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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Voyager 1 has left the solar system

March 20, 2013 2:56 pm | News | Comments

After taking measurements of sudden, drastic changes in radiation levels, researchers have reported that NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft, now more than 11 billion miles from the Sun, left the heliosphere dominated by the Sun and has passed outside our solar system. Anomalous cosmic rays, which are cosmic rays trapped in the outer heliosphere, all but vanished, dropping to less than 1% of previous amounts.

NASA's lunar orbiter sees GRAIL's explosive farewell

March 20, 2013 9:25 am | News | Comments

NASA's twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft went out in a blaze of glory Dec. 17, 2012, when they were intentionally crashed into a mountain near the moon's north pole. GRAIL had company—NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mapping satellite was orbiting the moon as well. With just three weeks notice, the LRO team scrambled to get LRO in the right place at the right time to witness GRAIL's fiery finale

NASA’s first laser communication system ready for launch

March 15, 2013 10:33 am | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The space terminal for the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), NASA's first high-data-rate laser communication system, was recently integrated onto the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. LLCD will demonstrate laser communications from lunar orbit to Earth at six times the rate of the best modern-day advanced radio communication systems.

Water signature in distant planet shows clues to its formation

March 14, 2013 12:10 pm | News | Comments

A team of international scientists, including a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist, has made the most detailed examination yet of the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size like planet beyond our solar system. The finding provides astrophysicists with additional insight into how planets are formed.

Massive new observatory makes “game-changing” galaxy discovery

March 14, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

Shining in the infrared with the energy of a trillion suns and producing a thousand new suns per year, newly discovered “starburst galaxies” represent what the most massive galaxies in our cosmic neighborhood looked like in their star-making youth. The discovery of these “abnormal” galaxies was recently made by the new Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, which was formally dedicated this week.

Foundations of carbon-based life leave little room for error

March 13, 2013 4:49 pm | News | Comments

Life as we know it is based upon the elements of carbon and oxygen. Now a team of physicists, including one from North Carolina State University, is looking at the conditions necessary to the formation of those two elements in the universe. They’ve found that when it comes to supporting life, the universe leaves very little margin for error.

Astronomers find closest star system in a century

March 11, 2013 1:25 pm | News | Comments

A pair of newly discovered stars is the third-closest star system to the Sun, according to a recent paper published by a Penn State University astrophysicist. At 6.5 light years, the duo is the closest star system discovered since 1916, and is expected to attract considerable attention from planet hunters.

Distance to nearest galaxy measured

March 6, 2013 3:31 pm | News | Comments

The Hubble constant is a fundamental quantity that measures the current rate at which our universe is expanding; it is critical for gauging the age and size of our universe. One of the largest uncertainties plaguing past measurements of the Hubble constant has involved the distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud, our nearest neighboring galaxy. A team of astronomers have now managed to improve the measurement of the distance to our nearest neighbor galaxy and, in the process, refine the calculation that helps measure the expansion of the universe.

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