Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

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.

Featured
How Voyager Works

The Voyager space probes took dazzling pictures of planets no one had ever seen. And they're still on the move, carrying golden records with a message for aliens -- complete with bagpipes and Louis Armstrong.


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? See more »

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? See more »

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. See more »

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? See more »

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. See more »

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? See more »

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? See more »

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. See more »

10 Reasons Why Space Exploration Matters to You

Yes, we have some amazing inventions thanks to space exploration, and we're curious about life on other planets. But the cosmos also touches a deeper part of our psyches. See more »

How the James Webb Space Telescope Will Work

It'll journey 1 million miles from Earth and look deeper into space than ever before. It may even observe light from the very first stars. Ready to meet the mighty Webb? See more »