Anyone with clear skies Saturday night saw a spectacular swollen moon, 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than our satellite usually appears.
Photos abound from amateur and professional photographers, but we like this picture from NASA, showing a pink-hued moon rising above the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, the moon was 221,565 miles away — the closest it's been to Earth since March 1993.
Last night, NASA’s Messenger probe fired its thrusters and became the first man-made satellite ever to orbit Mercury. It’s a major achievement for NASA and planetary researchers who hope to learn more about the formation and evolution of Earth-like rocky worlds, in this solar system and beyond.
When a satellite runs out of fuel, there are really only a couple options: Quietly become a piece of space junk, or fall back to Earth in a blaze of glory. But a new space gas station will fill ‘em up, ensuring satellites can keep on trucking and preventing the proliferation of orbiting garbage.
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.
Earth-mapping satellites have been snapping photos of the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. Combined with earlier photos, the images put the path of destruction carved by the tsunami into stark relief.
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.
Earthquake prediction is a difficult business; it can be done, but usually with just enough lead time to yell “earthquake!” before the shaking begins. British and Russian researchers hope to change that through an agreement inked this week that will see two experimental satellites launched into orbit to try to identify natural warning signs that an earthquake is on the horizon.
Increasing web connectivity in the developing world has been a focus of philanthropists, international bodies like the U.N., and individual states alike. But, like most grand visions, wiring entire countries for the Web is expensive. So how does a philanthropist sidestep the massive expense of building and launching a satellite that can beam Internet to remote regions of the world? You wait for a company to go bankrupt, then you buy their brand new communications satellite already in orbit on the cheap.
A behemoth spy satellite blasted into space Sunday night aboard the country’s biggest heavy-lift rocket, the second satellite launched by by the National Reconnaissance Office in the past three months. Stats on the megasat are classified, but the NRO boasted this fall that it would be the biggest satellite in the world.
Befitting its mission to promote international cooperation and celebrate our shared world heritage, the United Nations is sending a $5 million satellite into space to find out whether poo can be used as fuel.