Mike Wall Space.com Senior Writer

Nearby alien planet may be capable of supporting life

This artist’s illustration shows the potentially temperate planet Ross 128b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO One of the nearest exoplanets to Earth may be a decent abode for life. Ross 128b — which lies just 11 light-years from our planet — is likely a rocky and temperate world, a new study suggests. “Although Ross 128b is not Earth’s twin, and there is still much we don’t know about its potential geologic activity, we were able to strengthen the argument that it’s a temperate planet that could potentially have liquid water on its surface,” lead author Diogo Souto, of the Observatório Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said in a statement. [10 Exoplanets That Could Host Alien Life] Ross 128b has excited and intrigued astr...

SpaceX set to debut newest Falcon 9 Rocket: ‘Block 5’

SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket rolls to its launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  (Elon Musk/Instagram) SpaceX is set to debut the latest, most advanced version of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket this Thursday (May 10). The company determined that its first Falcon 9 “Block 5” booster is ready to go, after analyzing data from a routine prelaunch static-fire test that occurred Friday (May 4) at historic Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Targeting Falcon 9 Block 5 launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 on May 10 from Pad 39A in Florida,” SpaceX representatives wrote on Twitter today (May 7). [6 Fun Facts About SpaceX] Bangabandhu 1 is a communications satellite that SpaceX is launching for the government of B...

‘Equator trap’ may complicate search for alien life

Artist’s illustration of the Earth-size planet TRAPPIST-1d and its red-dwarf host star. New research suggests that potential signs of life in the atmospheres of planets like this could be tougher to detect than previously thought.  (MPIA Graphics Department) Spotting signs of life in an alien planet’s atmosphere may be tougher than scientists had thought. One prominent such “biosignature” target, ozone, may get trapped near the equators of Proxima b, TRAPPIST-1d and other potentially habitable worlds that orbit close to their host stars, making the gas hard to detect from afar, a new study suggests. “Absence of traces of ozone in future observations does not have to mean there is no oxygen at all,” study lead author Ludmila Carone, of the Max Planck Inst...