We only recently discovered that there is a tenth planet in our solar system. Now it has been discovered that there is a moon orbiting this planet. Both planet and moon are far away from the sun and other planets, which is why there has long been controversy about whether this is actually a planet or merely an asteroid that got caught in our solar system’s gravitational pull. The existence of the moon gives credence to astronomers who believe we have a tenth planet.

The moon was discovered in September with the use of the Keck II telescope. The tenth planet is not officially a planet yet and has not been named. It’s still known by its designation 2003UB313.
read more

After 30 years in space, America’s oldest spacecraft,Pioneer 10 and 11, are being held back from visiting distantstars by a mysterious force.

Robin McKie writes in The Observer that some scientiststhink this may be the first real evidence of the “darkmatter” that some scientist theorize permeates the universe. A simpler explanation could be that gas from fuel tanks maybe leaking, slowing the craft down. Astronomer MartinBarstow says, “Unless there is really good evidence to thecontrary, we should stick to simple ideas like these and notgo around blaming strange new types of particle or flaws ingeneral relativity.”
read more

A vital but unasked question is: what happens to human waste in space? Right now, astronauts bring it back home with them, but on longer space voyages, other solutions will be needed.

This will become more important in the future, when long space voyages are planned. Karen Miller writes that on a two-year trip to Mars, a crew of six humans will generate more than six tons of solid organic waste. Before we can venture out on long space trips, we’ll have to figure out how to recycle it.
read more

Astronomers say that half the planetary systems in our galaxy could contain Earth-like worlds that can sustain life. In 15 years, we’ll have space telescopes that will be able to observe these planets and detect any life that may be on them. But will we be able to contact them?
read more