NASA often gets criticized for not living up to the hype when it comes to generating everyday technologies. Tang, to take the oft-cited example, was used by NASA, but not invented by the Apollo program. But defenders point to evidence that Space Shuttle program has prompted innovation that could have occurred in no other way.
Vesta, thought to be the source of a large number of meteorites that fall to Earth, was visited close-up over the weekend by NASA’s Dawn space probe, which is the first spacecraft to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The sun’s magnetic field is the skeleton of the entire heliosphere, guiding how particles and CMEs move toward Earth. Predicting these flows has proven challenging because they must be done from afar. NASA researchers, however, have applied some old mathematical techniques to solve the problem.
After two years of orbital positioning, University of California, Berkeley's ARTEMIS mission is due to begin in less than a month. The two spacecraft that comprise the ARTEMIS mission (which in turn is part of a five-satellite NASA mission) will conduct the first-ever observations by a pair of satellites of the lunar surface, its magnetic field, and the surrounding magnetic environment.
Unlike Jupiter, Saturn’s atmosphere is typically hazy and calm. Planet-wide weather disturbances are rare, but the so-called “Great White Spot” now encircling the ringed planet is unleashing lightning strikes thousands of times more intense than those on Earth. The spacecraft Cassini has detected as many as 10 strikes per second.
Arizona State University researchers have released a striking image of the Moon’s prominent impact crater Tycho, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera last month. The photograph was planned for its dramatic effect. The boulder in this closeup detail is about 400 feet wide.
A smattering of summer rain gave a boost to firefighters battling a huge forest fire near Los Alamos, letting officials lift an evacuation ban and putting the national laboratory on track to open Wednesday. The challenges aren’t over, however, as New Mexico and Arizona will likely be dealing with low-level ozone and poor air quality from the fires.
Scientists know what the universe looked like when it was a baby. They know what it looks like today. What they don't know is how it looked in its youth. Thanks to technological advances, however, scientists hope to complete the photo album and provide a picture of how the cosmos developed into the kind of place that could support life like that found on Earth. They plan to gather these never-before-obtained insights with a potentially "game-changing" instrument that is expected to be 10,000 times more sensitive than the current state-of-the-art.
NASA, NIH, NSF and USDA are combining forces to fast-track the development and use of co-robots in the U.S. that work cooperatively with people. A solicitation for proposals for the new National Robotics Initiative (NRI) was recently released along with the establishment of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Investments in NRI may reach $50 million in the first year.
In December 2010, a pair of mismatched stars in the southern constellation Crux whisked past each other at a distance closer than Venus orbits the sun. The system possesses a so-far unique blend of a hot and massive star with a compact fast-spinning pulsar. The pair's closest encounters occur every 3.4 years and each is marked by a sharp increase in gamma rays. The unique combination of stars, the long wait between close approaches, and periods of intense gamma-ray emission make this system irresistible to astrophysicists.
Ever since a crash landing on Earth grounded NASA's Genesis mission in 2004, scientists have been gathering, cleaning, and analyzing solar wind particles collected by the spacecraft. Now, two new studies published in Science reveal that Earth's chemistry is less like the sun's than previously thought.
Like the faces of veterans comparing war wounds, the surface of our moon is scarred by a lifetime of damage—impact craters pockmarked with even more craters, sprayed ejecta, discolored regions laid down by volcanic flows. Studying these characteristics can reveal much about the processes that formed them, say Caltech graduate student Meg Rosenburg and her advisor Oded Aharonson, who have created the first comprehensive sets of maps revealing the roughness of the moon's surface.
The first oxygen and nitrogen isotopic measurements of the sun are complete, demonstrating that they are very different from the same elements on Earth. These results were the top two priorities of NASA's Genesis mission, which crashed on reentry to Earth. But the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Solar Wind Concentrator survived the crash and eventually yielded today's solar secrets.
NASA’s voyager to the innermost planet is the first to ever enter orbit around the planet, which has yielded important clues to both its origin and geological history. In addition to the presence of large amounts of sulfur and mysterious formations on crater floors, Messenger has also found evidence for the presence of water ice in shaded, dark areas away from the sun.
Astronomers think they have solved the mystery of an extraordinary flash spied in a faraway galaxy. First detected by NASA's Swift satellite on March 28 the blast was initially thought be a gamma-ray burst from a star collapsing. Now, weeks to studying the data have led them to conclude that a massive black hole devoured a star that wandered too close.
Experts say the flare erupting from the sun’s surface is medium-sized and won’t have a significant effect on Earth. Nevertheless, the impressive display captured by NASA cameras shows a coronal ejection racing toward Earth at 14,000 km/hr. NASA also released the first photos of the space station with a shuttle attached. They were taken by a departing Soyuz astronaut.
Cucumbers may be out of favor on earth, but a Japanese astronaut said this week that he plans to harvest the vegetable on board the International Space Station. Satoshi Furukawa said he would be growing cucumbers as part of ongoing studies on how future space explorers will be able to harvest their own food. Unfortunately, like most Europeans right now, Furukawa will not be eating them.
Scientists from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have produced global maps of land plant fluorescence, a difficult-to-detect reddish glow that leaves emit as a byproduct of photosynthesis. While researchers have previously mapped how ocean-dwelling phytoplankton fluoresce, the new maps are the first to focus on land vegetation and to cover the entire globe.
4DSP LLC announced that it has licensed a signal processing technology from NASA that overcomes the inherent limitation found when deploying a certain type of fiber optic sensing systems.
In response to the growing need for oceanic data in climate models, an Argentine-built spacecraft carrying instruments from the United States and other nations is set to launch Thursday in California. The craft will use a NASA-built instrument, the Aquarius, to map weekly changes in the levels of brine in the sea, and it is so sensitive it can detect changes down to a dash of salt in a gallon of water.
With Wednesday's landing of Endeavour, just one more space shuttle flight remains, putting an end to 30 years of Florida shuttle launches and more than 535 million miles of orbits controlled at Houston's Johnson Space Center. Now a sense of melancholy has permeated the community that calls itself "the space shuttle family."
Two digital color cameras riding high on the mast of NASA's next Mars rover will complement each other in showing the surface of Mars in exquisite detail. They are the left and right eyes of the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, instrument on the Curiosity rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, launching in late 2011.
A gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift satellite in April 2009 has been newly unveiled as a candidate for the most distant object in the universe. At an estimated distance of 13.14 billion light years, the burst lies far beyond any known quasar and could be more distant than any previously known galaxy or gamma-ray burst.
A $1 billion NASA mission to investigate an asteroid with an unmanned probe won’t involve an actual landing on the rocky body, but it will feature an acrobatic grab of sample material from the surface. The mission is slated to launch in 2016 and will take four years to reach the asteroid and begin its study. The sample capsule will return to Earth in 2023.
After setting a soaring vision to land a man on the moon, President John F. Kennedy struggled with how to sell the public on a costly space program. In a scenario that echoes today, he and NASA Administrator James Webb worried about preserving funding amid what Webb calls a "driving desire to cut the budget.”