Science

NASA spots the Mars lander lost for a decade

NASA spots the Mars lander lost for a decade

It was the little space explorer that astronomers forgot, the Beagle 2 Mars Lander that went silent back in 2003 and has never spoken up since, but thanks to NASA's eye-in-the-sky has now been found again. Scientists at the European Space Agency had resigned themselves to never knowing the fate of Beagle 2, which landed on the red planet as part of the Mars Express mission but then failed to respond after touchdown on December 25, 2003. New shots from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, however, have revealed the final resting place of the lander, as well as tantalizing details about quite how far into its mission it actually made it.

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NASA VolcanoBot 1 explores volcano in Hawaii

NASA VolcanoBot 1 explores volcano in Hawaii

NASA is aiming for the farthest reaches of space, but not all of its activities take place on planets elsewhere. In recent months, the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory took to Hawaii where a small robot -- dubbed the VolcanoBot 1 -- was fed into an inactive volcanic fissure where no human can ever tread. From its position there, the robot is able to acquire information on volcanoes that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to glean, leading to expanded research efforts in the future.

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Silent, tree-shaped wind turbines to debut in Paris

Silent, tree-shaped wind turbines to debut in Paris

Wind-generated power has the potential to make a huge contribution to varying renewable energies around the globe, but the issue of where turbines are built can be a big issue for some communities, or even countries. When wind turbines can't be built off-shore, some places feel constructing them on land ruins the scenery of the landscape, takes up too much space, or generates too much noise. Enter France's NewWind, which has been developing aesthetically pleasing, tree-shaped turbines meant to run silently within cities, at ground level.

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NASA plans lobotomy for forgetful Mars rover

NASA plans lobotomy for forgetful Mars rover

One of NASA's Martian rovers is facing the indignities of old age, with the hard-working explorer suffering robot amnesia that has led to data loss and even persistent system crashes. The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has put in more than a decade of overtime on the red planet, well-exceeding the initial project goals. However, vital components like the flash memory used to store mission data are feeling their age, forcing NASA to think creatively to stop the rover from forgetting entirely why it's on Mars and blacking out completely.

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft makes history as Ceres nears

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft makes history as Ceres nears

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has emerged safely from the opposite side of the sun and is just months away from reaching Ceres, the distant and mysterious dwarf planet next on the list for its multi-year space survey. Dawn - which checks off on several factors more commonly associated with science fiction tropes, like ion drives and distant space exploration - launched back in 2007, and Ceres is in fact its second stop since then. Previously, the probe spent more than a year orbiting a protoplanet named Vesta, but scientists manning the project are if anything even more eager to see what it makes of Ceres.

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Underwater cave sediment shows Mayans suffered massive droughts

Underwater cave sediment shows Mayans suffered massive droughts

Long ago, the Mayan civilization collapsed, unceremoniously leaving behind a lot of mysteries as to what happened. One of those mysteries has to do with the reason they suddenly “disappeared” from the Earth. We know they migrated north around A.D. 800, and one prevailing theory has been that their migration was due to drought. New findings bolster that theory, with scientists taking minerals from an underwater cave to better discover what really happened to the Mayans. The drought may have actually been worse than imagined.

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MAVEN nears solving mystery of Mars’ disappearing atmosphere

MAVEN nears solving mystery of Mars’ disappearing atmosphere

Even while the Mars rover Curiosity continues to discover the secrets of Martian water billions of years ago, a somewhat unsung hero silently orbits the planet searching for clues on why that water disappeared over time. The MAVEN orbiter, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, continues to sample and analyze the tenuous atmosphere of the red planet in order to solve the mystery of its thinning atmosphere, that will eventually lead to more clues as to what befell this planet that could have very well supported organic life in the past.

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NASA’s NuSTAR takes single massive photo of our sun

NASA’s NuSTAR takes single massive photo of our sun

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR for short, has taken its first photo of our solar system's Sun. This image is the "most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays" according to NASA, and you'll be able to view it in full glory right this minute. This first image - of many, hopefully - covers "the west limb of the sun" and it's been caught by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) - and it's primed and ready to be a wallpaper on your device, of course.

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Yellowstone’s striking springs explained

Yellowstone’s striking springs explained

Yellowstone National Park may be notorious for its brightly colored geothermal springs, but it's human meddling not Mother Nature that's responsible for the tourist attraction. Researchers at Montana University's Optical Technology Center and the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences were able to turn back the clock - virtually, at least - to show what the natural pools would have been like decades ago, before trash, coins, and rocks tossed in by park visitors messed up the geothermal balance. Turns out, they really should be a whole lot more blue, something we can see today with a little juggling of digital cameras and temperature probing.

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Zero-G espresso cups heading to ISS in February

Zero-G espresso cups heading to ISS in February

Even astronauts, perhaps most especially astronauts, need their daily coffee fix. But what is usually a relaxing and pleasant experience here on earth turns into a chore out there in space. Coffee lovers would rather die than drink coffee with a straw yet that is how it's done up there. Well, not anymore. Or rather, hopefully not anymore soon, with these specially designed "espresso cups" from Portland State University that injects some scientific thinking into a modern age problem: how to drink coffee from a cup in space.

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