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SwRI to build eight NASA nanosatellites

June 21, 2012 11:25 am | News | Comments

NASA has selected a team including Southwest Research Institute to develop the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which will provide better prediction capabilities for extreme weather events, particularly the intensification of hurricanes.

Researchers calculate size of particles in Martian clouds of CO2 snow

June 19, 2012 3:44 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In the dead of a Martian winter, clouds of snow blanket the Red Planet's poles—but unlike our water-based snow, the particles on Mars are frozen crystals of carbon dioxide. Most of the Martian atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, and in the winter, the poles get so cold—cold enough to freeze alcohol—that the gas condenses, forming tiny particles of snow. Now researchers have calculated the size of snow particles in clouds at both Martian poles from data gathered by orbiting spacecraft.

NASA's Fermi detects the highest-energy light from a solar flare

June 11, 2012 10:26 pm | News | Comments

During a powerful solar blast on March 7, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected the highest-energy light ever associated with an eruption on the sun. The flare produced such an outpouring of gamma rays—a form of light with even greater energy than X-rays—that the sun briefly became the brightest object in the gamma-ray sky.

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Cosmic smashup predicted, but Earth will survive

June 1, 2012 8:20 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Astronomers in a NASA news conference Thursday said that years of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope provide grisly details of a long-anticipated galactic smashup, one that will involve the dead-on crash of a neighboring galaxy with our entire Milky Way.

Tiny planet-finding mirrors borrow from Webb Telescope playbook

May 25, 2012 5:25 am | by Lori Keesey | News | Comments

NASA’s next flagship mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, will carry the largest primary mirror ever deployed in space. Researchers has borrowed a page from its segmented mirror design to create a similar example just a half-inch in diameter. Strangely, the tiny mirror may one day become the standard for future space telescopes.

Commercial space race gets crowded behind SpaceX

May 24, 2012 12:24 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

NASA has hired Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but will eventually add astronauts. And the space agency is hiring other companies, too. Several firms—at least eight—think they can make money in space and are close enough to Musk's company to practically surf in his spaceship's rocket-fueled wake.

Cassini reveals details about charged nanograins

May 22, 2012 8:59 am | News | Comments

In a new study, researchers describe what they found in data from Cassini: a new class of space particles—submicroscopic nanograins of electrically charged dust. Such particles are believed to exist throughout the universe, and this marks the first time researchers have measured and analyzed them.

Private supply ship rockets toward space station

May 22, 2012 8:58 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

The SpaceX company made history as its Falcon 9 rocket, carrying 1,000 pounds of space station provisions in its Dragon capsule, rose from its seaside launch pad and pierced the pre-dawn sky, aiming for a rendezvous in a few days with the space station. If the mission proceeds as planned, Dragon will be the first commercial vessel to visit the space station.

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Newfound exoplanet may turn to dust

May 18, 2012 3:30 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA, and elsewhere have detected a possible planet, some 1,500 light years away, that appears to be evaporating under the blistering heat of its parent star. The scientists infer that a long tail of debris is following the planet, and that this tail may tell the story of the planet's disintegration.

Studying the internal mechanisms of shape-memory alloys

May 9, 2012 6:29 am | News | Comments

Shape-memory alloys are an engineer's dream, able to shape-shift spontaneously to accommodate changing operating conditions. A research team from NASA and the University of Central Florida is studying the internal mechanisms of these real-life "transformers" at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with an eye toward increasing their use in everyday scenarios.

First light from a super-Earth spotted

May 9, 2012 5:53 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Scientists on a planetary-heat-seeking mission have detected the first infrared light from a super-Earth—in this case, a planet some 40 light-years away. And according to their calculations, 55 Cancri e, a planet just over twice the size of Earth, is throwing off some serious heat.

Beaming up on the way to space

May 7, 2012 5:43 am | News | Comments

Space may be the final frontier. But often a few trips to NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory are necessary before things can get off the ground. One recent case in point is the test of an instrument called the Extreme Ultraviolet Monitor, which will soon be heading for Mars to help answer a vexing question in planetary science: Where did the Red Planet’s once-dense atmosphere go?

