Shaving a few minutes off flight times mightn't seem like that big a deal, but with tens of thousands of aircraft jetting across the skies each day, the fuel and carbon emission savings would quickly add up if more direct routes were taken more often. NASA is looking to encourage exactly that with software for air carriers that monitors conditions like weather and flight paths to suggest faster routes. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have answered the boarding call and will put the system through its paces over the next three years.
NASA's Orion spacecraft
has overcome its latest hurdle on the road to becoming human-rated,
with the completion of a technical and programmatic review (TPR).
Once finished, Orion will be the first spacecraft designed to allow
astronauts to operate beyond Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) since the Apollo
program. Eventually, NASA envisions using the capsule as a key
component in the planned asteroid redirect mission, and the ongoing
endeavor to one day put a man on Mars.
A new image release from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided more intriguing views of Pluto, including a stunning shot of the dwarf planet's tenuous atmosphere. Back-lit by the Sun, the image was captured from the probe at a range of 18,000 km, a mere 15 minutes after it made its closest approach on July 14.
New MIT research focusing on the gravitational signature of craters on the far side of the Moon is shedding light on the nature and origin of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), as well as the earliest life-supporting processes that took place in our solar system.
NASA scientists have discovered that one of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, may have a global ocean locked deep beneath its icy surface. Based on years of analysis of images taken by the unmanned Cassini probe, measurements of the moon's rotation indicate a slight wobble that's similar in nature to that which occurs when trying to spin a raw egg.
NASA has released more breathtaking images from the New Horizons spacecraft's Pluto encounter, showcasing the dwarf planet's surprisingly diverse geological features. The images come in the wake of the probe's high-velocity flyby, during which time the spacecraft collected vast quantities of data on one of the most enigmatic bodies in our solar system.
A new NASA image
release is granting the highest-resolution view of the now-famous
Occator crater – the most distinctive geological feature on the
dwarf planet Ceres to date. The images were snapped by NASA's Dawn
spacecraft at a height of 915 miles (1,470 km) as it continues to
observe Ceres from its third mapping orbit.
No bottles of champagne were broken, but Boeing’s CST-100 commercial crew transportation spacecraft officially has a new name. Intended to one day ferry astronauts to the International Space Station – and potentially paying customers to low-Earth orbit – the spacecraft is now known as the Starliner.
When NASA's New Horizons probe made its historic flyby of Pluto on July 14, it gathered a wealth of information about the dwarf planet and its moons, but at a distance from Earth of over 3 billion mi (4.8 billion km), retrieving that data will take a very long time. To speed things up, NASA has begun an intensive download from the unmanned spacecraft that will return tens of gigabits of data over the next 12 months.
As demonstrated by the bumpy landing of ESA's Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, exploring comets, asteroids, and small moons can be difficult due to their low gravity. Not only can landing on one be like trying to alight on a trampoline, but roving around their surfaces is next to impossible because the negligible gravity offers practically no traction. To overcome this, a team of engineers is developing Hedgehog, a completely symmetrical robot rover for low-gravity exploration that moves by hopping.