The nature of the universe recently became a little clearer, as
astronomers from Durham University announced the discovery of a large
population of supermassive black holes that were previously hidden from
view by gas and dust. Using data from NASA's NuSTAR
satellite observatory, the researchers confirmed the detection of
high-energy x-rays from black holes that could be billions of times the
mass of the Sun.
A team of engineers from MIT may have brought us one step closer to keeping astronauts strong and healthy in space. They've created a centrifuge that will allow individuals to exercise whilst simulating Earth's gravity.
NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program has advanced to its second phase, green-lighting a series of futuristic technological concepts for further agency-backed development. The program's chief objective is to foster clever ideas that help shape future aerospace exploration and, with interstellar submarines and swarms of tiny satellites, it offers a mind boggling picture of what future space travel might look like.
Three years ago, Swiss research institute EPFL announced its plans to build a spacecraft that could grab orbital debris and then carry it back towards Earth, burning up in the atmosphere with it on its way down. Called CleanSpace One,
the satellite was depicted at the time as using a claw-like grasping
tool. Now, however, EPFL has announced that it will utilize a folding
conical net to essentially gobble up bits of space garbage.
Scientists estimate there are 20,000 particles of space junk measuring up at over 10 cm in diameter currently hurtling around the earth at an average velocity of 25,000 km/h, threatening to damage or destroy orbiting satellites. To combat the problem, the German Government has granted the German Aerospace Center (DLR) €25 million to create a system to track space junk as it orbits the earth and the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR) has been tasked with creating the new system's radar component.
The Russian-made Progress 60 cargo craft has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) following a two-day orbital rendezvous period. In the wake of a series of spacecraft losses, the successful execution of the Progress 60 mission will allow the space station's crew and administrators to breath a little easier.
Like a racehorse stumbling at the finish line, NASA's New Horizons deep space probe gave mission control a moment of anxiety on July 4 as communications were temporarily lost. The unmanned nuclear-powered spacecraft, which is only nine days from its historic flyby with the dwarf planet Pluto, lost contact with the Deep Space Network at 1:54 pm EDT before coming back online at 3:15 pm.
A new mystery currently has the New Horizon's science team abuzz as the probe plunges ever closer to the Pluto – what's the deal with the series of dark spots near the dwarf planet's equator? The huge, neatly arranged dots were revealed in the latest color images snapped by the NASA probe and the scientists are hopeful of learning more about their origins in the coming weeks.
The Rosetta spacecraft appears to have discovered the presence of a
series of sinkholes on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko
(67P). They're responsible for some of the increasingly active gas
streams that are being observed by the orbiter as the comet speeds
June 30th marked the
world's first Asteroid Day – a global awareness campaign
designed to promote an understanding of the dangers presented by the
rocky bodies, and how best to protect our planet from a potentially
catastrophic asteroid impact. Significantly, the
campaign was held on the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska asteroid
strike – an impact that devastated eight hundred square miles of
Siberian forest, and served as a powerful indicator of the damage
that could be wrought by just one of the 600,000 plus known asteroids
whizzing around our solar system.