Space

NASA’s “MAVEN” Mars orbiter launched without a hitch

NASA’s “MAVEN” Mars orbiter launched without a hitch

NASA's Mars orbiter MAVEN launched successfully today from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:28PM EST. Once it arrives in orbit around the Red Planet, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN orbiter will gather data about Mars' upper atmosphere to try and discover how exactly the planet got to be so dry and atmosphere-poor. Earlier probes suggest the planet used to be much more like Earth in terms of moisture and atmosphere thickness.

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NASA and SpaceX hope to transport astronauts to ISS in the next 4 years

NASA and SpaceX hope to transport astronauts to ISS in the next 4 years

Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and SpaceX met in late October to conduct a safety review of the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket. NASA announced that the meeting took place last Friday. The safety review was designed to look at the safety policies and procedures in place in preparation for using the SpaceX Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to send astronauts into space.

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ESA Swarm satellites to chart Earth’s magnetic field

ESA Swarm satellites to chart Earth’s magnetic field

The European Space Agency will launch three satellites this week from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome to gather data about the Earth's magnetic field over the next few years. The planet's magnetic poles have been shifting more and more rapidly over the last couple of decades, possibly as part of their usual flip from north to south every few hundred thousand years. The so-called "Swarm" mission will tell us about that and myriad other factors affecting the magnetic field surrounding Earth.

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NASA shelves fuel-efficient tech, effectively slashes outer planet exploration

NASA shelves fuel-efficient tech, effectively slashes outer planet exploration

NASA this weekend all but abandoned a money-saving technology due to a lack of money. You read that correctly. The space agency's budget woes are so suffocating that it can't even get the funding to develop ways to make missions more efficient. In this case, the efficiency would have been massive: the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG)--the program that just effectively got the ax--would have let many space missions require just one-fourth the fuel they currently need.

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NASA video imagines young Mars with lakes and clouds

NASA video imagines young Mars with lakes and clouds

NASA's Goddard Conceptual Image Lab has released a video illustrating the way Mars might have looked 4 billion years ago, back when both Mars and Earth were young. It's one of the most complex scientifically informed animations the studio has ever produced, NASA says, and it is breathtaking. The music is epic-- like something you'd hear in an ancient battle movie scene--and the watery, cloudy scenery will really get your imagination going. There's even a surprise ending. Check out the video after the jump.

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Indian Mars probe engine issues resolved

Indian Mars probe engine issues resolved

India launched its first mission to Mars earlier this month in an attempt to become the fourth nation on the planet to reach Mars. Shortly after launch, India's Mars spacecraft encountered engine problems that prevented mission controllers from placing the spacecraft into the desired orbit. The engine problem had to do with the primary and secondary coils inside the engine that were unable to fire at the same time.

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NASA Cassini probe snaps pictures of Saturn’s rings and a tiny Earth

NASA Cassini probe snaps pictures of Saturn’s rings and a tiny Earth

It's difficult to really wrap our minds around how massive the distances are in our solar system. A photograph from the NASA probe Cassini currently studying Saturn has been released that helps illustrate exactly how vast the distance from Saturn to the Earth is. If you've ever stepped outside on a clear night and looked up at Mars or other planets that resemble stars in the nighttime sky, it's hard to imagine being so far away from Earth that it appears the same way.

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