2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Space

The astro-comb will try to 'rediscover' Venus by measuring its gravitational effects on th...

Astronomers looking for exoplanets are using a fine-toothed comb – a fine-toothed astro-comb, to be precise. And just to make sure it works, the first planet they’ll be looking for is Venus. Developed by astronomers Chih-Hao Li and David Phillips of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the astro-comb uses a new spectroscopic device installed in the Italian Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands that will detect the beclouded planet by its gravitational effect on the Sun as a test of a potentially valuable tool in the hunt for Earth-like planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More

Artist's concept of MAVEN in Mars orbit (Image: NASA/GSFC)

After completing its 10 month-long voyage, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is taking its first look at the Martian atmosphere. Part of the unmanned orbiter’s commissioning phase, it limbered up its sensors by observing the effect of a massive solar event and returned its first images of the fountain-like coronas that are slowly peeling away the Red Planet's atmosphere.  Read More

The OTV-3 mission set a new record for time spent in orbit by a reusable spacecraft (Image...

A secret mission came to a public end this morning as the US Air Force’s top secret X-37B spaceplane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The unmanned reusable spacecraft touched down on the runway like a conventional aircraft this morning at 9:24 am EDT after a record-breaking 674 days in orbit. According to the Air Force, the automatic landing was monitored by the 30th Space Wing and occurred without incident.  Read More

The MIT assessment indicates that the Mars One mission needs revisiting if it's to succeed...

A team of MIT researchers has completed an analysis of the Mars One mission to colonize the Red Planet that throws the feasibility of the non-profit project into question. By analyzing the mission’s details, the team found that as the plan stands, there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome if the colonists aren't to end up dead within 10 weeks of landing.  Read More

The assets that will be used to observe Siding Spring as it skims past Mars (Image: NASA)

NASA is busy readying its considerable arsenal of scientific instruments, spacecraft and rovers for a close encounter with comet C/2013 A1 on Sunday, Oct 19. The comet's closest approach with a planetary body will be with Mars, at which point it will miss the Red Planet by only 87,000 miles (140,013 km), less than half the distance between Earth and our moon, traveling at speeds of up to 126,000 mph (202,777 km/h).  Read More

Technicians inspecting the X-37B after a 2010 landing (Image: US Air Force)

The US Air Force’s reusable unmanned spacecraft, the X-37B, is scheduled to return to Earth this week. Although the exact day and time remains undetermined, preparations are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the arrival of the mini-shuttle as it ends its classified Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3).  Read More

The M82 X-2 pulsar can be seen in pink at the center of this multi-wavelength portrait of ...

Astronomers have used NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) to detect the brightest-ever recorded pulsar. The distant object was happened upon by the team while observing a recent supernova in the region. In the long run, the discovery may improve our understanding of how black holes grow.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft in orbit, having separated from the Delta IV l...

Progress is continuing apace as NASA readies its next-generation Orion spacecraft for her maiden flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), set to blast off Dec. 4 atop a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle. Once operational, Orion will be the first spacecraft built with the capacity to carry out a manned flight beyond low-Earth orbit since the Apollo era, when man first walked on the moon. NASA boasts that Orion will represent the safest and most advanced spacecraft ever created, allowing man to capture an asteroid and in time, even put a man on Mars.  Read More

Four landing sites have been shortlisted for further analysis for the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMar...

Four potential landing sites have been shortlisted for the 2018 ExoMars mission. ExoMars is a joint venture between the ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, with the ultimate goal of scouring the Red Planet for any signs of life, past or present. The mission will consist of multiple spacecraft in addition to two rovers. The ExoMars rover will be one of the final assets to launch, with an expected arrival date on Mars estimated at January 2019.  Read More

Artist's impression of Sentinel-1A, which is now operational, over Italy (Image: ESA/DLR)

Sentinel-1A, the first of a planned fleet of ESA satellites central to the European Commission's Copernicus environmental monitoring program, has begun its operational life. Following the completion of its commissioning and transfer to the team in charge of its operation, users now have access to data from the satellite, which will provide all-weather, day and night radar imaging for land and ocean services.  Read More

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