space

A potentially habitable planet about the size of Earth is orbiting the star that is nearest our solar system, according to scientists who describe the find Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Blue Origin

The Puget Sound region’s burgeoning space sector will be in the spotlight this week as rocket makers, telescope designers and asteroid miners head to Seattle for a major commercial space industry conference.

The NewSpace conference has been held in Silicon Valley for about a decade, but starting this year it will alternate between the Bay Area and Seattle.

On Tuesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a plan to send interstellar probes to the Alpha Centauri star system. The audacious project would use a giant laser on Earth to accelerate scores of postage-stamp-size spacecraft to nearly the speed of light. They would cross the void in just 20 years — virtually no time on the scale of interstellar travel.

Few images can put life's trivialities into perspective quite like the sight of our planet in the interminable blackness of space.

And at the very least, it's a cool view.

On Monday, NASA announced that this view will be available every day on a new website dedicated to publishing images from a satellite camera 1 million miles away from Earth.

Hubblesite.org

A University of Washington professor has taken a very unusual picture: It’s the most detailed photograph ever produced of a large spiral galaxy outside of our own. The massive panorama of the Andromeda Galaxy combines about 3,000 images snapped over three years by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Zack Gainsforth

An unmanned NASA research mission led by a Seattle scientist has caught what are believed to be seven tiny pieces of distant stars and brought them back to Earth.

The Stardust Mission sent a spacecraft on three trips around the sun, dipping into an extremely faint jet of interstellar particles flowing into the solar system. It grabbed seven motes of interstellar dust, giving us a glimpse of what stars other than the Sun are like.

NASA

Washington companies could have a major role in future trips to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. NASA engineers are in Seattle this week meeting with contractors working on the Orion program, designed to launch astronauts far into space, well beyond where the space shuttle traveled.