Space

Glitch scrubs SpaceX sun-spy satellite launch

Glitch scrubs SpaceX sun-spy satellite launch

SpaceX's plans to launch a new satellite intended to monitor solar wind were scrubbed last-minute on Sunday, though the ambitious rocket start-up isn't to blame. The Falcon 9 rocket should have been SpaceX's fifteenth to launch - and its first deep-space mission - taking a satellite dubbed DSCOVR into orbit for the US government. However, glitches with the Air Force radar system that SpaceX was to use to track the rocket's booster stage meant takeoff was cancelled with less than three minutes to go.

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NASA shows off moon phases from the far side

NASA shows off moon phases from the far side

Growing up we always called the far side of the moon the dark side of the moon. We had this mental image of that side of the moon being perpetually in the dark, but that isn’t true. The sun shines its light on the far side of the moon as well, but we don’t ever get to see that side of the moon from Earth. NASA has some very cool moon phases and libration videos that show the moon from the view we have here on Earth.

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Curiosity spitting odd findings after Mars dust feast

Curiosity spitting odd findings after Mars dust feast

NASA's Curiosity rover has been busy with its drill again, and analysis of the second sample of Martian rock is already turning up some unexpected conditions back when the red planet supported liquid water. Curiosity put its low-percussion-level drill into play for the first time last week, carving a chunk out of a site known as "Mojave 2" at the base of Mount Sharp, and feeding it in powder form into its Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. Turns out, even though the analysis isn't finished yet, there are already signs of a surprising amount of jarosite, to a degree that suggests Mars was - at least in parts - a whole lot more acidic than predicted by earlier testing.

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DARPA wants to piggy-back satellites on jets to space

DARPA wants to piggy-back satellites on jets to space

Getting payloads from Earth and into space is shaping up to be big business, and now DARPA is weighing in with its own piggy-back proposal that could see jets help take satellites into orbit. Dubbed the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, the scheme isn't designed to challenge SpaceX and Boeing for their Launch America contracts, taxiing NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, but instead to act as a more affordable route to put up things like communication and weather satellites with relatively short notice. The goal is a roughly $1m delivery charge and, maybe more importantly, a far faster turnaround than existing methods.

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Planck knocks 100m years off oldest stars, no Botox needed

Planck knocks 100m years off oldest stars, no Botox needed

Age may only be a number, but it turns out some of the oldest stars in the universe could be a lot younger than believed, according to new results from the Planck telescope. While scientists had previously estimated that the first stars began to shine 440m years after the Big Bang, itself pegged at 13.8 billion years ago, new results from the decommissioned ESA space telescope suggest that may have been off by as much as 100m years. Spilling the stars' age secrets are freshly calculated maps of cosmic background radiation, that help explain when reionization of the universe began.

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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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Big Bang evidence evaporates

Big Bang evidence evaporates

The Big Bang theory has not been disproven. Get that idea out of your mind as fast as possible. Instead, a team of scientists have, this week, produced a paper which disproves their previous findings that suggest they'd found the first "direct evidence" that the Big Bang had happened in the way it's widely accepted to have happened. Instead of knowing when - 10 or so seconds after the Big Bang happened - the universe ballooned and expanded at a super-fast rate, we're back to where we were before the BICEP2 team announced their findings this past March. That's all.

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