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Space Technology

  • Where’s the dust? Cassini non-discovery puzzles NASA

    NASA's Cassini space probe has started its Grand Finale, diving between Saturn's rings before crashing into the gas giant later this year. However, the first plunge has perplexed scientists, who were expecting to encounter a ton of cosmic dust. Instead, the probe found a low level of dust, the space agency explained. "The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected." Prior to the...

  • Cassini’s grand finale: Saturn’s best friend embarking on its final mission

    NASA's fabled Cassini mission is about to come to an abrupt but long-coming end. The craft, which has been a part of Saturn's sky since 2004, will finally end its celestial bucket list by self-destructing in the most bad-ass way possible -- nosediving into Saturn itself. "On Wednesday, April 26, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1500-mile-wide (2400-kilometre) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale," NASA reveals. Incidentally, no other spacecraft has ever done this before. If that isn't enough, Cassini will attempt to cross through the rings 22...

  • Boeing’s Deep Space Gateway will be our high-tech taxi to Mars

    There's a slim chance that us human beings will be populating both the Moon and Mars in the next few decades. Boeing, alongside NASA, is leading that charge. The company has today revealed concepts of its "deep space gateway and transport systems" that it hopes will help NASA and its astronauts explore our two closest celestial neighbours more intricately. And by more intricately, we mean actually walking their surfaces. "Known as the Deep Space Gateway," Boeing writes in a press release, "the habitat could support critical research and help open opportunities for global government or commercial partnerships in deep space, including...

  • Mars Curiosity Rover is injured with no one around to fix it

    It's a sad lonely world for a space craft. You're sent deep into space beyond foreign worlds and forced to survive with little to no human assistance at all. For the Mars Curiosity Rover, it has lived on the Red Planet like this for nearly five years. And the little thing's still plodding along. But it's finally beginning to show its age. A routine check of the Rover's exterior performed earlier this month revealed that the left-middle wheel is taking quite a beating. Images were beamed back from the explorer this week, and tweeted via the Rover's personal Twitter account. These are...

  • NASA used AI to capture lava lakes from orbit

    AI might be all the rage now, but NASA has been using an AI system for over a decade to quickly direct satellites to capture disasters. In a post on NASA's website, the space agency detailed how its Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment (ASE) AI system was able to quickly capture a volcano's changing lava lake. "On 21 January, a fissure opened at the top of Ethiopia's Erta Ale volcano -- one of the few in the world with an active lava lake in its caldera. Volcanologists sent out requests for NASA's Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) spacecraft to image the eruption, which was large...

  • Snapping Dublin’s city lights from space is how NASA celebrated St Patrick’s Day

    Everyone feels just a little bit Irish when St. Patrick's Day comes around. This year, the feast fell on Friday with millions of human beings across the world enjoying festivities with families and friends. But it seems that even NASA's off-world astronauts were getting in on the fun. Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who is currently residing on the ISS, shared the below snap of Dublin from the space station at night, detailing the city's ring roads, harbour and buzzing city centre. Happy #StPatricksDay Spectacular #Dublin, Ireland captured by @thom_astro from @Space_Station. Enjoy the #StPatricksFest Parade down there! pic.twitter.com/5yKuFyoOUc — Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) March 17,...

  • Scientists propose man-made magnetic field for Mars

    Mars is an inhospitable world with an atmosphere that has been stripped away over billions of years. However, scientists at a recent conference have proposed the introduction of a man-made magnetosphere to greatly improve matters. According to Universe Today, NASA's planetary sciences division held the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week, to talk about the future of planetary exploration. The workshop saw one presentation which proposed that a man-made magnetic field be used on the Red Planet. "Today, Mars is an arid and cold world with a very thin atmosphere that has significant frozen and underground water resources. The thin atmosphere both prevents liquid...

