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A growing tray in the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) that is headed to the ISS (Phot...
The International Space Station (ISS) may be a remarkable piece of engineering, but it’s so drab that it needs a window box to brighten things up. That isn't possible in the vacuum of space, but NASA is doing the next best thing on Monday as it sends its Vegetable Production System (Veggie) to the space station aboard the SpaceX Dragon CRS-3 mission. However, this plant-growing chamber will be more than a horticultural experiment, it's also a bit more culinary as it lets astronauts put fresh salad on the menu.  Read More
Artist's impression of OSIRIS REx
Getting hit by a giant asteroid can ruin your whole day, so the first United States mission to visit an asteroid and return a sample presents a huge challenge. Lockheed Martin has announced that NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has passed a comprehensive technical review, giving the green light for Lockheed to begin building the spacecraft in anticipation of a launch in 2016.  Read More
The Sentinel 1A satellite was launched from Europe's Kourou Spaceport, French Guiana, on A...
ESA has released compelling video footage displaying the ascent of its Sentinel 1A satellite as viewed from external cameras mounted on the Soyuz Fregat launch vehicle which carried it into orbit.  Read More
The city of Moneague, Jamaica and the surrounding countryside as imaged from UrtheCast's M...
Vancouver-based company UrtheCast has released the first images taken from its medium-resolution camera (MRC), following the installation of two British-manufactured cameras to the outer hull of the ISS on Jan. 27 of this year. The cameras will allow the Canadian company to provide users with a near-live stream of Earth in stunning detail around the clock.  Read More
The sale includes memorabilia from the US and Soviet space programs
If you've ever wanted to own a space suit from the NASA Mercury project, or maybe a pack of gum that went to the Moon, here’s your chance. On Tuesday, Bonhams auction house is selling a bumper crop of space exploration artifacts as part of its sixth annual Space History Sale in New York. The auction will see 296 lots of memorabilia from the US and Soviet space programs go on the block, including a Mercury-era space suit.  Read More
On Earth, every aspect of our homes has been an evolving process for generations whereas o...
With a projected settlement date of 2025, the Mars One project has received over 200,000 applications for the one way trip to the Red Planet. But creating a living, sustainable community on the distant planet for the select inhabitants will require not only unique technological and engineering solutions, but also novel architectural systems. Bryan Versteeg is a conceptual designer who’s been working with the Mars One team in anticipation of the planet’s eventual colonization.  Read More
The EU has launched its Sentinel 1A satellite
The EU has launched the first satellite as part of its Copernicus Earth observation program. Copernicus will provide a means of monitoring Earth's sub-systems, the atmosphere, oceans, and continental surfaces. The Sentinel 1A satellite was launched from French Guiana at 23:02 on Thursday April 3rd.  Read More
LADEE will continue operations until impact around April 21 (Image: NASA)
Another lunar mission is drawing to a close, if not with a bang, then a thump. On Thursday, NASA held a press conference to discuss the final weeks of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission before the spacecraft makes a controlled impact on the far side of the Moon on or before April 21.  Read More
Image of Enceladus taken by Cassini depicting the moon's telltale ice/water vapor jets (Ph...
With the use of its Cassini spacecraft and the Deep Space Orbiting Network, NASA has potentially discovered evidence for the presence of an ocean of liquid water locked away beneath the thick, icy crust of Saturn's moon, Enceladus.  Read More
NASA's dependence on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft (pictured) to send astronauts to the ISS...
The Ukraine crisis reached into space yesterday as NASA confirmed that it is cutting ties with the Russian space program. With the exception of continued cooperation aimed at keeping the International Space Station (ISS) operating, the agency says that in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, it will no longer participate with its Russian counterparts on projects, bilateral visits or communications.  Read More

