Engineering professors at McGill University have constructed a new type of wheel, designed for the moon but inspired by the humble beanbag chair. These wheels allow a rover to climb objects taller than the wheel's diameter, as well as functioning as impressive shock absorbers for traversing difficult terrain--great news for those disgusted with the slow pace of the "pave the moon" movement.
Most asteroid diversion schemes tend to involve some kind of impact – an explosion, a crash, a violent shove – but a French researcher has proposed an intriguing plan to alter the course of the asteroid Apophis before it swings into Earth’s neighborhood in 2036: offer the asteroid some shade. A fleet of solar sail spacecraft could shift Aphophis’s course by simply shielding it from solar radiation, the researcher says.
Lunar eclipses, like pretty much all readily visible astronomical events, are indisputably awesome. They’re also commonly scheduled for the middle of the night, a rather inconvenient hour to be hanging around outdoors, particularly in the middle of winter. But for those of you who slept through last night’s lunar event, behold: a time-lapse video of the moon plunged into blackness (more like redness, really) by the shadow of the Earth.
After a decade of planning, testing, and boring massive holes in the Antarctic ice with a huge hot water drill, National Science Foundation researchers and their partners completed the IceCube Observatory neutrino detector at the South Pole on Saturday, marking the beginning of a new era in neutrino astrophysics.
For the first time since 1638, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from North America on the longest night of the year. That night just happens to be tonight, starting at 1:32 AM, so all you moon-oglers will have to stay up awfully late (or wake up perversely early) to catch it.
It's been a big week for those long-serving spacecraft we don't always hear so much about. Earlier this week news broke that Voyager 1 had crossed a benchmark boundary on the far fringes of the solar system, and now Odyssey, launched back in 2001, has surpassed the Mars Global Surveyor as the longest-running mission to Mars.
It seems not everyone is content to let the legacy of the space shuttle fly away over yonder horizon. Orbital Sciences Corp. has thrown its hat into NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program with a winged space plane concept very reminiscent of the Shuttle’s design intended to ferry crews to and from the ISS.
Researchers have long suspected Saturn’s moon Titan might be hiding a volcanic surface beneath its dense atmosphere, and a new discovery by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has given them reason to believe they are right. Dubbed Sotra Facula, the feature captured by Cassini’s imaging instruments could be the largest in a string of ice and methane-belching volcanoes that may or may not still be active.
What is the mystery force slowing down the Pioneer spacecraft? Do we finally know the answer?
By Natalie WolchoverPosted 12.15.2010 at 11:00 am 48 Comments
Thirty years ago, NASA scientists noticed that two of their spacecraft, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, were veering off course slightly, as if subject to a mysterious, unknown force. In 1998, the wider scientific community got wind of that veering—termed the Pioneer anomaly—and took aim at it with incessant, mind-blowingly detailed scrutiny that has since raised it to the physics equivalent of cult status. Now, though, after spawning close to 1000 academic papers, numerous international conferences, and many entire scientific careers, this beloved cosmic mystery may be on its way out.
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, now in its 33rd year on the job, has reached the very edge of our solar system and is nearing the cusp of interstellar space. How does NASA know? The wind has died down. Voyager 1 has reached a point in the heliosheath that envelopes our solar system in which the speed of the solar wind that has been at Voyager’s back for three decades has dropped to zero.