A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky early on August 13, 2007 in the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada.
Credit Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Time to stretch out the lawn chairs, lie back and enjoy the once-a-year celestial show known as the Perseid meteor shower.
The Perseids, the dusty debris of Comet Swift-Tuttle, whisk through our upper atmosphere every August. They aren't the only meteor shower on the calendar, but "the Perseids are the good ones," says meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
A rendering of objects currently in Low Earth Orbit (not illustrated to scale). According to NASA, "approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites."
A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.
Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.
The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.
Scrutinizing the books of government agencies can turn up lavish parties or illicit trips at the taxpayers' expense. But not every investigation turns out that way. And when they don't, the hunt for waste can appear to be a waste itself.
Such appears to be the case with a recent inquiry involving NASA and Viking re-enactors. This whole saga began with an idea from Ved Chirayath, an aeronautics graduate student at Stanford University who loves photography. He was talking over what to shoot one day with a colleague, and thought of Vikings.