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Goddard Space Flight Center

Artist's concept of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars collecting sample...

NASA is looking to turn another staple of science fiction to practical use by studying ways to make “tractor beams” a reality. While none of the technologies under the microscope will be able to transport anything the size of a modified YT-1300 Corellian freighter – at least in the short term – the researchers will examine if it is possible to trap and move planetary or atmospheric particles using laser light so they can be delivered to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.  Read More

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration that is designed to incre...

Since the dawn of the space age, NASA has been relying on radio communications technology to send and receive data to and from spacecraft. Although it has developed higher data-rate radio frequency systems, data-compression, and other techniques to boost the amount of data that its current RF systems can handle, they can't keep pace with the projected data needs of advanced instruments and further human exploration. To break this bottleneck, NASA is turning to optical communications technology that would use lasers to increase data rates over existing systems by anywhere from 10 to 100 times.  Read More

The Apollo 12 landing site, as photographed by LROC

True story: when I was a little kid and was at an observatory looking at the Moon through a telescope, I loudly proclaimed "I think I can see one of the moon buggies!" Everyone laughed, and I felt stupid. Well, several decades later, I've been somewhat vindicated. Although it's not an earthbound telescope, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) did recently capture images of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. The Apollo 17 lunar rover is indeed visible, as are the descent stages of the three spacecraft, and foot paths made by the astronauts.  Read More

Solar particles interact with Earth's magnetosphere

The solar storms that cause the stunning aurora borealis and aurora australis (or northern and southern polar lights) also have the potential to knock out telecommunications equipment and navigational systems and cause blackouts of electrical grids. With the frequency of the sun’s flares following an 11-year cycle of solar activity and the next solar maximum expected around 2013, scientists are bracing for an overdue, once-in-100 year event that could cause widespread power blackouts and cripple electricity grids around the world. It sounds like an insurmountable problem but a new NASA project called “Solar Shield” is working to develop a forecasting system that can mitigate the impacts of such events and keep the electrons flowing.  Read More

These computer Images represent infrared snapshots of Kuiper Belt dust as seen by a distan...

For the first time researchers have simulated images of sections of our Solar System as they may have appeared some 700 million years ago. Supercomputer modeling of tiny dust particles far out in space may also pave the way to the discovery of new planets. "We're hoping our models will help us spot Neptune-sized worlds around other stars," Said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. who led the study.  Read More

NASA's DASS next-gen search and rescue system will pinpoint those in distress faster

The satellite-aided search and rescue technology pioneered by NASA is credited with saving more than 27,000 lives worldwide since its inception nearly three decades ago. Now the agency has developed new technology that will more quickly identify the locations of people in distress and reduce the risk to rescuers.  Read More

This is an artist's concept of a quasar (bright area with rays) embedded in the center of ...

Global Positioning System (GPS) devices have permeated society to the point where millions of us rely on them daily for directions, locations and traffic avoidance (if only they could tell me where I left my car keys). GPS satellites send signals to a receiver in your handheld or car-based GPS navigator, which calculates your position on the planet based on the location of the satellites and your distance from them. The distance is determined by how long it took the signals from various satellites to reach your receiver. But have you ever thought what tells the GPS satellites where they are in the first place?  Read More

NASA's Interstallar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has sent back data to scientists who were abl...

Move over Google Maps, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft has given scientists the tools to construct the first comprehensive sky map of our solar system and where it resides in the Milky Way galaxy. NASA says the new view will change the way researchers study the interaction between our galaxy and sun.  Read More

An artist's concept of the heliosphere, a magnetic bubble that partially protects the sola...

NASA has a warning for everyone planning a trip to Mars in the near future – it might be a good idea to wrap yourself in an extra layer of tinfoil when you travel According to sensors on NASA's ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high, reaching levels 19 percent higher than observed in the past 50 years and sparking a rethink on the radiation shielding needed for astronauts.  Read More

Pretty as a picture … this mosaic of M31 merges 330 individual images taken by the ultravi...

In a galaxy far, far away … about 2.5 million light years, in fact, lie approximately 20,000 hot, young stars and dense clusters that comprise the Andromeda Galaxy. The galaxy, known as M31 in the constellation Andromeda, was recently captured by an ultraviolet optical telescope aboard NASA’s Swift satellite, and delivers the highest-resolution view of a neighboring spiral galaxy ever attained in the ultraviolet.  Read More

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