Halley's Comet won't be back for half a century, but tonight Earth will move through some of the debris the comet left behind, creating a spectacular meteor shower – if you live far enough south.
The first of thousands of new photos of Mercury was released by NASA Tuesday. The Messenger spacecraft is the first to orbit Mercury and has begun a one-year mission to map the planet closest to the Sun.
Mercury had been excluded from the travels of instrument-loaded orbiters because of the difficulty of the mission – until now. On Thursday, the NASA MESSENGER started orbiting the planet.
This image of Mercury, captured early in the morning on March 29, 2011, is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the Solar System's innermost planet. The dominant rayed crater is Debussy.
After a journey of 6 1/2 years, nearly 15 laps around the sun, NASA's Messenger spacecraft will perform its orbital insertion maneuver on Thursday, becoming the first spacecraft to enter Mercury's orbit.
The Kepler space telescope is designed to look for planets like Earth that could have life. But no one expected it to find 54 planet-candidates at Goldilocks distances from their stars – not too warm or cold for life as we know it – in its first four months of operation.
For the first time, scientists have confirmed an exoplanet that is rocky like Earth – not a gas giant. It's also 2,500 degrees F and denser than iron, so it's no candidate for life, say members of the team working with the planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft.
The planet Kepler-10b, spotted by NASA's planet-hunting space telescope, is just 1.4 times larger than Earth.
A burping black hole, water in weird places, and whopper-size new planets are some top space stories of 2010. If you have different discoveries on your list, post them in the comments section.
Geminid meteor shower 2010 climaxes between midnight Monday and dawn Tuesday. But the spectacle also poses a question: Why is the asteroid that supplies the meteorites breaking apart?