Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Space

Artist's concept of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission (Image: NASA)

Last month, the US MAVEN space probe and the Indian MOM orbiter arrived at the planet Mars within days of one another. As part of a welcome to India as the newest interplanetary spacefaring nation, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed a pair of documents formally sealing agreements between the US and India for greater cooperation in the exploration of Mars and for a joint NASA-ISRO Earth observation mission later this decade.  Read More

The SKA array will detect UHE cosmic rays as they strike the lunar surface (Image: SKA Pro...

What is the Moon good for? Aside from inspiring poets, helping you see at night, and giving Neil Armstrong some place for a stroll, what can you do with it? If you ask scientists at the University of Southampton, they’ll tell you that it makes a cracking particle detector. With the help of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, the team hopes to use the mass of the satellite to detect the most energetic particles known; Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays.  Read More

The discovery of a complex organic molecule in space suggests the origins of life can be f...

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

Artist's concept of HAT-P-11b crossing in front of its star (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In a display of interstellar teamwork, NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes have discovered clear skies and water vapor in the atmosphere of a Neptune-sized planet orbiting a star 120 light years from Earth. According to the space agency, this may not only provide insights into the formation of giant exoplanets, but also act as a new tool for detecting water on Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.  Read More

Artist's concept of MOM arriving in Mars orbit (Image: ISRO)

After a journey of almost a year, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has arrived at the Red Planet. On Wednesday at 7.29 am IST (02.29 GMT), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed that the unmanned probe had successfully executed its 24 minute and 14 second engine burn and gone into orbit around Mars. With MOM’s successful rendezvous, the number of active spacecraft now studying the planet rises to eight.  Read More

Artist's impression of MAVEN orbiting the Red Planet (Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight C...

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has successfully completed a maneuver designed to place the robotic explorer in Mars orbit. The achievement is the crowning moment in a 10-month journey through deep space, representing the culmination of millions of dollars and over a decade of planning and hard work by NASA mission operators.  Read More

CRS-4 lifting off (Image: NASA Television)

SpaceX has launched its fourth commercial mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The CRS-4 Dragon spacecraft lifted off atop a Falcon 9 booster early Sunday morning from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:52 am EDT. On board is about 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of cargo, including the first zero gravity 3D printer and a crew of "mousetronauts."  Read More

Artist's impression of NASA's MAVEN spacecraft approaching Mars (Image: NASA/Goddard Space...

Mission operators working from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are undergoing final adjustments for orbital insertion of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, due to take place September 21. Achieving a stable orbit around the Red Planet would be the culmination of a 10-month voyage, during which the robotic explorer traveled 442 million miles (711 million km) after having ridden into space in November 2013 atop an Atlas V rocket.  Read More

The MIT Biosuit uses counter pressure instead of an inflated suit

Our stereotype of a spacesuit involves an astronaut clad in a bulky white outfit like some outer space Michelin Man wearing a rucksack – and about as graceful. But if an MIT team has any say, the spacesuit of the future will be a snug, form-fitting outfit that’s not only lighter and more flexible but also easier to get on, automatically tightening up to a proper fit at the touch of a button.  Read More

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