space exploration

NASA commercial lunar payload service CLPS starts this year

NASA commercial lunar payload service CLPS starts this year

This year NASA wants to get their Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) started, and it want it to happen as fast as possible. In fact, they want it to happen so fast, "We do not expect that every one of those launches, or every one of those landings, will be successful." That was said by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, who spoke up about the future of lunar delivery on a webcast. "We care about speed. We want to start taking shots on goal."

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Opportunity Mars rover’s watch is ended [UPDATE: NASA now live]

Opportunity Mars rover’s watch is ended [UPDATE: NASA now live]

NASA's Opportunity Rover mission's craft has spoken its last, and after 5,352 days on Mars, its watch is ended. NASA's Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA science division chief, are expected to hold a conference at 2PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019, to make this announcement official. The day this rover died will be Sol 5352 (Martian solar days in operation), after 15 years and 20 days in service, having started roving on January 25th, 2004.

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Mars One’s ill-fated dream unsurprisingly ends in bankruptcy

Mars One’s ill-fated dream unsurprisingly ends in bankruptcy

While some are still arguing whether man even landed on the moon at all or not, there are those who have already set their eyes on making Mars humanity's next home. Elon Musk immediately comes to mind, but he was hardly the only one. Almost seven years ago, a never before heard of organization proposed landing humans on the red planet to eventually establish a colony. Unsurprisingly, there was no small amount of suspicion over the years but all the speculation has ended now that the tiny company has run into bankruptcy.

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New Horizons final Ultima Thule images reveal true shape

New Horizons final Ultima Thule images reveal true shape

Given the vastness of outer space, it's no surprise we know very little about it. Most of the time, we can only make guesses based on images our terrestrial telescopes and a few orbital satellites have captured of celestial objects few spacecraft have reached. It wasn't until New Horizons made its historic flyby of Pluto that we finally got our up-close look at the demoted planet. Now New Horizons is bidding farewell to another long-distance neighbor, but not before throwing scientists new puzzles to munch on about the odd Ultima Thule.

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Kepler’s final photos, and how you can see raw data

Kepler’s final photos, and how you can see raw data

The first and last images captured by the NASA-JPL space telescope Kepler are shown here side-by-side. This craft was launched back on March 7th, 2009, and its planned mission duration was 3.5 years. A full 9 years, 7 months, and 23 days later, it was still doing work. Now that span is over, and the final data's come in.

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SpaceX just fired its Mars rocket engine and it didn’t explode

SpaceX just fired its Mars rocket engine and it didn’t explode

While we were sleeping, SpaceX and Elon Musk were firing a rocket engine that'll one day propel a spaceship to Mars. This is a Raptor rocket engine, and it's been fired at the SpaceX's Rocket Development and Test Facility in McGregor, Texas. This is generally where the most intense and explosive testing work is done by the company - out in the flat fields, amongst the farms about halfway between Dallas and Austin.

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Ancient Terra rock found in 1971 on our moon

Ancient Terra rock found in 1971 on our moon

A sample rock found on the Moon was tested by scientists and reported this week to have originated from another planet. Our planet, more than likely. But how did an Earth rock get to the Moon, and what's this I've heard about our planet and our moon being made of the same stuff? This rock's origin can be traced back to ancient times, no matter its origin, based on its petrographic and chemical features, both of which are consistent with formation conditions "commonly assigned to both lunar and terrestrial environments."

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NASA: Astronaut immune system cells affected by long-term trips

NASA: Astronaut immune system cells affected by long-term trips

NK-cell function appears to be impaired during spaceflights over long durations according to a new study published this week. This means that immune systems could be broken down somewhat during the long trips NASA hopes to take with astronauts in the distant future. The research here was done by a team of researchers at the University of Arizona, the University of Houston, Louisiana State University, and NASA-Johnson Space Center.

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The Office just brought Steve Carell to Netflix for a new show: Space Force

The Office just brought Steve Carell to Netflix for a new show: Space Force

The immense success of The Office streaming on Netflix just catapulted Steve Carell back into the limelight with a new comedy series. The series is called Space Force, and by the way Netflix describes it, it'll basically be like Dunder Mifflin with less paper but no less wacky nonsense whatsoever. This "new workplace comedy series" is set to be co-created by Steve Carell and The Office's Greg Daniels.

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Now view Ultima Thule in 3D

Now view Ultima Thule in 3D

Today we're getting a better look at the furthest space object viewed relatively up-close by a human-made craft: Ultima Thule! This space body - likely made of mostly ice-like material - is out beyond Pluto. This double-rock-looking hunk was captured in images by the NASA mission New Horizons - a mission whose primary target was our distant cousin Pluto.

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Infant protostar found with warped disk

Infant protostar found with warped disk

I learned something new today. Reading through scientific research papers in Nature, I found a report about a "warped disk around an infant protostar." Having an only minimally greater-than-average understanding of astrophysics, I assumed that planets orbited around stars along their equator - at least for the most part. That's how our local cluster of planets works with our sun, and that's the way all the science models show it - it's simple. But what happens when oddities get in the way?

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Ultima Thule: The first close photos and icy new info

Ultima Thule: The first close photos and icy new info

An entirely new kind of space body was seen over the past few hours - and what a strange sort of space matter it is! This is Ultima Thule, the latest space object detected and photographed by NASA's New Horizons mission. This was the same mission that gave us our closest-ever look at Pluto - now it's headed beyond - out into the Kuiper Belt!

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