Though there have been tremendous advances in space technology in recent years, when it comes to getting into space, we're still like cavemen trying to get beyond the breakers on a floating log – at least, that's the view of New Zealand-based company Rocket Lab. In the hopes of increasing the number of satellite launches to over 100 a year and placing constellations of small satellites into orbit numbering in the thousands, the company has developed a "battery-powered" rocket engine to lift its Electron launch vehicle at almost a tenth of the cost of conventional boosters. Read More
For over 40 years, Landsat has quietly but consistently been taking images of the surface of the Earth, amassing an impressive collection of data about our planet. This month, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the effort would continue to span the generations, by moving forward with the development and planned launch of LandSat 9 in 2023. Read More
After over a decade of planetary exploration, NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft is set to end its mission by smashing into the surface of Mercury. The collision will take place on April 30, with the probe traveling at a speed of roughly 8,750 mph (14,082 km/h). Read More
There are a number of ideas about where the Moon came from, but, based on orbital mechanics, the accepted theory is that about 150 million years after the Solar System formed some 4.6 billion years ago, the primordial Earth was struck by an object the size of Mars called Theia. Out of the debris of this massive impact, the Moon was formed. Scientists at the University of Maryland (UMD) have for the first time found evidence to support this theory by analyzing the isotopic “fingerprints” of rock samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts. Read More
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) has entered the reusable launcher race with its Next Generation Launch System (NGLS), also known as the Vulcan rocket. This replacement for the current generation of launch systems will incorporate a rocket engine assembly that jettisons from the first stage and is snared in mid-air by a helicopter after reentering the Earth's atmosphere Read More
Orbital debris is increasingly becoming a hazard to satellites and other spacecraft, which is why various groups have proposed concepts such as gas clouds, nets and sails for collecting it. While those approaches could capture larger objects, the problem of smaller pieces of debris – which whiz around the Earth like bullets – would remain. That's why an international group of scientists is developing a system that could shoot those bits down with a laser. Read More
April 24 will mark a significant milestone in the life of one of mankind's greatest scientific instruments – the 25-year anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. This bus-sized piece of scientific equipment has become a household name, thanks to the incredible scientific insights and iconic images it has returned over the course of a quarter-century in low-Earth orbit. Join us as we celebrate the history and achievements of NASA's flagship space telescope. Read More
Astronomers have used the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in conjunction with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to reveal the secrets of how star formation shuts down in distant galaxies, just three billion years after the Big Bang. Focusing on huge, quiescent elliptical galaxies known as spheroids, the findings are expected to improve our understanding of the evolution of the Universe. Read More
New studies by astronomers are slowly throwing some light on dark matter, the invisible and mysterious stuff that scientists believe makes up much of the universe. For the first time, astronomers believe they've observed the interactions of dark matter via a factor other than the force of gravity. Read More
The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with the Polish Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE)'s Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to observe a distant gas giant located some 13,000 light-years away. The discovery will help improve our understanding of the distribution of planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy. Read More