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Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov waves the Olympic torch outside the International Space Station...

The torch for next year's Winter Olympics in Russia took a detour into orbit yesterday as two Russian cosmonauts working outside the International Space Station (ISS) conducted the first ever torch handover in the vacuum of space.  Read More

Artist's concept of Kepler-62f, an Earth-like planet (Image: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/Tim Pyl...

Bookmakers may be revising their odds on the question of us being alone in the Universe after scientists revealed that our galaxy could hold billions of habitable worlds. University of California Berkeley and University of Hawaii (UH) astronomers carried out a study using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope to provide part of the answer to the question, “How many of the 200 billion stars in our galaxy have potentially habitable planets?” The answer they got back was that one in five sun-like stars may have Earth-size planets that could support life.  Read More

View of 'Cooperstown' taken by Curiosity's navigational camera (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

After over a year on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has pretty much run through its list of firsts. As it continues its “long trek” to Mount Sharp, however, it’s still showing a few surprises. This week, NASA announced that Curiosity picked up the pace of its travels by completing its first two-day autonomous drive, in which the unmanned explorer did one leg of an autonomous drive on Sunday, then completed it on Monday.  Read More

Technicians powering up Orion (Image: Lockheed Martin)

NASA took another step back into the astronaut-launching business when it announced on Monday that last week it had powered up the crew capsule of the Orion spacecraft for the first time. According to the space agency, the test of the spacecraft’s avionics systems, conducted at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is a major milestone in preparing the craft for its first unmanned test flight in the autumn of next year.  Read More

Artist's concept of the MAVEN spacecraft (Image: NASA/Goddard)

On Monday, NASA confirmed the launch date of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN). According to the space agency, MAVEN will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:28 PM EST on November 18 on the first leg of its mission to study the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's concept of LADEE entering lunar orbit (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) experiment made history yesterday as it beamed data back to Earth from lunar orbit at previously unheard of speed for a space mission. Operating from the LADEE lunar orbiter, the LLCD used lasers to transmit data to Earth at 622 megabits per second (Mbps) as a demonstration of a technology that NASA hopes will one day not only keep up with the communications demands of future missions, but also greatly enhance their capabilities.  Read More

The Tri-D engine test firing

Like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA. Earlier this month, the students conducted a hot fire test for a 3D-printed metal rocket engine at a launch site in California’s Mojave Desert. This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA.  Read More

Scott Carpenter on the phone with President John F Kennedy after the Aurora 7 mission (Ima...

Scott Carpenter, one of the last surviving Mercury 7 astronauts, has died at the age of 88. The second American to go into orbit and the fourth Mercury astronaut to travel into space, Carpenter is also remembered for his contributions to oceanography.  Read More

Artist's concept of Juno arriving at Jupiter (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Online observatory Slooh has streamed live pictures of NASA’s Juno space probe flyby. The feed from the robotic half-meter telescope in the Canary islands gave visitors a ringside seat as the probe passed within 347 mi (559 km) of Earth in a slingshot maneuver designed to take it all the way to Jupiter.  Read More

Artist's impression of a massive asteroid impact (Image: NASA/Don Davis)

Last year, the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow put forward the idea of using fleets of laser-toting satellites to deflect potentially dangerous objects away from Earth. Now, Dr. Richard Fork, principal investigator for the Laser Science and Engineering Laboratory at the University of Alabama and his team have refined the idea, saying that it’s not only feasible, but could handle anything up to the size of a comet.  Read More

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