2015 Geneva Auto Show

David Szondy

The plume was discovered by telescopic observations (Image: W. Jaeschke and D. Parker)

Astronomers are scratching their heads over mysterious plumes that have been sighted in the atmosphere of Mars. First seen by amateur astronomers using Earthbound telescopes, the plumes are at an altitude much higher than that of any clouds yet seen on the Red Planet, and may not even be clouds.  Read More

The detectors will help track the annual gray whale migration (Photo: NOAA)

Something as large as a whale might seem an easy thing to keep tabs on, but for for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tracking migrating pods of gray whales is a major undertaking. In hopes of making binoculars and clipboards a thing of the past, the agency has installed a new generation of whale detectors to keep an electronic eye on the passing leviathans.  Read More

The TGALS one-third scale prototype on its first test flight (Photo: NASA / Tom Tschida)

Recently, DARPA unveiled its ALASA system for launching satellites from fighter planes. Now NASA is upping the ante with its Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS), which is designed to launch satellites from a twin-fuselage towed glider. Under development by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, it's designed as an economical method for putting spacecraft into low-Earth orbit with the first test flight of a scale prototype having already been conducted.  Read More

The landing pad at Cape Canaveral will be used for the return of SpaceX boosters and the C...

Cape Canaveral has seen decades of rockets lifting into space, and now it will act as home to the world's first space landing pad. Brigadier General Nina Armagno, commander of the US Air Force 45th Space Wing, signed an agreement with SpaceX; giving the company a five-year lease on Launch Complex 13 (LC-13) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, which will be converted to receive returning boosters and spacecraft making powered soft landings.  Read More

The Twinkle satellite will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite sig...

One reason exoplanets are so fascinating is the possibility that they may harbor life, but the definition of habitable used by astronomers is so broad that it could include planets that obviously aren't. To help zero in on the more likely candidates, a British-built satellite called Twinkle will look at the atmospheres of exoplanets to seek more definite signs of life, as well as clues as to the chemistry, formation and evolution of exoplanets.  Read More

DSCOVR lifting off from Cape Canaveral (Photo: SpaceX)

It was fourth time's the charm today as NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 6:05 pm EST. The launch went without incident, placing the unmanned solar weather station into a parking orbit, but rough weather in the recovery area meant that the planned power landing attempt of the Falcon 9 booster had to be abandoned.  Read More

Two Spot robots operating together

In 2005, Boston Dynamics unveiled its robot "mule," Big Dog. Now it has a smaller, nimbler littermate called Spot that can take a good kick. Weighing in at 160 lb (72.5 kg), the electrically-powered, hydraulically-actuated, four-legged robot made its debut in a YouTube video released by the company on Tuesday.  Read More

The Titan submarine would use a large dorsal fin as an antenna (Image: NASA)

Now that NASA has got the hang of planetary rovers, the space agency is looking at sending submarines into space around the year 2040. At the recent 2015 NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Florida, NASA scientists and engineers presented a study of the Titan Submarine Phase I Conceptual Design, which outlines a possible mission to Saturn's largest moon, Titan, where the unmanned submersible would explore the seas of liquid hydrocarbons at the Titanian poles.  Read More

DSCOVR, the NOAA's Earth observation and space weather satellite, being readied for launch...

Sunday's delayed launch means that NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will wait at least a day before it can take up its job of helping warn of potentially damaging solar flares. If Monday's rescheduled liftoff goes as planned, the unmanned spacecraft will be on its way to a point between the Earth and the Sun, where it will act as a space weather observatory and early warning station.  Read More

The ALASA concept uses an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft to launch...

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft.  Read More

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