The newly-refurbished Hubble Space Telescope sent back its first breathtaking images after being repaired in September. Here, Nebula NGC 6302 with its butterfly wings of 36,000-degree gas.
We always like to look forward to bigger and better tech, but NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, though it's been around the block, still holds a special place in every geek's heart. Now the freshly repaired and upgraded telescope has resumed churning out enough images of cosmic glory to turn anyone's head.
130 years ago, astronomers discovered Stephan's Quintent--a compact group of galaxies 280 million light years from Earth. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has captured the X-rays generated by the interstellar collision, as one of the galaxies is sucked through the center of the group at 2 million miles per hour.
Next year, 33 years after its maiden flight, the space shuttle will retire. What happens after that has become subject to fierce debate within the space agency. The designated successor program, named Constellation, was the darling of previous NASA administrator Michael Griffin, but a new review now has the space agency looking elsewhere for a ride back into the firmament.
If you've ever worked on bikes or cars, you know how annoying it can be to work with both English/imperial and metric units at the same time; well, the same goes doubly with spacecraft, but NASA's theoretically modular and standards-adhering Constellation system is shaping up to be the odd one out in space, where the metric system rules.
For a few years now, we’ve been excited about the possibility of a cable-based space elevator as an alternative to expensive rocket launchers. To date, though, the various attempts to make it happen–including annual contests and Japan’s recent initiative–have come up short. The problem? Space elevators have one major hang-up: most designs call for braided cords of extremely strong nanotubes, which unfortunately don't exist yet.
Japan's Kaguya lunar surveyor craft has sent back fresh HD clips as its orbit slowly degrades, bringing it closer than ever to the surface. In two days it will crash-land, bringing its mission to an end, but until then, it's keeping the ultra-crisp, almost surreal lunar footage coming.
Doesn't it seem that all movies and television shows suggest that space will one day be populated by nothing but dashingly lithe men and buxom women? Well there's a reason it's called science fiction, because extended space travel could actually leave astronauts a gross, bloated, unattractive mess. Astrobiologist Dr Lewis Dartnel projects that long-term exposure to zero gravity has the potential to ravage your looks in the most unappealing ways.
In an attempt to explain why the light emitted from distant galaxies appears dimmer than predicted, some astronomers may have inadvertently provided the first evidence of dark energy.
Dark energy is the theoretical force behind the expansion of time and space. Dark energy has yet to be experimentally observed, despite the fact that it may represent the vast majority of all the material universe.
After astronauts fixed the lens on the Hubble space telescope, the satellite began sending back pictures of the cosmos that left all onlookers in awe. The beauty of those images often overshadowed the legitimate scientific progress the Hubble enabled.
So, in honor of the Hubble's final servicing mission, Popsci.com and Mario Livio, a senior astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute and author of Is God A Mathematician?, look past the pretty pictures and count down the ten most important scientific discoveries that the Hubble made possible.
One year ago, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and the University of Arizona held their breath as the Phoenix Mars Lander hurtled toward its final descent and touchdown in the northern arctic plains of Mars. It was the first spacecraft landing on Mars without airbags since Viking 2 landed in 1976.
At 4:53:44 PM Pacific time on May 25, 2008, radio signals confirmed that Phoenix had survived its final descent and had landed safely on the Martian surface. The tricky and precise maneuvers involved with the spacecraft's entry, descent, and landing were executed in a manner described as "textbook perfect," leaving Phoenix poised almost perfectly level on the Martian surface. And the crowd at Mission Control went wild.