The Near Space Corporation, which has won contracts from NASA in the past, announced this week that it'll be building a commercial high-altitude (still suborbital) balloon flight facility, the first of its kind in this country.
So many exoplanets may hold water, atmospheres, just-right temperatures and a rocky surface for life to flourish — we just need to know where to look. Once astronomers have pinpointed a good candidate, we also need to know how to look — which instruments and methods might sniff out the right chemical signatures of life. A new trick that essentially amplifies those signatures could be one way to do it. Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory just discovered life on Earth with this method, treating our home as if it were an exoplanet.
We may never see the surface of a planet in another solar system, but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine it with great accuracy. Equipped with careful observations, it’s possible to visualize the sunset as it would look from a distant exoplanet. This is what it looks like.
A prolonged chill in the atmosphere high above the Arctic last winter led to a mobile, morphing hole in the ozone layer, scientists report in a new paper. It's just like the South Pole hole we all studied in school, but potentially more harmful to humans — more of us live at northern latitudes. Here are five things you need to know about it.
By Caitlin KearneyPosted 04.19.2011 at 10:13 am 81 Comments
In a roundabout way, yes. But first we must heat that atmosphere, since the surface of Mars is about –58°F. “We know how to warm planets; we’re doing it right now,” says Robert Zubrin, the president of the nonprofit Mars Society, a group devoted to Martian exploration.
Space debris could be nudged out of the way using a moderately sized Earth-based laser, a team of NASA researchers suggests in a new paper. The laser wouldn’t blast the debris to smithereens, but combined with a ground-based telescope, it could be used to move space junk into a different orbit so it would not collide with other debris or important spacecraft.
Geoengineering could cause more problems than the global warming it aims to stop
By David RobertsPosted 02.03.2011 at 10:46 am 23 Comments
Engineering the atmosphere to forestall the worst results of global warming was once considered too hubristic to seriously contemplate. The grim prospects for passing an international climate-change treaty have changed that. Last year the National Academies of Science in the U.S. and the Royal Society in the U.K. both convened meetings on geoengineering.
It's still hard to know just how big an Atlantic hurricane is going to get or where it might make landfall until just days before it strikes, but meteorologists have long been able to predict with fair certainty how many hurricanes will be spawned in the next hurricane season.
Scientists studying Titan’s atmosphere have learned it can create complex molecules, including amino acids and nucleotide bases, often called the building blocks of life. They are the first researchers to show it’s possible to create these molecules without water, suggesting Titan could harbor huge quantities of life’s precursors floating in its atmosphere. It’s a breakthrough that even has implications for the beginning of life on Earth.
In orbit, debris as small as a metal screw can cripple a vehicle or kill an astronaut. Here are five ideas for cleaning up the growing band of trash circling Earth
By David KushnerPosted 07.13.2010 at 10:05 am 1 Comment
One Friday last November, the six astronauts onboard the International Space Station received an urgent warning from mission control: Watch out for space junk. A piece of orbital debris, possibly a chunk of satellite, was hurtling toward the station. A direct hit could break through the hull. The crew prepped for escape.