On November 20, 1998, a relatively small man-made satellite was launched from Kazakhstan to begin an orbit that's still taking place today. Over the 15 years that followed, that first module was added on to and expanded like the most expensive set of tinker toys mankind has ever created to become the International Space Station. … Read more
A new NASA Mars probe began a 10-month voyage to the Red Planet Monday, blasting off on a $671 million mission to study the thin martian atmosphere in a bid to find out what triggered a dramatic case of climate change that turned a once-hospitable environment into a cold, presumably barren desert.
"Something clearly happened," said Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky. "Water was abundant on early Mars, the environment was something that was capable of supporting liquid water yet today we see a cold, dry planet that is not able to support water. What we want to do … Read more
If you're in dire need of ice for your next party, set sail for Antarctica.
An iceberg about twice the size of the city of Atlanta broke off from the Pine Island Glacier and scientists fear it may threaten shipping in the Southern Ocean as it moves into open waters.
The vast block has an area of about 270 square miles, about the size of Singapore. It recently put about a mile between itself and the glacier after a rift formed in July. … Read more
NASA on Thursday revealed the first imagery of what the Milky Way galaxy likely looked like when it was much younger.
Thanks to evidence gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has been able to determine what our galaxy looked like billions of years ago. Though the space agency obviously wasn't able to take actual photographs of the Milky Way in its infancy, it intuited its conclusions based on Hubble's observations of 400 similar galaxies.
As NASA wrote in a post on the Hubble's Web site:A scale model of the Milky Way can be imagined by … Read more
The late astrobiologist Carl Sagan eloquently referred to Earth, in the view from Saturn, as a "Pale Blue Dot."
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us," he wrote in his 1994 "Pale Blue Dot" book. "On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives."
Sagan is known for making the complexities of space and the universe accessible to ordinary people. As a consultant to NASA, he helped lead the US space … Read more
Four billion years ago, Mars would have been a pretty nice place for a spring-break trip. At least that's the way it appears in a new animation published to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's YouTube channel on Wednesday.
The animated artist's rendition of ancient Mars begins with a flyover of a lake that bears a slight resemblance to, say, Utah's Lake Powell. Then we see time progress and a transition from a warm, wetter climate to a dry, colder one (like, say, 10 miles north of Lake Powell in January). … Read more
A glitch forced NASA's Mars rover Curiosity to perform a software reboot, known as a "warm reset," last week, but now the rover is running like normal again.
NASA said the successful reboot took place November 7, roughly four-and-half hours after administrators temporarily loaded new flight software into the rover's memory. For the next three days, Curiosity was put into what NASA called "safe mode." NASA said commands recovering the spacecraft were uplinked to Curiosity early Sunday morning.
The unexpected reset by caused by an error in existing onboard software, NASA said Tuesday, which … Read more
There are high hopes for Comet ISON, which will pass the sun this month and could put on a spectacular show in the sky in the process. The comet, making its virgin journey around our star from the Oort Cloud right now, could be one of the brightest comets to be observed from Earth in many decades, if not longer, or perhaps ever.
Or, ISON could melt down, break apart, and fizzle away into darkness at any moment as it comes ever closer to grazing the surface of our friendly neighborhood massive fireball.… Read more
A lot of us out here in geek-world are big fans of all things space. It turns out a certain sect of microbes are also space groupies. The recently discovered species Tersicoccus phoenicis has shown up in two of the cleanest places on Earth: spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South America, but have been found nowhere else.
Microbiologists like to do sweeps of these clean rooms to see what kind of microbes can survive in an environment designed to wipe out their kind. Those are exactly the sort of little creatures that are likely to hitchhike on spacecraft, and have the potential for contaminating off-world study sites.… Read more
If you live on the East Coast, you might catch a glimpse of a solar eclipse around sunrise on Sunday, November 3. It is the second -- and final -- eclipse of 2013.
This eclipse is especially rare, as it is a hybrid: for just 15 seconds, it will be an annular eclipse, as a "ring of fire" forms about 620 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla.
After that, it will transition to a total eclipse, with the moon's shadow sweeping close enough to Earth to cover the sun. … Read more