Without a telescope, the Lagoon Nebula is faintly visible with the naked eye as a unremarkable patch of gray in the heart of the Milky Way. Observed up close with the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, it looks slightly more nuanced. Hubble recently captured this close-up of gas and dust painted brightly by intense radiation spouting from young stars forming deep in this stellar nursery five thousand light-years away.
When civilizations were first spreading out across the Earth from its place of origin, traders and travelers harnessed the wind to circulate people, goods, and information from locale to locale, keeping the wheels of exchange turning as efficiently as technology would allow. Now, space sailing may take on a similar role. Fleets of “data clippers” could soon circulate around the solar system, ferrying scientific data from deep space missions back to Earth.
American space ambitions have, for the most part, maintained a well-defined line between space exploration and space tourism, But that line has now blurred considerably as Boeing announced that it is entering the space tourism business, selling leftover seats in its Crew Space Transportation (CST) spacecraft after the initial four are filled by embarking and returning crews bound for the International Space Station.
Though NASA has abandoned its moon base ambitions, that doesn't mean we won't see a permanent lunar presence sometime in the foreseeable future. Japan has plans to establish a robot moon base on the moon by 2020, with an initial robotic landing by 2015. Now the European Space Agency is upping the ante, announcing plans to put a mammoth lunar lander on the moon by the end of the decade, complete with a robotic rover that will study the site in anticipation of eventual human habitation.
With the Space Shuttle program winding down, both NASA and several commercial ventures are developing next-gen rocket technology that will hurl the next iteration of space vehicles into the sky. But NASA acknowledges that rockets aren’t the only – or even the best – way to get into space.
We are not at war with an alien race from the center of the Milky Way, but if we were, this is exactly what we would want it to look like. Snapped at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory -- home of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array -- the photo depicts the VLT's Laser Guide Star facility in action.
Call it a crash course. A group of undergrads at the University of Colorado at Boulder got to participate in an unusual and awesome classroom activity on Monday, the culmination of a weeks-long process to decommission a NASA science satellite: they crashed a satellite into the atmosphere, sending it to a fiery death.
The European Space Agency has released a series of new images of Orcus Patera, a long crater near Mars's Mons Olympus whose rim rises some 6,000 feet. But the images, taken by the Mars Express craft, only deepen the mystery of the crater's origin.
Though the world found out about it through a Russian media outlet, China has been conducting complicated space maneuvers with two of its science satellites over the past few months, directing two of its "Shi Jian" (practice) satellites to rendezvous some 370 miles above the Earth, and possibly even touch. But the fact that China has been so hush-hush about the close encounter has some wondering what it plans to use such technology for.
After 33 miners were discovered trapped alive deep within a collapsed Chilean gold and copper mine, authorities in Chile sought advice from NASA scientists on the best means to keep the men alive in such isolated circumstances. Now Chilean officials are getting something even better from NASA: a four-man team of physicians and scientists that is en route to Chile to advise on-site about the situation unfolding some 2,300 feet below ground.