Breathtaking blossoms nearly the size of our solar systemare strewn across the universe - hundreds of thousands of them. Quasars are, at the same time, among the most fiery monsters.
Astronomer Maarten Schmidt was the first to discover one and revealed it to the world 50 years ago Saturday in an article in the journal Nature.
His discovery was a sensation in the 1960s and made its way into pop culture. It was the age of the first manned space flights.FULL STORY
After 143 days in space, three astronauts will depart the International Space Station late Thursday for a return flight to Earth in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, NASA said.
One American and two Russians will land in Kazakhstan less than four hours after undocking from the ISS. They are scheduled to land at 10:57 a.m. local time Friday (11:57 p.m. ET Thursday).
Russian space modules are capable of landing on land and do not require a body of water to splash down in. Two parts of the spacecraft will burn up in the atmosphere, leaving only the Descent Module carrying the three crew members, according to NASA.FULL STORY
After a technical hiccup, SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule reached the International Space Station on Sunday.
The unmanned Dragon is carrying more than 1,200 pounds of supplies for the crew and the crew's experiments. The station's robotic arm captured the Dragon at 5:31 a.m. ET, NASA said.
The arm will guide the supply capsule into the station, and the Dragon completed the attachment at 8:56 a.m. ET, SpaceX said in a post on its Twitter account.
The Dragon suffered a temporary glitch with its thrusters after it launched into orbit Friday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
[Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET] SpaceX's unmanned Dragon cargo capsule suffered a temporary glitch with its thrusters after it achieved orbit Friday – a development that will delay its arrival at the International Space Station, NASA said.
The Dragon, launched Friday morning atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, had been expected to dock with the space station on Saturday to resupply the station's crew.FULL STORY
$85 billion in automatic spending cuts begin today as President Obama and Congress struggle to find a solution to the crisis. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this story.
Today's programming highlights...
The Jodi Arias trial resumes on Monday.
10:10 am ET - SpaceX launches cargo mission - SpaceX will attempt to launch its second official cargo supply mission to the International Space Station.
NASA has lost regular communications with the International Space Station, a NASA official confirmed Tuesday.
The space agency says it is currently only able to communicate every 90 minutes when the facility passes over ground stations in Russia.
The station, which is carrying one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, does not appear to be in danger, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.FULL STORY
[Updated at 2:56 p.m. ET] And, there it went.
The asteroid 2012 DA14 has made its closest approach to Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, at a distance of about 17,200 miles above the planet's surface, NASA says.
[Posted at 1:16 p.m. ET] Scientists say you don't have to worry about asteroid 2012 DA14 hitting Earth. But if you'd like to keep an eye on it as it makes an exceptionally close pass this afternoon, NASA has a camera for you.
The asteroid, thought to be 45 meters long – about half a football field – will come to is closest point to Earth at 2:24 p.m.come no closer than 17,100 miles from our planet's surface.
President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address before Congress on February 12. Watch CNN.com Live for all of your political coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - NASA remembers fallen astronauts - On the 10th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, NASA pays tribute to the crews of Columbia, Challenger and Apollo 1 during the agency's Day of Remembrance.
Space, it has been said, is big. Really big.
But big enough for two companies that want to mine near-Earth asteroids?
A venture announced Tuesday in California hopes so.
Deep Space Industries says it wants to start sending miniature scout probes, dubbed "Fireflies," on one-way missions to near-Earth asteroids as soon as 2015. Larger probes, "Dragonflies," that will bring back 50- to 100-pound samples from prospective targets could be on their way by 2016, company CEO David Gump told reporters.
The goal is to extract metals, water and compounds that can be used to make spacecraft fuel from the chunks of rock that float within about 50 million kilometers (31 million miles) of Earth. Gump said the ability to produce fuel in space would be a boon for NASA, as the U.S. space agency shifts its focus toward exploring deeper into the solar system.FULL STORY
The talk in Washington is all about the "fiscal cliff" and what the president and Congress need to do to avoid it. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff debate.
Today's programming highlights...
9:00 am ET - ISS expedition briefings - NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency will announce a yearlong expedition by two crew members aboard the international space station beginning in 2015. The crew members will speak out at 10:00 am ET.
They've strapped on their gear, exited the International Space Station, and now astronauts Sunita Williams and Aki Hoshide are doing a spacewalk – with cameras on their helmets, allowing the world to watch their every move.
The two astronauts are working to fix an ammonia leak.
The Republicans have had their say, and now it's time for the Democrats to hold their national convention. Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
Ongoing coverage - ISS spacewalk
10:20 am ET - Ryan rally in Iowa - GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan speaks at a rally with supporters in Adel, Iowa.
The voice of NASA's chief has boldly gone where no voice has gone before - to another planet and back.
Words uttered by Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, were radioed to the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars, which in turn sent them back to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth, NASA said in a statement Monday.
The successful transmission means Bolden's space-faring comments are the first instance of a recorded human voice traveling from Earth to another planet and back again, according to NASA.
In the recording, Bolden congratulated NASA employees and other agencies involved in the Curiosity mission, noting that "landing a rover on Mars is not easy."
"Others have tried," he said. "Only America has succeeded."
The announcement by NASA of the voice transmission, the latest in a series of advances by Curiosity since it landed on Mars earlier this month, comes just days after the death of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.FULL STORY
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, has died, his family said Saturday. He was 82.
