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February 27 2014

February 26 2014

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February 24 2014

February 18 2014

February 14 2014

Map of Jupiter's Largest Moon Shows New Icy Details

The largest moon in the solar system has finally received its cartographic due.

Scientists have created the first global geological map of Jupiter's huge, ice-covered moon Ganymede, more than 400 years after its discovery by Galileo Galilei. The map, created using observations by NASA's twin Voyager probes and Galileo orbiter, highlights the varied terrain of Ganymede, which is bigger than the planet Mercury.

"This map illustrates the incredible variety of geological features on Ganymede and helps to make order from the apparent chaos of its complex surface," Robert Pappalardo, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "This map is helping planetary scientists to decipher the evolution of this icy world and will aid in upcoming spacecraft observations." Read more...

More about Space, Moon, Galileo, Scientists, and Jupiter

February 07 2014

Curiosity Rover's First Photo of Earth from Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars has captured its first view of Earth from the surface of the Red Planet — a striking image that shows our home planet as a bright light in the Martian sky, with the moon shining nearby.

The Curiosity rover photographed Earth from Mars on Jan. 31 using the left-eye camera on its head-like science mast. You can see a video of Curiosity's Earth-from-Mars images here.

The rover apparently watched the Martian sunset, then photographed Earth in the night sky about 80 minutes later, NASA officials said in an image description


More about Space, Nasa, Earth, Images, and Mars

February 06 2014

Astronauts Share Hardcore Fitness Tips With Olympian — From Space

Astronauts can easily lose bone and muscle mass in space because their bodies don't have to do a lot of work to move around in zero gravity, but wasting away above the planet is not an option. On Thursday two astronauts at the International Space Station took part in a Google hangout to show the world that they spend enough time working out to put many Earthlings to shame — a characteristic they share with Olympians.

Back on Earth, experts say we should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a few times a week.

In space, according to astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio, it's more like 90 to 120 minutes every 24 hours, and that's just so astronauts can maintain their fitness level. The astronauts spent around 20 minutes talking about their workout routines with a panel that included a member of the Houston Texans, a Crossfit champion, a United States bobsled team member preparing for the Sochi Olympics and another astronaut who joined the talk from Earth. Read more...

More about Space, Tips, Workout, Astronauts, and Us World

February 05 2014

The North Star Is Getting Brighter

The North Star has remained an eternal reassurance for northern travelers over the centuries. But recent and historical research reveals that the ever-constant star is actually changing.

After dimming for the last few decades, the North Star is beginning to shine brightly again. And over the last two centuries, the brightening has become rather dramatic.

"It was unexpected to find," Scott Engle of Villanova University in Pennsylvania told SPACE.com. Engle investigated the fluctuations of the star over the course of several years, combing through historical records and even turning the gaze of the famed Hubble Space Telescope onto the star Read more...

More about Space, Us World, World, and Hubble
Is the Moon Really Essential to Life?

Alien planets without big, climate-stabilizing moons like the one that orbits Earth may still be capable of supporting life, a new study reports.

Previous modeling work had suggested that Earth's axial tilt, or obliquity, would vary wildly over long time spans without the moon's steadying gravitational influence, creating huge climate swings that would make it tough for life to get a foothold on our planet.

But that's not necessarily the case, said Jack Lissauer of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif

"If the Earth did not have a moon, its obliquity — and, therefore, its climate — would vary, indeed, substantially more than it does at present," Lissauer said during a presentation in December at the American Geophysical Union's annual fall meeting in San Francisco. "But it's nowhere near as bad as was predicted based on previous models." Read more...

More about Sun, Space, Earth, Moon, and North Pole

January 31 2014

'Dream Chaser' Spacecraft Set to Blast Off Next Year

The private space industry is going to infinity and beyond — or at the very least, into orbit.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems announced that their spacecraft will launch on Nov. 1, 2016 in an unmanned, orbital flight, with plans to launch a manned flight in 2017.

