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Artist's impression of Curiosity (Image: NASA)

After over six months exploring the Glenelg area of Gale Crater on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is on the move. The nuclear-powered robot began a months-long drive on July 4, which will take it to Mount Sharp to fulfill the major part of its its two-year mission to seek out areas where life could have, or still could, exist on the Red Planet.  Read More

NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge is aimed at protecting the Earth while exploiting asteroid...

On June 18, the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge was announced to a flood of media inattention. This was probably to be expected, as NASA actually said very little about it. Maybe so as to not attract the ire of forces in the US Congress that are trying to shut down the largest portion of this Grand Challenge; namely the capture and relocation of a seven-meter (23 ft) asteroid to a stable lunar orbit for study and as a practice site for asteroid exploration and exploitation. We've dug up the formal Request for Information (RFI) associated with the Grand Challenge, which gives a better idea of where NASA wants to put its money.  Read More

Ultrasonic sensors could help detect air leaks on the ISS (Photo: NASA)

In space, no one can hear you scream, but you can hear an air leak. In old science fiction movies, air leaks on spaceships and stations reveal themselves as convenient holes to slap a patch on, but on the complex International Space Station (ISS), it isn't that simple. NASA is working on a new system for detecting the ultrasonic noise of an air leak quickly before it turns into a dangerous race against time.  Read More

The NEXT ion thruster has run for 48,000 hours (Image: NASA Christopher J. Lynch (Photo: W...

On Monday, NASA announced that its advanced ion propulsion engine operated for 48,000 hours, or five and a half years – and that’s without stops for fuel or coffee. Developed under NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) project, the engine now holds the record for the longest test duration of any type of space propulsion system.  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

The Kepler spacecraft could still hunt planets using gravity miscrolensing ( Image: NASA)

Last month, NASA declared its Kepler mission to hunt exoplanets at an end when one of the space telescope’s reaction wheels failed. Unable to keep itself pointed in the right direction, it could no longer carry on its hunt for planets beyond the Solar System. That seemed like the end of things, but Keith Horne of the University of St Andrews and Andrew Gould of Ohio State University disagree. They claim that Kepler could still hunt for exoplanets using gravity microlensing to detect how stars with planets distort space.  Read More

Robot Zoë in the Atacama Desert where it will test technologies and techniques to search f...

Scientists looking for life on Mars are studying the driest desert on Earth. This month, Carnegie Mellon University's Zoë robot will traverse Chile’s near-uninhabitable Atacama Desert as part of an astrobiology experiment aimed at testing technologies and techniques for NASA’s next rover to search for life on Mars at the end of the decade.  Read More

Made in Space was first tested aboard a cargo plane using parabolic flights to achieve zer...

Imagine the first manned mission to Mars is three months out from Earth when a one-of-a-kind vital component fails. Today, such an accident would mean a choice between desperate invention and death, but it may not be too long before astronauts will just download a file and print out any part as needed. Turning such a potential drama into a simple task is the goal of NASA and Made in Space Inc., whose plan is to send a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) next year as part of demonstration to show the potential of the technology.  Read More

NASA's high altitude ice cloud test rig being readied for action (Photo: NASA)

About once a month on average, an incident is reported in which turbofan jet engines flying at high-altitude lose power. The pilots report that there is little if any bad weather that might explain the power loss and although uncommon, this fault is potentially disastrous. The culprit is called ice crystal icing, and NASA scientists are making progress in understanding the problem using a world first test facility that creates an artificial ice cloud similar to that encountered by planes at high altitudes.  Read More

The Large Magellanic Cloud as taken by the Swift satellite's Ultraviolet/Optical telescope...

Data from NASA's Swift satellite has been used to create the highest-ever resolution images of our two nearest galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds. The detailed ultraviolet light surveys measure 160 and 55 megapixels, and cumulatively show some 1.25 million ultraviolet sources.  Read More

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