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Google Dabbles in Dream Tech in Hush-Hush X Lab
November 14, 2011
Google scientists are laboring away on futuristic projects in a top-secret lab somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, The New York Times claims. This lab, which is apparently so hush-hush that few Googlers even knew it existed prior to the report, is allegedly called "Google X." More than 100 futuristic projects are said to be under way there.
NASA Researchers Aim to Reel In Tractor Beam Tech
November 03, 2011
Any science fiction fan or Trekkie knows what tractor beams are -- those beams that pull objects toward the device that generates them, sort of like an invisible fishing line and reel. NASA believes enough in the possibility of creating real tractor beams that it's provided a $100,000 grant to researchers at its Goddard Space Flight Center to look into the phenomenon.
Virgin Galactic Spacecraft Triumphs in Hair-Raising Test Flight
October 18, 2011
A recent test flight of Virgin Galactic's private SpaceShipTwo spacecraft caused some tense moments for those participating and observing, but ultimately a new safety feature on the suborbital craft allowed its three-person crew to regain control and bring it safely back down to Earth.
Storm of Controversy Bedevils NASA's New Deep Space Program
September 19, 2011
Struggling through a welter of controversy, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration this week announced plans for a new deep space exploration program. At the heart of the Space Launch System is development of an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will enable human exploration in space.
DARPA's Long-Term Long Shot to the Stars
August 22, 2011
In a few short weeks, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, will award a $500,000 grant for a 100-year starship project. The grant will be awarded at the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium, which will be held in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. The symposium will deal with the practical issues humanity needs to address to achieve interstellar flight 100 years from now.
NASA: From Kennedy to the Ming Dynasty
July 20, 2011
The final voyage of NASA's space shuttle program represents the biggest collapse of a national exploration program since China turned inward after the remarkable 15th century voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He. The space shuttle descended from the original Kennedy-era response to the Soviet investment in technology development.
Final Shuttle Voyage Closes Chapter in Human Spacefaring Saga
July 08, 2011
With the weather barely permitting, the U.S. space exploration program reached another milestone on Friday: Atlantis blasted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on what will be the final space shuttle mission. The flight caps 30 years of achievements including the construction of the International Space Station. Atlantis will dock with the station on Sunday.
The Holographic Universe: Is Our 3D World Just an Illusion?
July 06, 2011
It's difficult enough for most humans to grasp the idea that our planet is just one of countless others in our galaxy -- and a pretty small one, at that. Then, of course, there's the concept that our galaxy is just one of billions of others in the universe -- sure to compound any confusion considerably. But neither of those notions can compete on the mind-bending scale with an idea that's currently being investigated at Fermilab.
Heavens on Earth: 3 Planetariums on the Cutting Edge
June 03, 2011
Planetariums may date back to the far reaches of recorded time, but the first widely known example -- an ancient cast-metal globe made by Archimedes to predict the movements of the planets -- now seems to have little in common with the technological marvels that have become widespread today. Rather than focusing on planets and predictions, today's planetariums are experiential wonders.
Beyond the Point of No Return: Is There Life in Black Holes?
May 25, 2011
Few ideas convey the mystery and awe-inspiring nature of space better than the black hole. Dark, vast and little understood, black holes in many ways represent all that we still don't know about the universe. With their seemingly infinite emptiness and general unexplorability, they're also more than a little terrifying. Imagine what it would be like, then, to learn that life exists in these expansive regions of no escape.
Lone Wanderers: No Warmth of the Sun for Some Planets
May 19, 2011
Roaming planets, untied to a solar system or stellar orbit, were recently found by a team of astronomers, according to a report in Nature. The team of researchers led by David Bennett from Notre Dame University and Takahiro Sumi of Osaka University used gravitational microlensing observing programs to spot the planets.
Endeavour's Last Mission Could Help Unravel Dark Matter Mystery
May 16, 2011
At 8:56 a.m. EDT Monday morning, 19 years after its first launch on May 7, 1992, the space shuttle Endeavour left NASA's Kennedy Space Center for its 25th and final flight. This is also the second-to-last shuttle mission for NASA, which is sunsetting the program due to budget cuts. The very last shuttle flight for the 30-year program is scheduled for this summer.
Cosmic Fireworks Erupt When Black Hole in Dragon's Belly Swallows Star
April 09, 2011
A mysterious cosmic blast in the constellation Draco has astronomers scrambling to try to understand its cause, so unlike is it to anything ever observed before. Rather than the short-lived gamma-ray bursts typically associated with the death of a massive star -- most last no more than a few hours -- this explosion continues more than a week later.
Historic Photos Reveal a Mercury Never Seen Before
March 30, 2011
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft on Tuesday and Wednesday captured and delivered to Earth the first photographs of Mercury ever taken from within the planet's orbit. Taken at 5:20 am EDT Tuesday, the historic first photo was soon joined by 364 more of the solar system's innermost planet, and several of them were released on Wednesday. Photos were taken by MESSENGER's Mercury Dual Imaging System as the spacecraft sailed high above the planet's south pole.
Brown Dwarf Star Is as Cool as They Come
March 23, 2011
A brown dwarf is A) a tepid spot of tea; B) a tiny cup of java; or C) a star with so little energy its temperature isn't much different from a cup of coffee or tea. The correct answer -- C -- describes a newly discovered, lukewarm star about 75 light years -- 709,539,630,000,000 kilometers or 440,887,486,000,000 miles -- from Earth.
Hotshot Maneuver Propels Messenger Into Mercury's Orbit
March 18, 2011
In a first-time ever maneuver, NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging space probe -- aka "Messenger" -- entered Mercury's orbit Thursday. The sun's closest planetary neighbor, Mercury is hot and harsh, presenting conditions no human astronaut could endure. Messenger, however, will hover as close as 124 miles from the planet's surface.
To Mars, Europa and Beyond - Budget Permitting
March 08, 2011
The National Research Council is recommending planetary science missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide important new clues about our solar system. After sorting out budget issues, five expert panels selected research priorities through a rigorous review that included input from planetary sciences experts, town hall meetings, and a contractor who provided independent cost and technical analyses.
'Alien Life' Claim Hampered by Journal's Dubious Reputation
March 07, 2011
A controversial, game-changing claim published in a journal with a reputation some consider sketchy has the scientific community both praising and damning the reported discovery: fossils of bacteria embedded in meteorites from outer space. A NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center scientist, Hoover published his discovery in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.
Pesky Nose-Cone Problem Downs NASA's Glory Satellite
March 04, 2011
A second high-profile failure in two days has helped make a bona-fide rough week for NASA. The U.S. space agency's Glory atmospheric research mission satellite crashed into the Pacific Ocean Friday, one day after a faulty o-ring caused a space suit leak on board the Shuttle Discovery. A so-called "nose cone fairing" that protects the enclosed satellite "did not separate as expected about three minutes after launch," said NASA spokesperson Steve Cole.
Air Force Tight-Lipped About Unmanned 'Mini Shuttle' Mission
March 03, 2011
A U.S. Air Force space vehicle called the "X-37B" that caused "conniptions among Chinese space bloggers" during its first mission last year, according to Heritage Foundation Chinese political and security affairs research fellow Dean Cheng, is being prepared for its second mission launch on Friday. What that mission will entail, however, remains a mystery, in keeping with the space plane's James Bond image.

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