One Cool Thing: NASA Spacecraft Fetches A Rock From Nearby Asteroid

Photo: NASA

NASA announced that its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully touched down on the near-Earth asteroid Bennu after spending two years orbiting it.  Its task was to grab a sample from the asteroid’s surface with its robotic arm.  Bennu sits 200 million miles from Earth (so close) and NASA’s leadership was thrilled with this latest “first” — the sample will be back in 2023, but photos of the historic moment were available right away – amazing.  “This was an incredible feat,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in a statement. “A piece of primordial rock that has witnessed our solar system’s entire history may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discovery, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”  Way cool.  We only wish we could explore the depths of the oceans right here on Earth with the same gusto.

Up Next

One Pretty Thing: The Northern Lights Visible In the Lower 48

One Pretty Thing: The Northern Lights Visible In the Lower 48

This week presents a rare astronomical event: the northern lights will be visible to a large swathe of the United States. According to the latest forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center, the Aurora Borealis can be spotted from the Pacific Northwest to New England and as far south as northern Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Continue Reading 336 words
NASA Partners with Europeans to Launch Ocean Observing Satellite

NASA Partners with Europeans to Launch Ocean Observing Satellite

NASA launched a new ocean observation satellite on the back of a SpaceX rocket last week. Now that it’s in space, the Sentinel-6 named the “Michael Freilich” will perform continuous monitoring of ocean levels and currents for the next 30 years. The “unprecedented accuracy” of its data will benefit ocean travel, weather forecasts, hurricane predictions, and climate science.  

Why This Matters: The Sentinel-6 will help scientists monitor the climate crisis as it unfolds in our world’s oceans and coasts (home to 40% of humanity).

Continue Reading 510 words

One Cool Thing: Baby Yoda In Space

Baby Yoda is the Crew-1 astronauts' zero gravity indicator — Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) November 16, 2020 The most famous member of the Space Shuttle crew is an alien TV star!  The new astronaut crew aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft safely docked with the International Space Station late Monday.  Way cool, but all anyone could […]

Continue Reading 71 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.