NASA spacecraft take aim at nearby supernova

An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on Jan. 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy M82 and lies only about 12 million light-years away.

Extreme power of black hole revealed

Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and a suite of other telescopes to reveal one of the most powerful black holes known. The black hole has created enormous structures in the hot gas surrounding it and prevented trillions of stars from forming.

NASA-funded sounding rocket to catch aurora in the act

On Jan. 24, 2014, Marilia Samara will be waiting for the perfect aurora. Samara and her science team will be at the Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska, looking for classic curls in the aurora in the night sky – curls that look like cream swirling in a cup of coffee.

NASA's Mars 2020 Rover instrument proposals

NASA has received 58 proposals for science and exploration technology instruments to fly aboard the agency's next Mars rover in 2020, twice the usual number submitted for instrument competitions in the recent past, and an indicator of the extraordinary interest in exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA: Cracked sea ice stirs up Arctic mercury concern

Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans.

Mars Orbiter images rover and tracks in Gale Crater

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and its recent tracks from driving in Gale Crater appear in an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Dec. 11, 2013.

A galaxy with two hearts

This new Hubble image shows the spiral galaxy Messier 83, otherwise known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy. One of the largest and closest barred spirals to us, this galaxy is dramatic and mysterious; it has hosted a large number of supernova explosions, and is thought to have a double nucleus lurking at its core.

Internet radio provides musical space-weather reports from NASA's LRO Mission

The latest tool for checking space weather is an internet radio station fed by data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The radio station essentially operates in real time, receiving measurements of how much radiation the spacecraft is experiencing and converting those into a constant stream of music.

Death by black hole in small galaxy?

A bright, long duration flare may be the first recorded event of a black hole destroying a star in a dwarf galaxy. The evidence comes from two independent studies using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.

Stormy stars? NASA's Spitzer probes weather on brown dwarfs

Swirling, stormy clouds may be ever-present on cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter's "Great Red Spot."

NASA's Fermi makes first Gamma-ray study of a gravitational lens

An international team of astronomers, using NASA's Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.

NASA is on top of the world's tallest mountain

Fourteen mountain peaks on Earth stand taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). The tallest of these “eight-thousanders” is Mount Everest, the standard to which all other mountains are compared. The Nepalese name for the mountain is Sagarmatha: “mother of the universe.”

More BARREL balloons take to the skies

The second year of an unprecedented balloon campaign in Antarctica has just begun. The NASA-funded mission – called the Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses, or BARREL – is led by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The mission is unique, as it relies not on one gigantic balloon, but on many smaller ones, 20 in total.

NASA images Chang'e 3 landing site

China's Chang'e 3 landed on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) just east of a 450 m diameter impact crater on 14 December 2013. Soon after landing, a small rover named Yutu (or Jade Rabbit in English) was deployed and took its first tentative drive onto the airless regolith.

NASA and JAXA announce launch date for global precipitation satellite

Environmental research and weather forecasting are about to get a significant technology boost as NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) prepare to launch a new satellite in February.

NASA Carbon Sleuth gets simulated taste of space

A NASA observatory that will make the most precise, highest-resolution and most complete, space-based measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere to date has marked a key milestone in preparation for its planned July 2014 launch.

NASA releases new earthrise simulation video

The photo known as Earthrise is the first color photograph of Earth taken by a person in lunar orbit. Earthrise is the cover photo of TIME's Great Images of the 20th Century, and is the central photo on the cover of LIFE's 100 Photographs That Changed the World.q

NASA's asteroid hunter spacecraft returns first images after reactivation

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a spacecraft that made the most comprehensive survey to date of asteroids and comets, has returned its first set of test images in preparation for a renewed mission.

The rise and fall of galactic cities

In the fable of the town and country mice, the country mouse visits his city-dwelling cousin to discover a world of opulence. In the early cosmos, billions of years ago, galaxies resided in the equivalent of urban or country environments.

JPL to test new supersonic decelerator technology

A giant crane will tower above NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., shooting out of a hilly mesa like an oversized erector set, ready to help test components of NASA's Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project.