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Space

March 23 marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of Gemini III - the first manned mission of the now legendary Gemini program. Following hot on the heels of the Mercury missions, and only a short time after President Kennedy's famous speech in which he announced his intent to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, Gemini was tasked with testing the technologies and techniques that would lead America to victory in the space race. Read More
The European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX) has been used to solve a 340 year-old astronomical mystery. The findings reveal that an object that appeared in the sky in the 17th century was not a nova as astronomers at the time believed, but actually a rare stellar collision. Read More
In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
Friday morning bore witness to a stunning solar eclipse, as our Moon traversed the face of our parent star, blocking its light in a beautiful example of the intricate orbits negotiated by the planets and moons that make up our solar system. For those able to secure a pair of protective glasses and be charmed enough to gaze through cloud-free skies, the sight was a spectacular one – a rare meeting of two celestial bodies that have accompanied each of us through every day and night of our lives. Read More
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has detected two unexpected phenomena in the short time since making orbit around the red planet – an aurora occurring deep in the Martian atmosphere, and an as of yet unexplained high altitude dust cloud. MAVEN is currently four months into a primary mission lasting one Earth year, during which time it is attempting to shed light on the characteristics of the Martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, studying how they interact with our Sun. Read More
We tend to think of future lunar colonies as being cramped futuristic domes or subsurface rabbit warrens, but what about underground caverns big enough to hang glide in? According to a study by a Purdue University team, that may not be so daft as it calculates that the Moon may contain lava tubes large enough to house entire cities. Read More
The European Space Agency (ESA) has temporarily suspended its attempt to reestablish contact with its Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For eight days, the agency’s Rosetta probe unsuccessfully beamed a wake up signal to the hibernating lander, which has been silent since its batteries were exhausted in November. Read More
Though the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spaceplane was kicked out of the running to ferry crew to the ISS, a variation on the craft may still end up visiting the station. As part of its bid to win NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract, SNC has unveiled an unmanned autonomous version of Dream Chaser to carry cargo into orbit. Read More
The ESA is preparing a number of its orbital assets to observe Friday morning's solar eclipse, when the Moon will pass in front of the Sun's disk, blocking the light from our parent star in spectacular fashion. The event will be viewable to most of Europe, however the degree to which the Moon will obscure the Sun will vary depending on location. Viewers in parts of Norway will experience a total eclipse, while those watching from Rome will only see 56 percent of our star's surface covered. Read More
"A sailor must be able to swim in the sea. Likewise, a cosmonaut must be able to swim in outer space." With those words, the head of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, initiated the crew of the first spacewalk mission. On March 18, 1965, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Pavel Belyayev lifted off in Voskhod (Sunrise) 2, from which Leonov would exit to become the first person in history to step into the vacuum of space. Read More