The space environment is no longer the sole preserve of government agencies. Private companies have entered the exploration domain and are propelling the sector forward more vigorously and swiftly than would be the case if left to governments alone.
The Saturn Nebula is located approximately 5000 light years away in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer). Its name derives from its odd shape, which resembles everyone's favourite ringed planet seen edge-on.
Fifty years ago, scientists discovered that the Earth is occasionally hit by cosmic rays of enormous energies. Since then, they have argued about the source of those ultra-high energy cosmic rays - whether they came from our galaxy or outside the Milky Way.
Charged particles may be small, but they matter to astronauts. NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) is investigating these particles to solve one of its biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars: space radiation and its effects on the human body.
In the faint southern constellation of Antlia the careful observer with binoculars will spot a very red star, which varies slightly in brightness from week to week. This very unusual star is called U Antliae and new observations are revealing a remarkably thin spherical shell around it.