A while back, John Carmack (of "Doom" and "Quake" fame, as well as the founder of Armadillo Aerospace) issued a challenge: launch a rocket to more than 100,000 feet, get a GPS reading from up there, and recover the launch vehicle, and $5,000 is yours. Some additional benefactors pushed the Carmack prize to roughly $10,000.
Behold, your galactic center. This Hubble image, captured with the space telescope’s Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), is the highest-resolution pic of the Milky Way’s galactic center taken to date, taking in a newly discovered group of massive stars, lots of super-hot gas, and roughly 35,000 square light years of space in one sweeping mosaic.
The European Space Agency announced its next two space science missions yesterday, and given recent events they may not come as a huge surprise. The first will orbit the sun, coming closer to the solar surface than any previous science spacecraft to measure the solar wind and its influence on the planets to an unprecedented degree.
Iran's ambitious 1960s-styled plans to send a live monkey into space aboard one of the Islamic Republic's Kavoshgar-5 rockets have been suspended indefinitely, a top space official told Iranian state television today, which pretty much dashes any hopes that we might see a primate hurled into suborbital space before year's end.
At 9:16 p.m. local time--that was at 9:16 a.m. eastern time here in the U.S.--China successfully lofted its first inhabitable space station module into orbit on the back of a Long March 2F launch vehicle, marking a milestone for both the People's space program and for the Party's geopolitical ambitions. China--the third nation (behind the U.S.A. and Russia) to independently launch manned missions into space aboard homegrown technology--now joins the old Cold War powers as the third nation to put a space station into orbit.
One of the fun things about astronomy is that we can only know so much through empirical observation, yet we can “know” so much more through enlightened, mathematical guesswork. Such is the nature of the most interesting new science paper I’ve come across on the Internet today. In it, Wesley Traub of CalTech crunches some Kepler data and makes a tantalizing mathematical prediction: one-third of sun-like stars have at least one earth-like terrestrial planet orbiting in their habitable zones.
NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) has finally returned home after two decades in orbit, and it couldn't have crash-landed in a better place: a 500-mile-wide swath of the South Pacific. The falling six-ton satellite--which had been expected to re-enter the atmosphere for a couple of weeks, causing some degree of worry--plunged into a part of the world that is virtually uninhabited, mere minutes after reports said it might come crashing down in North America, NASA officials said yesterday.
That gigantic solar flare that lashed out toward Earth on Saturday is "the geomagnetic storm that just won't go away," the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colo., said via its Facebook page today. And that appears to be true. Active Region 1302, pictured above, continues to pummel earth with solar energy and could disrupt satellite communications as it continues turning toward us in the days to come.
On September 15th, StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson's space-and-science-focused radio show, taped its first ever live show at the Bell House, in Brooklyn, New York. I was there to watch, and tweet about it, and drink tall cans of Tecate while tweeting about it. It was great! And now you can listen to the first part, for free.
A “violent encounter with Jupiter” may have hurled a fifth gas giant out of our solar system billions of years ago. A simulation done by the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado suggests that our solar system may have included another gaseous giant, placed between Saturn and Uranus. The computer models may prove how the planets of our solar system settled in their current position, a long-standing source of mystery to astronomers.