Scientists are always exploring our planet looking to make new discoveries. For all of recorded history, Antarctica has been covered with a massive sheet of ice many miles thick. This thick coating of ice hides all the actual land underneath form view.
Yesterday marked the liftoff of the first of eight official missions to the International Space Station for Orbital Sciences. Orbital sent its Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS atop its Antares rocket. The rocket launched successfully from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA is hard at work on the space launch system and capsule that will replace the retired space shuttle fleet to carry American astronauts into orbit and to the ISS. The Orion capsule that will carry the crew and cargo into orbit is currently in testing. NASA is also working on the rocket that will push the capsule into orbit.
The fate of the ISS beyond the year 2020 has been rather dire for a while now. The budgeting for the ISS was set to expire in 2020 resulting in the decommissioning of the space station. The White House has now agreed to extend the funding for the ISS for a few more years.
Scientists have been using the NASA Hubble Space Telescope to examine two nearby exoplanets. The two teams of scientists have announced that they have discovered thick layers of clouds in the atmosphere of the exoplanets. The exoplanets are described as a "warm Neptune" and a super-Earth.
NASA is ringing in the New Year with some beautiful photos that Cassini has taken of Saturn. The photo at the top of the story shows shadows on the surface of Saturn cast by the network of rings around the planet. Note the slight blue hue on the bottom of Saturn in the image.
Yesterday's spacewalk outside the International Space Station resulted in a record-breaking amount of time spent moving around in the vacuum of space by a Russian. Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy spent 8 hours and 7 minutes on the mission, breaking the previous Russian record of 7 hours and 29 minutes set by Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin Aug. 16, 2013. The achievement was a little softened, however, as the mission didn't go entirely as planned.
The International Space Station is seeing quite a bit of activity this Christmas week, with today’s action surrounding the installation of two high-fidelity cameras. This installation was initiated under Expedition 38 and executed by Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). This mission happens just three days after a US-based expedition (as seen in the hero image of this article) to replace faulty water pumps on the station.
NASA currently has a rover exploring Mars called Curiosity and it's not the first rover to explore the red planet. The thing that most of the rovers NASA has sent on exploration missions so far have in common is the wheel. The rovers use wheels to get around the surface of the planet for their exploration.
The astronauts who this week took to the vacuum of space to repair a malfunctioning ammonia coolant pump on the exterior of the International Space Station are safely back inside. The electrical systems that depend on the cooling loop run by the pump are now back online. Today astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Mike Hopkins, and Koichi Wakata took the time to reflect back on the spacewalks and provide us with some photos of the operation.