"We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures," his family said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WKRC.
Armstrong underwent heart surgery this month.
He and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off in Apollo 11 on a nearly 250,000-mile journey to the moon that went down in the history books.
Hundreds of shooting stars and fireballs will fill the skies over the northern hemisphere on Saturday and Sunday night as Earth passes through a stream of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle - otherwise known as the Perseid meteor shower.
The Perseids have presented a scintillating display for 2,000 years, according to NASA. The comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years, which means that every August, the earth passes through a the comet's debris field. The ice and dust, accumulating over a thousand years, burns up in our atmosphere to create the meteor shower.
This year's display will be even more awe-inspiring than years past because the brightest planets in our solar system will be in the middle of it all. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon will align as the shower peaks. And just as the shower is beginning to wane on August 13, the planets will be at their brightest, according to NASA.
The meteor shower will peak on the night of August 12, with at least a hundred shooting stars visible per hour. NASA scientists advise that although they can be seen any time after 10 p.m., the best time to spot a flurry of meteors will be during the darkest part of the night, in the early hours before dawn.
If you live in an urban area, you might want to drive a little ways to avoid the distraction of the city lights, which can make the meteor shower seem faint. Scientists from NASA also said that camping out in the country can triple the amount of visible meteors.
Thinking of counting all of the shooting stars? If so, NASA would like for you to let them know. They have developed an app for the Android and iPhone that allows stargazers to count every meteor they see, and report the results in a scientific way that will be valuable to NASA. The data will allow scientists to study and model the debris stream of the meteor shower.
If you already plan to stay up all night in anticipation of the meteor shower, join the online chat with astronomer Bill Cooke and his team from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on Saturday night. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., ask them your burning questions about the meteors filling the night sky.
And don't forget to grab your camera before you head out. Meteor showers are a great opportunity for time-lapse videos and long-exposure photography, allowing your shots of the night sky to turn into van Gogh-like paintings of this starry spectacle. Share what you capture with us on CNN iReport and your photos and videos could be featured on CNN.
Early data shows the Mars rover Curiosity landed with amazing accuracy this week, coming down about 1.5 miles from its target after a 350-million-mile journey, NASA scientists said Friday, perhaps giving planners more confidence about landing spacecraft in tight spaces in the future.
The $2.6 billion rover is on a two-year mission to determine whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting life. It landed Monday and will spend the next four days installing operational software that will give it full movement and analytic capabilities, scientists said at a news conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Curiosity missed its target entry point into Mars' atmosphere by about only one mile, and most everything in its complicated descent and landing operations - a spectacle popularly known as the "seven minutes of terror" - happened on time, including the deployment of the largest-ever supersonic parachute and the heat shield separation.
"From all the data we've received so far, we flew this right down the middle, and it's incredible to work on a plan for (years) and then have things happen ... according to plan," said Steve Sell, who was involved in the powered descent phase.FULL STORY
Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.
"Space ... the final frontier. These are the voyages of the rover Curiosity. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
–ARAKUN, CNN.com commenter
As we get more pictures back from the Mars rover Curiosity, readers seem to be talking about it more and more. Light Years asked readers to caption three photos of the Red Planet and got more than 300 responses. The caption above, given by user talkhazin, was one of the three selected by editors. The social media galaxy has been buzzing about the fourth rock from the sun all week.
1. Why we love Mars
2. Drought vs. food
3. Running on a broken leg
4. Fossil research
5. Pet names
This opinion piece by Greg Bear brought out even more joy from our readers, who say space and science are important to our country. We also saw counterarguments from those who think space research is nice but are concerned that there are other things the money is needed for. You could see these views at odds.
fasteddie09: "Mars is important because it is Earthlike. Mars used to be much warmer and wetter than it is today. What went wrong? By trying to understand Mars' history, we can improve our understanding of Earth's geology and climate. When you study only one world, Earth, your knowledge is limited to a data set of one observation. The more you expand that data set, the greater your understanding can become. Closed minds narrowly focused on the ground and the now have little hope of making discoveries."
sandMonkeys: "Wow, go back to watching 'Star Trek,' nerd. We're not going to colonize Mars. That's too expensive and ultimately it gives us nothing in return. It's a pipe dream."
Justanothermonkeyman: "I love the Mars missions! The only sad part is that more people don't care about them. I think it is a shame that most people care about celebrity news more. I mean COME ON - we landed a probe on another planet! That's so amazing and intriguing to me!"
CanadaPride4: "You want to know why I love Mars? Because I don't. It is a big rock that doesn't do anything. It is a stupid big rock."
Some readers were concerned about what humans plan to do on Mars. FULL POST
The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November. Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
12:00 pm ET - Mars rover post-landing briefing - The Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars this morning, and NASA and JPL officials are celebrating. Two briefings on the landing and mission will take place today - the first at noon ET, with the second at 7:00 pm ET.
The space shuttle Enterprise took a journey more akin to those of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise than its orbital sister ships on Sunday.
The prototype shuttle floated on a barge through New York Harbor, from John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Bayonne, New Jersey.
There, it will be transferred to another barge, this one with a crane. On Tuesday, the second barge will carry it back up the Hudson and lift the shuttle onto the deck of the USS Intrepid Museum, a former aircraft carrier and Enterprise's final destination.
The Enterprise was flown into JFK on the back of a 747 on April 27.