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Space

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (center) against a star field (Photo: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for ...

On its way to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P, for short), the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Rosetta spacecraft has spied its approaching target and the coma – the "halo" made primarily out of ice and dust that gives the comet its fuzzy appearance – that is developing around its nucleus. At more than 600 million km (373 million miles) from the Sun, the opportunity to observe the early onset of coma production at such distances promises to add much to our knowledge of the life-cycle of a comet as it wends its way around the solar system.  Read More

NASA's inflatable flying saucers could help astronauts land bigger and heavier spacecraft ...

It's tough to slow down spacecraft descending through Mars' thin atmosphere at supersonic speeds, as they need to drop to a speed that allows them to land in one piece. This is why NASA is developing lightweight inflatable flying saucers that will fit around the outer rims of spacecraft such as human habitats, inflating as the habitats descend to permit a safe landing. The technology will allow astronauts to land bigger and heavier spacecraft on Mars without needing to carry massive atmospheric shields or huge amounts of extra fuel.  Read More

Is space-based solar power the answer to our energy needs? JAXA envisions solar satellites...

Space-based solar power seems like an idea from a Star Trek script, but given the uncertain future of its power generation industry, Japan stands to gain as much as anyone by exploring this potential source of renewable energy. The disaster at Fukushima, limited access to fossil fuels and advances in technology has, at least in the eyes of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), added further weight to the notion of a space-based solar power system. The agency is developing a complex roadmap involving a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor which could be used collect solar energy in space and supply power to Earth by 2040.  Read More

The Lunar Module rotational hand controller used by Dave Scott on board Apollo 15’s Lunar ...

If you've been building an Apollo Lunar Module out of scrap parts in your back yard, then you’re in luck. RR Auctions is putting hundreds of items up for bid as part of an auction of air and space memorabilia ranging from the Wright brothers to the present day. Amongst a number of standout items is the joystick from the Apollo 15 Lunar Module, which goes on the block with a starting bid of US$10,000.  Read More

Researchers at the University of Texas have identified the Sun's long lost sibling (Image:...

Researchers at the University of Texas have identified a star that formed in the same star cluster as our Sun. Dubbed HD 162826, the star is 15 percent more massive than the Sun and resides 110 light-years away. It's hoped the discovery of this "sibling" will help us understand more about where and how the solar system originated, and might also point us to the best candidates for finding extraterrestrial life.  Read More

Scanning Electron Microscope image of average nanograins produced in the COSmIC (Image: NA...

Carl Sagan once said, “We are made of starstuff.” Unfortunately, he was a bit vague about what this starstuff actually is. To help answer that question, scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California have developed a way of recreating the dust and gas found around dying red giant stars that eventually become planet-forming interstellar dust.  Read More

The 1/26 scale model ISS built by Pat Acton using 282,000 matchsticks and 8 gallons (30 L)...

During the construction of the International Space Station (ISS), material selection was critical given the extreme environment of space. Chances are that one of those materials up for consideration was not matchsticks. But for Pat Acton of Iowa, the idea of designing and building a complete scale model of the ISS out of matchsticks seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea.  Read More

Composite image of the Flame Nebula, comprised of infrared and x-ray images (Image: NASA/C...

Recent data captured by NASA's Chandra Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope has cast doubt on the basic model that accounts for the creation of star clusters. The data, collected from studies of NGC 2024, located in the Flame Nebula and the Orion Nebula Cluster, will require scientists to think up an entirely new approach as to how these celestial bodies come into creation.  Read More

Illustris simulation still frame centered on the most massive galaxy cluster existing toda...

As you might expect, the scale and complexities of the underlying physics means creating a realistic virtual universe would require some hefty computing power. A team of astronomers is claiming to have achieved this impressive feat using a computer simulation called "Illustris," which took five years to program and, for the first time, can recreate the evolution of the Universe in high fidelity.  Read More

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins making the first ham video transmission

ESA has announced the inauguration of Ham TV broadcasts from the ISS, which will allow the station to talk to amateur radio operators using video equipment, as well as providing space crews with a backup means of contacting mission control.  Read More

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