The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects that the New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after doing a fly-by of Pluto in July 2015.

The Kuiper Belt is a vast rim of primordial debris encircling our solar system. KBOs belong to a unique class of solar system objects that has never been visited by spacecraft and which contain clues to the origin of our solar system.

The Kuiper Belt objects are each about 10 times larger than typical comets, 1 to 2 percent of the size of Pluto. Unlike asteroids, Kuiper Belt objects have not been heated by the sun and are thought to represent a pristine, well preserved deep-freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4.6 billion years ago. 

The Dutch have always been bold. Not just any culture would make wooden shoes a thing and turn tulip bulbs into a luxury investment. And if you like New York City, you can thank New Amsterdam.

Now Holland wants to be a colonial power again, this time on Mars. The "Mars One" project, announced in 2012, wants to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. It's a one-way trip but there is no shortage of people willing to be one of the four that will build the first human settlement in space. 

Gravitational waves are phenomena predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity but no one has ever observed them and their discovery would have profound implications for the study of the Universe.

Last March, the team behind the BICEP2 project made a ground-breaking announcement: the Antarctic observatory had detected a signal referable to gravitational waves. The study said they excluded possible contaminants - other sources that could have generated the same signal - and that the observation was valid.

For obvious reasons spaceflight has been reserved for governments and the very wealthy. And when it comes to governments, the criteria are stringent. They will get thousands of applications per year and quickly weed out most of them. Predominantly you have to already be a government employee to have any chance of being an astronaut so that is a big disqualification for much of the best and brightest in America.

Objects in space spin, most people know that, but what is less known is that they spin in a way that's totally different from the way they spin on earth.

It comes down to where their centers of mass are, and how their mass is distributed - knowing how things will spin is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.

Artistic rendering of Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA/ATG, CC BY

By Ian Wright, The Open University

Let’s say it straight. Mars is, without any doubt our next step in space exploration, sparking our imagination for many years in spaceflight history. After sending tons of scientific rovers, it’s about time to send human pioneers to start colonizing the Red Planet.

Tropical Storm Karina was weakening on August 20 when NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument aboard Terra snapped a visible image of Tropical Storm Karina on August 20 at 19:40 UTC (3:40 p.m. EDT). The MODIS image showed that a thick band of strong thunderstorms spiraled into Karina's center from the southeast. The band of thunderstorms wrapped around Karina's eastern and northern quadrants, spiraling into the center from the west, making the tropical cyclone look like the number nine.

Soil moisture plays a major role in the environment/climate system because the transport of water within the land and at the land-atmosphere interface is strongly dependent on the state of soil water in a region.

Despite its importance, lack of soil moisture measurements at various spatial scales has limited our understanding of how individual physical factors control soil moisture dynamics.

AMUSED (A MUlti-scale Soil moisture-Evapotranspiration Dynamics study) is a project that will monitor soil moisture using cosmic-rays sensors in combination with land surface modeling, satellite remote sensing, model diagnostics and data assimilation methods.

The Venus Express spacecraft just spent a month of aerobraking that saw it surf in and out of the atmosphere of Venus at altitudes typically between 131 km and 135 km for a couple of minutes on each of its closest approaches to the planet. Why? Because after 8 years its propellant is getting low so it was time to do something new while it was still possible.

Before, normal operations involved an elliptical orbit every 24 hours that took Venus Express from 66,000 km over the south pole down to around 250 km at the north pole, just above the top of the atmosphere. The recent aerobraking campaign took the craft progressively lower into the atmosphere on its closest approaches and  directly explored previously uncharted regions of the atmosphere.