When an asteroid comes moseying toward Earth, NASA won't want to miss out on the supreme scientific opportunity. New NASA photos and video offer more details of the space agency's plans, confirmed earlier this year, to snag a space rock and bring it closer to Earth for study.
Of course, netting an asteroid is easier to plan than it is to pull off. The latest idea, shown in the video released Thursday, has a two-person crew aboard the Orion spacecraft that would leave Earth by way of a heavy-lift rocket. After about nine days of space travel, which includes a trip near the moon's gravity to pick up speed, Orion would approach an already-captured asteroid and dock with the robotic capture vehicle that hooked the space rock. … Read more
If you stepped outside and snapped a photo of yourself waving to space on July 19, you might be famous. NASA on Wednesday released a collage of photos of people around the world who greeted the Cassini spacecraft.
NASA encouraged people to submit photos of themselves waving at the spacecraft from Earth on the same day Cassini took dramatic photos of Earth through Saturn's rings. The space agency has compiled those photos in a collage the depicts the planet from space.
"While Earth is too small in the images Cassini obtained to distinguish any individual human beings, the … Read more
NASA spotted a colossal "coronal mass ejection" erupting off of the sun on Tuesday morning. This solar phenomenon spewed billions of tons of particles into space at speeds of 570 miles per second and they are currently headed toward Earth, according to the space agency.
NASA estimates that the particles will reach our planet in one to three days and could cause a geomagnetic storm.
If you happen to be wandering around a certain martian-like landscape next week and see the Curiosity Rover drive by, don't worry about your air supply.
Though you might be in a mindset to think you're on Mars, you're really at Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts festival held each summer in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. But your eyes aren't deceiving you: That is the Curiosity Rover. Well, at least an art car built by a group including members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory meant to pay homage to the rover that landed on … Read more
As Curiosity continues to trek across the wild red yonder of Mars, it stopped for a moment earlier this month to observe the two Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, passing by each other in the night sky. This imagery of one Martian moon eclipsing another as seen from the surface of Mars is the first of its kind, and serves a useful purpose for astronomers.
"The ultimate goal is to improve orbit knowledge enough that we can improve the measurement of the tides Phobos raises on the Martian solid surface, giving knowledge of the Martian interior," said Mark Lemmon, a Texas A&M University co-investigator working with Curiosity's Mastcam. "We may also get data good enough to detect density variations within Phobos and to determine if Deimos' orbit is systematically changing." … Read more
Kepler, the NASA spacecraft that has introduced us to other Earth-like planets in our neighborhood of the universe, may be done spotting distant worlds floating in their respective suns' habitable zones.
In May, Kepler saw the second of its four gyroscope-like reaction wheels fail. Among the spacecraft's few moving parts, the wheel allows it to point precisely at its observation targets. The first wheel failed last year, and NASA says at least three operational wheels are required for Kepler to maintain the precise aim needed to observe the transit of smaller planets.
In a conference call Thursday, NASA announced that after unsuccessful tests, it was giving up on attempts to restore at least one of the two failed wheels and get Kepler back into full working order. … Read more
Now this is what it's like when galaxies collide.
Or at the very least, this is what it looks like. The visual effects of the collision -- which generated an immense shock wave that produced a spiral plume of 6 million-degree hot gas -- were captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, visible here in purple. The European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope contributed to the image's impressive palate with optical observations revealing the galaxy in blue and white.
Such a shock wave, likened to a sonic boom, won't be felt anywhere near Earth, which is 60 million light-years away from the large spiral galaxy NGC 1232 that was rammed by a smaller, dwarf one. … Read more
Many questions surround the possibility of a manned mission to Mars, but perhaps the most fundamental comes down to something everyone faces daily: what to eat? Well, how about Cajun jambalaya, Moroccan beef tangine, no-crust quiche muffins, Crater Crunch bars, and fried noodles? Those were just a few of the dishes researchers noshed during a four-month Mars-mission simulation study.
The NASA-funded study into potential food options for a mission to Mars is wrapping up Tuesday. During four months in a barren lava field on the northern slope of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano, six researchers dined on a variety of dehydrated and freeze-dried produce and meats, including jambalaya made with Spam.
The goal of the study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii, was to expand current outer-space dining options so astronauts on a Mars mission could avoid malnourishment and food boredom. … Read more
If you've been watching the skies for the spectacle of the Perseid meteor shower over the past few days, you've probably thought about some of the larger rocks up above.
A few are downright scary compared to shooting stars. This graphic from NASA shows the orbits of more than 1,400 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs), objects measuring at least 460 feet across that come within 4.7 million miles of Earth's orbit.
It looks like a giant Spirograph drawing with Earth near the center, but NASA assures us that these giant boulders of rock and ice are not "a worrisome threat" over the next 100 years. … Read more