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Study: Space-time is not the same for everyone

July 9, 2013 11:54 am | News | Comments

Soon after the Big Bang, the universe was so dense and so hot that elementary particles felt the existence of gravity strongly. For decades, physicists have attempted to model the laws of quantum gravity to describe this phase of the universe’s evolution. A new mathematical model developed by physicists in Poland surprisingly shows that different elementary particles “experience” the existence of different space-times.

NASA’s Polar Robotic Ranger passes first Greenland test

July 8, 2013 7:23 pm | by Maria-José Viñas, NASA | News | Comments

Although researchers had tested NASA’s new polar rover at a beach in Maryland and in the snow in Idaho, the May 6 to June 8, 2013 testing at Summit Camp, the highest spot in Greenland, was the rover’s first polar experience. Equipped with ground-penetrating radar, the robot defed 30 mph gusts and temperatures down to -22 F, demonstrating that it could operate completely autonomously in one of Earth’s harshest environments.

NASA Mars rover Curiosity begins delayed road trip

July 8, 2013 4:48 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Martian mountain, here Curiosity comes. The NASA rover has officially kicked off its long-delayed road trip to Mount Sharp, a trek that involves rolling over rocky landscapes. Since July Fourth, the six-wheel rover has driven 190 feet to the southwest, leaving behind the spot where it spent the past seven months performing science experiments.

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Cluster spacecraft detects elusive space wind

July 2, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

A new study has provided the first conclusive proof of the existence of a space wind first proposed theoretically over 20 years ago. By analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Cluster spacecraft, researchers have the plasmaspheric wind, so-called because it contributes to the loss of material from the plasmasphere, a donut-shaped region extending above the Earth’s atmosphere.

Supermassive black hole observations reveal “dusty” surprise

July 1, 2013 1:39 pm | News | Comments

Gathering the most detailed observations ever into the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the center of an active galaxy, astronomers using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer in Chile made a surprising discovery: Dust is being propelled into space in a ring-shaped disk, possibly by intense radiation released by the black hole and its hot surroundings.

PayPal looks to conquer space (payments)

June 28, 2013 9:42 am | by Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

eBay Inc.'s payments business, PayPal, says it is launching an initiative called PayPal Galactic with the help of the nonprofit SETI Institute and the Space Tourism Society, an industry group focused on space travel. Its goal, PayPal says, is to work out how commerce will work in space. In addition to regulatory and technical issues, even the currency that is to be used is up for debate.

New NASA satellite to begin sun-watching mission

June 28, 2013 4:30 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

From its perch in low-Earth orbit, NASA's newest satellite will soon get a close-up look at a little-explored region of the sun that's thought to drive space weather that can affect Earth. The Iris satellite was boosted into orbit about 400 miles above Earth by a Pegasus rocket Thursday evening after a sunset launch. Engineers will test the satellite first before turning on its telescope to stare at the sun.

Air travel changes at less than supersonic speed

June 21, 2013 11:19 am | by LORI HINNANT - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

When the Concorde started flying in the 1970s, hopes were high that the traveling masses would soon streak through the air faster than the speed of sound or soar in planes that hurtled like missiles above the earth's atmosphere. Instead, jetliners still look the same as they did five decades ago and travel times have barely budged.

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Metamorphosis of moon’s water ice explained

June 20, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

Using data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, scientists believe they have solved a mystery from one of the solar system’s coldest regions—a permanently shadowed crater on the moon. They have explained how energetic particles penetrating lunar soil can create molecular hydrogen from water ice. The finding provides insight into how radiation can change the chemistry of water ice throughout the solar system.

Scientists discuss new photo-taking satellite

June 19, 2013 12:52 am | by Dirk Lammers, Associated Press | News | Comments

Nearly 120 scientists and engineers from around the world are meeting in South Dakota this week to discuss operational and technical issues with collecting images from the Landsat 8 satellite. In February, NASA launched the satellite, which takes images of every inch of the Earth’s surface to see what happens over time, and recently handed over operational control of it to the EROS Center.

Minute variations in brightness reveal whole new class of stars

June 12, 2013 5:41 pm | News | Comments

Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-m Euler telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster. The observations revealed previously unknown properties of these stars that defy current theories and raise questions about the origin of the variations.

Moon radiation findings may reduce health risks to astronauts

June 11, 2013 3:55 pm | News | Comments

Space scientists from the Univ. of New Hampshire and the Southwest Research Institute report that data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show lighter materials like plastics provide effective shielding against the radiation hazards faced by astronauts during extended space travel. The finding could help reduce health risks to humans on future missions into deep space.

