Author Archives: Lee Billings

Q&A: 3-D Printing Rockets with Relativity Space CEO Tim Ellis

After years of stealthy activity, the start-up is making big moves and revealing its plans to overturn more than a half century of tradition in aerospace manufacturing

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Astronomers Spy Swarms of Black Holes at Our Galaxy’s Core

Anticipated but never before seen, the existence of tens of thousands of these dark objects at the galactic center could have far-reaching implications for astrophysics

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Slips to 2020, and Astronomy Suffers

Damaged thrusters and a torn sunshield are keeping the telescope grounded perhaps until May 2020—and throwing astronomy and astrophysics into turmoil

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Looking for Planet Nine, Astronomers Gaze into the Abyss

Two years on, the search for our solar system’s missing world is as frenzied as ever—and the putative planet is running out of places to hide

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Juno Peers Deep into Jupiter’s Abyss to Reveal Weird Winds

Breakthrough measurements of Jupiter’s hidden interior could revolutionize our understanding of giant planets

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NASA Budget Proposal Defunds Space Station, Space Telescopes and More

The White House’s controversial plans for U.S. space science and exploration could ignite a budgetary battle with Congress

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Elon Musk Does It Again

His Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off on the first try, puts a Tesla auto into orbit—and maybe changes the business of space commerce and exploration forever

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A New Recipe for Hunting Alien Life

For most life in the universe, oxygen might be a deadly poison. Surprisingly, that might make such creatures easier for astrobiologists to find

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Better Instruments Give Scientists a New Way to Study the Cosmos

The era of “multimessenger astronomy” has arrived 

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Dead Stars Orbiting Black Holes May Explain Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

Scientists are peering into the “engines” behind some of the most extreme outbursts in the universe

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Air Force Tracks Final Frontier

General Jay Raymond, Commander of Air Force Space Command, talks about keeping watch over space and cyber.

 

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Where Will NASA Go Next? Saturn’s Moon Titan, or Maybe a Comet

A flying drone to sniff out life on Titan and a spacecraft to return comet samples to Earth are finalists in NASA’s search for its next interplanetary destination

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A Map of Future Exoplanetary Discovery

Most of the alien worlds closest to our own are found around the smallest, dimmest nearby stars

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Alien Probe or Galactic Driftwood? SETI Tunes In to ‘Oumuamua

It’s a long shot, but scientists are about to listen very closely for radio signals from our solar system’s first known interstellar visitor

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What Will NASA’s Biggest-Ever Space Telescope Study First?

To fully utilize the long-awaited James Webb Space Telescope, researchers will have to squeeze a generation of scientific studies into the multibillion-dollar observatory’s short lifetime

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Q&A: Plotting U.S. Space Policy with White House Adviser Scott Pace

The executive director of the National Space Council discusses the Trump administration’s plans to “make America great again”—in space

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Astronomers Spot First-Ever Space Rock from Another Star

As it departs the inner solar system, scientists are racing to study the object before it fades from view

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Astrophysicist Leads a Tour of the "Zoomable Universe"

A conversation with scientist and author Caleb Scharf about the relative scales of the universe, the limits of knowledge and finding significance in life

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Gravitational Wave Astronomers Hit Mother Lode

Spacetime ripples from a stellar cataclysm in a distant galaxy help explain the cosmic origins of gold, and chart the course for a new age of “multi-messenger” astronomy

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Astronomers Are Finally Mapping the “Dark Side” of the Milky Way

Half of our home galaxy is terra incognita. That will soon change

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China’s Huge Investments in Science Are Starting to Pay Off

Seeing a chance to lead, China is deploying clean energy, quantum satellites and genomics

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New Telescope "Gives Back the Sky" to City-Dwellers

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The Future of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Fully opening this new window on the universe will take decades—even centuries

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Galaxies Far, Far Away Send Us Highest-Energy Cosmic Rays

A new study hints that the most energetic particles ever seen come from far beyond the Milky Way.

 

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Cassini’s "Grand Finale" Will Be a Blaze of Glory

The Cassini orbiter will burn out, but its legacy won’t fade away

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James Webb Space Telescope Surrounded by Rising Floodwaters

Isolated in a giant thermal vacuum chamber, NASA’s $8.6 billion next-generation observatory is riding out the worst of Hurricane Harvey

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"The Farthest" Brings NASA’s Voyager Missions Back to Earth

A new documentary marks the 40th anniversary of humanity’s most audacious interplanetary spacecraft

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The Air out There: Astronomers Aim to Find Atmospheres of Alien Earths

Is our nearest neighboring exoplanet, Proxima b, an "Earth next door," or is it a lifeless rock?

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The Air out There: Astronomers Aim to Find Atmospheres of Alien Earths

Is our nearest neighboring exoplanet, Proxima b, an "Earth next door," or is it a lifeless rock?

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Reaching for the Stars, Breakthrough Sends Smallest-Ever Satellites into Orbit

Despite technical glitches and regulatory hurdles, nanosatellite swarms could someday be the cornerstone for revolutionary interplanetary or even interstellar space-science missions

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