space exploration

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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 . 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 »

Geckos Sent Into Space to Have Sex Now in Danger

Communications compromised with Russian satellite

(Newser) - Five lust-filled lizards hurled into the heavens to get lucky in the name of science are now in peril. The Russian space agency Roscosmos is trying to fix faulty communications with its Foton-M4 satellite, which was launched last week with one male gecko and four females on board, reports Ars... More »

Moon Caves Might Shelter Future Astronauts

NASA studying about 200 lunar pits

(Newser) - If humans ever set up camp on the moon, NASA thinks they can make great use of some natural shelter: moon caves. As Vice explains, the space agency has identified more than 200 lunar pits on the moon's surface, and those pits lead to caves below that range anywhere... More »

We'll Be Visiting Pluto in a Year ... Sort Of

Flyby mission to get closer to dwarf planet than ever before

(Newser) - Exactly one year from today, a spacecraft will be "arriving" at Pluto—or so a planetary scientist puts it. More specifically, the New Horizons craft, about the size of a baby grand piano and carrying no one, will be passing closer to the dwarf planet than we've ever... More »

Chelyabinsk Meteor Is From Ancient Space Collision

Scientists think long-ago smashup led to last year's bang in Russia

(Newser) - Two big rocks collided in deep space about 290 million years ago, and a new study suggests that we earthlings felt the impact via that amazing meteor strike in Chelyabinsk, Russia, last year. Scientists analyzing meteorite fragments think that the chunk of asteroid that exploded over the city in 2013... More »

Sun's Long-Lost Brother Found by Astronomers

It was formed in the same cloud of gas as our own sun

(Newser) - Astronomers have discovered that the sun has a long-lost brother. That is, this star was created from the same cloud of dust and gas as our sun, according to a team of researchers led by an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin. And this "brother" even has... More »

Astronomers Find Planet With 8-Hour Day

Beta Pictoris b is a milestone discovery for scientists

(Newser) - If the 9-to-5 grind leaves you feeling like your day is shot, be thankful you're not living on the planet Beta Pictoris b. Scientists have calculated that its entire day is only eight hours long, reports the Los Angeles Times . The reason is that the gas giant's equator... More »

Meet Peggy, New Saturn Moon

Scientists think they've spotted a tiny one being formed

(Newser) - Astronomers think they're seeing a first—the birth of a Saturn moon. NASA's Cassini spacecraft spotted what the LA Times describes as a "fuzzy blob" near one of the planet's rings, though astronomers may not know for sure whether the maybe-moon they've nicknamed "Peggy"... More »

NASA Orbiter Smashes Into Moon (on Purpose)

LADEE ends short mission by disintegrating

(Newser) - A $280 million orbiter crashed into the moon and disintegrated yesterday, and NASA couldn't be happier about it. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer met its end after completing a mission to orbit the moon and observe its atmosphere that began in September, reports the AP . In fact,... More »

Astronomers Find Earth's 'Cousin'

Kepler-186f is called the best bet yet to hold alien life

(Newser) - Other "Earth-like" planets have been discovered before, but a new one is generating a lot of excitement in astronomy circles because of how very Earth-like it actually is. Introducing Kepler-186f, which is maybe 10% bigger than our planet and thought to be in the not-too-hot and not-too-cold range that... More »

Citizen Scientists Hope to Wake Up Old Satellite

ISEE-3 travels by Earth this summer for first time in 30 years

(Newser) - A long-dormant satellite is heading back toward Earth this summer after 31 years, and some "citizen scientists" want to try to wake it up and put it back to work, reports Motherboard . Cash-strapped NASA hasn't shown much interest in investing money in the idea, hence the move toward... More »

New Dwarf Planet 'Biden' May Offer Cosmic Secrets

Discovery at solar system's edge hints at more to come

(Newser) - Astronomers, and reporters who cover astronomy, are pretty excited today about the discovery of a suspected dwarf planet named 2012 VP-113—and thus nicknamed "Biden"—in the nether regions of the solar system beyond Pluto. Some snippets:
  • Nature : "The Solar System just got a lot more far-flung.
... More »

Winklevoss Twins Going to Space, Via Bitcoins

They use their go-to currency to book on Virgin Galactic

(Newser) - Virgin Galactic has signed up two more high-profile passengers to space: the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame. In a blog post , Tyler wrote that he and Cameron had paid for their tickets using their favorite currency—bitcoins.
  • Tyler's take: "It is in this vein that Cameron and
... More »

Asteroid Whizzes by Earth Tonight

It won't hit us, but you can watch it online

(Newser) - It's big (about the size of three football fields) and it's fast (about 27,000mph), and it's zipping by our planet tonight. Earthlings, meet asteroid 2000 EM26. As explains, the asteroid poses no threat of actually hitting the planet when it flies by at a... More »

Japan to Tackle Space Junk With ... Giant Net

It's magnetic, and first trial run starts next month

(Newser) - The amount of dangerous junk floating around in space is by all accounts getting out of control . Next month, Japan's space agency will try to do something about it with a novel idea: It's launching a huge magnetic net, reports the South China Morning Post . The contraption is... More »

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