Chinese spacecraft blasts off with three astronauts

June 11, 2013 10:49 am | by Andy Wong, Associated Press | News | Comments

China's fifth and longest manned spacecraft successfully blasted off Tuesday on a 15-day mission to dock with a space lab and educate young people about science. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Long March 2F rocket and will transport the crew to the Tiangong 1, which functions as an experimental prototype for a much larger Chinese space station to be launched in 2020.

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Simple theory may explain mysterious dark matter

June 10, 2013 3:54 pm | News | Comments

Most of the matter in the universe may be made out of particles that possess an unusual, donut-shaped electromagnetic field called an anapole. This proposal, which endows dark matter particles with a rare form of electromagnetism, has been strengthened by a detailed analysis performed by a pair of theoretical physicists at Vanderbilt University.

Pebbles, sand on Mars best evidence that a river ran through it

June 6, 2013 7:29 am | News | Comments

Pebbles and sand scattered near an ancient Martian river network may present the most convincing evidence yet that the frigid deserts of the Red Planet were once a habitable environment traversed by flowing water. Scientists with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission reported on May 30, 2013, the discovery of sand grains and small stones that bear the telltale roundness of river stones and are too heavy to have been moved by wind.

Giant planets offer help in faster research on material surfaces

June 5, 2013 12:04 pm | News | Comments

Based on the mathematics used to model the interaction of light with the atmospheres of giant gas planets, a new algorithm from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw offers a fast and accurate way to better understand physical and chemical properties of materials' surfaces.

Galaxy in its death throes may hold clues to birth of dwarf systems

June 5, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

A bright dwarf galaxy relatively close to Earth’s Milky Way and trailing fireballs is the first clear example of a galaxy in the act of dying, scientists argue in new research. The work gives a known galaxy new status and offers the potential for better understanding of the mysterious origin of dwarf elliptical galaxies, a subspecies of the universe’s most common type of galaxy.

On board Mars Express, in orbit around the Red Planet

June 3, 2013 3:42 pm | News | Comments

Just about 10 years ago, NASA’s Mars Express launched, setting the stage for a remarkable advance in knowledge of the Red Planet in the past decade. Using high-resolution camera technologies, researchers could for the first time see Mars spatially. Over time, a 3-D image of Mars was built. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center, who have been instrumental in this effort, have taken a look back the impact of this orbiter.

Astronauts face radiation threat on long Mars trip

May 31, 2013 10:38 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

As plans for deep space exploration ramp up, radiation is a big concern. Earth's magnetic field helps to deflect much of that harmful radiation, but astronauts traveling to and from Mars would be bombarded with as much radiation as they'd get from a full-body CT scan about once a week for a year, researchers reported Thursday. That dose would, in some cases, exceed NASA's standards and is enough to raise an astronaut's cancer risk by 3%.

Experts: Rounded stones on Mars evidence of flowing water

May 30, 2013 5:59 pm | News | Comments

Observations by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have revealed areas with gravel and pebbles that are characteristic of a former riverbed.  Researchers, including members of the Niels Bohr Institute, have analyzed their shapes and sizes and the rounded pebbles clearly show that there has been flowing water on Mars.

Super-dense star is first ever found suddenly slowing its spin

May 30, 2013 5:37 pm | News | Comments

One of the densest objects in the universe, a neutron star about 10,000 light years from Earth, has been discovered suddenly putting the brakes on its spinning speed. The event is a mystery that holds important clues for understanding how matter reacts when it is squeezed more tightly than the density of an atomic nucleus—a state that no laboratory on Earth has achieved.

Water-rock reaction may provide enough hydrogen to sustain life on Mars

May 30, 2013 1:27 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, a chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents.

Mathematical model links space-time theories

May 30, 2013 10:03 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Southampton have taken a significant step in a project to unravel the secrets of the structure of our universe. A recently published paper by the team makes connections between negatively curved space-time and flat space-time.

NASA head views progress on asteroid lasso mission

May 23, 2013 10:59 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Surrounded by engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, NASA chief Charles Bolden on Thursday inspected a prototype spacecraft engine that could power an audacious mission to lasso an asteroid and tow it closer to Earth for astronauts to explore. Once relegated to science fiction, ion propulsion is preferred for deep space cruising because it's more fuel-efficient.

Bacterium from Arctic offers clues about life on Mars

May 23, 2013 2:04 pm | News | Comments

The temperature in the permafrost on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic is nearly as cold as that of the surface of Mars. So the recent discovery by a McGill University led team of scientists of a bacterium that is able to thrive at -15 C, the coldest temperature ever reported for bacterial growth, is exciting.  The bacterium offers clues about some of the necessary preconditions for microbial life on Mars.

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