After making a deal with United Launch Alliance — a company that provides space launch services for the U.S. government — the SNC Space Systems' craft, known as Dream Chaser, will launch attached to an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Two years ago, NASA committed $1.1 billion to three companies — Boeing, SpaceX and SNC Space Systems — to get astronauts flying in American spacecrafts again in what was called the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) initiative. Currently, American astronauts have to tag along in Russian Soyuz capsules to get to the International Space Station, a trip that costs NASA $70.7 million per seat. Read more...

More about News, Space, Us, Nasa, and Space Shuttle
The Solar Eclipse You Could Only See From Space

The Sun and Moon decided to put on a show Thursday — but only for the lucky few with good seats, in space.

In what is known as a lunar transit, the Moon passed between NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Sun, giving the observatory a view of a partial solar eclipse only visible from space

Lunar transits like this happen two or three times a year, but Thursday's was particularly special. According to SDO's mission blog, the entire eclipse lasted two and half hours — the longest lunar transit thus far in the SDO mission

SDO is the first mission to be launched as a part of NASA's Living With a Star Program, a program designed to research the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth and help scientists understand the Sun's influence on Earth. The observatory was launched on Feb. 11, 2010 from Cape Canaveral. Read more...

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January 30 2014

The Debris From a London-Sized Asteroid Strike Would Block Out the Sun

It's been almost a year since a meteorite unexpectedly blew up over the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia. The explosion — which scientists say was a blinding 30 times brighter than the sun — sent off a shock wave that defaced 7,000 buildings and injured more than 1,400 people

The amount of damage was undoubtably huge. But the actual rock? Not so much. At 18 meters around, it was roughly half as wide as Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue — big, but surprisingly small for an object that caused $33 million in repairs in a matter of minutes

This got us thinking: What happens when smaller (and bigger) objects fly into our atmosphere? We used Purdue University's "Impact: Earth!" simulator to find our answers. Our own Bob Al-Greene illustrated the results, as seen in the gallery above. Read more...

More about Space, Videos, Features, Science, and Galleries

January 29 2014

How Much Should We Really Worry About Asteroids?

Tracking asteroids and patrolling the skies is a fascinating field — one that blends traditional science with the imagination-capturing realm of space rocks. The tales we heard in a story we published on Tuesday were compelling, inspiring and downright eerie. And the discussions aren't over just yet

In a Google Hangout on Wednesday, we'll be joined by Dr. Denton Ebel, curator of meteorites at the Museum of Natural History in New York City; Tim Spahr, director of the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Mass.; and Sergey Khaibrakhmanov, a Ph.D. candidate in physics and witness to the meteorite that exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February Read more...

More about Space, Videos, Features, Science, and Google Hangouts

January 28 2014

The Hunt for Killer Asteroids

Sergey Khaibrakhmanov was sleeping when he heard the explosion. Startled, his heart already pounding, he jumped awake in bedWhat the hell was that?

It was loud, whatever it was, enough to shake the apartment and scare him half to deathDid a plane just crash?

He edged to the side of his bed as debris sprinkled from the ceiling, speckles of dust and plastic tile, falling like snow in sporadic, sluggish patterns. The silence, eerily juxtaposed against the bang, was ominous, unreal even. His ears began to ring.

A breeze whistled inside from the direction of the balcony. The glass door — or what was left of it — lay in broken pieces on the carpet, sparkling like a tiny sea of diamondsShit. Read more...

More about Space, Videos, Nasa, Features, and Science

January 23 2014

10-Year-Old Opportunity Rover Is Still Finding Crazy Stuff on Mars

NASA's Opportunity rover may have landed on Mars 10 years ago, but it's still sending valuable data to scientists on Earth. The rover's latest findings show that water once stirred rocks on the edge of the Endeavor Crater — and it was suitable for life

Much of the evidence of water we've previously seen on Mars shows that it was very acidic — scientists often compare it to Spain's Rio Tinto, which is famous for its deep reddish color and acidity — and therefore not the greatest place to sustain even the "hardiest extremophile microorganisms," as researchers put it. That super-salty, highly-acidic water is a signature trait of a more recent Mars. Read more...

