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Space

Artist's concept of the MESSENGER orbiter (Image: NASA)

Now orbiting the planet Mercury after over ten years in space, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is still functioning better than expected. Its mission will soon come to an end though – it's running out of fuel and is scheduled to crash into the planet in March. However, mission control have come up with a novel plan that will use the helium used to pressurize the unmanned probe's engine to give it another month of life.  Read More

The milestone is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program (Image: ...

At the moment, if you want to fly to the International Space Station, your only option is to hitch a lift on one of Russia's 1970s-vintage Soyuz space capsules. That may not be the case for too much longer, with NASA announcing that it has approved the first milestone for the manned version of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.  Read More

The first flight of NASA's Orion capsule was one of a number of 2014 space firsts (Image: ...

It's been a busy year in space. In a mixture of triumph and tragedy, space exploration reached new horizons, tested new technologies, and pushed the limits of the possible in 2014. So as the old year draws to close, Gizmag looks back on the space highlights of the past twelve months.  Read More

Artist's concept of asteroids passing Earth (Image: ESA/P Carril)

If there were any dinosaurs around, they could tell you that an asteroid impact can ruin your whole day. But if we did learn that one was actually going to strike the Earth in a month, what would the authorities do? To find out, the European Space Agency held its first ever mock asteroid drill to work on solutions and identify problems in how to handle such a catastrophe.  Read More

The video shows Orion's view of its fiery re-entry and splashdown (Image: NASA)

Proving that not all the space spectaculars are on the big screen at Christmas, NASA has released video taken from inside the Orion spacecraft during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere earlier this month. The ten-minute video shows the final minutes before its December 10 splashdown as it made a fiery descent ahead of a parachute landing in the Pacific ocean.  Read More

Artist's concept of the MAVEN spacecraft (Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Mars is regarded as the most Earth-like of the planets in the Solar System, but its atmosphere is only 0.6 percent as dense as Earth's and is constantly leaking what little air it has into space. NASA'S Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mars orbiter is providing new insights into the loss of the Martian atmosphere by discovering how the solar winds penetrate to surprisingly low altitudes.  Read More

Engineers see potential for a permanent presence above Venus (Image credit: NASA)

For decades, landing on Mars has captivated the imagination of earthlings as the obvious next step in space exploration after landing on the moon, but NASA is also looking into ways to send a manned mission to a more forbidding neighbor – Venus.  Read More

Lunar XPRIZE competitors have been given a little breathing room, with the deadline moved ...

Teams competing for the Google Lunar XPrize have been given some significant leeway to develop their projects, with the final deadline now pushed back to 2016. According to the competition’s judges, there’s been significant progress towards completing the lofty goal, with US$6 million in funding to be awarded in January 2015.  Read More

Artist's concept of Kepler carrying out its new K2 mission(Image: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T ...

NASA's Kepler space telescope shows that it still has life in it as its extended mission begins to bear fruit. This week, the space agency announced that the spacecraft detected a new exoplanet, demonstrating that its K2 life extension mission is working. The planet, called, HIP 116454b, is 2.5 times larger in diameter than the Earth and orbits a star 180 light years from Earth in the constellation of Pisces every nine days at a distance that makes it much too hot for it to sustain life.  Read More

An experimental version of the zero-g espresso cup on the ISS (Image; NASA)

Space travel is a bit more civilized now that there's a bespoke Italian espresso machine aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, solving one problem just raises another and the astronauts are still having to drink their cappuccinos out of placcy bags. To help the zero-g coffee aficionado, Portland State University's (PSU) Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science has developed a microgravity espresso cup that drinks like its earthbound counterparts.  Read More

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