Scientists seeking extraterrestrial life in the universe (above: a radio observatory in New Mexico) seek the answer to what is called the Fermi paradox: “Where is everybody?”

If Aliens Existed Elsewhere in the Universe, How Would They Behave?

In a new offering from Smithsonian Books, James Trefil and Michael Summers explore the life forms that might exist on a dizzying array of exoplanets

The North Island brown kiwi is a flightless, nocturnal bird that lays the biggest egg relative to its body size.

What Bird Lays the Biggest Eggs Compared to Its Body Size? Where Does 'Lame Duck' Come From? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got question. We've got experts

The Ten Best Science Books of 2019

New titles explore the workings of the human body, the lives of animals big and small, the past and future of planet earth and how it's all connected

In the hubbub after the meteorite strike, Ann Hodges became a minor celebrity. Photographs of her bruise and the damage to her home appeared in Life magazine in an article entitled, “A Big Bruiser From the Sky.”

In 1954, an Extraterrestrial Bruiser Shocked This Alabama Woman

Ann Hodges remains the only human known to have been injured by direct impact of a meteorite

An artist's concept showing a "naked-eye" view of a GRB up close. Observations suggest that material is shot outward in a two-component jet (white and green beams). Credit: NASA/Swift/Mary Pat Hrybyk-Keith and John Jones

Astronomers Detect Record-Breaking Gamma Ray Bursts From Colossal Explosion in Space

A powerful outburst in a distant galaxy produced photons with high enough energies to be detected by ground-based telescopes for the first time

Left to right, top to bottom: Sheperd Doeleman, Michael Johnson, Sandra Bustamante, Jonathan Weintroub, James Moran, Aleks Popstefanija, Daniel Palumbo; Feryal Ozel, Joseph Farah, Neil Erickson, Peter Galison, Katie Bouman, Dominic Pesce, Garrett K. Keating; Nimesh Patel, Alexander Raymond, Kazinori Akiyama, Vernon Fath, Mark Gurwell, Gopal Narayanan, Peter Schloerb

American Ingenuity Awards

Meet the Global Team That Captured the First Image of a Black Hole

Never before had scientists seen the phenomenon until they rallied colleagues around the world to view a galaxy far, far away

After two eclipse expeditions confirmed Einstein's theory of general relativity, the scientist became an international celebrity.

One Hundred Years Ago, Einstein's Theory of General Relativity Baffled the Press and the Public

Few people claimed to fully understand it, but the esoteric theory still managed to spark the public's imagination

Eileen Collins in space in 1995, when she became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle.

What It Was Like to Become the First Woman to Pilot and Command a Space Shuttle

Eileen Collins talked to <i>Smithsonian</i> about her career in the Air Force and NASA, women in aerospace and more

Illustration of a hot Jupiter planet in the Messier 67 star cluster. Hot Jupiters are so named because of their close proximity — usually just a few million miles — to their star, which drives up temperatures and can puff out the planets.

What Astronomers Can Learn From Hot Jupiters, the Scorching Giant Planets of the Galaxy

Many of the planets that are roughly the size of Jupiter orbit right next to their stars, burning at thousands of degrees

Scientists at the University of Central Florida have modeled a path toward self-sufficiency for one million settlers of Mars over the course of 100 Earth years.

What Will Humans Eat on Mars?

Planetary scientist Kevin Cannon talks about the logistics of feeding a population of one million on the Red Planet

Charlotte Moore Sitterly made huge strides in our understanding of how atoms are structured and what stars, especially our sun, are made of.

Women Who Shaped History

How Charlotte Moore Sitterly Wrote The Encyclopedia of Starlight

The "world’s most honored woman astrophysicist" worked tirelessly for decades to measure the makeup of the sun and the stars

An artist's illustration of the planet K2-18b and another planet, K2-18c, that orbits closer to the parent star. Both planets orbit a red dwarf about 110 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo.

Water Vapor Detected in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone

The planet K2-18b, about 110 light-years away, could have swirling clouds and falling rains of liquid water droplets

In the image captured by Cassini, the rings are illuminated both by direct sunlight and by light reflected off Saturn's cloud tops.

Saturn Could Lose Its Rings in Less Than 100 Million Years

Recent discoveries suggest that the planet's distinctive feature may be gone in the cosmic blink of an eye

A natural color view of Titan and Saturn taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012, at a distance of approximately 483,000 miles (778,000 kilometers) from Titan.

Dragonfly Spacecraft to Scour the Sands of Titan for the Chemistry of Life

The NASA rotorcraft, resembling a large quadcopter drone, will fly through the orange clouds of the ocean moon in the outer solar system

An artist's depiction of Earth during the Archean Eon, from 4 to 2.5 billion years ago, when life consisted of only single-celled microbes with no nucleus (prokaryotes). How these primitive organisms first formed from chemical reactions remains one of the greatest mysteries of science.

Future of Space Exploration

Searching for the Key to Life's Beginnings

From exoplanets to chemical reactions, scientists inch closer to solving the great mystery of how life forms from inanimate matter

Csilla Ari D’Agostino sits in front of the Aquarius habitat and uses a waterproof iPad for cognitive tests as part of her research on NEEMO 23.

Future of Space Exploration

NASA Scientists and Astronauts Practice for Space Missions on the Seafloor

A female-led crew trained for nine days in an undersea laboratory in the Atlantic to get a sense of what it's like to live and work in microgravity

An artist's visualization of the star S0-2 as it passes by the supermassive black hole at the galactic center. As the star gets closer to the supermassive black hole, it experiences a gravitational redshift that is predicted by Einstein's general relativity. By observing this redshift, we can test Einstein's
theory of gravity.

Future of Space Exploration

A Star Orbiting in the Extreme Gravity of a Black Hole Validates General Relativity

The star S0-2 gets so close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy that it can be used to test our fundamental understanding of gravity

Apollo at 50: We Choose to Go to the Moon

Why Interest in Space Travel Waned After Apollo 11

After the success of Apollo 11, NASA unveiled an ambitious agenda for more missions into space, but interest among the public was beginning to decline

Apollo at 50: We Choose to Go to the Moon

How Neil Armstrong Trained to Land the Lunar Module

To prepare him for landing the lunar module, Neil Armstrong practiced on a training vehicle right here on Earth

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev talking with President John F. Kennedy during Vienna Summit.

Imagining a World Where Soviets and Americans Joined Hands on the Moon

Before he was assassinated, JFK spoke of a cooperative effort in space

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