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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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