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China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe has entered orbit around the Moon (Photo: Gregory H. Revera ...

The Beijing Aerospace Control Center reports that China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe successfully entered lunar orbit Friday at 5:53 pm Beijing time.  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

Sunny side of GOCE, which has been dubbed the 'Ferrari of space'  (Image: ESA–AOES-Mediala...

ESA announced on Monday that its Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) has ended its extended mission to map the Earth’s gravitational field. Orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 224 km (139 mi), the unmanned probe, known as the “Ferrari of space” because of its streamlined shape, has run out of fuel for the ion engine that kept it in orbit and is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere within two weeks.  Read More

Artist's concept of the LADEE spacecraft (Image: NASA)

Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It’s a mature, reliable technology, but it’s reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter.  Read More

Artist's concept for a slingatron space launcher to hurl payloads into space

People have been shooting things into space since the 1940s, but in every case this has involved using rockets. This works, but it’s incredibly expensive with the cheapest launch costs hovering around US$2,000 per pound. This is in part because almost every bit of the rocket is either destroyed or rendered unusable once it has put the payload into orbit. Reusable launch vehicles like the SpaceX Grasshopper offer one way to bring costs down, but another approach is to dump the rockets altogether and hurl payloads into orbit. That's what HyperV Technologies Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia is hoping to achieve with a “mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator” called the slingatron.  Read More

Between the nets, six inflatable PVC spheres up to 8.5 m (30 ft) in diameter, divide the s...

If you have ever wished you could experience weightlessness but cant afford space tourism, then a Dusseldorf art gallery may get you closer, as long as you wear sturdy shoes. The "in-orbit" multi-level art installation by Tomás Saraceno is suspended 20m (60 ft) above the piazza of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen gallery. The Argentinian architect and artist’s largest work to date aims to resemble a cloud landscape for those brave enough to walk through it.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Keck asteroid capture mission (Image: Rick Sternbach / Keck Instit...

To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can’t go to the asteroid, the the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission.  Read More

Artist's impression from a point in the Alpha Centauri triple star system, showing the new...

European astronomers working from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have discovered a planet slightly more massive than Earth, orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri triple star system – the nearest stellar system to our planet. Alpha Centauri Bb (as the new exoplanet is called, the star being Alpha Centauri B) is the first Earth-sized body found orbiting a Sun-like star and was discovered by measuring the tiny wobbles of Alpha Centauri B as it moves in response to the gravitational pull of the orbiting planet. It is orbiting Alpha Centauri B every three days and six hours at an orbital radius of six million kilometers (3.7 million miles). The proximity to the star leads to a surface temperature of some 1,500º K (2,250º F/1,232º C) – hot enough to melt granite.  Read More

A rendering of the debris cloud surrounding the earth (Image: NASA)

Boeing has filed a patent for a method of disposing of dead satellites and other debris orbiting the earth by hitting them with a puff of gas. The method, which is still at the conceptual stage, is designed to slow down satellites, forcing them to re-enter the atmosphere without sending up more space junk that itself will need disposing of.  Read More

Image showing the south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta obtained by the framing camera on...

After becoming the first probe to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in July 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has spent the last 10 months orbiting said object - the giant asteroid Vesta. During that period it has captured more than 20,000 images of Vesta and a multitude of data from different wavelengths of radiation. What it reveals is an asteroid that in many ways shares more in common with a small planet or Earth’s moon than it does with another asteroid.  Read More

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