Space Exploration

Space exploration is a broad topic covering many facets of deep-space and planetary science. Learn about space probes, Mars Rovers, SETI and other out-of-this-world subjects.

What was the first telescope that humans launched into space?

The history of space exploration is full of firsts: first animal in space, first human on the moon, first probe to reach mars. But as they say, you've got to look before you leap. So what was the first telescope launched into space?

Why is it clearer to view space through an infrared telescope?

There's a lot to see in the universe. But while regular telescopes only reveal a tiny fraction of all the awesome stuff out there, infrared telescopes are here to save the day, opening our eyes to limitless galactic wonders.

How do space telescopes avoid orbital debris?

After the release of the movie "Gravity" in 2013, many have wondered whether space debris poses a threat to all our wonderful toys in orbit — especially our space telescopes. So is space garbage a threat, and if so, what can we do about it?

How do space telescopes die?

Even NASA's best-designed space telescopes can break, become obsolete or simply complete their missions. But what happens then? Are they shipped off to some great cosmic graveyard, or are they given a renewed lease on life and scientific glory?

How is the JWST different than Hubble?

Why do we need the JWST? Isn't Hubble already doing a good enough job staring into space? What's the difference between the two? With space telescopes, it turns out, it's not always about what you see, but how you look at it.

Why is the JWST infrared?

Infrared technology has tons of uses — from remote controls to night vision goggles. But how can it possibly benefit a space telescope like the James Webb Space Telescope?

What's the oldest thing we've seen through a space telescope?

Think of the oldest things on Earth: the Pyramids, dinosaur bones, the Grand Canyon. Pretty old, right? Well, maybe compared to our own lives, but compared to the oldest things we've seen through a space telescope, they're basically brand-new.

What's the 'space roar'?

In space, no one can hear you scream -- because, you know, sound can't travel in a vacuum. Despite this, scientists have discovered that outer space itself is letting out a pretty loud roar -- at least, in a manner of speaking. So what gives?

Can amateur astronomers spot exoplanets?

It's not just NASA pros staring into the night sky. Lots of skilled amateurs are out there pointing their telescopes into the great beyond. But can the average space enthusiast actually make a critical discovery?

Can we detect water on exoplanets?

Looking for water on faraway planets doesn't involve spotting rivers or oceans. Instead, scientists keep an eye out for what types of light a planet emits to figure out whether a planet might be life-friendly.