Best Space Stories of the Week – Sept. 5, 2015

Cassini View of Enceladus
This image of the geyser-spewing Saturn moon Enceladus was taken on Oct. 5, 2008 by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

The Star Wars toys awaken, a looming 'supermoon' eclipse overshadows a solar eclipse, and hoverboard technology aims for the stars in's best stories for this week.

Total eclipse of the supermoon

Observers can watch the first total lunar eclipse of a 'supermoon' in over three decades on Sept. 27, when the full moon is at its closest to the Earth. There will also be a much less visible partial solar eclipse Sept. 13. [Full Story: Rare 'Supermoon' Total Lunar Eclipse Coming This Month]

Moon samples crumble away

Samples of the moon's soil collected by Apollo astronauts have crumbled since their collection 40 years ago: the particles scientists study have halved in size since the soil was fresh. [Full Story: Some Apollo Moon Samples 'Crumbling to Dust']

That's no spoon

A mysterious floating spoon spotted in pictures by NASA's Curiosity rover is merely a rock, sculpted by Martian winds, say officials — an uncannily spoon-shaped rock. [Full Story: 'Floating Spoon' on Mars Is Just a Weird Rock, But Still Awesome]

Two searches for life

NASA plans to search for life on Jupiter's icy moon Europa in the 2020s, and a new proposed project would investigate Saturn's Enceladus, too. [Full Story: NASA Mulling Life-Hunting Mission to Saturn Moon Enceladus]

Space Station full house

A Soyuz spacecraft dropped off three more crewmembers to the International Space Station Friday (Sept. 4), bringing the total up to 9 for the first time since 2013. Sept. 12, two of the newcomers and the current Commander will head back down. [Full Story: Crowded House! International Crew Arrives at Space Station]

Can life leap across the stars?

If life could spread from star to star, it would leave a distinct mathematical fingerprint — much like an epidemic, bubbles of life would scatter and grow. [Full Story: Life Might Spread Across Universe Like an 'Epidemic' in New Math Theory]

Star Wars toys awaken

Midnight Friday (Sept. 4) a brand-new line of "Star Wars" toys was released to fans in New York's Times Square Toys 'R' Us. Hip-hop-dancing Stormtroopers built up to the big reveal (and many adorable rolling BB-8s were snatched up). [Full Story: The Force is Strong With These Toys: New 'Star Wars' Line is Here!]

Navy communications satellite blasts off

The United States Navy launched an advanced new tactical communications satellite into orbit Wednesday (Sept. 2) on an Atlas V rocket, the fourth installment in a network covering U.S. forces worldwide. [Full Story: US Military Launches Advanced Tactical Communications Satellite Into Orbit]

Well, it's the future: Hoverboard tractor beams

NASA will join forces with the California company Arx Pax, whose magnetic hoverboard technology could maneuver tiny cube-sats in space without touching them. [Full Story: NASA Wants to Use Hoverboard Tech to Control Tiny Satellites]

Souped-up SpaceX rocket returning soon

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will return to flight in a "couple of months," boasting beefier engines for increased thrust. The rocket has been grounded since a failed launch in June. [Full Story: SpaceX Will Debut Upgraded Flcon 9 Rocket on Return to Flight Mission]  

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.