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Flickr Photo/ Kevin Hale (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/5aVZD3

What will the eclipse be like for those in the Puget Sound region?  

The time is almost here. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, many in America will collectively raise their heads to the sky to witness the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years. This time around, Oregon is ground zero and the state is preparing for a phenomenon that has been embraced by people from all over the world. Here are some key things to know before the solar eclipse completely covers our lives.

If you're lucky enough to be in the path of totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse over North America, you will get at best about 2 ½ minutes to view "totality" – when the moon almost completely covers the disc of the Sun.

Crumbs may seem harmless here on Earth, but they can be a hazard in microgravity — they could get in an astronaut's eye, or get inhaled, causing someone to choke. Crumbs could even float into an electrical panel, burn up or cause a fire.

That's part of the reason why it was a very big deal in 1965 when John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his pocket as he was orbiting the earth with Gus Grissom.

"Where did that come from?" Grissom asked Young.

"I brought it with me," Young said.

The final scramble is on to see the total eclipse on Aug. 21 in the Northwest. Most hotels and campgrounds in the path of totality are booked.

But for those willing to do some research, or pay handsomely, there are still eclipse adventures to be had.

Twenty years ago Tuesday, a plucky little probe named Pathfinder landed at Ares Vallis on the surface of Mars.

It didn't land in the traditional way, with retrorockets firing until it reached the surface. No, Pathfinder bounced down to its landing site, cushioned by giant air bags. It was a novel approach, and the successful maneuver paved the way for a similar system used by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

The Apollo 11 command module, which took the first moonwalkers to lunar orbit and back in 1969, is undergoing a painstaking restoration, in preparation for an unusual national tour later this year.

If all goes to plan, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.

Today's dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft's 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn's moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

The private company SpaceX has announced that it plans to send two passengers on a mission beyond the moon in late 2018.

If the mission goes forward, it would be the "first time humans have traveled beyond low Earth orbit since the days of Apollo," as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce told our Newscast unit.

The two private citizens approached the company about the idea and have already paid a sizable deposit, CEO Elon Musk told reporters in a conference call. These private individuals will also bear the cost of the mission.

Flickr Photo/NASA Goddard Photo and Video

The command module that took humans to the moon for the first time is coming to Seattle.

The Apollo 11 module went to the moon in 1969. It's coming to Seattle's Museum of Flight in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Early Wednesday morning, a space capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo approached the International Space Station.

A small, faint star relatively close by is home to seven Earth-size planets with conditions that could be right for liquid water and maybe even life.

The discovery sets a record for both the most Earth-size planets and the most potentially habitable planets ever discovered around a single star.

An archaeologist has launched a citizen science project that invites anyone with an Internet connection to help look for evidence of archaeological site looting.

In a technological tour de force, scientists have developed a new way to probe antimatter.

For the first time, researchers were able to zap antimatter atoms with a laser, then precisely measure the light let off by these strange anti-atoms. By comparing the light from anti-atoms with the light from regular atoms, they hope to answer one of the big mysteries of our universe: Why, in the early universe, did antimatter lose out to regular old matter?

A cable that's as long as six football fields has been launched into orbit — and when it's deployed, it'll test an idea to knock out orbital debris. Japan's space agency sent the electrodynamic tether into space along with supplies for the International Space Station.

Updated 5 p.m. ET

The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn't stop his pioneering ways.

Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space.

Glenn was 95 when he died; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.

NASA is looking for some help making the solar system's most portable port-a-potty.

So if you think you know the best way to poop in a spacesuit, the agency is ready to hear it ... and you might make $30,000 for your trouble.

The next generation of great space telescopes is heading into its final round of ground tests. The nearly $9 billion James Webb Space Telescope will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope. It's designed to provide unprecedented images of the earliest stars and galaxies that formed in the universe.

But before the telescope can get to work, there are still a lot of engineering challenges to overcome.

Courtesy of NASA

Kim Malcolm talks with GeekWire aerospace and science editor Alan Boyle about the potential impact of President Elect Donald Trump on Washington state's commercial space industry.

Many Oregon motels are sold out and reservable campsites are going fast for an event that doesn't happen until the second half of next year. If you don't want to miss a total solar eclipse, mark August 21, 2017 on your calendar.

Three space travelers landed safely back on Earth late Saturday night.

The journey began in the evening, 5:12 p.m., ET to be exact, when the hatch to the International Space Station closed, and Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi climbed into the cramped Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft that would bring them home.

The Schiaparelli Mars lander got very close to the red planet before something went wrong. It entered the planet's atmosphere, managed not to burn up as it hurtled down and unfurled its parachute. It's unclear what happened in the final minute of descent, but it wasn't what the European and Russian space agencies had planned.

For years, President Obama has been saying the U.S. must send humans to Mars. Permanently.

There was the 2010 speech when he said, "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

Scientists in Michigan have found a new dwarf planet in our solar system.

It's about 330 miles across and some 8.5 billion miles from the sun. It takes 1,100 years to complete one orbit.

But one of the most interesting things about the new object, known for the time being as 2014 UZ224, is the way astronomers found it.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says his space transport company, SpaceX, will build a rocket system capable of bringing people to Mars and supporting a permanent city on the red planet.

"It's something we can do in our lifetimes," he said in a speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico that was streamed online and watched by more than 100,000 people. "You could go."

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET.

A rocket took off Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral, Fla., as part of a mission by NASA and the University of Arizona to send a robot to an asteroid. The goal: Bring back ancient dust.

Solar eclipse seen from in Yokohama in 2012.
Flickr Photo/J Lippold (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/c2xvgh

Bill Radke talks with Geekwire's Alan Boyle about  North American eclipse of the sun expected August 2017. It's first of its kind in almost a hundred years. But the best places to see it in the Northwest are already getting pretty crowded. 

They aren't saying it's alien, but they are saying it's "interesting."

The SETI Institute — the private organization that looks for signals of extraterrestrial life — has announced that it is investigating reports of an unusual radio signal picked up by Russian astronomers.

The signal was detected on a much wider bandwidth than the SETI Institute uses in its searches, and the strength of the received signal was "weak," SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak wrote in a blog post.

An artist's rendering shows what Proxima b and its star, Proxima Centauri, might look like.
European Southern Observatory

The discovery of a planet that could hold life just a few light-years away is enough to make Alan Boyle teary.

"When we look back millennia from now, we're not going to be so focused on who won such and such an election or who made the most money," the GeekWire aerospace editor told KUOW's Kim Malcolm. "People are going to remember big steps that were taken on the frontier, and this could be one of them."


Maybe it was a meteor? Or space junk? People on the West Coast weren't sure what the bright object was that streaked across the sky Wednesday night, but they knew it was spectacular. Now comes word that the object — which separated into bright fragments — was a stage of China's large new rocket.

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