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Curiosity rover confirms Martian air is mostly CO2

July 22, 2013 9:20 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The measurements by the most advanced spacecraft to land on the red planet closely match what the twin Viking landers detected in the late 1970s and what scientists have gleaned from Martian meteorites. Mars' atmosphere is overwhelmingly dominated by carbon dioxide, unlike Earth's air, which is a mix of nitrogen and oxygen. But Curiosity’s measurements did yield one small surprise.

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.

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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.

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.

Report: Next Mars rover should gather rocks, soil

July 17, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

The next rover to Mars should hunt for signs of ancient life and gather rocks that a future mission could bring back to Earth for the first time, a team of scientists appointed by the U.S. space agency said Tuesday. The scientists' new report outlines ambitious goals for a mission to Mars that NASA wants to launch in 2020.

The heart of space weather observed in action

July 16, 2013 9:22 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Two NASA spacecraft have provided the most comprehensive movie ever of a mysterious process at the heart of all explosions on the sun: magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection happens when magnetic field lines come together, break apart and then exchange partners, snapping into new positions and releasing a jolt of magnetic energy. This process lies at the heart of giant explosions on the sun.

Astronomers find blue planet outside solar system

July 15, 2013 8:15 am | by James Brooks, Associated Press | News | Comments

Astronomers have for the first time managed to determine the color of a planet outside our solar system, a blue gas giant 63 light-years away. Measuring the planet's color, which is probably created by a turbulent atmosphere of silicate particles, is a significant first. It has never been done before with a planet outside our solar system.

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Next Mars rover should gather rocks, soil

July 9, 2013 7:44 pm | by ALICIA CHANG - AP Science Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Explore an intriguing spot on Mars. Hunt for ancient signs of Martian life. Bag a bunch of rocks and leave them on the surface for a future mission to possibly return. That's what the next rover to Mars should strive for, a NASA-appointed team said Tuesday. The scientists released a 154-page report outlining ambitious science goals for a red planet mission that NASA wants to launch in 2020.

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.

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.

The science of impact: "Shields to maximum, Mr. Scott"

June 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Aaron Dubrow, TACC | News | Comments

According to NASA, there are more than 21,000 pieces of “space junk roughly the size of a baseball in orbit, and about 500,000 pieces that are golf ball-sized. These pieces can be dangerous, which is why researchers at Texas Advanced Computing Center’s supercomputers are simulating orbital debris impacts on spacecraft and fragment impacts on body armor to help NASA design better shielding.

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.

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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.

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.

“One giant leap” toward a NASA Armstrong center?

June 11, 2013 7:25 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Neil Armstrong's name is attached to a lunar crater, an asteroid, more than a dozen schools and a museum, but not a single NASA facility is christened in honor of the man whose "giant leap" made him the first to walk on the moon. All that could soon change on the fringes of the Mojave Desert, where leaders at the space agency's top flight research center are mulling a name change.

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.

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.

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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