At 7:41 p.m. local time, the Tianzhou 1 robotic cargo ship blasted off on a Long March 7 rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island. Now in orbit, it will soon rendezvous with the Tiangong 2 space station, in yet another first for the Chinese space program.
Although the night sky often seems so peaceful and still, a closer look reveals constant movement and change. The Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) in California looks for ephemeral phenomena in the heavens, like stars that fluctuate in brightness, or planets passing in front of their stars.
On March 30, the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket sent its second payload into space, after having launched and landed in April 2016. This achievement is an important milestone in the company's road to creating a reusable launch system—and a feat that's 15 years in the making. The launch and subsequent landing on a drone ship proves, as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted, "you can fly and re-fly an orbit-class booster."
About four billion years ago, Mars was warm. Water flowed in lakes and rivers under a nice thick blanket of atmosphere. But then something cataclysmic happened. Mars' insulating atmosphere all but disappeared. Exposed to the harsh elements of space, the red planet became the dry, frozen wasteland that it is today.