space travel

Black Hole measured by ALMA: visualizing 140 million suns

Black Hole measured by ALMA: visualizing 140 million suns

Researchers at SOKENDAI measure the supermassive black hole inside the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097 with ALMA. Inside they've found a mass equivalent to 140 million times our own Sun. Two bits of information are stunning about this particular bit of research. First, that they were able to measure a black hole with the tools they've got onhand. Second, that they were able to calculate the results of this study in just under two hours, leading the way to greater studies inside the capacities of ALMA.

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NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

NASA photographs Pluto: watch New Horizons approach

Today NASA's New Horizons spacecraft presented a series of images beamed back from space as it moves close to Pluto. Closer than we've ever been before. This mission's images - attained between May 29th and June 2nd, show Pluto as a "complex world with very bright and very dark terrain." NASA suggests that these images "afford the best views ever obtained of the Pluto system." Below you'll see these images in their full glory - and NASA's provided links to RAW images as well, if that's what you're all about.

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Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

Life on Mars may be preserved in meteorite-made glass

A paper released this week by K. Cannon and J. Mustard shows how ancient life on Mars could be preserved by meteorite glass. Impact glass, or glass-rich impactites, have the ability to both encapsulate and preserve biosignatures on Earth. Because of this, these scientists show how Mars may have bio-rich preserves that rovers on Mars may not have even begun to explore. While we've been looking for signs of life - or ancient life - on Mars for many years, we might just have not been looking in the right place!

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Tracking Bill Nye’s Solar Sailer LightSail

Tracking Bill Nye’s Solar Sailer LightSail

LightSail has deployed, and with it, a Mission Control Center with the ability to predict where the solar sailer will be moving above the Earth as it makes its important journey. The good news is that this solar sailer will be passing over the United States. The bad news is - it's probably already passed over you for the first time if you're reading this article in the late afternoon. This won't be the only opportunity you get to be close to a solar sailer, on the other hand, as development will continue well into the future with The Planetary Society.

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Airbus’ Adeline jumps on the reusability rocket

Airbus’ Adeline jumps on the reusability rocket

Claimed to be already five years in the making, Airbus just revealed its own take on the idea of a reusable rocket that its chief rival in the space, SpaceX, has been preaching for years. Called Adeline, which is a more memorable form of its "Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy" name, the rocket aims to address the weaknesses in SpaceX's implementation. In particular, instead of focusing on returning the full first stage of the rocket like SpaceX does, Adeline prioritizes the most important and most valuable part of that stage: the engine and avionics.

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After glitch, LightSail spacecraft finally unfurls its sails

After glitch, LightSail spacecraft finally unfurls its sails

The LightSail has finally deployed its solar sails after encountering glitches that if unsolved, could have scrapped the mission. LightSail was launched into space almost forty years after science fiction genius, Carl Sagan, first thought of the idea of a spacecraft that could sail by solar rays. The project is headed by the Planetary Society, which touts Bill Nye (the Science Guy) as its CEO. After encountering a software glitch that left the LightSail unresponsive and unable to send data back to earth, the ground team went into overdrive trying to solve the problem.

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Watch NASA prep LDSD flying saucer test here and now

Watch NASA prep LDSD flying saucer test here and now

This is not a test in science fiction, but a real release of one massive payload headed for space, courtesy of NASA. What you're about to see - as early as Wednesday of this week - is NASA's second flight of its saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator. That's also known as LDSD. This craft was first launched aboard a giant helium balloon from the United States Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii all the way back in June of last year. This time, it's headed for a cool 180,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

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X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

The United States Air Force X37-B Space Plane (one of two) takes off into orbit above Earth in its fourth secretive mission. The craft itself is not a secret - we know what it's capable of. The contents of the craft are not entirely secret - we know MOST of what's inside. What the United States Air Force is doing on this mission with the cargo they carry - that's the question here. With one of two X-37B space planes headed to space with, amongst other cargo, 10 minuscule "cubesats" and a real deal Solar Sail, we'll be interested to see what becomes of their testing and action.

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NASA greenlights SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for less risky missions

NASA greenlights SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for less risky missions

It may have so far failed at the promise of a reusable space rocket, but things are still looking good for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. While it won't be carrying humans any time soon, it has at least been certified by NASA for Category 2 space missions. These missions are described as "medium risk", as they only involve carrying satellites and less critical and less expensive cargo. It may not be the Category 3 that SpaceX ultimately wants, but it's still a big step forward in boosting credibility and clout.

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ISS astronaut holds weekly geography quiz on Twitter

ISS astronaut holds weekly geography quiz on Twitter

It's one thing to say you know your geography by identifying where a place is on a map, but could you recognize a location just from seeing a picture of it? What if the photo was taken from above from the International Space Station? If you're up to the challenge, it's time to start following US astronaut Scott Kelly of NASA on Twitter, where he's started a weekly game of asking people to identify what part of the world the space station is currently flying over, giving them only a photo and a single clue.

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