Space

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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Big Bang echoes just cosmic dust BICEP2 investigation finds

Big Bang echoes just cosmic dust BICEP2 investigation finds

It was supposed to be evidence of the first shudderings of the universe, a post-Big Bang ripple of cosmic inflation finally spotted by the BICEP2 telescope, but scientists have finally admitted they got it wrong. The unexpected announcement last March that researchers had identified primordial gravitational waves they believed dated back to the moments right after the formation of the universe had led to suggestions that the US team responsible could win a Nobel Prize. Now, though, the European Space Agency has confirmed that what was thought to be a huge cosmic discovery from a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, all of fourteen billion years ago, was in fact just dust.

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Falcon Heavy flight animation reveals SpaceX’s future vision

Falcon Heavy flight animation reveals SpaceX’s future vision

Elon Musk's SpaceX has just released a new flight animation video that reveals its vision of how it wants it next launch to proceed. Presuming, of course, it doesn't end up in flames. It shows what will be the first test flight for the heavy-lift Falcon rocket and also throws in some hints of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where SpaceX plans to have its second Florida launch pad later this year. That is, of course, if all goes well.

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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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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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Asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own moon, reveals NASA

Asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own moon, reveals NASA

You've likely heard of the big asteroid that zipped by our planet today, and if you were particularly lucky you might have even spotted it when it was its closest point. NASA dished all the details on the fly-by ahead of time, and now it is back with more, this time with some info about the space rock itself: namely that it has a moon of its own. The moon was spotted on radar images as the asteroid neared the Earth earlier today, and as such it is a somewhat more rare occurrence than the average asteroid hurling past us.

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NASA private space flights in 2017 to save rubles and respect

NASA private space flights in 2017 to save rubles and respect

SpaceX and Boeing plan to launch astronauts into space in 2017, as NASA's Commercial Crew program prepares to bring launches back onto US soil and in the process end the reliance on Russia. The two private companies are "the future of astronaut transportation to and from the [International Space Station]" Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Johnson Space Center director, said today, with the first flights expected to begin in just a few years time. However, while the ISS may be the first destination, the orbiting research platform isn't the extent of the Commercial Crew program's ambitions. In fact, it's paving the way for manned missions to Mars.

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Google Lunar XPRIZE awards $5.25m to moon mission hopefuls

Google Lunar XPRIZE awards $5.25m to moon mission hopefuls

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition has handed out $5.25m to five companies for their contribution to taking a private spacecraft to the moon, with the so-called Milestone Prizes awarded in advance of final entries in 2016. XPRIZE aims to spur space exploration with a $30m prize pot from Google's wallet, challenging private industry and researchers help take a private craft to the lunar surface, have it travel at least 500 meters, and transmit high-definition video and imagery back to Earth. Although none of the Milestone winners have actually made it to the moon quite yet, they've been given an early bite of the award cash for their current progress.

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