Scientists confirm the discovery of the first ringed minor planet

March 31, 2014
An artist's impression of Chariklo's rings, from the planet's surface (Image: ESO/L. Calça...
With the use of seven telescopes spread across South America, observers have confirmed the unlikely discovery of a double ring surrounding the minor planet Chariklo, which holds orbit between Saturn and Uranus. Previously rings have only been found around giant planets, the most dramatic of which, Saturn, shines easily visible to the naked eye in the night sky.  Read More
CRS-3 undergoing static firing tests prior to launch
SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has once again been scrubbed. On Friday, NASA confirmed that the launch of the unmanned cargo ship has been delayed due to the failure of a tracking radar, which meant that the launch could not meet the minimum public safety requirements.  Read More
Discovery images of 2012 VP113 comprised of three shots, with the dwarf planet displayed i...
Scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Gemini Observatory have reported the existence of a new member of our solar system. The distant dwarf planet, dubbed 2012 VP113, is believed to be one of thousands of distant objects that make up the hypothesized "inner Oort cloud."  Read More
Artist's impression of the ExoMars rover traversing the Red Planet (Image: ESA)
Aeronautics giant Airbus has completed its project to recreate the surface of Mars in Stevenage, UK. The site, roughly the size of a basketball arena, is designed to test the navigation and locomotion systems of the ESA's ExoMars rover ahead of its launch in 2018.  Read More
Is Earthwatch sending an expedition to Mars? (Image: NASA JPL)
For over forty years, Earthwatch has been sending ordinary people to extraordinary places in the company of top scientists to conduct hands-on research in over 50 expeditions. On Thursday, the international nonprofit organization announced its most ambitious and extraordinary public expedition ever aimed at sending volunteers to Mars in search for water and life. With its US$1.25 million ticket price, it seems too good to be true, and probably is.  Read More
The Trends in Society design (Image: NASA)
NASA has gone a touch sartorial as it asks the public to vote on the design of its new prototype Z-2 spacesuit. Part of the Advanced Suit development program to come up with a replacement for the 22-year old suit designs currently used on the International Space Station, the Z-2 not only includes a number of technical innovations, but also a design that for the first time has an eye on the aesthetics of living and working in outer space.  Read More
The 20-gigapixel panorama is compiled from more than 2 million individual snaps (Image: NA...
Images from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope have been used to create a staggering 20-gigapixel panorama, encompassing more than half of the galaxy’s stars. The vista was created from more than a decade’s worth of infrared images, and will be used to help further our understanding of the structure and formation of stars in the Milky Way.  Read More
Starshade and its space telescope (Image: NASA)
Apparently NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, thinks that what space exploration in the 21st century needs is spacecraft that are a bit more botanical. The center has released a video showing off its starshade spacecraft that opens up like a blossom. Bearing a resemblance to a cosmic sunflower, it’s designed to help astronomers to directly study exoplanets, including taking the first actual pictures of planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More
“Kepler has produced results needed to take the next big step forward in humankind's searc...
It’s been five years since NASA’s $600 million Kepler Space Telescope was launched to look for planets beyond our Solar System – so-called exoplanets – and while the quest to find a twin for Earth has so far been fruitless, Kepler’s observations have revealed our galaxy to be full of worlds potentially able to support life.  Read More
NASA has released a 680-gigapixel interactive mosaic of the Moon's north polar region that...
NASA, using images taken from its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has released a 680-gigapixel interactive mosaic of the Moon's north polar region. The resolution of the image is one pixel to 6.5 ft (2 m) with the area imaged being the equivalent of slightly more than the land mass of the states of Alaska and Texas combined.  Read More

King's College London students sporting the gravity loading countermeasure skinsuit (Photo...
Researchers from King's College London working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have produced a skinsuit which, if worn by astronauts in outer space, could counteract the degradation of bone and muscle mass during long term exposure to microgravity.  Read More
An Atlas V 551 launches the Pluto New Horizons probe toward the fringes of the Solar Syste...
Lockheed-Martin (LM) has a problem. Their Atlas V orbital launch system, while very popular with the US military, at around US$225M per launch is too expensive to compete effectively for commercial missions, whose launch costs are generally about half that amount. As part of an effort to reposition their services, LM is now offering a 100 percent money-back or reflight guarantee if the launch vehicle causes mission failure. The guarantee covers the cost of the vehicle launch, but not the cost of the satellite.  Read More
Dragon is rotated to be mated to Falcon 9
SpaceX has delayed the scheduled launch of the third commercial flight of its unmanned Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, March 16 at 4:41 AM EDT from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, would have been the first mission of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle with its landing legs.  Read More
Artist's impression of HR 5171 A [1] (Image: ESO)
The European Space Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has spotted a massive yellow star with a diameter of more than 1,300 times the size of the Sun. The star is also a part of a binary system, with a companion star orbiting so close that it is actually in physical contact with the giant.  Read More
The SPHERES robots were put through a simulated follow-the-leader exercise (Image: NASA)
Controlling a robot in space from the ground can be a bit like hitting a moving target. There’s a one to three second delay as data passes back and forth between the robot and ground control, which means that operators have to anticipate how the robots will move during these delays. This week, the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC) announced the first-ever demonstration of collaborative tele-operations that involved control of robots on the International Space Station (ISS) by astronauts on the ISS and operators on the ground.  Read More

