Asteroids and comets come in all shapes and sizes—from small pebbles, to larger SUV-sized fragments, to massive asteroids like Ceres, which has a diameter of about 621 miles. Much of the asteroid material that crosses paths with the Earth burns up when it enters the atmosphere. About once every 100 years, though, a fairly large asteroid strikes the Earth.
This new Spiderman-style suit may not win astronauts a spot in the fashion hall of fame, but it could help keep their bones intact during long spaceflights. Described in a new paper, prototype tests of the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit, being developed by a research team at MIT’s Man-Vehicle Laboratory, show that the suit simulates the effects of gravity on the human body, which could solve one of the biggest obstacles to future human space travel.
A massive collection of spacecraft parts, dead satellites, and spent rocket stages circle high above the Earth in a sort of “floating landfill.” According to recent estimates, about 4 million pounds of space junk currently orbit the Earth, including some 20,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 centimeters.
Through the Einstein@Home program, about 250,000 private citizens from 192 countries donate time on their home and office computers to help comb through astronomical data. Now, for the first time, three of those citizen scientists -- Chris and Helen Colvin of Iowa and Daniel Gebhardt of Germany -- have discovered a new radio pulsar in the constellation Vulpecula, located in the Milky Way Galaxy about 17,000 light years from Earth.
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite has just completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth -- returning more than a million images that provide a zoomed-in look at celestial objects ranging from distant galaxies to asteroids.
Scientists at the University of Arizona have successfully bred genetically modified mosquitoes that are 100 percent resistant to the malaria parasite, rendering the mosquito incapable of infecting humans with malaria.
Next time you're marveling at the fact that Spirit and Opportunity have been roving Mars for over six years now, ponder this: the two Voyager spacecraft have been hurtling through our solar system for nearly 33 years. Today, Voyager 1 hits a mission milestone of operating continuously for 12,000 days. The spacecraft launched on September 5, 1977, while Jimmy Carter was president, and has now traveled 14 billion miles.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised for a flyby of asteroid 21 Lutetia, the largest asteroid to ever be visited by a spacecraft. On Saturday, July 10, Rosetta will skim past Lutetia at a speed of about 33,000 miles per hour, coming to within 1,965 miles of the asteroid.
NASA's latest mission doesn't have anything to do with spacecraft or satellites. The space agency is helping thousands of baby sea turtles make their successful pilgrimage to the ocean. Biologists are digging up some 700 turtle nests on northern Gulf beaches affected by the BP oil spill, from Panama City to Apalachicola, Florida, and relocating them to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida's Space Coast.
The next Mars rover, Curiosity, has been outfitted with a new cutting-edge mobility system that's enough to make off-road enthusiasts drool with envy. The rover, which will carry ten times the payload mass of Spirit and Opportunity, is about the size of an SUV, and too heavy for an airbag landing.
In 1997, Jeanne Louise Calment of France died at the age of 122, making her the oldest documented human to have ever lived. People who live to be 100 years or older are rare, and only about 1 in 600,000 people in industrialized nations live that long. But is there something genetically unique about centenarians that enables them to age gracefully and relatively disease-free? According to the results of a long-term study at Boston University School of Medicine, the answer is yes.
Schwarzenegger's Terminator memorably thrashed and crawled onward towards its victims even after its robotic limbs had been mutilated by explosions and crashes. Now, a German research team is trying to bring that ability to the robots of today, looking at how three-legged dogs move in order to design robots that can recover from injury or damage.
In February 2009, NASA launched the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a research spacecraft that crashed into the ocean shortly after launch. The project, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was designed to map the distribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere. In February 2013, NASA has announced, it will launch its Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) spacecraft.
On June 21, NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its lowest dip ever into the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The spacecraft's 71st flyby of Titan took it to within 547 miles of Titan's surface in an effort to assess whether Titan has its own magnetic field, which is important to understanding the moon's interior and composition. The low-altitude flyby put Cassini in a region almost completely shielded from Saturn's magnetic field, which makes it possible to detect a magnetic signature coming from Titan itself.
Imagine a telescope array that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building, the Chicago Sears Tower, and Shanghai's World Financial Center combined. That's what astronomers are piecing together about a mile beneath the ice at the South Pole. But this telescope isn't aimed at the sky -- it points to the center of the Earth.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.