Photokina 2014 highlights

JPL

Artist's impression of Rosetta's Philae probe approaching comet (Image: ESA/ATG medialab)

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft, which back in January awoke from 957 days hibernation on its way to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, has now started its first instrument observations. Included in these instruments are three NASA science packages; MIRO, ALICE, and IES, all of which have started sending science data back to Earth.  Read More

JPL scientists say Ganymede may be built like a club sandwich

In a combination of the astronomical and the culinary, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) say that Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, may not have a single large ocean, but instead may be built like a club sandwich with alternating layers of ice and water. The claim is based on computer models of how salt water acts under the high pressures that may exist beneath Ganymede’s global ice pack, and may improve the chances of finding life elsewhere in the Solar System.  Read More

Starshade and its space telescope (Image: NASA)

Apparently NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, thinks that what space exploration in the 21st century needs is spacecraft that are a bit more botanical. The center has released a video showing off its starshade spacecraft that opens up like a blossom. Bearing a resemblance to a cosmic sunflower, it’s designed to help astronomers to directly study exoplanets, including taking the first actual pictures of planets beyond our Solar System.  Read More

Artist's concept of Juno arriving at Jupiter (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Online observatory Slooh has streamed live pictures of NASA’s Juno space probe flyby. The feed from the robotic half-meter telescope in the Canary islands gave visitors a ringside seat as the probe passed within 347 mi (559 km) of Earth in a slingshot maneuver designed to take it all the way to Jupiter.  Read More

The FINDER system (lower right, in photo) being tested at the Fairfax County Fire Departme...

Sniffer dogs and fiber optic cameras may soon be getting some assistance, when it comes to locating people trapped beneath debris. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate has joined forces with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to create a microwave radar-based system known as Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response – or FINDER. The new technology is able to detect a human heartbeat buried up to 30 feet (9 meters) under assorted rubble.  Read More

The 1.3 gigapixel panorama made of over 800 individual images (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSS...

On Wednesday, NASA unveiled a rather large postcard sent back from Mars by the Curiosity rover. It’s in the form a panoramic image packing more than one billion pixels that was stitched together from 896 images. NASA sees the gigapixel image as a way for “armchair explorers” to take a close-up look at the Red Planet by means of an interactive webpage.  Read More

An asteroid passing close to Earth next month will provide stargazers with a rare viewing ...

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15. If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth.  Read More

Still from the JPL GRAIL video (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a video transmitted by the GRAIL lunar orbiters during their final days. The dramatic footage was taken on December 14, 2012 as part of a final systems check before the twin spacecraft shut down their instruments in preparation for a controlled impact into a lunar mountain.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Curiosity rover (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover ended its holiday break this week and resumed its travels across the Red Planet. The unmanned nuclear-powered explorer drove about 10 feet (3 m) northwestward to a sinuous rock feature called ”Snake River.” This brings its total driving distance since touching down at Bradbury Landing on August 6 to 2,303 feet (702 m). As part of its next phase of exploration, Curiosity tested its motorized brush for the first time and is seeking a target for its sampling drill.  Read More

The impact point of the GRAIL spacecraft (Image:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/ASU)

NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft have struck the Moon in a controlled impact. At 5:28:46 EST (222846 GMT) Ebb, the first spacecraft, struck a mountain near the lunar North Pole. The second, Flow, hit about 20 seconds later. Because the impact occurred during a new moon, no images were available of the impact, though NASA was able to determine the time of the event by monitoring the moment that telemetry ended. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California provided live television and online commentary.  Read More

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