Tour the Milky Way in 20 billion pixels

Most of us will never leave the Earth -- but that doesn't stop us dreaming of the stars. There are a few tools that let you explore, though -- and NASA has just launched a killer.

Created from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse) project, it's the most comprehensive visual map of the Milky Way Galaxy released to date -- and yet it only shows just over half of the galaxy's stars. Stitched together from more than 2 million images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope over the course of a decade, the zoomable, 360-degree image comes in at 20 gigapixels.… Read more

Scuba diving trumps surfing on Saturn's Titan moon

There was a lot of hubbub this week among space geeks about the first spotting of waves on the freaky methane lakes that cover much of Titan, perhaps the most Earth-like spot outside of the real deal in our solar system. But it's still waaay premature to pack up your space wetsuit and start nagging NASA or Elon Musk to hitch a ride beyond the asteroid belt.

Saturn's spooky moon has a planet-like atmosphere and liquid covering much of its surface, making it one of the most likely nearby places to harbor (probably very weird) alien life. But while Titan shares a number of Earth-like characteristics such as its craggy peaks, running rivers, and even thunderstorms, it doesn't appear to have strong enough winds to whip up methane waves on its large lakes. … Read more

See physicist surprised by news his Big Bang theory was right

Physicists on Monday revealed a major discovery in our understanding of how everything got started by spotting gravitational waves that can be traced back to the exponential expansion that occurred in the fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

These ripples in space-time back up a theory of cosmic inflation developed by physicists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde in the early 1980s. Linde is now a professor at Stanford and could not hide his excitement when he first learned of the discovery from his colleagues.… Read more

Evidence of the Big Bang found in a cosmic 'double rainbow'

While you were thinking about where you'll be spending St. Patrick's Day on Monday night, the hard-working folks at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics were sharing the first direct evidence of a concept first put forward by Albert Einstein almost a century ago that helps explain where we -- and everything else in the universe -- come from.

If your list of to-dos and projects doesn't suddenly seem a little less impressive by comparsion, then congratulations! You're a narcissist.

If you want to cut right to it, scientists have spotted the remnants of the until-now-theorized massive, mind-melting exponential expansion of the universe that occurred in the one trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. This evidence comes in the form of gravitational waves that Einstein predicted back in 1916 as part of his theory of general relativity.… Read more

Stephen Hawking: In 50 years, we'll be living on the moon

I can just imagine the ads.

One-hundred-twenty-year-old Richard Branson would like you to be one of the first to live in the Virgin Moon Residences.

There will be three Virgin Galactic (or perhaps Virgin Lunartic) flights there daily and the residences will be all-inclusive properties with the option of timeshares. They will even have their own mayor: a still-gray Newt Gingrich.

Is my brain suddenly marble-free? No, I've been reading the latest predictions from Stephen Hawking.

As the Daily Mail reports, the famed physicist was speaking Sunday night on UK TV in a program called "Live From Space."Read more

Stunning star factory captured by Hubble telescope

Stars are being mined in our backyard.

That may be a bit of a stretch for something that's 6,400 light years away, but given the infinite reaches of outer space, the star factory that NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured in action is relatively nearby.

To celebrate Hubble's 24th anniversary, the space agency today released a series of stunning images of the "churning" star factory, known as NGC 2174, which was found inside the Monkey Head Nebula. And while these pictures are awe-inspiring, NASA said they are just a taste of what it expects to … Read more

William Shatner: Of course there's alien life

When scientists speak about space and the world out there, it's always worth a listen.

But they're scientists. They have a vested interest in being right. More interesting, perhaps, are the people who seem to have an unalienable instinct for the truths of existence.

William Shatner is surely one of these people. Not merely for his portrayals of Capt. James T. Kirk and the Priceline Negotiator, but for his extraterrestrial nose for truth when he played Denny Crane in "Boston Legal."

Shatner has now offered his definitive view on alien life.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, … Read more

15 space organizations join hunt for missing Malaysian jet

As the latest piece of technology to be enlisted in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, satellites have the eyes of the world watching them as they watch us.

On Monday, a crowdsourcing platform called Tomnod, along with parent company DigitalGlobe, launched a crowdsourcing campaign to enlist the help of citizens in scouring satellite images to search for the plane that disappeared on March 7.

China has followed that up by activating the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters to join the hunt on Tuesday. The goal of the charter is to enlist space data from 15 member organizations to provide assistance in the case of a "natural or technological disaster." The charter describes such a disaster as "a situation of great distress involving loss of human life or large-scale damage to property, caused by a natural phenomenon, such as a cyclone, tornado, earthquake, volcanic eruption, flood or forest fire, or by a technological accident, such as pollution by hydrocarbons, toxic or radioactive substances."… Read more

NASA asks citizen scientists to become 'asteroid hunters'

NASA is looking for citizen scientists to help save planet Earth.

The space agency announced Monday that it is launching an "Asteroid Data Hunter" contest series to reach out to people to help create algorithms to identify asteroids zooming around outer space. NASA will give away $35,000 in awards to competition winners.

Millions of asteroids are thought to be currently orbiting the sun and scientists want to be sure to identify as many of them as possible. Why? So humans don't go the way of the dinosaurs.

While NASA deemed Earth safe last year from a … Read more

Pew pew! Scientists hatch plan to laser-blast space junk

It's a junkyard out there. Researchers estimate that at least several hundred thousand pieces of space debris are stuck out in orbit around the planet, creating hazards for satellites and spacecraft. These pieces include everything from stray bolts to entire derelict satellites. If only we could blast them with lasers and take care of the problem. Oh wait, maybe we can.

The Australian government announced a $20 million Cooperative Research Centre that will investigate using lasers to locate, track, and remove space debris. The group will bring together partners from the government, academia, and aerospace industries. A total estimated investment of around $90 million is needed to bring the project to fruition. NASA's Ames Research Center and Lockheed Martin are already on board.… Read more