Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Space

Artist's impression of Philae separating from Rosetta (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has given the green light for its unmanned Philae probe to attempt the historic first landing on a comet. At a press conference at at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, representatives of ESA and the German Aerospace Centre told the media that both the Rosetta mothership and the Philae lander are in excellent shape for Wednesday morning’s (GMT) planned separation and landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  Read More

Artist's impression of Foster + Partners' concept of a partially 3D-printed moonbase (Imag...

The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently exploring the possibility of establishing a permanent lunar base with the aid of 3D printing technology. The space agency and Foster + Partners, the London-based architecture firm that worked closely with the agency in the exploration of the project, have released a video outlining how they envision a future mission to construct a moonbase may unfold.  Read More

This image shows the motion of gas filaments from ESO 137-001, with red material moving aw...

ESO astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope’s (VLT) Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument to make detailed observations of a cosmic collision, revealing secrets as to how star-forming gas was ripped out of a distant spiral galaxy. The findings help shed light on the mystery of how star formation ceases in galaxy clusters.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA's MAVEN spacecr...

"Dodging a bullet" is a well-worn cliche, but it looks as if the small armada of space probes orbiting Mars dodged a shrapnel blast last month. According to observations made by NASA and ESA orbiters, the extremely close flyby of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring was accompanied by a meteor shower larger than any seen on Earth.  Read More

During its nominal five-year mission, Gaia will scout the skies cataloging a billion stars...

After a 20-year search, astronomers have uncovered a grand total of 1,900 planets residing outside of the Solar System. According to a new Princeton study, the Gaia space observatory launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) could help that figure grow by a factor of ten by the end of the decade, eventually reaching 70,000 planets after 10 years of scouting.  Read More

Scientists at Berkeley Lab believe that synthetic biology techniques could produce a signi...

The secret to pulling off long-term manned space missions is biomanufacturing – at least, that's the argument presented by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have used synthetic biology to produce sustainable alternatives to fuel and anti-malaria drugs. Their theory rests on the idea that biological production processes and harnessing of materials at the mission destination could dramatically reduce mass (and hence cost) requirements.  Read More

Wally Schirra examines the Hasselblad camera alongside Deke Slayton (L), and Gordon Cooper...

The first Hasselblad camera body and Zeiss lens sent into space during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962 and the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission the following year are up for auction. The historic camera set, which was originally purchased over the counter, goes on the auction block on November 13 at the gallery of Boston-based RR Auction.  Read More

Image of the ISS captured in 2011, docked with ATV-2 and the Endeavour space shuttle (Phot...

The International Space Station (ISS) has been forced to fire the thrusters of ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) in order to maneuver the station and its crew out of the way of potentially harmful debris. Such instances are rare, making a catastrophic scenario highly unlikely. However, with each passing year, the amount of orbital debris increases, heightening the risks of a collision for mankind's only manned outpost among the stars.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander at site Agilkia (Image: ESA)

Last month, ESA designated the spot where Rosetta’s Philae lander will touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as "Site J." However, the space agency didn't think that was zippy enough, so it's now known as "Agilkia," after an island on the Nile.  Read More

Will the crash of SpaceShipTwo put and end to space tourism before it begins? (Image: NTSB...

With the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo within four days of Orbital Science’s Antares/Cygnus spacecraft exploding on the launch pad, it’s been a bad week for commercial spaceflight in general and space tourism in particular. Even though the investigations into the SpaceShipTwo incident are only beginning, there are those who already claim that Sir Richard Branson’s dream of sending tourists on suborbital flights into space is as dead as the Hindenburg. But is it?  Read More

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