Sophie Bushwick
at 10:30 AM Dec 8 2016
Space // 

Cassini just entered the second-to-last phase of its mission, where it will perform so-called ring-grazing orbits (shown in yellow). The blue loops represent orbits that it made previously in its nearly 20-year mission. Next year, it will enter the grand finale phase, which will end with Cassini's destruction.

Leigh Fletcher
at 09:19 AM Dec 7 2016
Space // 

JunoCAM images of Jupiter's northern and southern polar regions.

Excerpt
at 11:16 AM Dec 2 2016
Space // 

"To travel in space is to be awestruck, over and over and over."--Don Pettit, Spaceborne. Don Pettit and his crewmates flew into space three times, capturing about 600,000 photos from their shuttle missions and long-term stays on the International Space Station. In his new book, Spaceborne, the astronaut/photographer highlights some of the best of the collection, leading to page after page of mind-blowingly beautiful space imagery. This is a good one for the coffee table. Popular Science's photo director, Thom Payne, chose 10 of his favorite Spaceborne images. Here are his picks, with captions excerpted from the book.

Sarah Fecht
at 10:13 AM Nov 18 2016
Space // 

Talk about a change of heart. Sputnik Planitia, the icy plain that forms part of Pluto's "heart," has dramatically changed places since it was created 4 billion years ago.

Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
at 09:29 AM Nov 18 2016

An x-ray pulsar forms when a dense neutron star's strong gravitational field allows it to suck in matter from the other star in the binary system. The impact of stellar material forms x-ray hotspots on the neutron star that shift as it rotates—that's what pulses are.

Sarah Fecht
at 11:19 AM Nov 2 2016

Between 2009 and 2013, the Kepler space telescope stared at a single patch of the sky, searching for exoplanets. Around the star KIC 8462852, it appears to have spotted something much stranger.

Kelsey D. Atherton
at 11:19 AM Nov 2 2016

It is harder to learn to fly a second time. Virgin Galactic, the private spaceflight firm headed by billionaire Richard Branson, lost its first SpaceShipTwo in a pilot-caused crashed in 2014, setting back dreams of passenger spaceflight. The new SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity (and not SpaceShipThree), was unveiled in February. Today, slung beneath the wing of its WhiteKnightTwo mothership Eve, Unity took to the sky for its second-ever flight.

 
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