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In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has detected two unexpected phenomena in the short time since making orbit around the red planet – an aurora occurring deep in the Martian atmosphere, and an as of yet unexplained high altitude dust cloud. MAVEN is currently four months into a primary mission lasting one Earth year, during which time it is attempting to shed light on the characteristics of the Martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, studying how they interact with our Sun. Read More
Though the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spaceplane was kicked out of the running to ferry crew to the ISS, a variation on the craft may still end up visiting the station. As part of its bid to win NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract, SNC has unveiled an unmanned autonomous version of Dream Chaser to carry cargo into orbit. Read More
Boeing is at it again, continuing its on-going ecoDemonstrator test program by ramping up a series of flight tests with a modified 757 airliner. The lengthy tests will assess new methods to advance efficiency, cut noise and lower carbon emissions. Read More
It might look like it was designed by a six-year-old, with 18 motors crammed onto a too-thin wing, but the Hybrid-Electric Integrated Systems Testbed (HEIST) experimental wing demonstrator could be the future of electric aircraft. A key component of NASA'S Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech) project, it is designed to test whether electric propulsion can allow for a tighter wing design leading to greater efficiency and safety. Read More
New software based on an algorithm developed in an open competition hosted by NASA improves the detection rate of potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids. The software comes in the form of a free-to-download application, capable of being run from most laptops or desktops, transforming any amateur astronomer into a seasoned asteroid hunter. Read More
Most missions to the International Space Station range from 160 to 180 days, but this month Russia and NASA will launch a joint year-long mission designed to more fully test the stress of space travel on the human body. ISS veterans Scott Kelly (US) and Mikhail Kornienko (Russia) have been training for two years for this daunting mission, culminating in departure slated for March 27, 2015, 3:42 p.m. EST. from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome. Read More
A team of astronomers combining radio data from the Green Bank Telescope, West Virginia, and data from the radar transmitter at the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, have compiled a stunning new view of Venus. Often described as Earth's twin due to its similar proportions, capturing high quality images of the inhospitable planet has traditionally been a challenging prospect thanks to extreme atmospheric conditions. However, by combining observations from the instruments to create a more complete picture of Venus, astronomers can begin to observe how this enigmatic celestial object evolves over time. Read More
Lockheed Martin has provided a glimpse at the next generation of commercial spacecraft by revealing its proposal for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. The new cargo ships, which Lockheed compares to the US transcontinental railroads of the 19th century, are designed to not only resupply the International Space Station, but also support manned deep space missions, such as the first expedition to Mars. Read More
An ultraviolet light show has provided space scientists with the best evidence yet that the Jovian moon Ganymede has a gigantic ocean beneath its icy surface. Images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of the aurorae in the moon's tenuous atmosphere provide what NASA calls the best evidence yet for a wet Ganymede where life could exist. Read More