space

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A space mission led by the University of Arizona will make a daring attempt tomorrow to scoop up some pebbles from an asteroid. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is more than two hundred million miles from Earth and it has to touch a spot on the asteroid Bennu the size of a couple of parking spaces. It’s the first U.S. attempt to an asteroid sample back to Earth for analysis. Scientists say it could answer some big questions. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with the mission’s science team chief Mike Nolan.


Bonnie Stevens / KNAU file photo

Mars is getting crowded. Eight working spacecraft currently explore its surface or orbit above it; and this summer three new missions are headed for the Red Planet. One of those is an orbiter called Hope, the first-ever Mars mission launched by the United Arab Emirates. It’s carrying an instrument built by scientists at Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with NAU’s Christopher Edwards about his hopes for the latest addition to the Mars fleet. 

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?

Boeing

A flat desert grassland in southeastern Arizona is being considered as a potential landing site for a new reusable spacecraft.

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