NASA

Earth will have a small asteroid zip close by in March

Earth will have a small asteroid zip close by in March

This upcoming March will bring with it a small (relatively speaking) asteroid that will zip by our planet at its closest distance so far. The asteroid previously flew by Earth a couple years ago at a distance of 1.3 million miles, nowhere close to hitting us. This upcoming time, though, it may come as close as 11,000 miles to our planet, one of many possible trajectories.

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NASA: SLS rocket will carry 13 CubeSats to space in 2018

NASA: SLS rocket will carry 13 CubeSats to space in 2018

NASA has announced that the Space Launch System rocket’s first flight will involve carrying 13 CubeSats into space. The satellites will be a secondary payload, being delivered alongside an Orion spacecraft. Says the space agency, the rocket’s first flight will be called the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), and it will give “the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations.”

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SpaceX tests parachutes that will land space crew back to Earth

SpaceX tests parachutes that will land space crew back to Earth

SpaceX may be ambitious, but it isn't delusional. While it's still trying to perfect rocket landing on sea as well as landing human-bearing spacecraft, it has contracts to fulfill, including those that happen to require landing human-bearing spacecraft. In order to do so, it needs to first make sure that the traditional parachute landing is also perfect. That's exactly what it did in Arizona with what was deemed a successful test of a Parachute Drop Test for what would be a Crew Dragon landing. And this time, not a single rocket was fired.

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NASA: we’re probably at peak El Niño

NASA: we’re probably at peak El Niño

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, we’ve “probably reached the peak” of El Niño, though how the coming months will play out isn’t certain. The space agency says it is possible that tropical Pacific waters will be back to neutral by this upcoming summer, or it could play out that we get a La Nina instead, which has happened in the past.

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ISS astronaut plays ping-pong with a ball of water

ISS astronaut plays ping-pong with a ball of water

Life on the ISS is never boring and you can do things in microgravity that you could never think of when you are on Earth. You can make floating balls of water for instance simply by squeezing water out of a straw. Astronaut Scott Kelly has shown off something cool that you could never do on Earth, play ping-pong with a floating orb of water.

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SpaceX tests SuperDraco engines that will actually land crew back to Earth

SpaceX tests SuperDraco engines that will actually land crew back to Earth

SpaceX definitely doesn't lack ambition, or things to test. Barely a week after it nearly succeeded, but still failed, to land a Falcon 9 rocket on a sea platform, it is firing up rockets again, but this time for an even more experimental, and luckily less explosive, test. This time, it is the SuperDraco engines that are being put to the test, along with the software and other systems that would eventually allow a Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying humans inside, to have a nice, soft landing back to earth.

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Astronaut shows how coffee is made aboard the ISS

Astronaut shows how coffee is made aboard the ISS

Doing the simple and mundane things we do every morning here on Earth takes on a completely new challenge in space. The challenge in microgravity is that things just don’t work the same way they do here on Earth in normal gravity. For instance making a simple cup of coffee becomes a complex process that requires specially engineered systems.

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ISS astronaut shows off first flower grown in space

ISS astronaut shows off first flower grown in space

NASA is doing a lot of research to see how plants from Earth will grow in the zero gravity of space. Being able to grow food is one of the only ways that future space missions will be able to keep astronauts fed on long duration missions. Typically, the astronauts grow edible vegetable plants, but during a recent mission, the astronauts grew a flower.

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NASA spots (possible) ice volcano on Pluto

NASA spots (possible) ice volcano on Pluto

NASA has released a new photograph taken by its New Horizons spacecraft that shows what researchers believe is a cryovolcano — that is, an ice volcano — on Pluto. The image was taken last summer and shows a part of Pluto known as Wright Mons. NASA points toward a number of intriguing features that hint at active volcanoes in Pluto’s past -- the volcano spotted this time around is one of a possible pair.

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NASA awards SpaceX, SNC, and Orbital ATK ISS cargo contracts

NASA awards SpaceX, SNC, and Orbital ATK ISS cargo contracts

NASA has announced that SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC), and Orbital ATK have been given contracts for delivering cargo to the International Space Station. The contracts will span from 2019 to 2024, and though details are still light at this time, the space agency says each contract guarantees a minimum of six missions for the companies.

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NASA image shows ‘snail’ traveling across Pluto

NASA image shows ‘snail’ traveling across Pluto

It may not be as interesting as crabs on Mars, but a relatively new NASA picture shows what some say is a snail-like being on Pluto. The image was captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it made a flyby of the planet back in July. Pictured in a somewhat barren landscape is a ‘snail,’ or better put, an object that looks like a snail. Some enthusiasts hope it is a glimpse of alien life, but the real answer is (probably) far more mundane.

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Audi Lunar Quattro moon rover first look: XPRIZE-bound

Audi Lunar Quattro moon rover first look: XPRIZE-bound

Easily the tiniest of the vehicles we've seen so far at the Detroit Auto show is here in the Audi Lunar Quattro. This vehicle is meant to head to the moon as part of Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition, aiming to launch a vehicle that'll be placed on the moon and explore a space of at least 500 meters. Equipped with an HD camera array, this tiny vehicle will send high-definition video and high-definition photos aplenty from our moon back to the planet Earth.

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