Moon Landing Re-Visited

Thursday, September 18th 2014 12:13 AM

The collective space vision of all the world’s countries at the moment seems to be Mars, Mars, Mars. The U.S. has two operational rovers on the planet; a NASA probe called MAVEN and an Indian Mars orbiter will both arrive in Mars orbit later this month; and European, Chinese and additional NASA missions are in the works. Meanwhile Mars One is in the process of selecting candidates for the first-ever Martian colony, and NASA’s heavy launch vehicle is being developed specifically to launch human missions into deep space, with Mars as one of the prime potential destinations.  But is the Red Planet really the best target for a human colony, or should we look somewhere else? Should we pick a world closer to Earth, namely the moon? Or a world with a surface gravity close to Earth’s, namely Venus?  To explore this issue, let’s be clear about why we’d want an off-world colony in the first place. It’s not because it would be cool to have people...

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These large gaseous exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — can make their suns wobble when they wend their way through their own solar systems to snuggle up against their suns, according to new Cornell University research. “Although the planet’s mass is only one-thousandth of the mass of the Sun, the stars in these other solar systems are being affected by these planets and making the stars themselves act in a crazy way,” said Dong Lai from Cornell.In our solar system, the Sun’s rotation axis is approximately aligned with the orbital axis of all the planets. The orbital axis is perpendicular to the flat plane in which the planets revolve around the Sun. In solar systems with hot Jupiters, recent observations have revealed that the orbital axis of these planets is misaligned with the rotation axis of their host star. In the last few years, astronomers have been puzzled by spin-orbit misalignment between the star and the planets.Roa...

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NASA | Targeting Mars

Friday, September 12th 2014 11:17 PM

The Mysterious Holes in the Atmosphere on Venus

Friday, September 12th 2014 11:09 PM

Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought – which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet.Planet Venus, with its thick atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, its parched surface, and pressures so high that landers are crushed within a few hours, offers scientists a chance to study a planet very foreign to our own. These mysterious holes provide additional clues to understanding Venus's atmosphere, how the planet interacts with the constant onslaught of solar wind from the sun, and perhaps even what's lurking deep in its core."This work all started with a mystery from 1978," said Glyn Collinson, a space scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is first author of a paper on this...

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Wednesday, September 10th 2014 11:22 PM

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The Most Amazing Photo Of Earth

Tuesday, September 9th 2014 05:08 PM

This photo was taken by Russia’s latest weather satellite, the Electro-L at approximately 36,000 kilometers above the equator.

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  Two years ago tomorrow, a nuclear-powered rover, the size of an SUV and weighing almost a tonne, was lowered onto the surface of Mars. Touching down ever so gently, Nasa’s Curiosity landed with an almighty roar.  It sent a message to the world that a new space race – a race to eventually set foot on Mars – was well under way.  There are still many years, many missions, many things to try, fail and try again before Nasa completes this race. And the costs are likely to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. But the Curiosity mission represented a crucial stepping-stone towards Nasa’s eventual goal of a manned mission to Mars in 2035.  It is, however, not alone in its ambition. The last time Nasa raced to space, its rival was the former Soviet Union – a giant superpower competing for political and military superiority in the cold battlefield of space.  This time the competitors are a lot smaller but no less tenac...

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10,000 Fans Tell Lego to Make a Hubble Space Telescope Kit

Thursday, September 4th 2014 09:10 PM

A fan's idea for a Lego toy to celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary just came into greater focus.  On Sunday, Gabriel Russo's design for a model of the famous orbiting observatory topped 10,000 votes on Lego Ideas, a website where fans can share and vote for new Lego kits. Projects that get 10,000 votes of support are considered by Lego for production and sale.  The 10,000th vote for Russo's Hubble model came in just before the cutoff for Lego's fall review period, giving the Danish toy company perhaps enough time for a set to be ready for the satellite's 25th anniversary next year. [Lego and Space: A Toy Brick Photo Odyssey]  "A Lego model of [the Hubble] would come as a perfect homage to its 25th anniversary in 2015," Russo wrote as a part of his model's description on the Ideas website.  GABRIEL RUSSO / LEGO IDEAS An artist's conception shows the proposed Lego Hubble Space Telescope...

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