 
The Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft containing the crew of expedition 38 on its return to Earth (...
Crew members of Expedition 38 have safely returned to Earth, their Soyuz capsule setting down in Kazakhstan on Mar. 10 at 11:24 p.m. EDT. The astronauts and cosmonauts spent 116 days in space, carrying out a wide range of experiments and successfully executing multiple space walks.  Read More
ESA's 15 m-diameter dish antenna at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), near Madri...
As you might expect, acquiring a signal from a satellite traveling at speeds of over 17,400 mph can be a tricky business. A new system called SARAS, which is a Spanish acronym for "Fast Acquisition of Satellites and Launchers," more than doubles the effective area of the receiving dish antenna, allowing the signal to be acquired much faster.  Read More
Planet X is a hypothetical star or planet, theorized to be responsible for Earth's mass ex...
A study of data captured by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite has disproved the existence of the hypothesized large celestial body, dubbed "Planet X." The planet or companion star was, some believed, responsible for the periodic mass extinctions that have taken place in Earth's past.  Read More
Example of levitating and heating coil assemblies (Image: ESA)
Astronauts, get your welding goggles on – the space station is going into the foundry business. The International Space Station is set to do a spot of industrial research this June, when ESA’s Materials Science Laboratory-Electromagnetic Levitator heads for the station aboard Europe's’ ATV-5 Georges Lemaître unmanned space freighter as part of a program to study the casting of alloys in a weightless environment.  Read More
Fuel depots in space could help make future missions to the Moon more economical says an M...
Getting into space is an expensive business where every little bit of extra weight, which includes the fuel powering the spacecraft, can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a mission. A team of researchers at MIT proposes establishing gas stations in space as a possible way to help cut the cost of future missions to the Moon.  Read More

Five finalists have been selected for the Google Lunar XPrize competition (Photo: NASA/JPL...
Five international teams are moving forward from a field of 33 proposals with the goal of performing a robotic landing on the moon, followed by a short drive and high-quality video mooncast, all as part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition to incentivize a new novel, low-cost era of lunar exploration.  Read More
The GPM Core Observatory is launched aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima S...
The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched last Thursday aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket that blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. Weighing in at 4-ton, the GPM is the largest spacecraft ever built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and will help provide a more detailed picture of the Earth's precipitation to assist climate scientists and help improve forecasting of extreme weather events.  Read More
Netting a satellite (Image: ESA)
With the film Gravity hoovering up awards for its portrayal of astronauts dodging colliding satellites, now seems a good time to talk about the very real threat posed by space debris. It’s small wonder, then, that ESA’s Clean Space initiative is looking at developing a satellite that can rendezvous with space debris and render it harmless by netting it like fish. The proposal is just one of the ideas to be discussed as part of a symposium this May focusing on the space agency's e.DeOrbit mission.  Read More
Chris Ferguson (center) at the simulator controls
The commander of the last Space Shuttle mission recently returned to space, but never left the ground. No, this isn’t one of those annoying lateral thinking puzzles. Chris Ferguson, commander of the STS-135 Atlantis mission in 2011 and currently director of Crew and Mission Operations at Boeing, went on a virtual flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in a ground-based simulator as part of NASA’s testing requirements for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft.  Read More
The SPHERES robots are designed for upgrading (Image: NASA)
If you want to know how big the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) is at present, the answer depends on whether or not you’re counting the robots on board. Some of the non-human residents will soon be getting smarter, with NASA announcing that the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) robots currently on the station will later this year get a new smartphone. The increased capability of the soon to be Smart SPHERES is designed to help transition them from engineering testbeds to workaday companions that can take over some of the duties of the station astronauts.  Read More
Artist's concept of exoplanet systems (Image: NASA)
It’s a good thing that planets outside our Solar System get catalog designations instead of proper names, or space scientists would now be scraping the barrel for “Ralph” or “Tigger.” That’s because on Wednesday, NASA announced that the Kepler space telescope had hit the “motherload” of exoplanets, confirming 715 new planets in 315 star systems. It used a new statistical technique that the space agency says has removed a bottleneck that has plagued the analysis of the Kepler data.  Read More
The image is a mosaic of the best shots from various missions (Image: USGS Astrogeology Sc...
NASA scientists have produced the first global geological map of Jupiter's largest moon Ganymede by combining images from over twenty years of observation by the Voyager spacecraft and the Galileo orbiter.  Read More
The newly detected radioactive elements of Cas A glow blue in this composite image (Image:...
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is unraveling the mystery of how stars go supernova by mapping the remnants of radioactive material left in the wake of a supernova. The findings go against previous theories to create a more chaotic view of the conditions prevailing directly before a star explodes.  Read More
Artist's concept of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)
Last year, it looked as though the Kepler space probe had nothing to look forward to but the scrap heap. After the failure of two of its reaction wheels, the unmanned spacecraft was incapable of maintaining the precision pointing needed to hunt planets beyond the Solar System. Now, however, NASA’s Kepler team has demonstrated that space telescope can still detect exoplanets thanks the K2 mission concept maneuver.  Read More
Lunar ranging laser pulse scattering off high terrestrial cloud during eclipse (Photo: NAS...
The full moon has long been associated with any number of superstitions. While links with lunacy, violence, fertility, disasters, and the stock market have been thoroughly debunked, the possibility of a causative role in some arenas still remains a possibility. A lunar ranging study carried out using reflectors has long contended with the "Full-Moon Curse," a near-total fading of reflected signals during the full Moon. This Curse is real, and has now been explained.  Read More

