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Waking up to a new year

August 19, 2013 8:38 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the time it takes you to complete a single workday, or get a full night’s sleep, a small fireball of a planet 700 light-years away has already completed an entire year. Researchers have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet named Kepler 78b that whips around its host star in a mere 8.5 hours, one of the shortest orbital periods ever detected.

Spaceflight alters bacterial social networks

August 15, 2013 3:03 pm | by Gianine M. Figliozzi, NASA Ames Research Center | News | Comments

In two NASA-funded studies, biofilms made by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa were cultured on Earth and aboard space shuttle Atlantis in 2010 and 2011 to determine the impact of microgravity on their behavior. After comparing the biofilms grown on the ground with those grown on space station-bound shuttles, study results show for the first time that spaceflight changes the behavior of bacterial communities.

Study: Voyager 1 has left the Solar System

August 15, 2013 1:58 pm | News | Comments

Carrying Earthly greetings on a gold plated phonograph record and still-operational scientific instruments NASA's Voyager 1 has traveled farther from Earth than any other human-made object. And now, researchers say, it has begun the first exploration of our galaxy beyond the Sun's influence. The finding could be, however, somewhat controversial.

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Around the world in four days: Tracking Chelyabinsk meteor plume

August 15, 2013 12:50 pm | by Kathryn Hansen, NASA's Earth Science News Team | News | Comments

A meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded 14 miles above Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2013. Unlike similar past events, this time scientists had the sensitive instruments on the Suomi NPP satellite to deliver unprecedented data and help them track and study the meteor plume for months.

Mars food study researchers emerge from dome

August 14, 2013 9:14 am | by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press | News | Comments

Six researchers have spent the past four months living in a small dome on a barren Hawaii lava field at 8,000 feet, trying to figure out what foods astronauts might eat on Mars and during deep-space missions. They emerged on Tuesday with their recipes and without the space suits they were required to wear each time they ventured onto the northern slope of Mauna Loa—an active volcano that last erupted in 1984.

ANA, Japan Airlines check 787s for wiring problem

August 14, 2013 4:55 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are checking their Boeing 787 fleets for wiring problems unrelated to battery defects that plagued the aircraft earlier this year. ANA said Wednesday the departure of a 787 plane was delayed over problem wiring for a system to put out engine fires.

NASA eyes Mars as launch preparation begins

August 13, 2013 1:00 pm | by Steven Siceloff, NASA's Kennedy Space Center | News | Comments

A recent arrival to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will have quite a different approach than that taken by recent probes dispatched to the Red Planet. Instead of rolling about on the surface looking for clues to the planet's hidden heritage, MAVEN will orbit high above the surface so it can sample the upper atmosphere for signs of what changed over the eons and why.

Hubble Space Telescope finds source of Magellanic Stream

August 9, 2013 10:05 am | News | Comments

Astronomers have solved a 40-year-old mystery on the origin of the Magellanic Stream, a long ribbon of gas stretching nearly halfway around our Milky Way galaxy. It appears to originate from two dwarf galaxies, but astronomers did not know if one or both galaxies were the source. Hubble Space Telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph was used to examine the gas and find the answer.

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A year of Curiosity on Mars

August 7, 2013 3:06 pm | Videos | Comments

Curiosity Rover team members re-live the dramatic Aug. 6, 2012 landing and the mission's achievements to date in a recent event aired on NASA Television and the agency's website. In the year since inspiring millions of people worldwide with its one-of-a-kind landing in a crater on the Red Planet, Curiosity has achieved its primary scientific objective; finding evidence that ancient Mars could have sustained microbial life.

First hundred thousand years of our universe

August 7, 2013 2:23 pm | News | Comments

Mystery fans know that the best way to solve a mystery is to revisit the scene where it began and look for clues. To understand the mysteries of our universe, scientists are trying to go back as far they can to the Big Bang. A new analysis of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation data has provided tantalizing new hints of clues as to what might have happened.

Astronomers image lowest-mass exoplanet around a sun-like star

August 5, 2013 6:22 pm | by Francis Reddy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, an international team of astronomers has imaged a giant planet around the bright star GJ 504. Several times the mass of Jupiter and similar in size, the new world, dubbed GJ 504b and still glowing from the heat of its formation, is the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun using direct imaging techniques.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 5, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers.

Big ice may explain Mars’ double-layer craters

August 5, 2013 10:08 am | News | Comments

Brown Univ. planetary geologists have an explanation for the formation of more than 600 “double-layer ejecta” (DLE) craters on Mars. The Martian surface was covered with a thick sheet of ice at impact. Ejected material would later slide down steep crater sides and across the ice, forming a second layer.

