space exploration

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Mission May Unravel Mystery of Ceres' 2 Bright Spots

NASA spacecraft enters the dwarf planet's orbit on March 6

(Newser) - With a NASA spacecraft closing in on the dwarf planet Ceres , scientists were looking forward to figuring out the origins of a mysterious bright spot. But it turns out there are actually two bright spots, right next to each other, reports Mashable . The best guess continues to be ice of... More »

Get Ready to Welcome Pluto Back as a Planet

Astronomer thinks Ceres will join the club, too

(Newser) - Vanderbilt astronomer David Weintraub thinks Pluto was wrongly kicked out of the planet club in 2006. But he's confident that this is going to be a very big year for Pluto and for another so-called "dwarf planet" named Ceres, he writes in the Conversation . NASA spacecraft will visit... More »

Star Once Passed 'Astronomically Close' to Earth

It was less than a light-year away

(Newser) - Somewhere out there is a trivia question asking for the name of the star closest to our solar system. The answer has long been Proxima Centauri, a mere 4.2 light-years away. But now astronomers say that another star came five times closer about 70,000 years ago, they write... More »

SpaceX Rocket Recovery Test: 'Close but No Cigar'

Novel attempt to have it land back on Earth doesn't work

(Newser) - SpaceX this morning successfully launched a new batch of equipment now en route to the International Space Station, but a first-of-its-kind attempt to salvage the rocket that sent it up didn't work. The idea was to try to guide the first-stage rocket back to Earth upon separation and have... More »

Newly Spotted Planet Is Most Earth-Like Yet

Kepler-438b just one of several exciting finds

(Newser) - If you're sick of Earth and have a spacecraft capable of traveling hundreds of light-years, astronomers have spotted the most promising destination yet. Kepler-438b is a newly-confirmed potential "Earth twin" detected by the Kepler Space Telescope, the BBC reports, one of eight confirmed new exoplanets. The planet, about... More »

Rover's Discovery Raises Hopes of Life on Mars

Curiosity detects methane

(Newser) - The Mars rover has delivered what a NASA scientist calls an "oh my gosh moment"—it detected methane on the red planet, reports the New York Times . The discovery is making headlines because the gas had to originate somewhere, and one possibility is that the source is some... More »

NASA Craft Gets Final Wake-Up Call for Pluto Flyby

New Horizons probe is awake and ready for its July 2015 encounter

(Newser) - New Horizons just got what's probably the earliest wakeup call ever. Even though it's not supposed to fly by Pluto—the destination of its nine-year, 3-billion-mile journey—until July, the NASA craft roused itself from its "hibernation" slumber and is fully awake for the last leg of... More »

NASA Scrubs Launch of 'Mars Ship'

Valve problem delays Orion unmanned maiden voyage

(Newser) - The spacecraft that NASA hopes to one day send to Mars is cooling its heels on the Cape Canaveral launchpad this morning, its maiden voyage delayed by gusts of wind and leaky valves, reports the AP . NASA says it needs more time to address the valve issues, but the Orion... More »

Lander 'Sniffed' Organic Molecules on Comet

But an attempt to get a soil sample may have failed

(Newser) - Before its battery petered out , the small spacecraft that landed on a moving comet managed to detect organic molecules on the comet, reports NBC News . An instrument aboard the Philae lander essentially sniffed the atmosphere and found evidence of the molecules, which, as the Wall Street Journal explains, are the... More »

Comet Lander's Batteries Die

But it manages to send data to scientists

(Newser) - In a development that's no huge surprise , the comet lander Philae is entering what the European Space Agency calls "idle mode." When the lander missed its intended spot on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko—and its harpoons didn't manage to lock into the comet successfully—it couldn't get... More »

Scientists Hope to Make Comet Lander Hop to Safety

If it doesn't get sunlight soon, mission could be over

(Newser) - The spacecraft that landed on a comet yesterday is still talking to scientists, but its battery is expected to conk out soon. In what could be a last-ditch effort to save the mission, scientists with the European Space Agency say they'll try to make the Philae lander essentially hop... More »

Probe That Landed on Comet May Not Be Secure

Harpoons might have to be fired again

(Newser) - No matter what, the European Space Agency made history today with its astonishing feat of landing a spacecraft on a comet . But now the ESA has a simpler concern: Its Philae lander, about the size of a washing machine, might fall off. The main problem is that the lander's... More »

Unmanned Rocket Explodes After Liftoff at NASA Site

It was on its way to the International Space Station

(Newser) - A rocket that was supposed to deliver supplies to the crew aboard the International Space Station exploded in spectacular fashion just six seconds after liftoff this evening, reports CNN . The good news is that nobody was aboard, and NASA says nobody appears to have been killed on the ground at... More »

Google Exec Sets Space Jump Record

Alan Eustace jumps from 25 miles up

(Newser) - A 57-year-old Google executive is the world's new space daredevil. Alan Eustace yesterday traveled more than 25 miles up to the top of the stratosphere in a balloon and then parachuted back down to earth in Roswell, NM, at speeds of up to 822mph, reports the New York Times ... More »

US Spaceplane Back After Secret 2-Year Mission

NASA still mum on what the X-37B is up to

(Newser) - A US spaceplane returned safe and sound yesterday after a two-year mission somewhere up there, reports Space.com . And what the unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was doing for all that time is, as they say, classified. The shuttle-like craft came in without a hitch at Vandenberg Air Force Base... More »

'Man on the Moon' Didn't Get There Way We Thought

Scientists say it wasn't an asteroid impact, but a volcanic plume

(Newser) - Scientists know it as Oceanus Procellarum, but the rest of us generally refer to it as the "Man on the Moon"—the huge dark splotch on the moon visible from Earth. Either way, how did it get there? One commonly held view is that a massive asteroid slammed... More »

Professor: I've Got Proof Black Holes Don't Exist

Math just doesn't add up, argues UNC physicist

(Newser) - Massive stars don't just fade away, they collapse into black holes, right? Even non-scientists have at least a vague notion of these mysterious forces of nature out there in deep space. Well, sorry to spoil everybody's fun, but a physics professor at the University of North Carolina says... More »

There's a New Player on the Mars Scene

India's MOM probe succeeds at cost of just $72M

(Newser) - A proud day for India and its MOM: After a tense countdown early today, scientists in a Bangalore command center rejoiced as the country's Mars Orbiter Mission succeeded in putting a spacecraft in orbit around the red planet. The "Mangalyaan"—Hindi for "Mars craft"—probe... More »

Boeing, SpaceX Deal Means Return of US Spaceflight

In a few years, we won't have to hitch rides with Russia

(Newser) - NASA handed out two contracts worth $6.8 billion today and with them announced the imminent return of human spaceflight from the US. Boeing and SpaceX "have each presented to us designs that will allow us to fly crews to the International Space Station in just a few years,... More »

NASA Plans to Test World's Biggest Rocket in 2018

Someday, it might take humans to Mars

(Newser) - NASA is moving ahead with plans to build a massive rocket designed to explore deep space and culminate in human trips to Mars, the agency announced yesterday. The Space Launch System has passed from design phase to construction, reports the Houston Chronicle , and an unmanned test mission (not to Mars,... More »

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