Scientists use airship to look for meteorites

May 4, 2012 3:04 pm | News | Comments

A group of scientists took to the skies in a slow-moving airship Thursday in search of meteorites that rained over California's gold country last month. It's the latest hunt for extraterrestrial fragments from the April 22 explosion that was witnessed over a swath of Northern California and Nevada.

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Space shuttle Enterprise zooms over NYC on jet

April 27, 2012 10:01 am | by Deepti Hajela, Associated Press | News | Comments

As the Boeing 747 zoomed over the Manhattan skyline Friday, onlookers gawked at the unusual sight, realizing that the smaller plane hitched to its fuselage was an actual space shuttle. The Enterprise will soon make its home in New York City, basking in retirement about the Intrepid carrier in the Hudson River.

Student researcher spies odd lava spirals on Mars

April 27, 2012 3:24 am | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

For more than a decade, scientists debated whether a maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes. Now, aresearcher reports finding lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter brings “Earthrise” to everyone

April 20, 2012 7:20 am | News | Comments

On December 24, 1968, the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 were conducting an extensive photographic survey of the moon’s surface. When they paused to take a navigation sighting, they were shocked to see the Earth “rising” above the lunar surface. Using modern imagery, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has recreated the moment, shortly before the first real photograph was taken.

Space shuttle Discovery poised for final takeoff

April 17, 2012 5:24 am | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

Evoking memories of the earliest shuttle flights that started with a mate-demate device atop a modified jumbo jet, the space shuttle Discovery this morning departed on its final flight from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The Discovery was bound for Washington, where it will become a museum piece at the Smithsonian Institution.

NASA collecting ideas on new strategy for exploring the Red Planet

April 16, 2012 3:36 am | News | Comments

Starting Friday, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group began accepting ideas and abstracts online from the worldwide scientific and technical community as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. They hope to develop a new strategy for the exploration of Mars.

With rockets, so many things can and do go wrong

April 16, 2012 3:29 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The giant explosion that gets a rocket off the ground isn't that complicated. In the case of North Korea’s failed rocket launch last week, two liquid propellants ignite when mixed. Controlling that explosion, and keeping the pointy end of the rocket pointed skyward, is what keeps engineers up at night, and is why rocket science is really, really hard.

NASA spacecraft spot something new on the sun

April 10, 2012 4:38 am | News | Comments

A researcher working with images from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory recently saw something he’d never seen before: a pattern of cells in the sun’s corona. Using a combination of conventional and magnetic imaging from several satellites and spacecraft, astronomer were able to build a 3D picture of what was happening on the sun’s surface.

Discovery sheds new light on wandering continents

March 22, 2012 1:44 pm | by Bill Steigerwald | News | Comments

According to NASA scientist Dr. Nicholas Schmerr, a layer of partially molten rock about 22 to 75 miles underground can't be the only mechanism that allows continents to gradually shift their position over millions of years. He contends that because his research has revealed this melt-rich layer to be spotty, another cause must exist for the movement of plates over the mantle.

A close-up view of Mercury

March 22, 2012 3:52 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New observations from a spacecraft orbiting Mercury have revealed that the tiny, pockmarked planet harbors a highly unusual interior—and the craft's glimpse of Mercury's surface topography suggests the planet has had a very dynamic history.

First geologic map of Io details otherworldly volcanic surface

March 21, 2012 10:16 am | News | Comments

Published by the U.S. Geological Survey, the first fully global geologic map of Jupiter’s moon Io technically illustrates the geologic character of some of the most unique and active volcanoes ever documented in the solar system.

NASA considering space station for Mars dry run

March 21, 2012 3:35 am | News | Comments

The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years. NASA said Tuesday that consideration is underway to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars.

Astronomers discover quasars acting as gravitational lenses

March 16, 2012 9:16 am | News | Comments

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found several examples of galaxies containing quasars, which far outshine the total starlight of their host galaxies. These superbright objects contained within the galaxy act as gravitational lenses, amplifying and distorting images of galaxies aligned behind them.

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