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NASA

View of Yellowknife Bay formation with drilling sites (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The chances of life having once existed on Mars got a boost this week alongside good news for astronauts on any future expeditions to the Red Planet. Six papers from Curiosity team members presented to the autumn meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco revealed that they had directly dated their first Martian rock, gave details of an ancient lake where life may once of existed, and found new evidence about the radiation hazards that explorers and colonists may one day face.  Read More

Compact at launch, the origami-inspired solar array will expand to 10 times its stored siz...

One big problem when sending things into space is, well, space. Rockets have limited payload capacity and given the costs involved, every inch counts. That's why Brigham Young University researchers have turned to origami as their inspiration. Their folding solar array is designed to be compact at launch and expand to around 10 times its size once it's deployed in outer space.  Read More

Test firing of the BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine that took place on Nov. 20, 2013 (Ph...

NASA announced on Tuesday that Blue Origin had successfully test fired its new BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine at the company’s West Texas facility in Van Horn. The test, which took place on November 20, was a series of static firings to simulate the engine sequence of an actual suborbital flight from lift off to landing and is part of the development of Blue Origin’s manned Orbital Launch Vehicle for carrying passengers and cargo into low Earth orbit.  Read More

Artist's depiction of the Sunjammer spacecraft leaving Earth orbit

The team of NASA, L’Guarde, and Space Services Inc. are preparing for the Sunjammer space mission that in 2015 will see the first deep space deployment of a solar sail. On September 30, the Sunjammer team completed a milestone when they successfully deployed a quarter panel of the spacecraft’s solar sail.  Read More

An artist's concept of Kepler (Image: NASA)

Last August, it looked as if the NASA's Kepler space telescope was as good as scrap due to the failure of its attitude control system. Now the space agency proposes what it calls the K2 mission concept, which will give the unmanned probe "second light" by using the Sun to regain attitude control and allow Kepler to resume its search for extrasolar planets.  Read More

An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions to evaluate the new SLS flight ...

Earlier this month, NASA carried out tests on a new flight system for the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy lifting rocket that will send the manned Orion spacecraft into deep space. What was unusual about this is that instead of using a rocket for the tests, the space agency used an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as a stand in as a way to carry out more tests at lower costs.  Read More

Is it supposed to look like that? In this case, yes (Photo:  Steve Jurvetson)

The terms "auger in" and "lawndart" refer to rather exciting and decidedly dangerous methods of recovering a rocket, during which the screaming rocket buries its pointy end deep in the ground. Such over-enthusiastic landings provided a group of research students from the University of Washington (UWash) the inspiration for a new approach to collecting samples from hostile environments, such as the crater of an erupting volcano or a melting nuclear reactor.  Read More

The Mars rover is powered by radioactive thermoelectric generator (dark cylinder on rear) ...

NASA has announced the cancellation of the decade-old program to develop a Sterling Radioisotope Generator for deep-space missions. This program was a response to the critical shortage in radioactive isotopes in general, and plutonium-238 in particular, in the US and worldwide. NASA will now be depending on rebuilding a Pu-238 production system, an option that is not without its drawbacks and challenges.  Read More

The fireball of the Chelyabinsk meteor (Image: NASA/M. Ahmetvaleev)

We are continually being surprised by new discoveries of near-Earth asteroids and comets, often noticing them only after they have completed a close approach. Only one asteroid has ever been found and projected to impact prior to its actually doing so. With that in mind, NASA, Planetary Resources, and Zooniverse have formed a collaboration to use citizen scientists to detect members of the vast swarm of near-Earth objects not yet recognized or mapped.  Read More

Dragon spacecraft in orbit during CRS-2 cargo mission to the ISS (Photo: SpaceX)

SpaceX has made progress toward an initial crewed flight in 2015 after a "milestone" safety review for manned space operations of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle.  Read More

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