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Rare galaxy found furiously burning fuel for stars

April 24, 2013 9:02 am | News | Comments

Astronomers have found a galaxy turning gas into stars with almost 100% efficiency, a rare phase of galaxy evolution that is the most extreme yet observed. The findings come from the IRAM Plateau de Bure interferometer in the French Alps, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

NTSB probes safety testing of Boeing 787 batteries

April 23, 2013 3:24 am | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

As airlines prepare to begin flying Boeing's beleaguered 787 Dreamliners again, federal investigators are looking at how regulators and the company tested and approved the plane's cutting-edge battery system, and whether the government cedes too much authority to aircraft makers for safety testing.

Rocket that will carry cargo ship test launched

April 21, 2013 5:41 pm | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A company contracted by NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station successfully launched a rocket on Sunday in a test of its ability to send a cargo ship aloft. About 10 minutes after the launch from Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore, Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles declared the test a success after observing a practice payload reach orbit and safely separate from the rocket.

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Investors who stood by Boeing reap reward

April 21, 2013 2:21 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Investors who stood by Boeing during its 787 crisis have been rewarded. Things looked bad three months ago. Boeing's flagship plane was grounded worldwide because no one could explain the smoldering batteries on two different planes. Deliveries of the 787 to customers had stopped. No one knew how much the whole mess would cost.

Israeli official says drones could replace planes

April 21, 2013 1:57 pm | by DANIEL ESTRIN - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Israel's air force is on track to developing drones that within four to five decades would carry out nearly every battlefield operation executed today by piloted aircraft, a high-ranking Israeli officer told The Associated Press Sunday. The officer, who works in the field of unmanned aerial vehicle intelligence, said Israel is speeding up research and development of such unmanned technologies for air, ground, and naval forces.

NASA sees distant planets that seem ideal for life

April 19, 2013 12:33 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The planet-hunting Kepler telescope has discovered two planets that seem like ideal places for some sort of life to flourish. According to scientists working with the NASA telescope, they are just the right size and in just the right place near their star. The discoveries, published online Thursday, mark a milestone in the search for planets where life could exist.

Test launch of unmanned space rocket delayed

April 19, 2013 10:54 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A test launch of an unmanned rocket that would eventually help carry supplies to the International Space Station has been rescheduled. NASA says the launch will take place no earlier than 5 p.m. Saturday, with a backup opportunity Sunday.

Astronomers discover massive star factory in early universe

April 18, 2013 7:53 am | by Marcus Woo, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Smaller begets bigger. Such is often the case for galaxies, at least: The first galaxies were small, then eventually merged together to form the behemoths we see in the present universe. Now, a  team of astronomers has discovered a dust-filled, massive galaxy churning out stars when the cosmos was a mere 880 million years old—making it the earliest starburst galaxy ever observed.

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Test launch of private rocket scrubbed in U.S.

April 17, 2013 7:58 pm | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A private company contracted by the U.S. space agency to make supply runs to the International Space Station called off a test launch of an unmanned rocket, saying an important data cord linked to the rocket's second stage detached too soon. The Antares rocket had been scheduled to blast off Wednesday afternoon from Virginia when the countdown clock was halted 12 minutes before the expected launch.

Hawaii land board approves Thirty Meter Telescope

April 15, 2013 8:39 am | by Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press | News | Comments

A plan by California and Canadian universities to build the world's largest telescope at the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano won approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday, clearing the way for a land lease negotiation. The telescope, with its proposed 30-m long segmented primary mirror, should help scientists see some 13 billion light years away.

Carbon’s role in atmosphere formation

April 9, 2013 4:53 am | News | Comments

A new study from a collaboration of several universities suggests that the way carbon moves from within a planet to the surface plays a big role in the evolution of a planet's atmosphere. If Mars released much of its carbon as methane, for example, it might have been warm enough to support liquid water. This finding offers important clues about the early atmospheric evolution of Mars and other terrestrial bodies.

Nuclear fusion-powered rocket could send humans to Mars

April 5, 2013 7:32 am | News | Comments

Human travel to Mars has long been the unachievable dangling carrot for space programs. Now, astronauts could be a step closer to our nearest planetary neighbor through a unique manipulation of nuclear fusion, the same energy that powers the sun and stars. University of Washington researchers and scientists at a Redmond-based space-propulsion company are building components of a fusion-powered rocket aimed to clear many of the hurdles that block deep space travel, including long times in transit, exorbitant costs, and health risks.

Mars missions scaled back in April because of sun

April 4, 2013 12:39 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

It's the Martian version of spring break: Curiosity and Opportunity, along with their spacecraft friends circling overhead, will take it easy this month because of the sun's interference. For much of April, the sun blocks the line of sight between Earth and Mars. This celestial alignment—called a Mars solar conjunction—makes it difficult for engineers to send instructions or hear from the flotilla in orbit and on the surface.

