NASA taps Aerojet Rocketdyne for new space propulsion system

In anticipation of future deep-space missions, NASA has awarded a US$67 million, 36-month contract to Redmond, Washington-based Aerojet Rocketdyne to design and develop an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS). Based on previous ion thrusters like prototype NEXT and the Dawn mission to the asteroid Ceres, the new propulsion system could used to supply a future manned Mars mission.Read More


Artist's impression: How to paint a planet

Exoplanets take many weird and wonderful forms, and we've only discovered a handful of the untold number that exist in our universe. Even though a small number have been directly imaged, most have been identified through indirect methods and in both cases, the actual appearance of the planet is left almost entirely to the imagination. This means that it falls to talented artists to provide an accessible interpretation of what these remote bodies could look like. We spoke to space artist Danielle Futselaar to uncover what goes into illustrating a planet.Read More

ExoMars opens its eyes en route to the Red Planet

ESA has confirmed that the ExoMars 2016's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mothership has opened its "eyes" and sent back its first test images. Launched on March 14 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the joint ESA/Roscosmos mission to Mars was over 83 million km from Earth on April 7 when it transmitted a picture of random section of sky near the southern celestial pole as part of its commissioning process.Read More

The cosmos created from cinnamon, spice and ... cat hair?

For most of us, spilling some sugar or cinnamon on the glass of our scanner would be an accident. For photographer Navid Barraty, it's art. Barraty uses ordinary food, kitchen staples and other odd bits and pieces along with his Epson scanner to create enchanting cosmic worlds. Pancakes become planets, potatoes become asteroids and cat fur – yes cat fur – helps create a striking nebula. Have a look at this new series and see if you can guess what the images are comprised of – before you read the captions. Read More

Cassini detects alien dust particles

NASA's Cassini orbiter has become the first spacecraft to determine the composition of dust particles originating outside of our solar system. The discovery grants a rare insight regarding the processes that may be occurring in the interstellar medium.Read More

Cosmic spider shows clear signs of active star formation

Captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), the Spider Nebula cuts a ghostly green figure in a new image release from NASA. The composite was captured in infrared light, a spectrum ordinarily invisible to the naked eye, though in this case common colors have been assigned to the different wavelengths allowing us to view the scene unaided.Read More

DARPA announces Phase 2 of spaceplane project

DARPA has announced the second phase of its ambitious XS-1 program. The agency is seeking to make access to space more regular and affordable by employing an entirely re-usable high-speed, sub-orbital automated spaceplane as the first stage of its launch vehicle.Read More


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