Space Travel

A 1930s couple rings in the new year with party blowers and streamers. New Year's Eve celebrations only began incorporating countdowns decades later, with the first crowd countdown in Times Square taking place in 1979.

Why Do We Count Down to the New Year?

A historian traces the tradition's links to space travel, the Doomsday Clock and Alfred Hitchcock

A CT scan of the spiral intestine of a Pacific spiny dogfish shark (Squalus suckleyi). The organ begins on the left and ends on the right.

Innovation for Good

Ten Scientific Discoveries From 2021 That May Lead to New Inventions

From nanobots to cancer treatments, nature inspires a wide variety of innovations

From amazing firsts on Mars to the impacts of climate change on Earth, these science stories stood out as the most important of 2021

The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021

Thrilling discoveries, hurdles in the fight against Covid and advancements in space exploration defined the past year

The agencies will monitor Justin Packshaw and Jamie Facer Childs’ health as they trek across the icy continent over the next few months.

Space Agencies Track Two Explorers Across Antarctica to Prepare People for Mars

The 80-day mission is testing the limits of the human body in a harsh environment

The rover will spend two to three lunar days, which is about two to three months time on Earth, traversing the lunar landscape to take a closer look at the object.

Chinese Rover Spots Weird, Large 'Cube' on the Moon

The geometric lunar feature dubbed a 'mystery hut' has stumped scientists, who say they plan to take a closer look

If humans want to establish a long-term presence on Mars, the ability to grow food in the planet’s harsh conditions is key.

Heinz Debuts 'Marz Edition' Ketchup Made With Tomatoes Grown in Mars-Like Conditions

Scientists grew the tomatoes under the same temperature and water levels found on the surface of the Red Planet

After four months of growing, the crew harvested the peppers offered feedback on the flavor and spiciness.

Astronauts Celebrate Growing Peppers for the First Time With 'Best Space Tacos Yet'

Fresh produce could improve health on long missions

A rainbow appears after a storm on the faux-Martian habitat.

Inside the Experiment to Create Mars on Earth

A hostile landscape. Cramped quarters. Dehydrated food. A photographer takes part in an attempt to live on another planet

An artist's concept of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER.

Five Things to Know About NASA's Lunar Rover 'VIPER'

The device will hunt for resources, including water, vital to future space exploration

Stretching 4,800 square feet in size, the piece coincides with the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child initiative and is also part of World Space Week.

A Monumental Portrait of NASA Astronaut Stephanie Wilson Crops Up in Atlanta

The earthwork is the latest in land artist Stan Herd's impressive, decades-spanning portfolio

The massive 170,000-pound Discovery measures 122 feet long by 58 feet tall with a wingspan of 78 feet.

Following the 1986 and 2003 Shuttle Disasters, 'Discovery' Launched America Back Into Space

This "Champion of the Fleet," a signature Smithsonian artifact, flew 39 space missions and traveled 150 million miles

The habitat 3D printed by the construction technology company ICON, and designed by the architecture firm, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, includes separate rooms for each crew member, two bathrooms, a kitchen, areas for fitness and recreation, and a space to grow crops.

NASA Is Recruiting Candidates for Year-Long Mars Simulation

Crew members will live in a 3-D printed habitat called Mars Dune Alpha in Houston, Texas

The ascent module (pictured) may still be orbiting the moon—or it exploded. According to the new calculations, the space junk never crash-landed onto the moon's surface as previously expected.

Part of the Apollo 11 Spacecraft May Still Be Orbiting the Moon

New research suggests the 'Eagle' ascent stage either exploded in space or remains in orbit—but it likely didn't crash land back on the lunar surface

The researchers flew their fridge on parabolic flights to simulate a microgravity environment.

Innovation for Good

The Quest to Build a Functional, Energy-Efficient Refrigerator That Works in Space

Designed and tested by Purdue University engineers, this new appliance would lengthen the shelf life of food on long missions

Robert McCurdy, Untitled, Jeffrey P. Bezos, 2019, oil on canvas

Jeff Bezos Gifts Historic $200 Million to the Smithsonian

The Amazon founder's gift—the largest since the Institution was created in 1846—will support the Air and Space Museum renovation and a new education center

Ingenuity releases its first aerial photos of its shadow cast across the Séítah terrain during its ninth flight.

Innovation for Good

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Soars 2,000 Feet Through Martian Atmosphere in Its Ninth Successful Test Flight

The aerial trooper set new records for speed and distance, as well as stretched the capabilities of its navigation system

Mice pups were borne out of freeze-dried mice sperm that had been stored on the International Space Station for up to six years. Some of those mice and their offspring are pictured here.

After a Six-Year Sojourn in Space, Freeze-Dried Mice Sperm Produce Healthy Pups

Scientists say the finding supports the idea that genetic material can be shipped to other worlds to help establish a diversity of life

An undated photograph shows Wally Funk standing with a U.S. Air Force jet.

Trailblazing Pilot Wally Funk Will Go to Space 60 Years After Passing Her Astronaut Tests

Wally Funk, the youngest of the 'Mercury 13,' will join the inaugural crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule

NASA just announced a partnership with Tide to figure out how to do laundry in space. Solving this problem will allow astronauts to stop throwing away their dirty clothes, which means some missions must ferry hundreds of pounds of clean clothes into space.

NASA Just Put Doing the Laundry on Astronauts' Chore List

Dirty clothes are currently thrown away, requiring missions where weight is at a premium to bring many pounds of socks, shirts and underwear

An artist's rendering of the Earth and sun seen from space. Astronomers on Earth can detect other worlds when far away stars flicker as an orbiting planet passes in front of them, partly blocking our view. New research asks how many alien worlds might have been able to detect Earth in this way.

New Research

If Aliens Exist in These 1,700 Solar Systems, They Can Probably See Earth

Hypothetical alien astronomers orbiting these stars could have seen the sun’s light flicker as Earth passed in front of it

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