NASA

New Horizons Pluto mission blinks out just days from goal

New Horizons Pluto mission blinks out just days from goal

Before you start having a heart attack at the idea that we won't get any closer to Pluto, take heed - New Horizons is now back online. For just a short period of time - right around an hour - the craft blinked offline. This was a radio communications glitch that seemed to fix itself - somehow or another - by 3:15pm EDT on the 4th of July, when everyone was out at the beach sipping on brewskies. Except NASA engineers, of course, who were on the task at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, making certain this wasn't an error that'd have the craft offline just days before it reaches its closest point to Pluto.

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New Horizons back to work 7th July to prep for Pluto flyby

New Horizons back to work 7th July to prep for Pluto flyby

You can probably imagine the sighs of relief coming from NASA scientists after they have concluded that no hardware or software failure caused the unexpected July 4th loss of contact between Earth and the New Horizons probe bound for Pluto. Having counted their losses and re-calculated their schedule, the scientists have also determined, again much to their relief, that there will be no delay in its schedule for its date with Pluto, which, provided there are no more anomalies, will proceed as planned on July 14.

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NASA suffers New Horizons disconnect as Pluto nears

NASA suffers New Horizons disconnect as Pluto nears

The New Horizons probe set to arrive at Pluto in just ten days time gave NASA an unpleasant July 4th surprise, losing contact with Earth for more than an hour. The glitch, which began at 1:54pm EDT, saw radio communications between the mission operations center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the distant spacecraft cut for unknown reasons. While the link was reconnected at 3:15pm EDT, it leaves NASA scientists scrambling to get New Horizons back onto its original course.

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Understanding Facebook’s data lasers

Understanding Facebook’s data lasers

This week Mark Zuckerberg showed off several photographs of lasers he suggested would be sending internet signals all around the world. These lasers will be used with Facebook's Internet.org project, beaming information "from a plane flying overhead or a satellite flying way overhead," according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "They'll communicate down to earth using very accurate lasers to transfer data." This isn't the first experiment in the world to use lasers to send data. In fact several organizations - like the ESA and NASA - have already begun real-world testing for data transfer between craft in space and labs on our planet's surface. Data transfer with lasers is super reliable and fast, too!

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NASA finds more mystery spots, this time on Pluto

NASA finds more mystery spots, this time on Pluto

NASA has been increasingly gathering more detailed looks at the planets that are close to us. It found itself a little mystery with Ceres, where one of its spacecrafts found a couple clusters of bright spots. The space agency still hasn’t quite figured out what those are, but now it has itself another mystery — this time on Pluto, where the New Horizons spacecraft has taken an image that shows a line of big dark dots in an evenly-spaced single line.

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NASA begins prototyping first airplane to fly over Mars

NASA begins prototyping first airplane to fly over Mars

NASA has revealed a new prototype design for an aircraft that will eventually be the first to fly on Mars in the 2020's. Dubbed the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or "Prandtl-m" for short, features a flying-wing design and is said to be ready for testing later this year via launching from a balloon at an altitude of 100,000 feet to simulate Mars' atmosphere.

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This morning’s fireball was just space junk, says NASA

This morning’s fireball was just space junk, says NASA

Random fireballs in the sky, depending on your perspective in life, are either very exciting or very scary. Presumably both emotions were experienced by witnesses this morning when a bright fireball appeared in the darkened early morning sky over a few southern states. The event was captured by many in the form of pictures and videos, and it spurred all sorts of unfounded speculation: aliens, secret government experiments, the end of the world. The reality, though, is far more mundane.

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SpaceX explosion leaves NASA reliant on Russian resupply

SpaceX explosion leaves NASA reliant on Russian resupply

With SpaceX's CRS-7 rocket in pieces and future launches grounded until the cause of Sunday's explosion is identified, the ISS is again dependent on Russia for supplies. Although the astronauts currently on the International Space Station have food, water, and other essentials in their orbiting stock cupboard to last them through October 2015, NASA says, it's still vital that the ISS Progress 60 rocket makes it up in one piece when it lifts off this coming Friday.

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Leap Second internet crash won’t happen like last time

Leap Second internet crash won’t happen like last time

Time stands still on Tuesday as an extra second is added to the 30th of June, 2015. Because the Earth's rotation is slowing - and in several billion years we'll all be dead - a second will be added to the clock. Without this second, we'd eventually have times of day that once were associated with the morning setting with the sun. We'd have chaos. But brought on so gradually that none would really notice the difference. Except computers. Back in 2012 when a second was added to the day, Linux-based systems were flung into chaos. Real chaos, not just imaginary.

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NASA puts never-before-seen Challenger, Columbia shuttle wreckage on display

NASA puts never-before-seen Challenger, Columbia shuttle wreckage on display

As this weekend's failed launch of the latest SpaceX mission demonstrates, space travel and exploration remains a difficult endeavor. It is perhaps fitting then that weekend also saw the opening of a new exhibition from NASA at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. On display to the public for the first time ever are pieces of space shuttle wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia missions and their doomed flights. While missions like the recent SpaceX fortunately don't put human lives directly at risk, NASA's new display is part of a fitting tribute to the two crews that were lost.

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