NASA’s intrepid Mercury observer, the Messenger satellite, is about to become the first spacecraft ever to orbit the first planet. The probe, which has already flown past the planet three times, will fire its thrusters March 17 so it can enter orbit and embark on a year-long science mission. Scientists hope the probe will explain several mysteries of Mercury’s past.
When it enters orbit, Messenger will be 96.35 million miles from Earth, according to NASA.
In a recent test of autonomous in-flight refueling, two unmanned aircraft flew within 40 feet of each other at an altitude of 45,000 feet, an aviation record. A Northrop Grumman Proteus test aircraft crept up on a NASA Global Hawk, testing wake turbulence and engine performance in the stratosphere. The test is a step toward teams of drones flying in formation, for refueling or other purposes.
Like brunch plans dashed when it turns out someone in the party has lost his wallet, the ESA’s and NASA’s best laid plans to take a trip to Mars together in 2018 could be ruined. A joint Mars exploration mission planned by both space agencies could be put on hold or even scrapped altogether because America can’t afford to pay its share of the tab.
A powerful NASA-developed grow lamp designed for the space shuttle can ease a debilitating side effect of cancer treatment, according to a new study. That’s directly from the lamp itself, not because it is used to grow medicinal plants. The treatment is under review by the Food and Drug Administration.
We've seen footage from rocket-mounted cameras before, but this is a particularly stunning example of the genre: cameras mounted on the solid-fuel rocket boosters that lifted the shuttle Discovery into space last week document their entire 30-minute voyage, from liftoff to splashdown.
After almost 13 years, the world's most complicated construction project, the International Space Station, is almost complete. Spacewalking astronauts attached the final U.S. pressurized module, the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, thereby wrapping up the U.S. portion of station construction.
As astronomers continue mining data from the Kepler telescope, the planetary peculiarities keep on coming. We've already seen the smallest rocky world, 54 planets in a Goldilocks comfort zone around their stars, and even the possibility of planets sharing the same orbit.
It’s not always easy being the little brother, but stepping out from the shadow of its bigger sibling--the Orion Nebula (Messier 42)--Messier 43 is finally getting its chance to shine. This recently released Hubble image shows M43 doing what little brothers are wont to do: emulating its bigger sibling. Both regions are churning out baby stars.
To test future rocket designs, NASA is employing an age-old bar trick: Slowly and deliberately apply pressure to an aluminum can until it crumples. No foreheads will be involved, however.
In late March, engineers will use a million pounds of force to crush a 27.5-foot diameter, 20-foot-tall canister made of aluminum and lithium, hoping to learn more about shell buckling so they can design sturdier rocket skins.
Scientific observations often has to do with being in the right place at the right time, whether intentionally or not. In a stroke of good luck last Thursday the sun’s rotation, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, and a sizeable M 3.6 class solar flare all lined up to allow SDO to capture a gorgeous profile view of said flare unfolding in high definition.