Space exploration


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Apollo 11 flight crew in biological isolation garments shortly after splashdown and about to be picked up and transferred to the USS Hornet in July 1969. Photo courtesy NASA

Essay/
Space exploration
A lunar pandemic

In the 1960s, NASA went to huge expense to contain possible pathogens from the Moon. What can we learn from the attempt?

Dagomar Degroot

Photo by Wang Zheng/Getty

Essay/
Space exploration
Do we send the goo?

The ability to stir new life into being, all across the Universe, compels us to ask why life matters in the first place

Betül Kaçar

A Huichol culture yarn painting from Zacatecas, Mexico. Photo by Charles Mahaux/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Essay/
Consciousness and altered states
The whole-planet view

Psychedelics offer a sense of expansive connectedness, just like astronauts have felt looking back to Earth from space

Rosalind Watts, Sam Gandy & Alex Evans

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field of nearly 10,000 galaxies, taken in 2004. The snapshot includes galaxies of various ages, sizes, shapes and colours. The smallest, reddest galaxies may be among the most distant known, existing when the Universe was just 800 million years old. Photo courtesy NASA, ESA, and S Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team

Essay/
Astronomy
Monsters in the dark

The Universe’s biggest galaxies could hold the key to the birth of the cosmos. Why are these behemoths so hard to find?

Matthew Bothwell

Jane Fonda in Barbarella (1968). Photo by Rex/Shutterstock

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Film and visual culture
SpaceXX

Space exploration in film is overwhelmingly male, metallic and hard-edged. Could we get further with more women on board?

Margaret Wertheim

Artist’s impression of a cylinder colony, endcap view with suspension bridge. Art by Don Davis, 1970s. Image courtesy NASA Ames Research Center

Essay/
Space exploration
Rules in space

If we don’t invent a legal framework for space colonisation the consequences could be catastrophic: the time to act is now

Marko Kovic

The Little Sombrero galaxy NGC 7814. Photo courtesy ESA/Hubble & NASA

Essay/
Space exploration
What if ET is an AI?

After centuries searching for extraterrestrial life, we might find that first contact is not with organic creatures at all

Caleb Scharf

Europa as photographed by the Galileo spacecraft. Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Essay/
Astronomy
Our aquatic universe

We know that the Universe is awash with watery moons and planets. How can we pinpoint which of them could support life?

Tim Folger