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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.

Researchers use weightlessness of space to design better materials

May 30, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Northeastern University are among the many scientists helping NASA use the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth. Researchers say by observing the solidification process in a microgravity environment—in this case, the International Space Station—they were able to study how this morphological instability develops in three dimensions to shape the structure of materials on a micron scale.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Russia charging NASA $70 million per rocket seat

May 1, 2013 9:24 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

Based on numbers from the latest contract between NASA and the Russian Space Agency, the United States is paying $424 million more to Russia to get U.S. astronauts into space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is is blaming Congress for the extra expense, saying reduced funding for commercial spaceflight development has forced the agency to sign the new contract.

NASA mission will study what disrupts radio waves

April 26, 2013 8:46 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will launch from an atoll in the Pacific in the next few weeks to help scientists better understand and predict the electrical storms in Earth's upper atmosphere These storms can interfere with satellite communication and global positioning signals.

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.

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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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.

Measuring Mars: The MAVEN magnetometer takes shape

March 27, 2013 7:40 am | by Claire De Saravia, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Scheduled for launch in late 2013, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission will carry a sensitive magnetic-field instrument built and tested by a team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Very little magnetic field traces remain on Mars, which is forcing NASA to eliminate all magnetic traces from its spacecraft. The magnetometer may help determine the history of the loss of atmospheric gases to space through time, providing answers about Mars’ climate evolution.

SpaceX Dragon cargo ship splashes into Pacific

March 26, 2013 7:26 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

The SpaceX Dragon capsule returned to Earth on Tuesday with a full science load from the International Space Station—and a bunch of well-used children's Legos. The privately owned cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific right on target, 250 miles off the coast of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, five hours after leaving the orbiting lab. The California-based SpaceX confirmed the Dragon's safe arrival via Twitter.

Amazon CEO recovers Apollo engines from Atlantic

March 21, 2013 8:54 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. A privately funded expedition led by Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea, about 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. The engine parts were resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic

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.

Mars rover shows planet could have supported life

March 13, 2013 12:26 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Drilling into a rock near its landing spot, the Curiosity rover has answered a key question about Mars: The red planet long ago harbored some of the ingredients needed for primitive life to thrive. Topping the list is evidence of water and basic elements that teeny organisms could feed on, scientists said Tuesday.

NASA to reveal contents of drilled Martian rock

March 12, 2013 12:54 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

The Mars rover Curiosity drilled into its first rock a month ago. Now scientists will reveal what's inside. Gathering at NASA headquarters Tuesday, the rover team will detail the minerals and chemicals found in a pinch of ground-up rock. The results come seven months after Curiosity made a dramatic landing in an ancient crater near the equator.

Curiosity sleeps as solar blast races toward Mars

March 7, 2013 9:47 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA’s Martian rover hunkered down Wednesday after the sun unleashed a blast that raced toward Mars. While Curiosity was designed to withstand punishing space weather, its handlers decided to power it down as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem. While the hardy rover slept, the Opportunity rover and two NASA spacecraft circling overhead carried on with normal activities.

Supply ship meets space station after shaky start

March 4, 2013 7:58 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

A private Earth-to-orbit delivery service made good on its latest shipment to the International Space Station on Sunday, overcoming mechanical difficulty and delivering a ton of supplies with high-flying finesse. The Dragon's arrival couldn't have been sweeter—and not because of the fresh fruit on board for the six-man station crew. Coming a full day late, the 250-mile-high linkup above Ukraine culminated a two-day chase that got off to a shaky, almost dead-ending start.

Private SpaceX rocket launched to space station

March 1, 2013 10:57 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

A commercial cargo ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Friday under a billion-dollar contract with NASA that could lead to astronaut rides in just a few years. Launch controllers applauded and gave high-fives to one another once the spacecraft safely reached orbit. The rocket successfully separated from the white Dragon capsule, which contains more than a ton of food, tools, computer hardware, and science experiments.

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