space exploration

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Why Rosetta's Comet Looks Like a Rubber Duck

Think low-speed collision

(Newser) - Serious space junkies might be able to identify the comet on which Europe's Rosetta space orbiter landed last year as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Everyone else might remember that it kind of looks like a rubber duck . The odd shape has been a topic of debate among scientists, and a new paper... More »

First-Ever Visit to Dark Side of Moon in the Works

Plans to land probe on moon's far side by 2020

(Newser) - If everything goes to plan with China's space program—which so far everything has since the country launched its first astronaut in 2003—it will become the first country to land a probe on the "dark side of the moon," the AP reports. This week, Zou Yongliao... More »

Scientist: We Need Mars to Be Liberated of Earth

It must be independent, not a colony, in order to thrive

(Newser) - With plans to send humans to Mars in the works , one astrobiologist says the time to prevent an interplanetary version of the Revolutionary War is now. Jacob Haqq-Misra, who works for a nonprofit dedicated to promoting international unity in space, lays out his plan for a completely independent Mars in... More »

NASA Scores Rarely Seen View of the Moon

From a million miles away, no less

(Newser) - NASA has a new toy in space, and it's already delivered an awe-inspiring view of the moon and Earth. The space agency has produced a GIF—see it here —of the moon passing in front of our planet. A few things make it unique: The view is taken... More »

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 »

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