Space

Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Carl Sagan, creator of the original Cosmos series, proposed that a spaceship could use solar sails, powered by only the sun's rays, to glide through space. Now, the Planetary Society, co-founded by Sagan, and currently run by none other than Bill Nye, is planning a test flight for LightSail, a spacecraft based on his vision. LightSail is an incredibly small spacecraft, measuring in at only 10 x 30 cm, which is about the size of a loaf of bread. The small little box holds 32 square meters of mylar, which will unfold to create solar sails, designed to glide on energy from solar radiation in the same manner that a sailboat is powered by wind.

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Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have curtain eruptions instead of jets

Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have curtain eruptions instead of jets

NASA has revealed that what have appeared to be geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus may, in fact, be “curtain” eruptions — basically long meandering eruptions that form wall-like structures down the moon’s surface. These eruptions are composed of ice and vapor, and can measure in at hundreds of miles in length. They have appeared to be geysers due to optical illusions based on the viewing angle and such. In a video, available after the jump, NASA shows how these optical illusions may work.

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Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian spacecraft, Progress 59, encountered a glitch last week before it could complete its mission to resupply the ISS. The error left the cargo ship unable to dock with the ISS. The spaceship is currently spinning out of control and hurtling toward Earth--Not to worry, the craft shouldn't actually impact Earth. Most of it will burn up from intense heat as it re-enters the atmosphere. The three-ton payload of supplied will burn up in its demise. The ship, and everything on it have been written off as a total loss. It is likely to fall to earth early Friday morning, U.S. time.

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NASA’s new radar detects heartbeats, saving 4 lives in Nepal

NASA’s new radar detects heartbeats, saving 4 lives in Nepal

The latest tech from NASA just saved the lives of four people trapped in the rubble left from the recent earthquake in Nepal. NASA's FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) located people by using a microwave radar that could sense and then locate their heartbeats. The prototype devices are a joint effort from NASA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. Weighing in at the size of a suitcase, two of the devices were brought to aid the humanitarian effort in Nepal.

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SpaceX: Good news, future Dragon crew, you wouldn’t have been pulped

SpaceX: Good news, future Dragon crew, you wouldn’t have been pulped

SpaceX has successfully tested its Dragon launch abort system, having done so with a dummy in the Dragon capsule to see how well potential future occupants would handle such an event. Sensors were used to gauge what kind of forces the dummy was exposed to during the aborted mission, and according to a tweet SpaceX has since fired off, it held up perfectly fine. In fact, SpaceX says that had humans been in the capsule they would have been "in great shape".

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Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

If George Lucas was a prophet with Star Wars, this week's galaxy discovery might be what he was talking about. A set of scientists have used a set of three different telescopes to capture and calculate the age of the galaxy they call EGS-zs8-1. This galaxy is the furthest away from Earth that any galaxy has ever been discovered. The first image you're seeing in this article (minus the TIE fighter), was captured by NASA's Hubble space telescope back in 2013 and has only just now seen itself the subject of a paper that claims it as our most distant galaxy neighbor.

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Watch SpaceX successfully test its Dragon launch abort system

Watch SpaceX successfully test its Dragon launch abort system

SpaceX hasn't had a great run with its rocket tests in recent weeks, but its bad luck changed with a successful trial of the Pad Abort Test, a vital process for keeping future space travelers safe at blast-off. The trial tool place at SpaceX's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, this morning, seeing how Elon Musk & Co.'s brand new launch abort technology would work in practice. However, the crew onboard was a little less delicate than a human might be.

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Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

It would appear that a planet-sized eruption of volcanic heat has occurred over the course of several years on the planet super-Earth 55 Cancri e. There a very hot, very life-unfriendly environment is boiling, and a series of researchers at Cornell University are bringing back information on how extreme this volcanism truly is. These researcher astronomers have used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, finding a 3x change in temperature over the course of 2 years on the planet. It's getting very hot there, very fast.

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Pillars of Creation will (probably) disappear in 3 million years

Pillars of Creation will (probably) disappear in 3 million years

Back in 1995, the Hubble Space Telescope captured the iconic image of what we call the Pillars of Creation with all of its beautiful dust clouds and other trappings of space. According to the European Southern Observatory, those dusty billows, due to “intense radiation” and the stellar winds, will likely evaporate (or erode) completely in about three million years — a long time in human years, but not so much when it comes to the universe.

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NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

After ten years in space, NASA's Messenger probe purposefully crashed on Mercury. The probe spent four years in a strictly elliptical orbit, using boosts of power from its engine every couple of months, before it finally ran out of fuel. After orbiting Mercury 4,104 times, NASA decided to purposefully crash the probe into the planet's surface using a string of precisely modeled manuevers. When Messenger finally crashed, it hit Mercury at 8,750 mph (14,000 kph) which is about 12 times the speed of sound on earth.

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