Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Space Travel

Astronauts in spacesuit simulators (Image: OeWF (Katja Zanella-Kux))

Of all the nations who might get to Mars first, Austria doesn’t loom large. Yet the Austrian Space Forum (OEWF) has sent a manned mission to the Red Planet – or at least, to an Earth-bound version of “Mars” located in the northern Sahara near Erfoud, Morocco. During February OEWF conducted a series of experiments and simulation tests with the aim of gaining a better understanding of how to execute a manned mars mission and develop technology for making it a reality.  Read More

Hyperspace as depicted by popular movies and TV shows (Image: Shutterstock)

The two Star franchises (Wars and Trek) and countless science fiction movies have given generations of armchair space travelers an idea of what to expect when looking out the window of a spaceship making the jump to light speed. But it appears these views are – if you’ll excuse the pun – a bit warped. Four students from the University of Leicester have used Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity to calculate what Han and Chewie would actually see as they made the jump to hyperspace.  Read More

Future manned deep space missions would expose astronauts to levels of radiation that can ...

Psychiatrists involved with the early days of NASA’s space program were concerned astronauts might succumb to “space madness” as a result of experiencing prolonged periods of microgravity and claustrophobic isolation. While their fears turned out to be unfounded, a new study has found cause for concern for the mental faculties of astronauts on planned future deep space missions. The study shows that the levels of radiation an astronaut would be exposed to on a mission to Mars could cause cognitive problems and accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  Read More

SpaceShipTwo's first glide in powered flight configuration with the rocket motor nozzle vi...

After returning to the air earlier this year following a nearly nine-month long break which saw the integration of rocket motor systems, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completed its 23rd guide flight this week. The significance of this flight is that it was the spaceplane’s first glide in powered flight configuration.  Read More

The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994 (Image: Shuttersto...

The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive "warp drive" now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time.  Read More

Photo of Jupiter taken September 10, 2012 by George Hall of a fireball caused by the impac...

Jupiter is a major player in protecting the Earth from impact events, and has been for billions of years. Between comets and asteroids impacting on Jupiter and being flung into the Sun or out of the Solar System entirely, Jupiter's enormous gravitational field has removed the greater proportion of debris left-over from the formation of the Solar System. Jupiter has again been caught in the act of attracting and eating dangerous space rocks—this time in simultaneous observations by two amateur astronomers.  Read More

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 Commander, inside the Lunar Module as it rests on t...

Neil Armstrong, the test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator and American astronaut, has died at the age of 82 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His death was due to complications resulting from recent cardiovascular procedures carried out to relieve blocked arteries. He will forever be remembered by the history books as the first man to step foot on the Moon, the defining moment for a generation and inspiration to the generations that followed.  Read More

The Morpheus Lander just after ignition (Photo: NASA/Project Morpheus)

While the spotlight this month has been firmly on Curiosity's rendezvous with the Red Planet, NASA has also been showcasing some of the technology we can expect to see on future missions in the form of the Morpheus Lander.  Read More

VSS Enterprise glides to earth on its latest successful glide flight test (Photo: Chris Va...

Virgin Galactic’s suborbital, air-launched spaceplane, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), aka VSS Enterprise, is back in the air after a break of nearly nine months following a recent integration period for rocket motor systems and maintenance. The June 26 flight coincided with another successful full duration test fire of the spaceship’s engine RocketMotorTwo (RM2) on the same day. The tests mark an intensification of activity that sees Virgin Galactic aiming for powered flights by the end of the year.  Read More

The ESA's Seeker rover being put through its paces in Chile's Atacama Desert (Photo: ESA)

With remote control of rovers on Mars out of the question due to radio signals taking up to 40 minutes to make the round trip to and from the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a vehicle that is able to carry out instructions fully autonomously. The ESA team recently tested their Seeker full-scale rover in Chile where the rover was able to chart its own course through the Mars-like Atacama Desert.  Read More

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