellites into orbit every year. SpaceX, the private company founded by Elon Musk, blasted more than 800 satellites into space in 2020 alone. Extraterrestrial tourism is about to take off, led by space barons Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, two of whom have already taken their first private space outings. The frenetic activity of space agencies and space companies around the world will extend beyond Earth’s atmosphere, … Continue reading It’s Time for a New International Space Treaty

NASA predicts a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth

BY SOPHIE LEWIS Every coast in the U.S. is facing rapidly increasing high tide floods thanks to a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit working in tandem with climate change-fueled rising sea levels. A new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, warns that upcoming changes in the moon’s orbit could lead to record flooding on Earth in the next decade.  Through mapping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) sea-level rise scenarios, flooding thresholds and astronomical cycles, researchers found flooding in American coastal cities could be several multiples worse in the 2030s, when … Continue reading NASA predicts a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth

Contact

An alien-made artefact or just interstellar debris? What ʻOumuamua says about how science works when data is scarce by Matthew Bothwell is the public astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Invisible Universe: Why There’s More to Reality than Meets the Eye (forthcoming 2021). Edited by Sally Davies There’s an iconic moment, filmed in the shadow of the Very Large Array in New Mexico, that many people who visit this giant telescope try to duplicate. A young astronomer sits cross-legged on the bonnet of her car, the towering line of radio dishes vanishing … Continue reading Contact

We Have The First-Ever 3D Map of Our Solar System’s Heliosphere, And It’s Amazing

by MICHELLE STARR We now have a three-dimensional map of one of the boundaries of the Solar System. For the first time, astronomers have been able to determine the shape of the heliosphere, the boundary that marks the end of the influence of our star’s solar wind. This discovery could help us better understand the environment of the Solar System, and how it interacts with interstellar space. “Physics models have theorized this boundary for years,” said astronomer Dan Reisenfeld of Los Alamos National Laboratory. “But this is the first time we’ve actually been able to measure it and make a three-dimensional map … Continue reading We Have The First-Ever 3D Map of Our Solar System’s Heliosphere, And It’s Amazing

Was Einstein wrong? Why some astrophysicists are questioning the theory of space-time

By Colin Stuart To better understand the universe, we may need to kill off one of the most important theories of all time. Do we have to kill off the theory of space and time to make sense of the universe? (Image credit: Tobias Roetsch) As in history, revolutions are the lifeblood of science. Bubbling undercurrents of disquiet boil over until a new regime emerges to seize power. Then everyone’s attention turns to toppling their new ruler. The king is dead, long live the king. This has happened many times in the history of physics and astronomy. First, we thought Earth was … Continue reading Was Einstein wrong? Why some astrophysicists are questioning the theory of space-time

Should We Terraform Mars? Let’s Recap

Elon Musk wants to engineer Mars’ atmosphere. Can he? BY BRIAN GALLAGHER It seemed inevitable that Elon Musk would eventually get into a Twitter war over whether Mars can be terraformed. When you’re on Twitter, he told Businessweek in July, 2018, you’re “in meme war land.” “And so essentially if you attack me,” he said, “it is therefore okay for me to attack back.” Musk, the CEO and lead designer of SpaceX, wants to “make life multiplanetary,” starting with Mars. “Public support for life on Mars is critical to making it happen,” he tweeted last week. The red planet is relatively close to … Continue reading Should We Terraform Mars? Let’s Recap

A Zoologist Imagines What Alien Life Might Look Like

In “The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Arik Kershenbaum speculates about the universal lessons of evolution on Earth. BY EMILY CATANEO ANIMALS AS VARIED as sharks, salamanders, and duck-billed platypuses can detect electric fields around them, while some fish, including the South American knifefish and various species of African elephantfish, can actually generate unique, complex electric fields, which they use to communicate information about their social status, sex, and dominance position within their social group. These are the kinds of musings that can help us postulate about alien life, according to “The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About … Continue reading A Zoologist Imagines What Alien Life Might Look Like

Mars missions could leave astronauts with severe psychological damage — new study

by THE CONVERSATION  Human space missions to Mars are the next great leap in space exploration, with NASA targeting the 2030s as a reasonable time frame for taking the first humans there. But boarding on a journey to Mars is not like catching a flight to New York. Space is an extremely hostile environment for human life – from the lack of gravity and harmful radiation to isolation and the absence of night and day. Deep space missions to Mars will be much more physically and mentally demanding than the journeys we’ve made so far during 60 years of human space exploration. A flight … Continue reading Mars missions could leave astronauts with severe psychological damage — new study

Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient ‘Antikythera Mechanism’

A digital model has revealed a complex planetarium on the ancient device’s face. “Unless it’s from outer space, we have to find a way in which the Greeks could have made it,” researchers say. By Becky Ferreira In the early 1900s, divers hunting for sponges off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, discovered a Roman-era shipwreck that contained an artifact destined to dramatically alter our understanding of the ancient world. Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the object is a highly sophisticated astronomical calculator that dates back more than 2,000 years. Since its recovery from the shipwreck … Continue reading Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient ‘Antikythera Mechanism’