Skip to main content

Sarah Scoles

Contributor

Sarah Scoles is the author of Making Contact and They Are Already Here. She covers the technology, science, and culture of space.

Spotting Objects From Space Is Easy. This Challenge Is Harder

A battle royale called the Smart program has charged teams with a daunting first task: Identify construction sites on Earth using only data from orbiters.

These Satellites See Through the Clouds to Track Flooding

Remote sensing systems can struggle to spot high waters, especially in stormy weather or at night. Synthetic aperture radar offers a shot in the dark.

How Lost Hikers Can Send an SOS to Space

The Sarsat satellite system is a kind of celestial lifeguard for explorers, boaters, and aviators who might be in need of search and rescue.

Astronaut Gear of the Future May Fight Bone and Muscle Loss

New space suits and muscle stimulators could keep spacefarers fit on long voyages.

NASA’s Lucy Mission Gets Ready to Fly by the Trojan Asteroids

The spacecraft will provide the first up-close look at these building blocks of the early solar system.

GPS III’s Long Journey Is Picking Up Speed

With the launch of a fifth new-generation satellite, the US finally has a constellation able to globally beam M-Code signals that are tough to spoof or jam.

The Space and Air Forces Launch an LGBTQ Task Force

Ten years after “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” a major general from the Space Force is leading a new inclusion initiative.

NASA Lands the Perseverance Rover on Mars

The science mission will launch the first drone to fly on another planet, attempt making oxygen in space, and search for signs of ancient life.

There Are No Real Rules for Repairing Satellites in Space—Yet

Fixing, refueling, and upgrading satellites in orbit is about to become more common. A group is pushing for international standards to keep these missions safe.

Neutrino Detectors Could Be Used to Spot Nuclear Rogues

In theory, the particles could reveal whether a reactor is building up plutonium for weapons. US energy experts are starting to take the idea seriously.

‘Dr. Phosphine’ and the Possibility of Life on Venus

Scientists found hints of alien life floating in Venus's atmosphere by focusing on a long-ignored, simple compound: phosphine.

The Feds Want These Teams to Hack a Satellite—From Home

Meet the hackers who, this weekend, will try to commandeer an actual orbiter as part of a Defcon contest hosted by the Air Force and the Defense Digital Service.

This Citizen Science Gig Pays People to Match Space Photos

Astronomers at the Hubble Image Similarity Project are employing their out-of-work neighbors to help them train a neural net to recognize celestial objects.

Satellite Data Reveals the Pandemic's Effects From Above

Images taken from space are providing details to governments and relief efforts about how humanity is handling the Covid-19 crisis.

The Search for the Next Big Idea in Magnetic Field Mapping

A new competition challenges scientists to innovate on how we map Earth's constantly shifting magnetic field—and make navigation safer and more accurate.

How UFO Sightings Became an American Obsession

In 1947 a pilot spotted a fleet of “saucer-like” aircraft speeding across the sky. It was only a matter of time until paranoia set in.

Astronomy Expands Its Scope From the Heavens to Humans

Every 10 years, astronomers weigh in on the state of their field. For the first time, they're tackling Earth-centric issues like gender bias and diversity. 

What Scientists Can Learn From Alien Hunters

The history of the search for extraterrestrial life sheds light on the consequences of dismissing fringe perspectives, in science and in other disciplines.

Now Entering Orbit: Tiny Lego-like Modular Satellites

Space is getting closer, thanks to small, cheap “satlets” that network themselves to solve problems in flight.

Forget Earth: In Space, Libertarian Ideas Are Thriving

Space entrepreneurs tend to share a fondness for libertarian principles. So before checking into your space hotel, be sure to read your Heinlein.