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NASA's Voyager Edges Closer to the Stars
June 29, 2013
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is close to becoming the first human-made object to travel between the stars. The spacecraft, which is now more than 11 billion miles from the sun, has entered the so-called "magnetic highway," showing two of the three signs that could confirm it has entered interstellar space: the presence of charged particles from the sun shooting out into space; and cosmic rays
In Space, No One Can Hear PayPal Cha-Ching
June 27, 2013
It was once virtually unthinkable for a company to operate on a global scale, but if a recent move by PayPal is any indication, this small planet of ours may soon be just the beginning. In fact, PayPal on Thursday announced the launch of PayPal Galactic, an initiative that's designed to address the upcoming need for universal payments from space.
Little Kirobo to Become First Robot Space Talker
June 27, 2013
The first human-robot conversation in space will take place later this year aboard the International Space Station. The chat will be between Kirobo, a humanoid communication robot, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. "I believe that this development is a significant milestone in the exploration of space," said William I. Newman, a professor of earth and space sciences at UCLA.
3D Food Printer Could Sustain Long-Distance Space Explorers
May 22, 2013
In space no one can hear you call out for pizza, but technology being developed in a NASA-funded project might let astronauts print one instead -- or any number of potentially delectable meals. Systems and Materials Research Corporation received a $125,000 grant from NASA to build a prototype device that prints food.
Fusion Rocket Could Hurtle Astronauts to Mars in 30 Days
April 11, 2013
Scientists from the University of Washington and private company MSNW are working on a fusion-powered rocket that could slash the estimated four-year round trip from Earth to Mars to a maximum of 90 days. The technology might also make flights to Mars affordable. The launch cost alone of such a manned flight using chemical rocket fuel would be about $12 billion, according to UW.
Thruster Problem Pushes SpaceX Capsule Off Schedule
March 1, 2013
Private spaceflight company SpaceX's Friday launch of a Dragon capsule ran into problems shortly after it separated from its Falcon 9 rocket, and the resulting delays could move a planned docking with the International Space Station from Saturday to Sunday. "Issue with Dragon thruster pods," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted shortly after the morning launch.
1-2 Celestial Punch Raises Questions About Space Object Defenses
February 16, 2013
A blazing meteor streaked across the skies of Russia on Thursday, leaving a large smoke trail in its wake before blowing up over the remote town of Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountains. More than 1,000 people reported injuries, and windows across the region were shattered by a deafening sonic boom.
Landsat 8 Pushes the Earth-Monitoring Envelope
February 12, 2013
Landsat 8, loaded with several technological advancements for better data-gathering, blasted off Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance. The latest satellite in the 41-year-old Landsat program has enhanced capabilities to record the changes happening on the planet.
Fleet of FireFlies to Probe Space for Mineral-Rich Asteroids
January 24, 2013
Deep Space Industries on Tuesday announced plans to launch a robotic fleet to scour space for asteroids that can be mined. The company will send out its FireFly spacecraft in 2015 on journeys of two-to-six months. DSI will build the 55-lb. FireFlies using CubeSat technology. The company will work with NASA and other partners to identify targets of opportunity.
'Black Beauty' Meteorite Points to Mars' Kinder, Gentler Past
January 5, 2013
After a year of study, researchers have concluded that a Martian meteorite found in the Sahara desert in 2011 is a new class of meteorite -- one that adds credence to the idea that life may have existed on the Red Planet. The meteorite, Northwest Africa 7034, nicknamed "Black Beauty," is black and about the size of a baseball.
Alzheimer's Could Be the Trade-off for Deep-Space Pioneers
January 3, 2013
Cosmic radiation could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease among astronauts, adding to the health risks it's already known to pose. Researchers at the University of Rochester looked at the effect of high-mass particles with a high charge. These so-called "HZE particles" are the nuclei of elements that include iron, silicon, titanium and calcium.
2030: A Manned Mars Odyssey
December 7, 2012
Buoyed by the recent success of its Mars rover Curiosity, NASA announced plans to launch a new robotic science rover in 2020. It's also eyeing the possibility of a manned expedition just a decade later. "The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
NASA Shares Earth's Nighttime Glamour Shots
December 6, 2012
In 1972, we marveled at the beauty of our planet in a photo taken by the crew of Apollo 17 on its way to the moon. Dubbed the "Blue Marble," the iconic image depicted a blue-and-white globe floating in the blackness of space. On Thursday, we were treated to a different view of Island Earth, one with the undeniable stamp of humanity on it.
Nuclear Power Could Blast Humans Into Deep Space
November 28, 2012
A team of researchers, including engineers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, this week reported their successful demonstration of a new concept that could provide reliable nuclear power for space exploration. The technology is still years away from the warp drive of Star Trek, but it could provide a means of propulsion for space travel beyond the moon.
Asteroid Belts May Show Us the Way to E.T.
November 16, 2012
Of all the space objects humans have come across so far, asteroids are surely among the more anxiety-producing examples, thanks to their recurring habit of barreling past our planet at terrifying speeds and uncomfortably close proximity. However, it just may be that asteroids are our friends, a new paper suggests.
