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Space

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

Artist's concept of the rifts that created the Ocean of Storms (image: NASA/Colorado Schoo...

Where did the Man in the Moon come from? It sounds like a nursery school riddle, but it’s actually a very serious question about the history of our satellite. A major part of the "Man" is the lunar mare or sea called the Oceanus Procellarum or Ocean of Storms; the origin of which has been a matter of scientific speculation for centuries. Now NASA claims that the answer has been found by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) orbiter mission, which ended with a controlled impact on the Moon in 2012.  Read More

Artist's concept of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission (Image: NASA)

Last month, the US MAVEN space probe and the Indian MOM orbiter arrived at the planet Mars within days of one another. As part of a welcome to India as the newest interplanetary spacefaring nation, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed a pair of documents formally sealing agreements between the US and India for greater cooperation in the exploration of Mars and for a joint NASA-ISRO Earth observation mission later this decade.  Read More

The SKA array will detect UHE cosmic rays as they strike the lunar surface (Image: SKA Pro...

What is the Moon good for? Aside from inspiring poets, helping you see at night, and giving Neil Armstrong some place for a stroll, what can you do with it? If you ask scientists at the University of Southampton, they’ll tell you that it makes a cracking particle detector. With the help of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, the team hopes to use the mass of the satellite to detect the most energetic particles known; Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays.  Read More

The discovery of a complex organic molecule in space suggests the origins of life can be f...

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

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