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Space

An artist impression of the protoplanetary disk surrounding MWC 480 (Image: B. Saxton/NRAO...

Astronomers from the European Southern Observatory have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the protoplanetary disk surrounding a young star, revealing the presence of complex organic molecules that represent the building blocks of life. The findings mark the first time that such a discovery has been made.  Read More

The BE-3 engine recently completed its acceptance testing

Blue Origin has taken a step closer to lifting into space by announcing that its BE‑3 rocket engine has completed acceptance testing, opening the door to its first flight. The first new hydrogen engine to be developed in the US in over a decade, the BE-3 is part of Blue Origin's program to develop a completely reusable launch system.  Read More

Rosetta's star trackers (red) are used to orient the spacecraft (Image: ESA/ATG medialab)

Modern deep space probes may be among the most sophisticated pieces of hardware the 21st century can produce, but that doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to the age-old problem of dust. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta space probe was thrown into safe mode recently when it was unable to take a simple star fix due to comet dust.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout observing an asteroid (Image: NASA)

NASA is planning to maximize the scientific potential of the maiden launch of its next generation launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, by selecting 11 tiny satellites to ride shotgun. The little probes, known as CubeSats, will be transported in the SLS's upper stage adaptor, presenting a cost-effective delivery option for experiments designed to function beyond low-Earth orbit.  Read More

The latest Galileo satellites were launched on March 27 aboard a Soyuz rocket (Photo: ESA/...

Two new Galileo satellites have been successfully placed in orbit, joining the existing six probes in the constellation that aim to provide a European alternative to GPS and Glonass networks. The operation went off without a hitch – something that can't be said for the troubled assent of the fifth and sixth Galileo satellites.  Read More

Shot of the parabolic net test in action (Photo: ESA)

The ESA has been testing the possibility of using one of mankind's earliest inventions to cope with one of its newest challenges, by testing a concept that would allow satellites to net and de-orbit space debris in a safe and controlled manner. Space debris is an ever-increasing problem, and agencies around the world are starting to take steps to preserve the low-Earth orbit environment vital for a sustainable space industry.  Read More

Collage of galaxies in which Type la supernovae have taken place (Image: SDSS)

NASA astronomers may have found a way to take more precise measurements of the distances between galaxies. Currently, astronomers use a certain type of supernova, known as a Type la supernova, to gauge the distances between galaxies and from this, the rate at which the universe is expanding. The reason that this particular breed of supernova is singled out for this purpose, is that when they explode, they give out a very similar amount of light.  Read More

Asteroid Redirect Vehicle landing (Image: NASA)

NASA has released new details on how it plans to boldly go to an asteroid and come back with a bit of it. The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is part of the space agency's Asteroid Initiative announced in 2013, which envisions the capture and return of an asteroid to lunar orbit for study by astronauts as a rehearsal for a later mission to Mars.  Read More

Artist's impression of Opportunity, which has completed a marathon across the Martian surf...

Marathons may be an everyday occurrence for people on Earth, but are a little more noteworthy when you're a little robot on Mars. According to NASA, as of March 16, the Mars Opportunity rover has covered 26.219 mi (42.195 km) in the leisurely time of about 11 years and two months. or 3,968 Martian days. In 2014, Opportunity broke the record of any space rover when it passed the distance covered by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 moon rover, which was launched in 1973.  Read More

Artist's impression of Chiron (Image: ESO)

A team of astronomers from MIT have detected signs of a possible ring system around the minor planet Chiron. First discovered in 1977, Chiron belongs to a class of minor planets known as centaurs. These bodies share some of the characteristics exhibited by both comets and asteroids, hence their classification as Centaurs, which in ancient mythology denoted a creature with the traits of both man and horse.  Read More

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