NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has taken a breath of oxygen while passing over the icy surface of Saturn’s second-largest moon, marking the first time a spacecraft has directly sampled oxygen in the atmosphere of another body. Cruising just 60 miles above Rhea, one of more than 60 moons orbiting Saturn, Cassini found an extremely thin atmosphere of oxygen and carbon dioxide likely sustained by high-energy particles slamming into the moon’s frozen surface.
Hare-brained schemes for cleaning up space debris have been batted around for some time, but Russia has finally put some money down on a real project. Russia's space corporation, Energia, is going to invest $2 billion to build a space pod to fly around and knock the junk out of orbit and out of our way.
The Obama administration may have axed NASA's ambitious manned moon exploration plans for even an even more ambitious deep space exploration agenda, but for those developing the technologies that will one day take us to deep space the moon is just too ripe a testing ground to ignore. Lockheed Martin is pitching NASA what's being called an L2-Farside Mission that would launch a manned Orion spacecraft into a stationary halo orbit on the other side of the moon.
The current widely-held theory of life, the universe, and everything holds that at some point roughly 13.7 billion years ago everything that now is was packed into a tight little package from which sprung the Big Bang, which violently hurled everything into existence. But 13.7 billion years to get to where we are isn't enough for renowned physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and now he thinks he can prove that things aren't/weren't quite so simple.
With all the exoplanet hunting going these days, astronomers have now logged more than 500 planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way. Detecting planets in other galaxies, however, is still beyond the reach of scientific technology. But researchers have now discovered the next best thing – a planet of extragalactic origins orbiting a star within our galaxy that was deposited there billions of years ago when the Milky Way swallowed up a smaller dwarf galaxy.
Ever since Japan’s asteroid exploring spacecraft Hyabusa crash-landed in the Australian outback this summer after a seven year round trip through space, astronomers and space geeks the world over have been waiting to hear confirmation from JAXA (the Japanese space agency) that the troubled mission did indeed bring back samples of asteroid dust. Today they got it. For the first time, scientists have collected dust from an extraterrestrial asteroid and returned it to Earth for study.
Boeing has received the first signals from SkyTerra 1, a communications satellite it built for LightSquared that was hurled into orbit aboard a Proton rocket launched from Kazakhstan yesterday. The satellite, which will provide signal coverage where terrestrial towers can’t reach, is part of a new LightSquared 4G-LTE mobile broadband wireless system and boasts the largest commercial antenna reflector ever launched into space.
Why does the universe look the way it does? Sarah T. Stewart thinks she knows the answer. “It all comes down to big things running into each other,” she says. Space is a collection of battered rocks, and Stewart studies their scars and shapes. A planet’s pockmarks can be used to predict its age—if it has many, it’s probably been around for a while—and its dimensions can hint at what might lie beneath the ground. “I use the way craters look,” she explains, “to learn about the planet they’re on.”
A Harvard astronomer and his team have turned up something quite big while running publicly available data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and by big we mean both in scientific magnitude and in astronomical size: two massive gamma-ray emitting bubbles extending 25,000 light-years both north and south of the Milky Way's center. The researchers aren't sure where they come from or why they're there, but the discovery of this massive new structure in the heart of our own galaxy is being equated to discovering a new continent on Earth.