Lab Notes

Launching commercial spaceflight

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Imagine boarding a brand new Boeing 747 on your way to Seattle. When you reach your destination a few hours later, after unloading the...

The thundering launch of GOES-R

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As the Atlas V rocket’s inferno lit up the night sky early in the evening of Nov. 19, 2016, it was as if the...

The OSIRIS-REx mission: To Bennu and back

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On Sept. 8, 2016, Dr. Vicky Hamilton watched as NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification Security, Regolith Explorer) lifted clear of Cape Canaveral’s...

Bouncing off the satellites

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On Oct. 30, NASA finally retired the Kepler space telescope, the prolific planet-hunter that has been scanning the skies for the past nine years....

Watching stellar heartbeats

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In 1966, astronomer Olin Wilson started what would become a decades-long pursuit, searching for an answer to a simple question. Wilson knew that observations...

Chasing Arctic ice

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In late September, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg led the largest global climate strike in history, inspiring 7.6 million people in 185...

Diving into Saturn

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I finally arrive on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California, around 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 to bear witness to the final gravitational dance...

Developing a NASA mission

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Imagine spending years coming up with an exciting idea for a space telescope, proposing it to NASA, and getting approval to develop...

Prospecting nearby worlds

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The past year has been fantastic for commercial spaceflight, with Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launching 18 Falcon-9 rockets in 2017. It now seems almost...

Mining for solar storms

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In his recent book Accessory to War, astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson and coauthor Avis Lang document the historical relationship between science and the military,...

Probing nearby stars

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Four miles from the launch pad, standing on the roof of the 44-story vehicle assembly building where NASA constructed the space shuttles, I hold...

Making the planet great again

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In his 2001 book Who Owns the Sky, entrepreneur Peter Barnes suggests that any system designed to tax heat-trapping pollution must redistribute the revenue...