Final ground test of launch booster for NASA's Journey to Mars a success

NASA's Journey to Mars mission got a step closer on Tuesday with the successful ground test of what will be the launch booster on the agency's Space Launch System (SLS), the world's most powerful rocket. It's the second and final qualification ground test on the booster before SLS's first crewless test flight in late 2018 with NASA's Orion spacecraft. Built by NASA contractor Orbital ATK, the booster was tested at the company's facilities in Promontory, Utah, and is now qualified for flight.Read More


Juno snaps images of Jupiter's moons as rendezvous approaches

Like any tourist, Juno is sending back snaps of its journey. The unmanned spacecraft was 6.8 million mi (10.9 million km) from Jupiter when it captured an image of the banded giant planet and its four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto on June 21. The image was taken by the probe's JunoCam, which NASA describes as an "outreach instrument" to increase public participation in the US$1.1 billion mission.Read More


Hubble investigates dark spot on Neptune

If Neptune seems a bit blemished of late, it's because NASA has confirmed that a dark spot has shown up in its bluish atmosphere. Observations by the Hubble Space Telescope taken in May show that a dark vortex has appeared in the southern hemisphere. This high-pressure system is accompanied by brighter "companion clouds" and is the first such dark spot to be seen this century.Read More

Space Feature

Surprise package: Juno nears rendezvous with Jupiter

On July 4, Americans usually celebrate Independence Day with parades, fireworks and picnics, but this year NASA is adding its own contribution to festivities as the Juno deep space probe becomes just the second spacecraft in history to orbit Jupiter. After a five-year journey, the solar-powered unmanned explorer will autonomously fire its main engine for 35 minutes as it starts a 20-month mission to study the gas giant. What will be found remains to be seen, but if history is any indicator, it's likely to be very unexpected.Read More


New NASA network poised to bring internet to entire solar system

NASA has made significant progress toward establishing a more reliable, and potentially solar-system-spanning communication system with the installation of a new breed of data network aboard the International Space Station. As its name suggests, the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service allows for the storage of partial pieces of information in the nodes along a communication path, which will allow for faster and more stable transmissions.Read More


Monster electric wind on Venus sends oxygen "kicking and screaming into space"

Although you could bake a pizza on its surface today, popular thinking is that Venus was once cool enough to hold water on its surface. Of course, as the planet heated, that water turned to vapor and should now be trapped in the planet's dense atmosphere – but it's not. So where did the water go? According to new research, the likely culprit is likely a super-strong "electric wind" that blows off the surface of Venus carrying ions with it into space.Read More


Meet Maxwell, NASA's newest X-plane with 14 electric motors

Back in February, NASA announced that it intends to bring back the X-planes, a series of experimental aircraft designed to test out new technologies that dates back to the first plane to break the sound barrier in 1947. Now the newest member of the family, dubbed the X-57, has been revealed. With 14 electric motors driving 14 propellors, the X-57 is designed to test greener propulsion technologies.Read More


Earth picks up asteroid traveling companion

An asteroid dubbed 2016 HO3 has recently been discovered that, whilst technically in orbit around the sun, is also spinning in its own merry dance around the Earth. Somewhere between 120 ft (40 m) and 300 ft (100 m) in size, our little travelling partner is estimated to have been in step with our orbit for about a hundred years now, and will continue to do so for at least many hundreds more. Too far away to be identified as a satellite to our planet, it is stable enough at the moment to be seen as a near-Earth companion body. Read More


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