The Voyager 1 spacecraft might be crossing the interstellar boundary at the edge of our solar system much sooner than scientists thought, according to new data from the probe itself and from the Cassini spacecraft. This milestone — marking the first Earth-born object ever to leave the sun’s field of influence — could actually happen any day now. According to scientists' best estimates, it will happen by the end of 2012.
The Journal of Cosmology recently published a special issue concerning the requisites for and perils inherent in a manned mission to Mars, which appropriately touched upon that taboo topic that NASA never talks about: sex in space. But while it might seem like a natural inevitability, sex in space might not be such a great idea, at least from a reproductive aspect.
The Obama administration may have axed NASA's ambitious manned moon exploration plans for even an even more ambitious deep space exploration agenda, but for those developing the technologies that will one day take us to deep space the moon is just too ripe a testing ground to ignore. Lockheed Martin is pitching NASA what's being called an L2-Farside Mission that would launch a manned Orion spacecraft into a stationary halo orbit on the other side of the moon.
When civilizations were first spreading out across the Earth from its place of origin, traders and travelers harnessed the wind to circulate people, goods, and information from locale to locale, keeping the wheels of exchange turning as efficiently as technology would allow. Now, space sailing may take on a similar role. Fleets of “data clippers” could soon circulate around the solar system, ferrying scientific data from deep space missions back to Earth.
Spotting exoplanets is hot science in astronomy right now, and researchers at the European Southern Observatory have just made a significant find: a planetary system some 127 light years away containing at least five Neptune like planets circling a sun much like our own.
The European Space Agency has released the first close-ups of the asteroid Lutetia snapped by the Rosetta mission over the weekend, revealing that the mysterious asteroid has taken quite a beating over the years. And by years, we mean something like 4.5 billion. As suspected, it turns out that Lutetia is probably very, very old.
ESA's Rosetta mission got a quite a view of Lutetia as it passed within 1,965 miles of it while en route to its final destination, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The second phase of the Mars500 simulated mission to the Red Planet launched this morning as six men -- a Frenchman, an Italian, one Chinese man and three Russians -- were locked inside a 19,500-cubic-foot facility outside of Moscow, where they will remain for the next 520 days.
Cassini arrived in Saturn's neighborhood in 2004 for a four-year mission, but it performed so well and remained in such good shape, its mission was extended for two more years. In that time it's made countless discoveries, generated a wealth of scientific data and spawned well over 1,000 academic papers. It's also burned three quarters of its fuel.
For the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab mission designers tasked with extending Cassini's mission for an extra seven years, the project became a convoluted whirl of math and politics. Here, The New York Times explains the orbital mechanics of the new Cassini mission, which has to more than double the length of the mission using just a quarter of the craft's original propellant, all while appeasing opposing scientific interests.
In a world of real-time Twitter search and smartphones that whisk pictures and videos around a very mobile Web, it's hard to believe that data transfer rates to and from space often border on dial-up speeds. The ISS is one of the most advanced pieces of technology man has ever dreamed up, yet crew members got their first Internet connection just last week.