The Most Amazing Space Stories This Week!
China launched the first-ever quantum-communication satellite, known as QUESS, atop a Long March-2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Aug. 15, 2016 (Aug. 15 local time).
Credit: Xinhua/Jin Liwang

Ash from exploding stars is found in a fossil on Earth, a spacecraft prepares to visit an asteroid, and China launches a hack-proof satellite. These are our picks for the best space stories of the week.

Another force of nature

A new study suggests there may be five – not four – forces of nature. If true, this will drastically alter our understanding of the universe and dark matter.  [Full StoryHas a New, Fifth Force of Nature Been Found?]

Mars space station

Before humanity reaches the surface of Mars, they may first have to spend about a year orbiting the planet in a space station called "Mars Base Camp." That way astronauts can learn more about the potential risks of living on Mars before landing on the planet's surface. [Full StoryMars Space Station Could Pave Way for 1st Footsteps on Red Planet]

Hubble Space Telescope image of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.25 light-years from the sun.
Hubble Space Telescope image of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.25 light-years from the sun.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Earth-like planet nearby

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have found evidence for a potentially habitable planet revolving around Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the sun, according to a report in Der Spiegel. ESO is expected to make an official announcement later this month. [Full StoryDoes an Earth-Like Alien Planet Orbit the Sun's Closest Neighbor?]

Most powerful rocket ever

NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, designed to carry astronauts to Mars, will be the most powerful rocket booster ever built. Until now, many have disputed the claim that SLS is so powerful, but now the SLS team has done the math to prove it. [Full StoryYes, NASA's New Megarocket Will Be More Powerful Than the Saturn V]

Space-time ripples

The astrophysics community wants NASA to start hunting for space-time ripples from space once more, according to a recent survey from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. In particular, the space agency should renew its support for the European gravitational wave observatory, eLISA, the report states. [Full StoryUS Should Reenter Space-Based Hunt for Space-Time Ripples, Report Says]

Visiting an asteroid

In three weeks, NASA will launch an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid named Bennu. The spacecraft, named OSIRIS-Rex, will collect a sample of the asteroid – without landing on its surface – and return it to Earth in 2023. [Full StoryNASA to Launch Asteroid-Sampling Mission in 3 Weeks]

Unhackable satellites

On Monday (Aug. 15) China launched the first-ever quantum satellite called QUESS. The satellites are designed to establish an unhackable communication system. But it will also provide insight into the bizarre physics behind quantum entanglement. [Full StoryChina Launches Pioneering 'Hack-Proof' Quantum-Communications Satellite]

Full Sturgeon moon

The full moon shone bright around the world this week, peaking on Thursday (Aug. 18). August's full moon is also called the Sturgeon moon. It gets this name from the sturgeon fish, because Native Americans believed these fish were easiest to catch. [Full StoryAugust Full Moon 2016: See the Lunar 'Sturgeon' Tonight]

Supernova ash on Earth

Scientists have found ash from supernovas, or exploding stars, in fossils of bacteria living here on Earth. The finding suggests an event that could have caused a mass extinction event on Earth. [Full StorySupernova Ashes Found in Fossils Hint at Extinction Event]

New Air Force satellites

The U.S. Air Force launched two satellites into on Friday (Aug. 19). These satellites are headed to their positions in geosynchronous orbit, where they will help protect military surveillance and communication satellites. [Full StoryUS Air Force Launches 2 Military Surveillance Satellites]

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebookand Google+