NASA turns on its Deep Space Atomic Clock in Earth’s orbit, scientists are still searching for lightning at Venus and researchers climb a glacier in Iceland to prep them for Mars. All this, and more top stories this week from

Missing Lightning at Venus

(Image credit: Planet-C Project Team)

A Venus mission that captured nearly 17 hours of data did not show any of the alleged lightning at the planet. Scientists have pondered over what appear to be evidence of bolts of lightning puncturing Venus’ thick atmosphere for decades. However, despite the current mission not observing flashes, they still have not given up on seeing lightning at Venus.

Full Story: The Strange Case of Missing Lightning at Venus

Astronaut Christina Koch celebrates Women’s Equality Day onboard the space station 

(Image credit: NASA)

On the occasion of Women’s Equality Day, NASA astronaut Christina Koch released a video to celebrate the women who fought for the right to vote in the early days of the 20th century and the female space pioneers who came before her. Koch is halfway through her record-breaking nearly year-long mission, the longest single flight by a woman.

Full Story: NASA Astronaut Celebrates Women’s Equality Day in Space at Midpoint of Record-Breaking Flight

See Also: Happy Birthday, Katherine Johnson! ‘Hidden Figures’ Math Whiz Celebrates Her 101st.

Plus: Next Footsteps on Moon Will Be ‘For All of America,’ NASA Chief Says

Barbie unveils doll of first U.S. woman in space

(Image credit: Mattel/NASA via

Barbie revealed the latest addition to its inspiring women series, celebrating the first American woman and youngest American to fly in space, Sally Ride. The Sally Ride Barbie is styled after the astronaut as she appeared in June 1983, when the then-32-year-old physicist and former nationally-ranked junior tennis player launched as an STS-7 mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. 

Full Story: Barbie Hails Astronaut Sally Ride With New ‘Inspiring Women’ Doll

Microbial life may be transported through wind on Mars

(Image credit: ESO)

A new study that looked at how microbial life in the Atacama Desert in Chile travels through wind particles could have implications for life on Mars. The team of scientists found that microbial life can in fact move across the driest of deserts efficiently and spread across such a region’s surface, suggesting that microbial life on Mars could also spread across large distances, despite the planet’s extreme dryness, through the winds and dust storms that cover the entire Martian surface.

Full Story: Like Desert Microbes, Martian Life May Hitch Rides on Arid Dust

See Also: Astronauts Will Face Many Hazards on a Journey to Mars

Starhopper makes its highest flight to date

(Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s Starhopper, a demonstration rocket informing development of the company’s massive Starship reusable rocket, made another flight this week, reaching an altitude of 500 feet (150 meters) during a test that lasted just 57 seconds.

Full Story: SpaceX Starhopper Rocket Prototype Aces Highest (and Final) Test Flight

See Also: See SpaceX’s Starhopper Touch Down for Final Time (Photo)

NASA satellites track raging fires in the Amazon

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens)

Fire detections in the Amazon using NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite have been the highest since the year 2010 so far, with indications that 2019 may hit a record number of fires in the Amazon. Additionally, data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows a plume of carbon monoxide in the northwest region of the Amazon, spreading toward the south and the east toward Sao Paolo at an altitude of 18,000 feet (5,500 meters).

Full Story: NASA Satellites Confirm Amazon Rainforest Is Burning at Record Rate

See Also: NASA Satellites Tracking Amazon Fires Show Heavy Smoke, Scorched Earth

New names for Jupiter moons chosen from public suggestions

(Image credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley))

Jupiter’s five moons now all have new names suggested by the public: Pandia, Ersa, Eirene, Philophrosyne and Eupheme. The names were selected through a contest run by the Carnegie Institution for Science with the approval of the International Astronomical Union, the official arbitrar of astronomical names. The naming process is part of a recent trend that engages the public in new astronomical findings. 

Full Story: Meet Pandia, Eirene and More! 5 Jupiter Moons Get New Names

Hurricane Dorian threatens Kennedy Space Center and Florida

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Satellites and astronauts watched as Tropical Storm Dorian became a hurricane and headed northwest across the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane is predicted to hit Florida early Tuesday morning (Sept. 3), and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is preparing for high winds.

Full Story: Hurricane Dorian: How NASA and NOAA Are Tracking the Storm from Space

See Also: NASA Space Center Prepares for Hurricane Dorian as Satellites Track Storm

Plus: NASA Sees Hurricane Dorian from Space Station (Video)

NASA chief sparks controversy by insisting Pluto is still a planet

(Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

During press remarks on Aug. 23, NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine stated that he still believes that Pluto is a planet. Even though Bridenstine’s remarks go against the official decision made by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) back in 2006, it delighted Pluto fans when he insisted, “I’m sticking by that. It’s the way I learned it, and I’m committed to it.”

Full Story: Pluto Still Deserves to Be a Planet, NASA Chief Says

A deep space atomic clock is now keeping time in Earth orbit

(Image credit: NASA)

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) is now keeping time in orbit around Earth, beginning a year-long tech demo in order to pave the way for deep space exploration. The DSAC is designed to be the first space-ready clock accurate enough to map the trajectory of a spacecraft traveling into deep space.

Full Story: NASA’s Deep Space-Bound Atomic Clock Has Activated

See Also: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Is Finally 100% Assembled


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