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Space Technology

  • 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...

  • SpaceX set for return to launch on Sunday?

    SpaceX has been hard at work following the explosion of one of its rockets on the launchpad late last year. Now, the company has revealed the final cause of the explosion, as well as plans to launch on Sunday. The final cause relates to "composite overwrapped pressure vessels" (COPVs) inside the second stage oxygen tank, falling in line with the preliminary findings. These vessels are used to store helium, the private space company noted. "Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle...

  • Virgin Galactic VSS Unity aces first glide flight

    Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane has this week completed its first successful glide flight test. The flight was successfully completed at the hands of pilots Mark Stucky and Todd Ericsson alongside flight-test engineer Dustin Mosher. During the 80-minute flight, the ground crew, mission control and the two pilots collected valuable data, including a ten minute long glide, that will aid the company in future flights.e The company has stated in a press release that they haven't yet reached the rocket-powered phase of the programme and would first need to correlate and analyse the data they've collected. Virgin Galactic's latest VSS Unity flight is...

  • This Cape Town startup wants to help send your laugh to space

    A new iOS app, called Laugh, could send your chuckle into space. The app was designed in conjunction with NASA's Made in Space division, developer Platoon, 3D artist Eyal Gever, Knut Studios and Cape Town startup Gravity Ideas . "NASA recently (space)shipped the first zero-gravity 3D printer to the International Space Station. Although its main function is to help astronauts build tools and spare parts in case of emergencies, NASA's Made in Space team seized the opportunity to do something pretty special," said David Perrott, Gravity's co-founder. Working with Eyal Gever, the company helped to create an easy-to-use app which allows people from...

  • Mars: European orbiter takes its first close-up snaps

    Europe and Russia's ExoMars mission hasn't had a trouble-free journey to the Red Planet, after the Schiaparelli lander smashed into the planet. Still, the Trace Gas Orbiter, forming part of the mission, has been working just fine, orbiting Mars and gathering loads of information. Now, the European Space Agency has released an image of Mars taken by the orbiter (featured image), giving us a detailed look at the planet's surface. The ESA noted that the picture was taken near the Mars equator, showing a large unnamed crater north of a crater called Da Vinci. "A smaller, 1.4 km-diameter crater is seen in the rim...

  • NASA Cassini probe to ‘graze’ Saturn’s rings

    NASA's long-running Cassini space probe is set for a major manoeuvre on Wednesday when it comes within spitting distance of Saturn's rings. The probe will receive gravitational assistance from one of Saturn's moons, Titan, thereafter making multiple close orbits of the planet. "Between 30 November and 22 April, Cassini will circle high over and under the poles of Saturn, diving every seven days -- a total of 20 times -- through the unexplored region at the outer edge of the main rings," NASA wrote in a blog post. Cassini will use instruments to sample gases and particles emanating from the rings. "On many of...

  • What will Orion astronauts eat for breakfast?

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have over 200 food items choose from, thanks to constant resupply missions and ample storage. Those travelling on future Orion missions will have limited space though, resulting in different food requirements. To that end, NASA has been working on the most important meal of the day, in the form of breakfast bars for future crews. "Because flights to deep space will not rely on resupply spacecraft to deliver what astronauts need and dispose of trash, the Orion crew will have to take everything they need with them and bring it all back home," the space agency explained. "Given...

  • EMDrive: NASA paper says ‘impossible drive’ seems to work

    Several years ago, a controversial propulsion method was devised by Roger Shawyer, dubbed EMDrive. This "impossible" form of propulsion claimed to bounce microwaves to generate a small amount of thrust. Now, NASA's paper on the matter has been peer-reviewed and published - so what did the space agency make of the technology? Well, it seems like the EMDrive is the real deal to them. "Thrust data from forward, reverse, and null suggested that the system was consistently performing at 1.2±0.1  mN/kW1.2±0.1  mN/kW, which was very close to the average impulsive performance measured in air," the paper noted. The EMDrive has been the subject of...

  • 12+ Instagram snaps of last night’s supermoon from around the world

    In case you missed it, last night's supermoon was a pretty big deal. Although the phenomenon is fairly common, this particular example was a tad more special than most. It appeared around 14% larger and 30% brighter than this year's smallest full moon back in April. That's largely because the moon last night was much, much closer to earth. In fact, NASA suggests that it's the closest full moon to Earth so far this century. According to NASA, the term "supermoon" is a bit more scientific than the common it's just a larger full moon notion suggests. Supermoon is actually "a term...