  • SpaceX says it will send two private tourists around moon

    Elon Musk announced yesterday that SpaceX will be flying two unnamed private citizens on a trip around the moon next year. The citizens have already made a "significant deposit to do a moon mission", but will remain unnamed until they have passed health and fitness tests and consented to going public. Dragon 2, SpaceX's human-carrying space capsule, will be used to send the private tourists to the moon. The Dragon 2 has been designed for human beings from the outset, and "has a long flight heritage" according to Musk. The craft will be sent without humans on board to the International Space...

  • NASA finds seven Earth-like exoplanets in one system

    In what is a landmark moment in the search for exoplanets and a possible future second home, NASA has announced the discovery of seven Earth-like exoplanets in one solar system. "Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water," NASA said on its website. The agency used the Spitzer space telescope to make the discovery, adding that it was the largest batch of habitable zone exoplanets it's ever found. "This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments,...

  • Help NASA find the ninth planet in our solar system

    Scientists have long believed there to be a ninth planet in our solar system, due to some theories that involve science and numbers and gravitational pulls. I'm not too sure. I like movies. What I do know though, is that they are now enlisting the help of the trusty web to expedite the search for the mysterious planet hiding out there in the dark -- and you can join in whenever you'd like. Backyard Worlds is asking people to look through flipbooks of data to identify moving objects. Mostly what you'll be finding are failed stars, but the creators assert that you may...

  • Cassini beams back unprecedented views of Saturn’s rings

    NASA's venerable Cassini spacecraft is currently grazing Saturn's rings, beaming some astounding images back to Earth in the process. The images, published on NASA's website, effectively show twice the level of detail as previous imagery of the area. "The new images resolve details as small as 0.3 miles (550 metres), which is on the scale of Earth's tallest buildings," the agency added, giving you a sense of how close Cassini is to the gas giant. Saturn's outer B ring. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute "As the person who planned those initial orbit-insertion ring images -- which remained our most detailed...

  • X-Ray vision reveals supermassive blackholes nearby

    Astronomers at the Southampton University have used "X-ray vision" to reveal supermassive blackholes which were hidden behind thick interstellar gas near our galaxy. The discovery was led by PhD researcher Peter Boorman and Dr Poshak Gandhi as well as associate professor Ernest Rutherford. "Every large galaxy in the universe is believed to host a supermassive black hole at their centre, millions of times the mass of our Sun," said Boorman in a press release. "These systems can devour vast quantities of matter due to their extreme gravitational pull, making the black holes grow. The in-falling matter then emits radiation across the full electromagnetic...

  • Watch: SpaceX returns to space with Iridium-1 launch

    SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket, several months after one of its rockets exploded on the launchpad. The rocket was carrying ten communication satellites on Saturday, scheduled to be the first of up to 70 satellites for the Iridium company. In what's quickly becoming a regular part of Falcon 9 missions, the rocket's first stage successfully landed on the barge, called 'Just Read the Instructions'. In fact, the landing was almost perfect, the first stage coming down smoothly and on target. "Mission looks good. Started deploying the 10 Iridium satellites. Rocket is stable on the droneship," Musk tweeted on Saturday, shortly after...

  • Scientists believe the Milky Way is a cosmic thief, home-wrecker

    Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics have determined that half of the 11 furthest known stars in the Milky Way were ripped from another galaxy known as the Sagittarius Dwarf. "The star streams that have been mapped so far are like creeks compared to the giant river of stars we predict will be observed eventually," said the lead author, Marion Dierickx, a graduate student at Harvard University in a press release. According to the research, the Sagittarius Dwarf -- just one of the dozens of mini-galaxies that surrounds our Milky Way -- made its way around our galaxy at a point in...

  • NASA announces two ambitious missions to asteroids

    NASA has just approved two missions to explore asteroids, with the aim of learning more about the early solar system. The two missions, dubbed Lucy and Psyche, are tentatively scheduled to launch in 2021 and 2023 respectively, the space agency announced on its website. "Lucy will visit a target-rich environment of Jupiter's mysterious Trojan asteroids, while Psyche will study a unique metal asteroid that's never been visited before," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was quoted as saying. Lucy is slated to launch in October 2021, arriving at a "main belt" asteroid in 2025. From 2027 until 2033, it...