space travel

Mercury’s dark surface may be alien in origin

Mercury’s dark surface may be alien in origin

A paper has been published this week which suggests that the surface of the planet Mercury may be comprised of cometary carbon. This means that carbon has littered the surface of Mercury, all of it from comets hurtling through space. In comparing Mercury to our own Earth-circling moon, the group responsible for this study suggest that 50 times as many carbon-rich micrometeorites impact the dark planet as do our own nearby space body. This has resulted, says the study, in approximately 3–6 wt% carbon at Mercury’s surface.

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One-year NASA mission launch: watch LIVE as Soyuz takes off

One-year NASA mission launch: watch LIVE as Soyuz takes off

Starting today, NASA's Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko will be heading off for a year in space aboard the International Space Station. While Padalka's mission will be slightly shorter at a standard six months, a full year in space is planned for Kelly and Kornienko. This mission will test the long-term spaceflight effects on the human body in both physiological and psychological terms. Scott Kelly is also part of a twin study - his (retired) brother Mark Kelly will be remaining on Earth to be studied by NASA as the mission takes place in space.

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New unmanned Dream Chaser spacecraft designed for ISS missons

New unmanned Dream Chaser spacecraft designed for ISS missons

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) created a new spacecraft to compete in NASA's latest space vehicle contract. SNC's newest creation is the Dream Chaser Cargo System. This futuristic looking spacecraft is designed to fly back and forth between earth and the International Space Station (ISS) and is planning to do so completely unmanned. The newest model of the Dream Chaser is in the running for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract and will be competing against other private companies such as Space X and Boeing.

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Dear Mars, what’s that dust? MAVEN seeks answers

Dear Mars, what’s that dust? MAVEN seeks answers

NASA's MAVEN craft has sent back data on auroras and dust at high altitudes above Mars - the latter is a mystery to observers both amateur and professional. Back in February a couple of amateur stargazers first announced spotting this dust cloud (having spotted it all the way back in 2012). There was quite a bit of nay-saying at the time about the origin of said photos - and their resolution - so we explained why images of the dust were of such terrible quality. Now it's MAVEN's turn.

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Hubble finds an underground ocean on Jupiter’s largest moon

Hubble finds an underground ocean on Jupiter’s largest moon

The possibility of life on other planets just became more probable with NASA's Hubble telescope's latest discovery. Hubble uncovered evidence of a giant underground ocean on Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. Ganymede is the largest moon in our entire solar system and has long drawn the focus of astronomers as they search for conditions that could be hospitable to life on other planets. The theory of underground oceans on Ganymede was first proposed on in the 1970's, but it wasn't until now that scientists uncovered solid evidence.

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The UK steps closer to creating Europe’s first spaceport

The UK steps closer to creating Europe’s first spaceport

American companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX have been testing new limits in spaceflight. Airports are for airplanes, while rockets, satellites, and commercial spaceflights have to use their very own spaceports. The US is dappled with spaceports, and now the UK plans join us on the forefront of spaceflight. The British government has come that much closer to action in building its own spaceport, which would be the first spaceport in all of Europe. They just released their results coming off of a three-month long consultation.

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Unseen vintage NASA photos shown in Bloomsbury Auction house

Unseen vintage NASA photos shown in Bloomsbury Auction house

This week the folks at Dreweatts for Bloomsbury Auctions have revealed a collection previously uncirculated NASA photos from space. These photos will go up for auction after being exhibited for a period of time in London at Mallett Antiques. The photos in this collection were sourced from the archives of the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas, where many unreleased NASA photos go after a mission is complete. What we're hoping to do today is to show you the largest versions of these photos available and make them widely available so they'll never be shut away again.

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Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

Black hole’s bad breath could hamper the heavens

One supermassive black hole's blasting winds could have major effects on the growth of stars in its host galaxy. NASA and the ESA have both observed winds being blown out of a black hole called PDS 456. Using NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope, scientists like Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have been able to begin calculations of the power of this and other black holes in the near future. With great power comes the supreme ability to slow down the speed at which stars age.

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A Red Dwarf buzzed our Solar System 70k years ago

A Red Dwarf buzzed our Solar System 70k years ago

There are always foreign rocks floating in an out of our solar system, but it's particularly rare that a whole star would come anywhere near our sun. That's what happened, according to a group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile, and South Africa. This (relatively small) Red Dwarf entered and exited our extended system through the distant cloud of comets known as the Oort Cloud. Not that we noticed it - it happened around 70,000 years ago, well before we were around to see it.

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Mars plumes: why the low resolution?

Mars plumes: why the low resolution?

Why are these "clouds" being viewed from Earth by telescope, instead of from mars, by the MGO? This was one of the more pointed questions we received when our first exploration of the "Mars plume" was released earlier this week. We decided to take a closer look at this seemingly obvious situation - why look at the planet from afar when we could be so much closer? Aren't there pieces of equipment on and around the planet that could have taken better photographs of this planetary phenomenon?

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