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Shape from sound: New methods to probe the universe

April 3, 2013 6:11 pm | by Mor­gan Kelly, Office of Communications, Princeton University | News | Comments

As the uni­verse expands, it is con­tin­u­ally sub­jected to energy shifts, or “quan­tum fluc­tu­a­tions,” that send out lit­tle pulses of “sound” into the fab­ric of space­time. In fact, the uni­verse is thought to have sprung from just such an energy shift. A recent physics paper reports a new math­e­mat­i­cal tool that should allow one to use these sounds to help reveal the shape of the uni­verse.

NASA team investigates complex chemistry at Titan

April 3, 2013 6:06 pm | News | Comments

A laboratory experiment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., simulating the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan suggests complex organic chemistry that could eventually lead to the building blocks of life extends lower in the atmosphere than previously thought. The results now point out another region on the moon that could brew up prebiotic materials.

First data released from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer

April 3, 2013 5:51 pm | News | Comments

Following up on Wednesday’s surprise announcement that a cosmic ray detector on board the International Space Station had possibly made the first instrumented detection of dark matter, an article from the U.S. Department of Energy describes the methodology behind the discovery and what lies ahead for researchers.

Scientists find hint of dark matter from cosmos

April 3, 2013 12:09 pm | News | Comments

An international team of scientists says the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer installed at the International Space Station has found the first hint of dark matter, which has never yet been directly observed. The team said Wednesday its first results from the cosmic ray detector, flown into space two years ago, show evidence of a new physics phenomena that could be the strange and unknown matter.

Puzzle of how spiral galaxies get their arms comes into focus

April 3, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

As the shapes of galaxies go, the spiral disk—with its characteristic pinwheel profile—is by far the most pedestrian. But despite their common morphology, how galaxies like ours get and maintain their characteristic arms has proved to be an enduring puzzle in astrophysics. How do the arms of spiral galaxies arise? Do they change or come and go over time? The answers to these and other questions are now coming into focus as researchers capitalize on powerful new computer simulations to follow the motions of as many as 100 million “stellar particles” as gravity and other astrophysical forces sculpt them into familiar galactic shapes.

Study provides evidence ancient asteroid caused global firestorm on Earth

March 28, 2013 7:48 am | News | Comments

A new look at conditions after a Manhattan-sized asteroid slammed into a region of Mexico in the dinosaur days indicates the event could have triggered a global firestorm that would have burned every twig, bush, and tree on Earth and led to the extinction of 80% of all Earth’s species, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

SpaceX Dragon cargo ship splashes into Pacific

March 26, 2013 7:26 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

The SpaceX Dragon capsule returned to Earth on Tuesday with a full science load from the International Space Station—and a bunch of well-used children's Legos. The privately owned cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific right on target, 250 miles off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, five hours after leaving the orbiting lab. The California-based SpaceX confirmed the Dragon's safe arrival via Twitter.

SpaceX Dragon cargo ship splashes into Pacific

March 26, 2013 1:49 pm | by MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The SpaceX Dragon capsule returned to Earth on Tuesday with a full science load from the International Space Station. The privately owned cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific, off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, five hours after leaving the orbiting laboratory. The California-based SpaceX confirmed the Dragon's safe arrival via Twitter.

Boeing 787 makes test flight to check battery

March 25, 2013 10:27 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A Boeing 787 with a redesigned battery system made a 2-hour test flight on Monday, and the company said the event "went according to plan." The test flight was an important step in Boeing Co.'s plan to convince safety regulators to let airlines resume using the plane, which the company calls the Dreamliner.

Investigators scold Boeing over 787 comments

March 22, 2013 1:37 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing's comments about the smoldering batteries on its 787 have annoyed the National Transportation Safety Board. Boeing gave its own account of two battery incidents, which included a fire, at a detailed press briefing in Tokyo last week. The problem is that the NTSB is still investigating the incidents. Boeing is a party to the investigation, meaning it provides technical experts and, in effect, gets a seat at the table as investigators try to sort out what happened.

Universe ages 80M years; Big Bang gets clearer

March 21, 2013 9:09 am | by Lori Hinnant and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Big Bang theory says the visible portion of the universe was smaller than an atom when, in a split second, it exploded, cooled and expanded rapidly, much faster than the speed of light. The European Space Agency's Planck space probe has looked back at the afterglow of the Big Bang, and results released today have now added about 80 million years to the universe's age, putting it 13.81 billion years old.

Amazon CEO recovers Apollo engines from Atlantic

March 21, 2013 8:54 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. A privately funded expedition led by Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea, about 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. The engine parts were resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic

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