space travel

Rare space event: catch Venus and Jupiter crossing tonight

Rare space event: catch Venus and Jupiter crossing tonight

Throughout the month of June, Venus and Jupiter have been moving closer and closer to one another. Or at least they've been appearing to move closer to one another. They've been moving in directions that'll eventually have them within one degrees of one another in our night sky, making it appear as those they're very nearly aligned with one another. Starting at the beginning of June at around 21 degrees from one another, these two planets will reach 0.33 degrees, or 20 arc minutes from one another.

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ESA decides between Thor, Ariel, and Xipe for next medium mission

ESA decides between Thor, Ariel, and Xipe for next medium mission

It's a battle of the space-gods as the ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) study at ESTEC decides between Xipe, Ariel, and Thor. Each of these names corresponds with a craft, and each craft corresponds with a proposed area of study. Up for grabs are exoplanets, plasma physics and the X-ray Universe, one each to possibly be studied by the the Atmospheric Remote-Sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey (Ariel), the Turbulence Heating ObserveR (Thor) and the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (Xipe). These are the final three missions that'll eventually be cut down to one this upcoming analytical session.

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Rosetta mission extended as Philae wakes from long sleep

Rosetta mission extended as Philae wakes from long sleep

"This is fantastic news for science," said Matt Taylor, ESA's Rosetta Project Scientist, as he speaks on extending the life of their thought-dead research. Rosetta was originally launched in 2004, bringing its lander Philae to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It arrived in August of 2014, did some studies of the environment from up high, and deployed its lander Philae on the 12th of November. From there, things went dark. Just about 57 hours after landing and beginning operations, Philae went dark, and things looked dim.

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NASA’s Cassini captures rare, triple crescent moon on Saturn

NASA’s Cassini captures rare, triple crescent moon on Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997, is on a mission to study Saturn and its mesmerizing rings and moons. Saturn has nine named moons and a total of fifty-three natural satellites in its orbit. As the multiple moons wax and wane in light, they create an image that looks like it belongs in a science fiction movie instead of our own solar system. This triple crescent moon sighting was captured by Cassini in March, but has just now been released by NASA.

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Inside the graveyard of the USSR’s space shuttle program

Inside the graveyard of the USSR’s space shuttle program

"It belongs in a museum," we shout, as we scour this collection of photos of the MZK building. This is Site 112A at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia's space launch facility - the world's first operational space launch facility, mind you, and the largest. Photographer Ralph Mirebs entered the ruins of a once great piece of space race history earlier this month, and below lies the results of his efforts. Inside this facility are two spacecraft, the second and third in a line that included Russia's answer to NASA's Space Shuttle program.

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Visualizing where NASA’s Pluto and Ceres craft are right now in space

Visualizing where NASA’s Pluto and Ceres craft are right now in space

Today we watch NASA approach Pluto and Ceres, unfurling space mysteries aplenty. New images are appearing today of both the largest object in the asteroid belt and our furthest sun-circling cousin Pluto appear - but what we want to do is show you where the craft are. What you're about to see is where NASA is as far as space cruisers, first with the NASA Dawn spacecraft, then with the Pluto mission craft New Horizons. They're very, very far away from one another, but they're both just a stone's throw away from their respective goals.

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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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