space exploration

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NASA Finds Earth's 'Older Cousin'

Kepler-452b has NASA scientists excited

(Newser) - Kepler-438b , move over for Kepler-452b. The latter is the name of a planet newly discovered by the Kepler space telescope that is now the most Earth-like one NASA has found so far, reports the BBC . It's about one and a half times the size of Earth , and orbits... More »

After Pluto, Spacecraft Has Another Big Mission

Next up: the Kuiper belt

(Newser) - The New Horizons spacecraft has wowed us back on Earth with its 3 billion-mile Pluto mission , but it's still got a lot of traveling to do. In fact, scientists expect it to keep making headlines for another two decades or so. After Pluto, the spacecraft is off to explore... More »

Behold, the First Closeup of Pluto

It's got mountains roughly the size of the Rockies

(Newser) - The New Horizons spacecraft began revealing its treats today, providing scientists with the first closeups of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. The dwarf planet has a mountain range about 11,000 feet high, roughly the size of the Rockies, reports AP . Scientists were surprised to see no impact craters,... More »

Saturn's Outer Ring Holds More Surprises

It's way bigger than previously thought, but made up of small particles

(Newser) - About six years ago, scientists discovered a huge ring around Saturn that also happened to be invisible to the naked eye. Now, they've learned that it's much bigger than they thought, and their theory on how it came to be might change some thinking about planetary rings and... More »

Out Near Pluto: A 'Grateful Dead' Dance

Scientists observe 'weird' gyrations in space

(Newser) - A chaotic dance is taking place at the far end of our solar system, involving Pluto and five of its closest friends, a new study finds. Hubble Space Telescope images of Pluto, its largest moon Charon, and tinier moons Styx, Nix, Hydra, and Kerberos show the odd rhythmic gyrations of... More »

Mission Over: Space Probe Slams Into Mercury

Messenger's 11-year journey is done

(Newser) - Mercury has a new crater, courtesy of NASA. As expected , the space probe Messenger crashed into the planet this afternoon after running out of fuel, reports AP . The crash at a speed of nearly 9,000mph left a hole about 52 feet wide and brought to an end an epic... More »

Astronaut Scott Kelly Begins Historic Mission

He will spend a year in space, longest ever for US

(Newser) - Scott Kelly blasted off on a space mission today that won't end until around this time next year. Kelly will spend 342 days aboard the International Space Station, the longest mission by far ever undertaken by a US astronaut, reports CNN . Kelly was riding up in a Russian rocket... More »

Buzz Aldrin Sends Message in Epic Stonehenge Pic

It's 'get your ass to Mars'

(Newser) - Buzz Aldrin may have just topped his selfie from space . While visiting Stonehenge on Sunday, the 85-year-old astronaut and second man to walk on the moon channeled Superman to pose for an epic tourist photo, in which he opens his jacket to reveal a shirt reading, "Get your ass... More »

Top Contender for Life Outside Earth: a Saturn Moon

Enceladus has a warm ocean, hydrothermal activity

(Newser) - Thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, we already knew that one of Saturn's moons has a big ocean . Now things have gotten more interesting on Enceladus. It turns out that the ocean is not only warm, it seems to have the same kind of hydrothermal activity going on as oceans... More »

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 »

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