astronomy

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko

A year ago NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past a strange snowman-shaped object in the Kuiper Belt, far beyond Pluto. Named Arrokoth, it’s the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft.  Scientists say it’s offered up several surprises, including clues into how planets formed in the early days of the solar system. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Lowell Observatory’s Will Grundy about the new findings published in Science.

Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory

SpaceX launched 60 new Starlink satellites into orbit last week, in their quest to expand Internet access across the globe. The company hopes to have 1500 in orbit by the end of the year, and other companies are planning launches, too. That could mean tens of thousands of new satellites in the sky, which is bad news for astronomers. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Lowell Observatory director Jeff Hall about how these “satellite constellations” threaten astronomical research.

Melissa Sevigny: Are they brighter than the usual satellite up there?

NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS

Scientists at Northern Arizona University mapped frozen water hidden just below the surface of Mars, with the goal of finding the best spots for future astronauts to visit. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.


Melissa Sevigny

Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory will host a free open house tomorrow for its new plaza with six advanced telescopes. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, it’s part of an expansion planned through 2023.

U.S. Geological Survey

The Flagstaff Festival of Science begins today and it’s all about astronauts. The theme is To the Moon and Beyond in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings. It takes a lot of people to launch an astronaut into space, and one of those people is Flagstaff geologist Lauren Edgar of the U.S. Geological Survey. It’s her job to train future astronauts in geologic field work, using Northern Arizona’s volcanoes and lava fields as a kind of stand-in for the Moon and Mars. Mars even has its own supersized Grand Canyon called Valles Marineris. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with Lauren Edgar about her work with the most recent class of astronaut candidates.

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