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NASA technologist makes traveling to hard-to-reach destinations easier

August 1, 2013 7:48 am | by Lori Keesey, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Traveling to remote locations sometimes involves navigating through stop-and-go traffic, traversing long stretches of highway and a lot of  maneuvering. The same can be said for guiding spacecraft to far-flung destinations in space. A NASA technologist has developed a fully automated tool that gives mission planners a preliminary set of detailed directions for efficiently steering a spacecraft to hard-to-reach interplanetary destinations.

GOES-R satellite magnetometer boom deployment successful

July 30, 2013 9:23 am | by Rob Gutro and Kevin Mc Laughlin, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The GOES-R Magnetometer Engineering Development Unit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center completed successful boom deployment test at an ATK facility in Goleta, Calif. The magnetometer, which will deploy aboard the boom after launch, will provide measurements of the space environment magnetic field, which controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere.

Station astronauts remotely control planetary rover from space

July 30, 2013 9:17 am | by Rachel Hoover, NASA Ames Research Center | News | Comments

Just as remotely-operated vehicles help humans explore the depths of the ocean from above, NASA has begun studying how a similar approach may one day help astronauts explore other worlds. On June 17 and July 26, NASA tested the Surface Telerobotics exploration concept, in which an astronaut in an orbiting spacecraft remotely operates a robot on a planetary surface.

Boeing requests wider scrutiny of locator beacons

July 29, 2013 12:44 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing Co. has expanded inspections of emergency locator beacons made by Honeywell International to include five more aircraft types after problems were discovered with the transmitters on 787 jets. Boeing remarked in a blog that the aircraft manufacturer is asking operators of 717, Next-Generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777 airplanes to inspect the battery-operated beacons which activate in a crash to help rescuers find a plane.

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

July 25, 2013 7:08 pm | News | Comments

After studying data from a pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites.

IRIS telescope offers first glimpse of sun’s mysterious atmosphere

July 25, 2013 6:37 pm | News | Comments

On July 17, 2013, the international team which supported and built NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, was rewarded for its hard work when the door of the telescope opened to view the mysterious lowest layers of the sun's atmosphere in unprecedented detail. Imaging in ultraviolet light and using a spectrograph, the orbiter has already revealed a multitude of previously unseen structures.

Team sets record for cosmic x-ray sightings

July 24, 2013 8:54 am | News | Comments

Three years of research, led by the Univ. of Leicester in the U.K., has produced a new catalog of x-ray source observations call 3XMM. With the help of the university’s supercomputer, the scientists were able to log 531,261 detections of x-ray emitting objects and 372,728 unique x-ray sources. The catalog will provide a useful dataset for generating large, well-defined samples of celestial objects.

How Mars’ atmosphere got so thin

July 22, 2013 9:01 am | News | Comments

New findings from NASA's Curiosity rover provide clues to how Mars lost its original atmosphere, which scientists believe was much thicker than the one left today. The beauty of these measurements lies in the fact that these are the first really high-precision measurements of the composition of Mars' atmosphere.

NASA tries to save planet-hunting telescope

July 18, 2013 4:00 pm | News | Comments

Recovery efforts to save the $600 million Kepler mission began Thursday and will last for a week. Mission managers won't know until later this month at the earliest whether the Kepler spacecraft will ever search for Earth-like planets again.

Zero Gravity Solutions nearing goal for stock trade

July 18, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Biotechnology company Zero Gravity Solutiuons aims to utilize the unique effects of extended zero/micro gravity environments available on the International Space Station to promote gene expression and accelerate stem cell research. The company has completed filings required prior to trading of the company’s stock.

Earth’s gold came from colliding dead stars

July 17, 2013 3:49 pm | News | Comments

Unlike elements like carbon or iron, gold cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event—like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two neutron stars, and that its unique glow potentially signifies the creation of large amounts of heavy elements, including gold.

Spacesuit water leak ends spacewalk; astronaut OK

July 17, 2013 9:56 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

In one of the most harrowing spacewalks in decades, an astronaut had to rush back into the International Space Station on Tuesday after a mysterious water leak inside his helmet robbed him of the ability to speak or hear at times and could have caused him to choke or even drown. Italian Luca Parmitano was reported to be fine after the dangerous episode, which might have been caused by an unprecedented leak in the cooling system of his suit.

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