Following last week's successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reentered Earth’s atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity.
After landing, the vehicle tipped sideways as planned to its final water safing state in a nearly horizontal position. The wat [...]
The Expedition 40 crew of the International Space Station is working through a packed agenda of science Wednesday and preparing for the late-night arrival of a Russian cargo craft set to launch in the afternoon. The station also conducted a “deboost” Wednesday morning to steer clear of some space debris.
The engines of the station’s Zvezda service module conducted a 32-second firing at 6:57 a.m. EDT to slightly lower the orbit of the complex and steer clear of a fragment of debris from [...]
3C58 is the remnant of a supernova observed in the year 1181 AD by Chinese and Japanese astronomers. This new Chandra image shows the center of 3C58, which contains a rapidly spinning neutron star surrounded by a thick ring, or torus, of X-ray emission.
The pulsar also has produced jets of X-rays blasting away from it to both the left and right, and extending trillions of miles. These jets are responsible for creating the elaborate web of loops and swirls revealed in the X-ray data. These fe [...]
Thanks to NASA's Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system. The size of the exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-93b, is now known to an uncertainty of just 74 miles (119 kilometers) on either side of the planetary body.
The findings confirm Kepler-93b as a "super-Earth" that is about one-and-a-half times the size of our planet. Although super-Earths are common in the galaxy, none exist in our solar syste [...]
A paper recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters describes an alternate model for the interaction between the heliosphere -- a “bubble” around our planets and sun -- and the interstellar medium. It also proposes a test for whether Voyager 1 has, indeed, left the heliosphere.
NASA's Voyager project scientist, Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, responds:
“It is the nature of the scientific process that alternative theories are deve [...]
Cambridge, MA - Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?
They might, if they spew industrial pollution into the atmosphere. New research by theorists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astr [...]
It can take decades to mature an astrophysics flagship mission from concept to launch pad.
For example, the iconic Hubble Space Telescope — arguably the greatest telescope in history and certainly the most recognized — was proposed in the 1940s. Its development began in the 1970s and it launched in 1990. Similarly, the James Webb Space Telescope will launch in 2018, 23 years after work began on the concept.
NASA already has identified an ATLAST-type mission in its recent 30-year vis [...]
In this striking new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, known as NGC 3293, would have been just a cloud of gas and dust itself about ten million years ago, but as stars began to form it became the bright group of stars we see here. Clusters like this are celestial laboratories that allow astronomers to learn more about how stars evolve.
This beautiful star cluster, NGC 32 [...]
Why does this starfield photograph resemble an impressionistic painting? The effect is created not by digital trickery but by large amounts of interstellar dust. Dust, minute globs rich in carbon and similar in size to cigarette smoke, frequently starts in the outer atmospheres of large, cool, young stars.
The dust is dispersed as the star dies and grows as things stick to it in the interstellar medium. Dense dust clouds are opaque to visible light and can completely hide background stars. F [...]