space travel

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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Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Carl Sagan, creator of the original Cosmos series, proposed that a spaceship could use solar sails, powered by only the sun's rays, to glide through space. Now, the Planetary Society, co-founded by Sagan, and currently run by none other than Bill Nye, is planning a test flight for LightSail, a spacecraft based on his vision. LightSail is an incredibly small spacecraft, measuring in at only 10 x 30 cm, which is about the size of a loaf of bread. The small little box holds 32 square meters of mylar, which will unfold to create solar sails, designed to glide on energy from solar radiation in the same manner that a sailboat is powered by wind.

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Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian spacecraft, Progress 59, encountered a glitch last week before it could complete its mission to resupply the ISS. The error left the cargo ship unable to dock with the ISS. The spaceship is currently spinning out of control and hurtling toward Earth--Not to worry, the craft shouldn't actually impact Earth. Most of it will burn up from intense heat as it re-enters the atmosphere. The three-ton payload of supplied will burn up in its demise. The ship, and everything on it have been written off as a total loss. It is likely to fall to earth early Friday morning, U.S. time.

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Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

If George Lucas was a prophet with Star Wars, this week's galaxy discovery might be what he was talking about. A set of scientists have used a set of three different telescopes to capture and calculate the age of the galaxy they call EGS-zs8-1. This galaxy is the furthest away from Earth that any galaxy has ever been discovered. The first image you're seeing in this article (minus the TIE fighter), was captured by NASA's Hubble space telescope back in 2013 and has only just now seen itself the subject of a paper that claims it as our most distant galaxy neighbor.

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Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

It would appear that a planet-sized eruption of volcanic heat has occurred over the course of several years on the planet super-Earth 55 Cancri e. There a very hot, very life-unfriendly environment is boiling, and a series of researchers at Cornell University are bringing back information on how extreme this volcanism truly is. These researcher astronomers have used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, finding a 3x change in temperature over the course of 2 years on the planet. It's getting very hot there, very fast.

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NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

After ten years in space, NASA's Messenger probe purposefully crashed on Mercury. The probe spent four years in a strictly elliptical orbit, using boosts of power from its engine every couple of months, before it finally ran out of fuel. After orbiting Mercury 4,104 times, NASA decided to purposefully crash the probe into the planet's surface using a string of precisely modeled manuevers. When Messenger finally crashed, it hit Mercury at 8,750 mph (14,000 kph) which is about 12 times the speed of sound on earth.

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Pluto no longer just “a point of light”

Pluto no longer just “a point of light”

We're approaching Pluto as we speak. NASA's New Horizons probe is headed towards the most controversial of our planetary siblings, and this week they've shown some of the closest images we've ever bore witness to in the history of humanity. According to New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, "[these images] are just a little bit better than anything that's ever been obtained in history." Details are inbound. Details like a possible polar ice cap at one or both ends of this perpetually cold planetary body.

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Blood Falls give hope for life on Mars

Blood Falls give hope for life on Mars

In Antarctica, Blood Falls spew forth unto the white landscape, gushing dark red liquid into the purity of the snow and ice. This unsettling image is giving scientists hope that one day they might find a mass equally strange on the Red Planet. Blood Falls belch deep water from far beneath the surface of the Antarctic dry valley, showing how areas of low resistivity can be found in areas where otherwise dry permafrost or otherwise high resistivity in glacier ice are dominant. In this brine that bursts from the ice, life can be found.

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Our Universe might just be a hologram

Our Universe might just be a hologram

What's that, you say - our universe is a figment of our imagination? Not so much. When you hear the world "hologram", you might immediately assume that we're talking about something akin to Princess Leia being projected by R2-D2 in Star Wars. She's there, but only sort of. In a study produced by Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) this week, mathematical researchers suggest that there's a possibility that our universe is, indeed, a hologram. We might just be living in a 2D space, rather than 3.

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Elon Musk insists SpaceX rocket landing will work (eventually)

Elon Musk insists SpaceX rocket landing will work (eventually)

While last week's news of the Falcon 9 rocket's oh-so-close-but-not-quite landing attempt was somewhat disappointing to SpaceX fans and observers, Elon Musk isn't giving up! The SpaceX founder commented in a pair of tweets on Saturday that they had determined the rocket's crash was caused by a slower than expected throttle valve response. The latest event is part of a continued attempt by SpaceX to land a rocket on a floating platform — as opposed to crashing into the sea — in order to reuse it in future launches.

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SpaceX CRS-6 mission success: Tweets from space

SpaceX CRS-6 mission success: Tweets from space

The SpaceX mission known as CRS-6 had two points of success - one up in space at the ISS, another in the Atlantic Ocean. While the Earthbound piece of this pie did not land successfully - but came OH SO CLOSE - the package delivered to the ISS did, indeed, arrive completely safely. Onboard were 2 tons of science and supplies - including coffee - for the crew of the International Space Station for all nations aboard. No more instant coffee for those above our heads doing science!

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