NASA

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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First powder of Plutonium-238 made in the US in 30-years is complete

First powder of Plutonium-238 made in the US in 30-years is complete

Scientists in the US have created the first powder of plutonium-238 made in the States in nearly 30 years. The scientists say that this is a milestone that sets the US on a path towards being able to power NASA deep-space exploration missions. Plutonium-238 also known as Pu-238 is a radioactive element that decays breaking down into Uranium-234 and releases heat as it breaks down.

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NASA granted $55m for deep-space habitation project

NASA granted $55m for deep-space habitation project

NASA will develop a habitation module using funds granted through a spending bill recently passed by Congress. This habitation module will be tasked with helping the space agency in its deep space exploration ambitions, though details on how exactly NASA will utilize the funds isn’t clear at this point. The space agency will spend $55 million or more on developing the habitation module, and will need to have a prototype finished by 2018.

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NASA finds all 26 letters of the alphabet from space

NASA finds all 26 letters of the alphabet from space

Some of the people who work at NASA spend their time pouring over the gobs of images that come into the space agency from various satellites, astronauts on the ISS, and telescopes around the world. Many of the images are of Earth seen from space and one NASA worker decided to see if he could find all 26 letters of the English alphabet in these images.

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