Just... WOW. I did not expect this to happen in my lifetime (and no, I do not expect to die tomorrow either). The Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile has pictured a forming planetary system in a young star surrounded by a complex nebula of hot gas.I still remember the Scientific American article I read some 25 years ago about planet formation simulations, which showed how computer models of planetesimals rotating in a cloud of gas around a star. The planetesimals would pick up matter around as they swept the orbital plane, and in the matter of millions of years acquire a planetary mass and "clean up" the area around. Now we are seeing this before us, in the picture below offered by ALMA.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft visited the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and it showed that deep grooves circling the asteroid's equator were probably caused by a massive impact on Vesta's south pole.

A super high-speed cannon at NASA's Ames Research Center has shed new light on the violent chain of events deep in Vesta's interior that formed those surface grooves, some of which are wider than the Grand Canyon.

"Vesta got hammered," said Peter Schultz, professor of earth, environmental, and planetary sciences at Brown and the paper's senior author. "The whole interior was reverberating, and what we see on the surface is the manifestation of what happened in the interior."

Elon Musk says he wants to create a backup of Earth on Mars - and Stephen Hawking also says that humans have to move into space to survive long term. This is hardly ever questioned in the media.

Now here are other good reasons for space settlements - but would any of them be of any value as a "backup" any time in the next few hundred million years? 


You'll always have survivors on Earth for any credible disaster. Even a giant asteroid would have some human survivors - at the very least - in submarines. 

An active region on the sun labeled AR 12192 rotated into view on Oct. 18th. It was already an area of intense and complex magnetic fields and soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years.

It fired off 10 sizable solar flares as it traversed across the face of the sun and became so large it could be seen without a telescope (don't ever look without with eclipse glasses) as many did during a partial eclipse on Oct. 23rd.

Have you ever wondered if any spaceship could ever travel through the sun with future technology? What if it is as big as Mercury or larger? Nothing material will work that we know of.  The sun's temperature of 26 million degrees is far too hot, and the most refractory substances we know of melt at a few thousand degrees. It seems a hopeless task. But there are a few things to explore, so let's look a bit more closely.


4 billion light-years away, inside a collection of nearly 500 galaxies called Pandora's Cluster, are the faint, ghostly glow of stars gravitationally ripped apart several billion years ago.

The scattered stars are no longer bound to any one galaxy and drift freely between galaxies in the cluster. By observing the light from the orphaned stars, Hubble astronomers have assembled forensic evidence that suggests as many as six galaxies were torn to pieces inside the 
Abell 2744
cluster over a stretch of 6 billion years.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disc toward the inner reaches of a young, low-mass binary star system GG Tau-A.

With private space missions just around the corner, we need to think about keeping important lunar sites safe. Cultsofhteshadow/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Beth O'Leary, New Mexico State University

Who will preserve the first lunar landing site at Tranquility Base for future generations?

 NASA Kepler Mission

If we were aliens, would we be able to detect Earth, using the technology we have now?