space travel

Neil Armstrong’s moon landing white bag contents explored

Neil Armstrong’s moon landing white bag contents explored

This month the estate of Neil Armstrong has revealed a white bag of items used by the Astronaut aboard Apollo 11 on his mission to the Moon. These items were collected by Armstrong at the end of his mission and have remained relatively dormant for decades - sitting amongst his personal belongings in his home. This year the Neil Armstrong Estate begins their loan of these items to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where they'll be explored, researched, and eventually displayed for all to see.

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Space Tourism is still a distant dream

Space Tourism is still a distant dream

If you're anything of an Elon Musk or SpaceX fan, or have just been following the two's high-profile news and announcements, your imagination may have been tickled pink by the prospect of regularly flying into space for leisure or business. In other words, space tourism. But despite the growing body of news around developments in this area, particularly in the design and manufacturing of rockets, recent rocket explosions should have also been a rather tragic wake up call, one that should make us ask again the most important and lingering question of all: are we really ready for non-professional, commercial space travel?

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Hubble captures 3x Jupiter moon transit

Hubble captures 3x Jupiter moon transit

The event that the Hubble space telescope captured this week only happens once or twice every ten years. What we're seeing here is three of the four Galilean satellites - moons, that is - moving around Jupiter's gaseous surface, all within the same frame at the same time. Their shadows are all in the frame at the same time, at least. Here you'll see the moons "Io", "Callisto", and our good friend "Europa." That last one we'll be visiting in the next 9 years if we're lucky.

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NASA Pluto photos arrive after 9 year mission

NASA Pluto photos arrive after 9 year mission

The New Horizons mission has sent back its first photos here after 9 years and 1 month since launch. Onboard the LORRI craft, an 8.2-inch (20.8-centimeter) aperture focuses visible light to a charge-coupled device - a digital camera, that is to say, works with a telescope aimed directly at one of our furthest cousins in the Solar System: Pluto. February 4th (yesterday) also marks what would've been Clyde Tombaugh's 109th birthday - Tombaugh is credited with first discovering Pluto all the way back in 1930.

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NASA heads to Europa to seek life… in 7 years

NASA heads to Europa to seek life… in 7 years

Let's get real about the NASA Jupiter moon Europa mission just given the thumbs-up by the White House yearly budget this week. While the news is booming, there's something important to remember - we're not nearly prepared yet to get there. NASA still needs to begin orbiting Jupiter with a craft like the Europe Clipper to get a better look at Europa. After that, a landing could possibly be attempted - and at that time we're looking at a touch-down "as early as" the year 2022.

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Philae isn’t lost just yet

Philae isn’t lost just yet

While the European Space Agency (ESA) lost contact with their comet lander Philae in November, "there is good confidence" they'll be able to make contact once more. So says Stephan Ulamec, lander manager at the German Space Agency (DLR). Ulamec also warned that should the ESA get in contact with Philae via Rosetta, "it may be that they only get very limited periods of operation in the [dark] pocket, and they will have to plan for more modest science sequences." If Philae is able to reach out to Rosetta, that is.

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Hand of God nebula captured by Very Large Telescope

Hand of God nebula captured by Very Large Telescope

This week the European Southern Observatory (ESO)'s "Very Large Telescope" (VLT) captured an image of the Hand of God. This nebulous globule is also known as "Maw of the Beast", and lies around 1,300 light years away from the planet Earth. This image was captured as a part of ESO's "Comic Gems" program which is aimed at capturing images with telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope for education in classrooms and public outreach. The Very Large Telescope operates at the Paranal Observatory.

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Kepler discovers our Solar System’s “ancient twin”

Kepler discovers our Solar System’s “ancient twin”

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has been studying the system they've called Kepler-444 for about four years. This system, they say, was formed about 11.2 billion years ago, making it one of the most ancient star systems with terrestrial-sized planets discovered thus far. This star system is important not because of its age, on the other hand, but because of its resemblance to our own Solar System. Five planets surround this system's star, each of them rocky, none of them able to support life (as we know it, that is to say).

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Launch America: SpaceX, Boeing to taxi NASA astronauts to ISS

Launch America: SpaceX, Boeing to taxi NASA astronauts to ISS

This week the folks at NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing presented a new program for their combined efforts to continue sending astronauts to the International Space Station. This Commercial Crew Transportation system will be operating under the title Launch America. This system is working with both SpaceX and Boeing, both private organizations, to bring the cost of sending US-based astronauts down significantly. NASA has been using the same system since 2011 to send astronauts to the ISS, one based on Russian technology, one this Launch America system will replace.

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Exoplanet J1407b discovered with more rings than Saturn

Exoplanet J1407b discovered with more rings than Saturn

There's a planet out there in the universe that has rings of matter surrounding it so large, they eclipse its nearby sun. This is J1407b, near the star J1407. The image you see here comes from Ron Miller of the University of Rochester, and it shows the planet and its rings as they would have appeared in early 2007. The planet was discovered back in 2012, but just now its become clear how extraordinary this planetary body truly is. Rings so massive they make our nearby planet Saturn look miniature by comparison.

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Opportunity abound: walking on Mars virtually with NASA

Opportunity abound: walking on Mars virtually with NASA

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover has been rolling around the surface of the red planet for 11 years. To celebrate, the craft has sent back a panorama image viewable by you in full definition right this minute. To get up close and personal with the surface of Mars, NASA has also been collaborating with Microsoft over the past few weeks and months, having an early peek at their new Windows Holographic system with Microsoft HoloLens - making walking on the planet's surface much more of a "real" experience than ever before.

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Microsoft HoloLens will take NASA scientists to Mars — virtually

Microsoft HoloLens will take NASA scientists to Mars — virtually

Microsoft’s HoloLens is a pretty neat concept, and already showing a lot of promise. Via a headset and virtual environment, we’d be able to do all kinds of things like assemble or design something to be 3D printed, and it certainly has a lot of gaming angles. As far as virtual environments go, there might be no cooler one than mars, and that’s what NASA and Microsoft have in mind. Using HoloLens, NASA wants to let Earth-bound scientists work in space — virtually.

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