Mars is one seriously cold rock, so where better in the world to test a new spacesuit design then the permafrost of Antarctica? NASA researchers recently took the NDX-1 spacesuit prototype, designed at the University of North Dakota by Argentine aerospace engineer Pablo de Leon, for an Antarctic test drive where the suit was exposed to 47 mile per hour winds and frigid polar temperatures.
The Japanese probe Hayabusa’s first peaceful journey to an asteroid was so successful in returning samples of the asteroid Itokowa to Earth that JAXA, the Japanese space agency, is planning a second Hayabusa mission. But Hayabusa 2 won’t come in peace. The second asteroid probe will pack an impactor that detonates an explosive on the asteroid’s surface.
We are all made of stars, and that’s not just a Moby-ism. The stuff of the cosmos is also the stuff of life, so it’s interesting to look at ourselves and then at an image like the one above--a violent star birthing region filled with swirling, super-heated gas and dust--and ponder what possible futures might be spawning there. This newly released image from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows in detail the effect that newly minted stars have on the very gas and dust from which they are formed.
Earth won’t always be fit for occupation. We know that in two billion years or so, an expanding sun will boil away our oceans, leaving our home in the universe uninhabitable—unless, that is, we haven’t already been wiped out by the Andromeda galaxy, which is on a multibillion-year collision course with our Milky Way. Moreover, at least a third of the thousand mile-wide asteroids that hurtle across our orbital path will eventually crash into us, at a rate of about one every 300,000 years.
After being stuck on Earth for months longer than expected, robot astronaut Robonaut is right at this minute being released from his crate, on board the International Space Station.
"The lids off!" he excitedly Tweets.
The Russians are teaching the Americans an important lesson in capitalism: where there’s high demand for a scarce commodity, costs will rise. NASA and its Russian counterpart inked a new $753 million modification to its current International Space Station transportation deal Monday, securing seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft from 2014 to 2016 at a price of almost $63 million per seat. The old contract, which runs until 2014, reserves seats on the Soyuz for just $56 million.
NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day usually serves up a stunning daily image of the cosmos, but today’s image is particularly spectacular because it’s not a single image at all, but rather a stream of Cassini images stitched into a sweeping video of a journey through Saturn’s neighborhood. The resulting video creates a Cassini’s-eye-view sensation, mimicking what it might feel like to fly a spacecraft around Saturn and its satellites.
On March 19th, the moon will be closer to Earth than it's been since 1992. The full moon that night will appear about 14 percent larger and significantly brighter than usual, but despite the brightness, the supermoon has a dark side. Supermoons have been linked to massive natural disasters in the past, from earthquakes to floods--but that connection is typically touted by astrologists. Astronomers and scientists, with typical drollness, say a catastrophe is unlikely.
With NASA’s space shuttle program in full wind-down, it seems like there are a lot of “lasts” in America’s storied, three-decade Space Transportation System. Space shuttle Discovery successfully touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida just before noon today, marking the end of STS-133 and Discovery’s final mission, the 39th and last flight for the busiest spacecraft in NASA’s shuttle fleet.
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.