More about Space, Nasa, Opportunity, Mars, and Curiosity

January 22 2014

Saturn's 'Yin and Yang' Moon Shines in NASA Photo

Call it cosmic zen. Yin and yang appear to meet on one of Saturn's moons in a photo taken by a spacecraft exploring the ringed planet and its many moons.

The new Cassini photo of Saturn's moon Iapetus shows the satellite's dark and light sides as comma-shaped features that bear a striking resemblance to the yin and yang symbol in Chinese philosophy. The image was released in December, but actually taken by the Cassini spacecraft in August.

"This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Iapetus," NASA officials wrote in an image description. "North on Iapetus is up and rotated 30 degrees to the right. Read more...

More about Space, Nasa, Us World, World, and Saturn

January 21 2014

Rosetta's Historic Comet Chase: All Your Questions, Answered

The idea of catching up to a comet, landing on it and drilling for samples sounds like it could be the plot for Armageddon 3. But the news comes directly from the European Space Agency and NASA: Earlier this week, the agencies woke the unmanned Rosetta spacecraft after a two-and-a-half-year nap and are preparing it for a rendezvous with a comet later this year.

So far, the mission, which launched a decade ago (after more than a decade of preparation), is going smoothly. According to NASA, the first communication from the spacecraft arrived at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, at 7:18 p.m. local time (1:18 p.m. ET). The signal was received by a ground station at the Goldstone, Calif., complex of NASA's Deep Space Network. Read more...

More about Space, Nasa, Us World, Us, and World

January 20 2014

Rosetta Spacecraft Wakes Up for Historic Comet Rendezvous

A European probe awoke from a deep sleep on Jan. 20 to gear up for an unprecedented comet rendezvous and landing this year that will cap a 10-year voyage across the solar system.

After two and a half years in hibernation, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft emerged from its slumber while cruising nearly 418 million miles (673 million kilometers) from the sun. The wakeup call, which was due to begin at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT), took hours as Rosetta switched on heaters to warm itself after its long night in the cold depths of space.

"We made it!" Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta's spacecraft operations manager, shouted in exultation in a webcast. "We can definitely see a signal from Rosetta!" Read more...

More about Space, Us World, World, Comet, and European Space Agency

January 17 2014

'Skinsuit' Could Soothe Back Pains in Astronauts and Elderly

A new tight-fitting "skinsuit" could help astronauts combat the back problems that are a common consequence of long-term spaceflight, researchers say.

Astronauts have grown as much as 2.75 inches (7 centimeters) during space missions as their spines stretch out in microgravity conditions — a dramatic change that can cause significant pain, European Space Agency (ESA) officials said. The problems often continue back on Earth, as astronauts have a high chance of suffering a slipped disk while working themselves back into shape for terrestrial life.

ESA hopes the new skinsuit will make off-planet living much more comfortable by counteracting the lack of gravity. The garment features a bi-directional weave that squeezes the body from the shoulders to the feet, mimicking the gravitational force felt on Earth Read more...

More about Space, Nasa, Gravity, Astronauts, and Us World

January 16 2014

Japanese Scientists to Clean Up Orbiting Space Junk

Japanese scientists are trying to take out the trash — in space

There are approximately 100 million bits of man-made junk floating in space, the majority of which is only 700 to 1,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface, according to Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post. And it's not just sitting pretty — all of this debris poses a threat.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has partnered with a fishing-equipment company to design a net that can catch space debris, much like how a fisherman would catch trout

JAXA will send a rocket and satellite into orbit, where the latter will unreel a wire net approximately 300 meters long. The net will then generate a magnetic field, and if all goes well, catch some of the debris. Tests will begin in late February. Read more...

More about Space, United States, Japan, Field, and Trash
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