Artist's concept of Opportunity (Image: NASA)
NASA has solved the mystery of the "Martian jelly doughnut." First seen by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on January 8, the 1.5-in wide, white-rimmed, red-centered rock that resembles a piece of pastry seemingly appeared out of nowhere, but the space agency now says that it's actually a rock fragment dislodged by the rover's passing.  Read More
Artist's conception of a quantum atomic gas undergoing laser cooling in an ultracold refri...
Quantum physics likes the cold. In particular, macroscopic quantum phenomena such as superconductivity, superfluidity, and Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) are only found at quite low temperatures. While current refrigeration methods can attain temperatures of a few nanoKelvins, attaining still lower temperatures is largely prevented by the need to support the cooling matter against the pull of Earth's gravity. Now NASA's Cold Atom Lab, scheduled for installation on the ISS in 2016, will aim for temperatures roughly four orders of magnitude smaller.  Read More
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter doing what it does best – orbiting Mars (Image: NASA)
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted further measurements of curious seasonal marks on the surface of Mars. They could be the most compelling evidence yet of flowing water existing on the Red Planet in the present day.  Read More
A view of the Martian dune, from Curiosity Rover (Photo: NASA)
Curiosity Rover has cleared a sand dune that has barred the mission's progress since January 30th. The dune, roughly three feet (one meter) in height, stood between two scarps. It effectively blocked the way forward to Dingo Gap, the Rover's next immediate destination before proceeding to the drill site designated KMS-9.  Read More
The ANU SkyMapper telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory has discovered the oldest kno...
A team of astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. Just a 6,000 light year astronomical hop, skip and jump from Earth, the ancient star formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.  Read More
Russian cosmonauts laboured for six hours to install the cameras
On Jan. 27, two Russian Cosmonauts undertook a six hour spacewalk in order to install two new British-manufactured Earth imaging cameras to the Russian segment of the ISS. The initiative, announced in 2011, will allow anyone with an internet connection access to the near-live feed, which will provide higher quality results than the currently-installed standard definition cameras.  Read More
The Hasselblad Data Camera from Apollo 15 is the only one to make the return trip to Earth...
Sometimes history is preserved by accident rather than design. Thanks to a malfunction during the Apollo 15 mission in 1971 that prevented it from being abandoned with its fellows, the only camera used on the surface of the Moon and brought back to Earth will be auctioned by Westlicht Photographica Auction in Vienna. The motor-driven camera is a Hasselblad 500 "EL DATA CAMERA HEDC," also known as a Hasselblad Data Camera (HDC), that was specially designed for use on the Moon. It’s currently in the hands of a private collector and goes on the block in March.  Read More
Commercial spaceflight training provider Waypoint 2 Space has received FAA approval for it...
Individuals who dream of becoming astronauts will soon be able to buy training for exactly that purpose. Spaceflight training provider Waypoint 2 Space has been awarded safety approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its training programs which are due to begin this year. According to the company, it is the only US-based organization that will be providing,"fully comprehensive and immersive spaceflight training programs for both suborbital and orbital space."  Read More
Artist's impression of the GPM Core Observatory due to launch on February 27th (Image: NAS...
NASA is set to launch a new satellite designed to take detailed, near real-time measurements of rain and snowfall on a global scale whilst mapping the interior of storm systems. The Core Observatory of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) has been in development since 2005 and is a collaboration project between NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). The satellite is due to be launched on the Japanese manufactured H-IIA delivery vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Centre, Tanegashima Island, Japan, on February 27.  Read More
The Alpha Centauri system and hypothetical planet (Image: European Southern Observatory)
Since Earth is the only known inhabited planet and we happen to live here, it’s only natural to regard it as the ideal place for life to exist, and to assume that another life-bearing planet would be fairly similar. However, that is not the opinion of scientists René Heller and John Armstrong who contend that there might be a planet even more suitable for life than Earth 4.3 light years away orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B.  Read More

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