This sounds like the introduction to a science fiction novel, but this is actually happening. Russian researchers claim to have discovered sea plankton clinging to the International Space Station (ISS). According to the report, the tiny life forms defy expectations, continuing to live despite intense radiation from the sun and the lack of Earth’s protective atmosphere. Russian scientists claim that these samples were retrieve from illuminator windows on the surface of the ISS. However, many researchers are turning a skeptical eye to these findings, which have yet to be confirmed by the NASA team aboard the ISS.  Possible Plankton Origins The initial reports of plankton growth and survival on the ISS is extremely surprising, given the harsh conditions the space station is exposed to. The initial reports were made by Vladimir Solovyev, the head of Russia’s ISS team. Solovyev explained that this type of plankton is typically found on the ocean’s surface. So...

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This Little Girl's Reaction To A Rocket Launch

Saturday, August 30th 2014 12:28 AM

Asteroid smash-up captured by NASA telescope

Friday, August 29th 2014 09:38 PM

Researchers say they believe one of NASA’s space telescopes has tracked an asteroid smash-up before and after the collision for the first time.  The Spitzer Space Telescope, which was launched in 2003, spotted an eruption of dust around a young star — the probable result of a collision between large asteroids.  “We think two big asteroids crashed into each other, creating a huge cloud of grains the size of very fine sand, which are now smashing themselves into smithereens and slowly leaking away from the star," said lead author Huan Meng of the University of Arizona, Tucson, in an article published Friday online in the journal Science.  While Spitzer has observed suspected asteroid smash-ups before, this marks the first time scientists have been able to collect data before and after a planetary collision. The data will help researchers understand how rocky planets, like Earth, are created.  Rocky planets start life off as dusty materi...

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With the Hubble Space Telescope aging and Kepler crippled, leading astronomers are mounting a new push for the construction of a telescope so huge that it may need to be constructed by astronauts in space rather than being launched aboard a single rocket.  The Advanced Technologies Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) is a concept for a space telescope with a mirror as large as 20 meters across — nearly ten times that of Hubble’s primary mirror — that NASA, the Space Telescope Science Institute and others have been developing for several years now. But the project has taken a backseat to the next generation James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch as soon as 2018. “The time is right for scientific and space agencies around the world, including those in the UK, to take a bold step forward and to commit to this project,” Barstow said in a statement promoting a talk scheduled for Tuesday in Portsmouth, UK that will cover ATLAST&r...

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Image: NASA's New Mega-Rocket

Friday, August 29th 2014 09:05 PM

NASA new mega-rocket, a towering booster designed for deep space missions, will be ready for its first test flight no later than November 2018, space agency officials announced Wednesday (Aug. 27).  It's possible that the Space Launch System rocket test flight could launch as early as December 2017, but NASA officials have committed to having the rocket ready for flight be the end of 2018 to be safe. That extra wiggle room should let the space agency cope with scheduling and funding issues as they crop up in the future, NASA officials said in a teleconference with reporters.  The SLS will be the largest rocket ever constructed and it is designed to send humans deeper into space than ever before. The huge launcher — which will stand at 400-feet-tall (122 meters) in its final configuration — could deliver NASA astronauts to an asteroid and even Mars sometime in the future. [See images of NASA's SLS rocket design]  "Our nation is em...

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The final frontier: Universal space travel

Friday, August 29th 2014 08:36 PM

Source: XCOR Aerospace XCOR Aerospace's rendering of its Lynx Mark III, a reusable space vehicle that will take off from a conventional runway  More than three decades after the launch of the first space shuttle mission (and three years after the last one), investment in new human spaceflight systems is back with an intensity the aerospace industry hasn't seen since the heady days of the Space Race.   In the first half of this year, Elon Musk's Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX unveiled both an experimental reusable rocket stage and a new crew vehicle for carrying humans into orbit. By year's end, NASA will select a new crew vehicle from four commercial options, and its next-generation interplanetary crew vehicle, under development by Lockheed Martin, will begin flight tests.  Next year Mojave, California-based XCOR Aerospace will begin flying its two-seat suborbital Lynx spaceplane. In 2017, Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to send its seven-seat...

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How Do You Sleep In Space?

Thursday, August 28th 2014 05:29 PM

Photo Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn  A NASA photographer recently captured a "NIRSpec-tacular" photo of an instrument that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope when it launches in 2018.  Access into a clean room to get a close-up view of a complicated, high-value scientific instrument is carefully controlled, but NASA photographers get such exclusive entry all the time. Photographer Chris Gunn took this image of the NIRSpec instrument inside the giant cleanroom at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.  The Near-Infrared Spectrograph or NIRSpec is a multi-object spectrograph, which is a tool for observing many objects in the cosmos simultaneously. The NIRSpec takes in light from around 100 distant objects and records their spectra (band of colors produced when sunlight is passed through a prism), separating the light into its components using prisms and other optical devices.    The NIRSpec will j...

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