Articles about space

NASA image - Van Allen Belts

Exploding alien bodies' space death-rays gave Earth its radiation cloak

Scientists have solved a 60-year mystery by figuring out the source of harmful and highly energetic electrons whizzing around in Earth’s inner radiation belt. Space is more than the final frontier. It is treacherous beyond belief. Earth is circled by swarms of charged particles, starting from 500km out to a distance of 58, …
Katyanna Quach, 14 Dec 2017
NASA New Horizons artist's impression

NASA says New Horizons' next stop might have a moon

NASA's hypothesised that MU69, the Kuiper Belt object that is the New Horizons probe's next destination, has a moon. To figure out what awaits New Horizons at MU69 we've peered at it with telescopes, a process that yielded a hypothesis that the object is one rock that looks a bit like a duck, or might even be two rocks …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Dec 2017
Perseverance valley, Mars, shot by Opportunity Rover in october 2017

Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

It has been the week of long-lived space hardware: first came the news of Voyager 1's thrusters working after 37 years without use and now NASA's cautiously suggested that the Opportunity rover on Mars will be fit to roll into its 14th year of red planet operations. Two big threats imperil Opportunity's ongoing operations. The …
Voyager probe illustration

Voyager 1 fires thrusters last used in 1980 – and they worked!

NASA's announced that Voyager 1's already-amazingly-long mission will probably be extended for an extra two or three years, thanks to a successful attempt to use thrusters that haven't fired up since the year 1980. As NASA announced last Friday, Voyager 1's been using its “attitude control thrusters” (ACMs) for decades, to …

Scotland, now is your time… to launch Brexit Britain into SPAAAACE!

During a third reading of the draft bill for space industries at the House of Lords yesterday, peers debated limiting the British government's power and also plumped for Scotland as the venue for a UK spaceport. As part of the government's 2020 space push, the bill is designed to give legal certainty to industry so it can …
Andrew Silver, 29 Nov 2017
CSIRO/ANU image Small Magellanic Cloud

You live in the right galaxy: Milky Way to eat Small Magellanic Cloud even sooner

Astronomers have long known the nearby galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud, was being monstered by the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud. But new imaging captured by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) has made it clear that the little star-factory has only a handful of billion years left. As the …
The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover. This site is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" field of active dark dunes along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

'Water on Mars' re-classified as just 'sand on Mars'

Scientists have revisited a 2015 sighting of water on the surface of Mars and revised the theory to suggest what we saw was sand, and probably not even damp sand at that. In a new paper titled Granular flows at recurring slope lineae on Mars indicate a limited role for liquid water seven authors from United States Geological …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Nov 2017
‘Oumuamua artist's concept

From Vega with love: Pegasus interstellar asteroid's next stop

It's official: the Asteroid 1I/2017 U1, aka "‘Oumuamua", which screamed through the solar system in October 2017 is an interstellar object. And a very strange one at that.* The 400 metre long asteroid is moving fast – 38.3 km/second is its current sun-relative velocity – and has already passed Mars' orbit after sling-shotting …
Arecibo observatory

Arecibo spared the axe: Iconic observatory vital to science lives on

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has approved a plan to keep the famous Arecibo Observatory running after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria. The NSF this week signed off [PDF] on a proposal to continue funding work at the Puerto Rican radio observatory, and seek out a partner to help cover operational costs. …
Shaun Nichols, 18 Nov 2017
The Dream Chaser touches down at Edwards Air Force Base

Teensy weensy space shuttle flies and lands

Sierra Nevada Corporation's “Dream Chaser” automated spaceplane has successfully flown and landed. The vehicle looks a lot like NASA's Space Shuttle and like that vehicle can land on a runway. It's rather smaller, however, and at just nine metres long is designed to fit atop lots of launch vehicles and to carry crew and cargo …
Simon Sharwood, 13 Nov 2017

Imagine the candles on its birthday cake: Astro-eggheads detect galaxy born in universe's first billion years

A large international team of astronomers has detected one of the oldest galaxies in the universe we've seen to date – born within a billion years after the Big Bang. That would make it one of the very first things to form in our fledgling universe. The now-elderly galaxy, codenamed G09 83808, was first glimpsed during a scan …
Blue Origin's BE-4 rocket engine

Jeff Bezos fires off a blue dart, singes Elon Musk and SpaceX

Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin has successfully tested its main engine for the first time. The BE-4 engine is, as the name suggests, Blue Origin's fourth generation rocket. B-1 was a wee thing that boasted 2,200 pounds of thrust. B-2 hit 31,000 pounds and B-3 reached 110,000. The BE-4 cranks things up …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Oct 2017
elon musk

Elon Musk says Harry Potter and Bob the Builder will get SpaceX flying to Mars

SpaceX, Tesla and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk has suggested Bob the Builder and Harry Potter will help his space exploration efforts. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session dedicated to the Big F**cking Rocket, but which quickly veered into discussion of the Big F**cking Spaceship (BFS) he plans to fly to Mars, the magnate …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Oct 2017
Wide angle image makes the moon look much bigger than the earth

Moon trumps Mars in new US space policy

The United States' National Space Council Policy has met for the first time in 25 years and issued a new “Policy for Future American Leadership in Space”. The Council was revived by president Donald Trump in a June 2017 executive order, after it stopped operating in 1993. Re-establishing the Council was a Trump policy. The …
ViaSat2

Foiled again! Brit military minds splash cash on killing satellites with... food wrapping?

Blighty's defence boffins are now spending £10m per year on space research, including a satellite mission set for blast-off in 2019. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is spending a total of £50m over the next five years on space "innovation", in particular for two space-related projects. One of these is the …
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Bad news! Astroboffins find the stuff of life in space for the first time

Scientists have announced today that a stable organohalogen, a class of compounds normally produced by organisms on Earth, has been detected for the first time in space. But discovering the faint traces of the chemical known as Freon-40 or methyl chloride (CH3Cl) or chloromethane in places that predate life has dashed hopes of …
Koala on a rocket

Australia commits to establish space agency with no budget, plan, name, deadline …

Australia's government has committed to starting a space agency, but there are no details about its mission other than a vague commitment to helping industry. The government has already initiated a Review of Australia's Space Industry Capability. Acting minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, senator the Hon Michaelia …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Sep 2017
New Horizons mission control

New Horizons probe awakens to receive software upgrade

The New Horizons probe has successfully ended its five-month hibernation and resumed chats with its mission controllers. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab received the “I'm okay” message via NASA's Deep Space Network station in Madrid. Once the probe's back in “Active” state, it's got a busy schedule before a December 9 …

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