Interplanetary Internet: Small Step for Lego Robot, Giant Leap for Space Exploration
November 9, 2012
NASA and the European Space Agency have tested a prototype system that could truly give new meaning to long-distance calling. It could help enable Internet-like communications between Earth and other planets. To demonstrate very long-distance remote control, ISS Commander Sunita Williams last month conducted an experiment that used NASA's DTN protocol to drive a Lego robot located on Earth.
Scorched 'Earth' Spotted in Star System Next Door
October 26, 2012
Astronomers have wondered for centuries about the possibility of Earth-like planets in the neighboring Alpha Centauri star system, but only recently did their ongoing search bear fruit. European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of Earth orbiting a star in Alpha Centauri. Observations made over more than four years have revealed "a tiny, but real, signal."
NASA's X1 Robosuit Designed to Live Dual Lives
October 16, 2012
NASA and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition have jointly developed a new robotic exoskeleton, dubbed the "XI," that could help astronauts in space stay in better physical shape, while also helping humans on Earth walk. The 57-pound wearable device is in essence a robot that fits over a human body to either assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.
Blown SpaceX Engine May Have Been Best of Bad Things
October 9, 2012
One of the nine Merlin engines of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket suffered what the company called "an anomaly" after the vessel's launch on Sunday. The "anomaly" looks a lot like one of the rocket's nine engines failing in mid-launch, as can be seen in the video below Initial data suggest that Engine 1 lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued.
Sunday's SpaceX Launch: High Stakes for Commercial Spaceflight
October 6, 2012
The first resupply mission to the International Space Station conducted by a private firm is set to launch Sunday evening. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule made by SpaceX are scheduled to take off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida at 8:35 p.m. Eastern time. Ahead of the launch, NASA set up a Google+ Hangout session on Friday with NASA administrator Charles Bolden and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Skywatchers Treated to Spectacular Fiery Show on Jupiter
September 15, 2012
Astronomers have long suspected that Jupiter undergoes more frequent collisions with space objects than we know, but this past Monday one apparently occurred that was so dramatic as to even be visible with amateur telescopes here on Earth. Wisconsin-based amateur astronomer Dan Peterson first reported the event, having viewed it as it happened.
Astronomical Double-Take: 2 Planets With 2 Suns
September 5, 2012
Luke Skywalker's fictional home planet Tatooine in the Star Wars films was perhaps most memorable for its two suns, but astronomers working on NASA's Kepler mission recently discovered something much like it here in our own galaxy. The discovery actually is double as well, because it includes not just one but two planets orbiting two suns.
35 Years Later, Earth Finally Returns ET's Phone Call
August 22, 2012
Just after 11 p.m. on Aug. 15, 1977, while pointing toward the constellation Sagittarius, Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope picked up a mysterious transmission that would very soon make history. For 72 seconds, the Big Ear was able to listen to that signal, which has since come to be known as the "Wow! Signal."
Curiosity Really Starts to Click
August 9, 2012
Nasa's Curiosity rover has begun satisfying the curiosity of mission scientists by sending high-quality images of Mars' surface back to Earth. Although it's only had since Sunday night to collect data, Curiosity has sent a batch of snapshots that are already allowing the NASA team to garner a good deal of information.
Curiosity Begins Capturing Martian Kodak Moments
August 7, 2012
Following the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, NASA's most advanced Mars rover to date landed on the Red Planet at 10:32 p.m. PDT on Sunday. Dubbed "Curiosity," the one-ton, car-sized rover had been in flight for 36 weeks. Its complicated touchdown settled the device near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside the Red Planet's Gale Crater.
Gliese 581g: A Potentially Habitable World or Not?
July 31, 2012
There's been considerable debate over the existence of Gliese 581g ever since the discovery of the "Goldilocks" planet was first reported nearly two years ago, but new research claims to provide additional evidence that the potentially habitable "super-Earth" really is out there.
Astronomers Spot Moon No. 5 Circling Un-Planet Pluto
July 13, 2012
Pluto may no longer be considered a true planet following its official reclassification in 2006, but that doesn't appear to be stopping the tiny dwarf planet from amassing a considerable number of celestial "followers." Just this week, in fact, a team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope announced their discovery of yet another moon orbiting Pluto.
From Venus With Love: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Celestial Show
June 5, 2012
The planet Venus will create a rare spectacle on Tuesday when it passes directly in front of our sun, creating an image for viewers on Earth that won't be repeated until the year 2117. Known as "the 2012 Transit of Venus," the nearly seven-hour journey will begin at 3:09 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (22:09 UT) Tuesday and will be widely visible around the globe.
Re-Enter the Dragon
May 31, 2012
SpaceX's Dragon space capsule returned to Earth on Thursday, 10 days after it took off into the wild blue yonder to resupply the International Space Station. The capsule touched down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:42 a.m. ET a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. It will be taken by boat to a port in California near Los Angeles.
SpaceX Chalks Up Giant Leap for Commercial Space Travel
May 25, 2012
The Dragon was caught by its tail on Friday. The unmanned SpaceX spacecraft, which launched into orbit earlier this week, has successfully docked with the International Space Station, marking a first for a cargo-carrying private spacecraft. The docking was assisted with the station's 58-foot robotic arm controlled by astronaut Don Pettit.
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