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Space

Launch of the rocket TEXUS-49 (Image: Adrian Mettauer)

It may sound like the first chapter of a Quatermass thriller, but scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered that DNA can survive not only a flight through space, but also re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, and still remain active. The findings are based on suborbital rocket flights and could have considerable impact on questions about the origins of life on Earth and the problems of terrestrial space probes contaminating other planets.  Read More

Pratap Pullammanappallil poses with an anaerobic digester used in a process that turns hum...

Flushing the human waste produced on space missions out an airlock isn't an option for astronauts. Currently its stored in containers before being loaded into cargo vehicles that burn up as they pass through Earth's atmosphere, but researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have found a better use for the material, by developing a process to turn it into rocket fuel.  Read More

International Space Station Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore with the first object made in ...

The first 3D printer in space housed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has run off its first object. The item was a faceplate embossed with "NASA and Made In Space, Inc" and is part of a NASA effort aimed at producing spare parts for long-range space flights and greatly simplifying mission logistics.  Read More

Artist's concept of NASA airship (Image: M. Hughes/Eagre Interactive/Keck Institute for Sp...

NASA has submitted a request for information in order to gauge the interest of industry, academia, innovators and enthusiasts regarding a potential airship design challenge. The agency hopes that the “20-20-20 Airship Challenge” would incentivize the development of innovative airships, such as blimps and zeppelins with the ability to maintain position high in Earth's stratosphere, providing a platform not only for astronomy and Earth sciences, but also for commercial uses.  Read More

Artist's impression of the four MMS spacecraft (Image: NASA)

NASA has released a video depicting the initial deployment of an undertaking designed to study a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection. The launch of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission will see four identical spacecraft deployed from a single Atlas V rocket, set to lift off from cape Canaveral, Florida, no earlier than March next year.  Read More

A Falcon 9 rocket with grid fins deployed

SpaceX is banking on its plan to recycle rockets as a means of cutting the cost of space travel and transport. CEO Elon Musk revealed the latest part of this puzzle over the weekend: the autonomous spaceport drone ship.  Read More

Rendering of Lunar Mission One lander

Another private space exploration venture is under way with the British-led Lunar Mission One announcing plans to send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon. Initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the non-profit organization hopes to drill ten times deeper into the lunar surface than has ever previously been attempted and use the borehole to store a giant digital time capsule of human knowledge.  Read More

Technicians at Lockheed Martin prepare the InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and le...

At some point in every project, you stop unpacking the parts and start putting them together. What's true for flat-pack furniture is also true for spacecraft, so Lockheed Martin has begun the Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of NASA's INterior exploration using Seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport (InSight) Mars lander project. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the unmanned InSight probe will be the first deep-drilling mission sent to the Red Planet.  Read More

An artist's impression of the alignment of quasars with the large-scale structure of the U...

Astronomers using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have discovered an unexpected alignment of the spinning axes of supermassive black holes located billions of light-years apart. As if that discovery wasn’t fascinating enough in itself, the team then delved a little deeper, finding that the quasars aren’t just linked to each other, but are also aligned with the large-scale structure of the Universe itself.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft (Image: ESA - J. Huart)

As Philae begins its long sleep, bedded down on the surface of comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko (67P), mankind's attention shifts back to the Rosetta spacecraft as she begins the next phase of her audacious mission. Over the course of the next year, Rosetta will become the first spacecraft to orbit and observe a comet as it approaches the Sun, allowing the already phenomenally successful mission to detail the evolving characteristics of 67P as the heat from our star causes a dramatic rise in activity.  Read More

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