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Space

The 3D model shows the Homunculus Nebula surrounding Eta Carinae (Image: NASA Goddard (ins...

Using a 3D printer to make key fobs and automatic pistols is old hat. The latest thing is a 3D-printed model stellar nebulae. Using new telescopic observations, NASA has created a 3D model of the Homunculus Nebula that isn't just a string of mathematical equations, but a printable plan for a physical representation of an exploding star system. It’s intended to give astronomers a better understanding of the nature of the stars, but can also be downloaded and printed out by the public using a 3D printer.  Read More

The OG2 mission carries 17 satellites (Image: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket today, carrying six Orbcomm OG2 communication satellites in the second mission flight of a Falcon booster equipped with landing legs. At 11:15 am EDT, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The launch comes on the heels of three aborted attempts. The first, on May 10, was cancelled due to a helium leak; a second on June 20, was scratched because of a depressurization alarm in the second stage; and a third, on June 21, was called off because of bad weather.  Read More

Artist's impression of stardust forming around a supernova (Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Using an instrument mounted on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope (VLT), scientists have been able to shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding stardust by observing the event and aftermath of a supernova. The observation was undertaken in an attempt to answer a number of questions regarding stardust, chief of which being where and how the grains are formed and grow. Another oddity that the team hoped to resolve was just how these tiny, fragile particles manage to survive the inhospitable environment that prevails following a supernova.  Read More

The Firefly Alpha uses methane fuel and a plug-aerospike engine

The signs of a healthy industry isn't just growth or innovation, but a tendency to reach out and fill niche markets. A case in point is the small satellite launch company Firefly Space Systems, which recently unveiled its planned Alpha launcher. Aimed at the small satellite launch market, it's designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) at very low cost with an unconventional aerospike engine. It is also the first orbital launcher to use methane as fuel.  Read More

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project was unable to successfully file the craft's engine (Image: NASA)

The private effort to recover the 35-year old ISEE-3 spacecraft has ended in apparent failure. In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Keith Cowing of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project said that though the group had been able to establish radio contact with the unmanned probe, it was unsuccessful in getting the engines to fire properly. This means it will not be able to make the planned course correction and the craft will head back into deep space.  Read More

Researchers used sound wave readings of NGC 2264 to determine the age of stars (Photo: SIR...

One of the long-standing difficulties in astrophysics has been a way to accurately determine the age of a star. Brand new stars are obvious from their location in or near "star nurseries" of interstellar gas and dust, and "adult" stars can be roughly characterized through various methods, including a calculation based on their mass and luminosity. Unfortunately, these methods are approximations at best. Researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy have now discovered a way to distinguish young stars from older ones by measuring the acoustic waves that they emit using ultrasound technology.  Read More

Astronomers have disproved the existence of two exoplanets thought to orbit Gliese 581 in ...

Those packing their bags for a trip to the two potentially habitable exoplanets previously claimed to be orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581 had better rethink their travel plans. Astronomers at Pennsylvania State University say the planets, Gliese 581 d and Gliese 581 g, don't actually exist.  Read More

ESA's prototype dropship attached to a mock lander (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)

The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components.  Read More

The spiral galaxy NGC 4258 is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular disp...

As the US prepares for 4th of July fireworks here on Earth, a nearby spiral galaxy similar to our Milky Way is putting on a pyrotechnics display of its own. The galaxy, NGC 4258 (also known as Messier 106 or M 106), is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular display of power that is rippling across the face of the galaxy with shock waves of stellar energy.  Read More

Picture taken from Cassini in 2013, displaying the Earth as seen from orbit around Saturn ...

Having returned a vast number of incredible images of Saturn, her rings and her moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is reaching the final stage of its marathon mission. As such, and with the help of over 2,000 members of the general public, mission operators have selected a fitting name for the final maneuvers of the iconic spacecraft.  Read More

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