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Researchers explain magnetic field misbehavior in solar flares

May 23, 2013 8:39 am | News | Comments

When a solar flare filled with charged particles erupts from the sun, its magnetic fields sometimes break a widely accepted rule of physics. The flux-freezing theorem dictates that the magnetic lines of force should flow away in lock-step with the particles, whole and unbroken. Instead, the lines sometimes break apart and quickly reconnect in a way that has mystified astrophysicists.

New pump resolves big space station leak

May 17, 2013 8:20 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

An impromptu spacewalk over the weekend seems to have fixed a big ammonia leak at the International Space Station, NASA said Thursday. The "gusher" erupted a week ago, prompting the hastiest repair job ever by residents of the orbiting lab. Spacewalking astronauts replaced a suspect ammonia pump on Saturday, just two days after the trouble arose.

Private spaceship tests underway

May 16, 2013 3:17 pm | by BROCK VERGAKIS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A Colorado company developing a spaceship to take astronauts to the International Space Station is having elements of its spacecraft undergo landing-related tests at NASA facilities in Virginia and California. NASA wants private firms to ferry astronauts into low-Earth orbit so it can focus on deep-space exploration and send crews to a nearby asteroid and eventually Mars.

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Weather on the outer planets only goes so deep

May 16, 2013 12:31 pm | News | Comments

The planets Uranus and Neptune are home to extreme winds blowing at speeds of over 1,000 km/hour, hurricane-like storms as large around as Earth, immense weather systems that last for years, and fast-flowing jet streams. Researchers using a new method for analyzing the gravitational field of these planets have determined an upper limit for the thickness of the atmospheric layer, which limits the depth of stormy weather.

Microgravity nanomedicine experiment may go to Space Station

May 14, 2013 10:00 am | News | Comments

Nearly all drugs taken orally spike in concentration, decay quickly, and are only at their peak effectiveness for a short period of time. working on a solution―nanocapsules implanted beneath the skin that release pharmaceutical drugs through a nanochannel membrane and into the body at a sustained, steady rate. To design better nanochannels for a given drug, the team is hoping to use the International Space Station.

New method of finding planets scores first discovery

May 13, 2013 3:06 pm | News | Comments

Detecting alien worlds presents a significant challenge since they are small, faint, and close to their stars. The two most prolific techniques for finding exoplanets are radial velocity and transits. A team at Tel Aviv University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has just discovered an exoplanet using a new method that relies on Einstein's special theory of relativity.

Hubble finds dead stars “polluted” with planet debris

May 10, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the building blocks for Earth-sized planets in an unlikely place—the atmospheres of a pair of burned-out stars called white dwarfs. Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observed silicon and only low levels of carbon in the white dwarfs' atmospheres. Silicon is a major ingredient of the rocky material that constitutes Earth and other solid planets in our solar system.

Moon, Earth have common water source

May 10, 2013 7:59 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown University | News | Comments

Researchers used a multicollector ion microprobe to study hydrogen-deuterium ratios in lunar rock and on Earth. Their conclusion: The moon’s water did not come from comets but was already present on Earth 4.5 billion years ago, when a giant collision sent material from Earth to form the moon.

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New analysis suggests wind, not water, formed mound on Mars

May 7, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

A roughly 3.5-mile high Martian mound that scientists suspect preserves evidence of a massive lake might actually have formed as a result of the Red Planet's famously dusty atmosphere, an analysis of the mound's features suggests. If correct, the research could dilute expectations that the mound holds evidence of a large body of water, which would have important implications for understanding Mars' past habitability.

Telling time on Saturn

May 3, 2013 12:30 pm | News | Comments

A University of Iowa undergraduate student has discovered that a process occurring in Saturn’s magnetosphere is linked to the planet's seasons and changes with them, a finding that helps clarify the length of a Saturn day and could alter our understanding of the Earth’s magnetosphere.

Studying meteorites may reveal Mars' secrets of life

May 2, 2013 1:01 pm | News | Comments

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago. And although this team’s work is not specifically solving the mystery, it is laying the groundwork for future researchers to answer this age-old question.

Meteorite study may reveal Mars’ secrets of life

May 2, 2013 8:57 am | News | Comments

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago. And although this team’s work is not specifically solving the mystery, it is laying the groundwork for future researchers to answer this age-old question.

The day NASA’s Fermi dodged a 1.5-ton bullet

May 1, 2013 12:08 pm | by Francis Reddy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

On March 29, 2012, the science team for NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope learned that a defunct Cold-War spy satellite would pass too close for comfort on April 4. The two spacecraft were expected to occupy the same point in space within 30 milliseconds of each other. The story of how it sidestepped a potential disaster offers a glimpse at an underappreciated aspect of managing a space mission.

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Observations of massive neutron star confirm relativity theory

May 1, 2013 12:01 pm | News | Comments

An international research team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy used a collection of large radio and optical telescopes to investigate in detail a pulsar that weighs twice as much as the sun. This neutron star, the most massive known to date, has provided new insights into the emission of gravitational radiation and serves as an interstellar laboratory for general relativity in extreme conditions.

Virgin Galactic spaceship makes first powered flight

April 29, 2013 11:00 pm | by Raquel Maria Dillon, Associated Press | News | Comments

In a major step for Virgin Galactic’s bid to create the first space tourism company, the SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight Monday, breaking the sound barrier in a test over the Mojave Desert. It then glided to a safe landing. The successful flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers on brief hops into space.

Debris believed to be from 9/11 plane is from wing

April 29, 2013 2:43 pm | by COLLEEN LONG - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The rusted metal aircraft part believed to be from one of the hijacked jetliners that slammed into the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks came from a wing, not landing gear, police said Monday. The 5-foot piece is a trailing edge flap support structure, police said. It is located closer to the body of the plane and helps secure wing flaps that move in and out and aid in regulating plane speed.

Orbital Sciences to design satellite for NASA

April 29, 2013 12:02 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Orbital Sciences Corp. has won a $50 million contract to build a new satellite for NASA, the space technology company said Monday. The Dulles, Va.-based company will create and test a new heliophysics science satellite that is responsible for investigating the connection between space weather and Earth's terrestrial weather.

Japan to allow airlines to resume 787 flights

April 26, 2013 3:58 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan's transport minister says the government is poised to allow Japanese carriers to resume flying the Boeing 787 once they complete repairs to problematic lithium ion batteries. Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta says in a statement on the ministry's Website that the approval could come as early as Friday night following an expected official safety order from U.S. federal regulators.

Space coffee gets an upgrade

April 24, 2013 2:48 pm | News | Comments

It’s hard to get a perfect cup of coffee in space. But Rice University freshmen are trying to fix that. The engineering students charged with the task of making a better coffee condiment system for the International Space Station (ISS) have come up with a solution they believe will please the astronauts.

Scientists find way to monitor elusive collisions in space

April 24, 2013 9:10 am | News | Comments

Many collisions occur between asteroids and other objects in our solar system, but scientists are not always able to detect or track these impacts from Earth. Space scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles have now devised a way to monitor these types of collisions in interplanetary space by using a new method to determine the mass of magnetic clouds that result from the impacts.

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.

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.

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