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The new Landsat 8 will continue NASA's 40-year program (Photo: NASA)

NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft was successfully placed in orbit earlier this week. The mission marks the continuation of the 40-year Landsat Earth-observation program, which aids in the study of dynamic and ongoing changes to the planet.  Read More

The STRaND-1 is a smartphone-based nanosat that is set to become the U.K.'s first CubeSat ...

The University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Centre (SSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) are set to launch the world’s first smartphone-based satellite. Built around a Google Nexus One smartphone running on the Android operating system, the STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) satellite will also be the U.K.’s first CubeSat to go into space.  Read More

Artist's concept of a Phoenix tender in action

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a new video showing the progress of its Phoenix project, which aims at salvaging parts from defunct communications satellites to build new ones. Based on a new class of nanosatellites and a robotic “tender,” its purpose is to use repurposed satellites to construct a new communications net for the military at low cost.  Read More

The Multifunction Tool uses its attached adapter to manipulate a plug located under the Am...

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have begun practicing satellite refueling in space on a test bed outside the International Space Station (ISS). In a series of tests that started on January 14 and are scheduled to continue until the 25th, the two space agencies are using the Robotic Refueling Module (RRM) and Canada’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or Dextre, robot to carry out simulated refueling operations. The purpose of these tests is to develop refueling methods aimed at extending the life of satellites and reducing the amount of space debris orbiting the Earth.  Read More

Russia is planning to launch probe Luna-Glob in 2015 as a first step toward building a ful...

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is planning to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon in 2015, a first step toward the ambitious long-term plan to establish a robotic base on the surface of our largest satellite. The spacecraft, called Luna-Glob ("Moon globe"), will be followed by two more orbiters and two rovers that will study the lunar soil locally and collect samples of rocks and dust, bringing them back to Earth for analysis.  Read More

An asteroid passing close to Earth next month will provide stargazers with a rare viewing ...

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15. If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth.  Read More

Black holes blaze magenta in this NuStar photo of spiral galaxy IC342 (Photo: NASA)

Black holes, which abound in the Universe, convert matter into geometry – the larger the amount of matter that disappears through the event horizon, the larger they grow, with the only external sign of their presence being the warping of space due to their gravity. In the process, a great deal of extremely hot gas is generated, and that gas emits hard x-rays. Now NASA's NuSTAR space telescope can find black holes by forming high-resolution images of the cosmos in hard x-rays.  Read More

Goddard technologist Nithin Abraham analyzes a sample of gas-adsorbing paint (Photo: NASA/...

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland is working to eliminate new car smell. No, they aren't a bunch of killjoys. That distinctive odor is caused by outgassing of chemicals used in car manufacturing. Some scientists believe these gases to be harmful, but whether they are or not, satellites suffer from the same problem. The gases released by satellites themselves can damage them, so NASA is working on new ways to control or eliminate these emissions.  Read More

Representation of a satellite being destroyed by collision with orbital debris (Image: ESA...

Orbital debris is (nearly) forever, and threatens to render near-Earth space unusable, and all but impassible. The 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test and an accidental collision between two communications satellites in 2009 highlighted the need to study orbital collisions of modern satellites. The NASA Standard Breakup Model, based on hypervelocity collision studies of 1960s-era satellites, fails to accurately describe collisions of modern satellites, owing to advances made in materials and construction. To address this problem, NASA is updating the SBM by building and destroying a modern dummy satellite called DebriSat.  Read More

CHEOPS, the first of ESA's S-class missions, will study super-Earths

The European Space Agency (ESA) is set to give existing orbiting probes, such as COROT and Kepler, a helping hand in studying super-Earths. Selected from 26 proposals, the CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) spacecraft is the first S-class (“small”) mission in the ESA’s Science Programme. A partnership between the ESA and the Swiss Space Office, CHEOPS will not seek out new exoplanets, but will instead target nearby, bright stars that are already known to have orbiting planets.  Read More

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