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A view of Pluto Safari on an iPhone. Image via Simulation Curriculum.

A view of Pluto Safari on an iPhone. Image via Simulation Curriculum.

If you’re like us, you’ve been following the news closely as the New Horizons mission speeds towards Pluto. Want to follow it even closer? Check out the free Pluto Safari app now available from the developers that brought us the award winning astronomy app ‘SkySafari 4.’ It is available in both iOS and Android.

The fully interactive Pluto Safari provides a countdown in time and distance for when New Horizons will reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. It will also give you the latest position of New Horizons and Pluto, providing 3-D views of the Solar System and the Pluto system, as well as 3-D models of the spacecraft. By using the Time Controls, you can run through the mission, backwards or forwards, to see the mission step-by-step. Just so you don’t get lost in time and space, the status bar always displays the current date, time and location.
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First Looks at The Martian Revealed

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Image credit: 20th Century Fox/Entertainment Weekly

Alert: mild spoilers lie ahead, as we’ll be discussing minor plot points of the book The Martian. What, you haven’t read it yet? Have you been stranded on Mars? Don’t make us pull your geek card…

Never mind The Avengers or the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise… some early stills from the big screen adaptation of Andy Weir’s The Martian have been circulating around ye ole web as of late, and we like what we see. [click to continue…]

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Boeing was awarded the first service flight of the CST-100 crew capsule to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability agreement with NASA in this artists concept.  Credit: Boeing

Boeing was awarded the first service flight of the CST-100 crew capsule to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability agreement with NASA in this artists concept. Credit: Boeing

The restoration of America’s ability to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil in 2017 took a major step forward when NASA ordered the first ever commercial human spaceflight mission from Boeing.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) office gave the first commercial crew rotation mission award to the Boeing Company to launch its CST-100 astronaut crew capsule to the ISS by late 2017, so long as the company satisfactorily meets all of [click to continue…]

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Activity within the jet from NGC 3852 imaged by Hubble. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Meyer (STScI).

Activity within a jet from NGC 3862 observed with Hubble over 20 years. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Meyer (STScI).

Even the Empire’s planet-blasting battle station has nothing compared to the immense energy being fired from the heart of NGC 3862, a supermassive black hole-harboring elliptical galaxy located 300 million light-years away.

And while jets of high-energy plasma coming from active galactic nuclei have been imaged before, for the first time activity within a jet has been observed in optical wavelengths, revealing a quite “forceful” collision of ejected material at near light speeds.

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What is Lunar Regolith?

A boot print on the lunar regolith. Credit: NASA.

The famous Apollo 11 boot print on the lunar surface, which left a deep indentation in the regolith. Credit: NASA.

When you’re walking around on soft ground, do you notice how your feet leave impressions? Perhaps you’ve tracked some of the looser earth in your yard into the house on occasion? If you were to pick up some of these traces – what we refer to as dirt or soil – and examine them beneath a microscope, what would you see?

Essentially, you would be seeing the components of what is known as regolith, which is a collection of particles of dust, soil, broken rock, and other materials found here on Earth. But interestingly enough, this same basic material can be found in other terrestrial environments as well – including the Moon, Mars, other planets, and even asteroids.

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What Was Here Before the Solar System?


The Solar System is 4.5 billion years old, but the Universe is much older. What was here before our Solar System formed?
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These images show Pluto in the latest series of New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) photos, taken May 8-12, 2015. Hints of possible complex surface geology and the polar cap first seen in April are visible. Credit: NASA

These images show Pluto in the latest series of New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) photos, taken May 8-12, 2015. Hints of possible complex surface geology and the polar cap first seen in April are visible. Credit: NASA

Hey Pluto, it’s great to see your face! Since sending its last batch of images in April, NASA’s New Horizons probe lopped off another 20 million miles in its journey to the mysterious world.  Among the latest revelations: the dwarf planet displays a much more varied surface and the bright polar cap discovered earlier this spring appears even bigger.
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SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon blastoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 14, 2015 at 4:10 p.m. EDT  on the CRS-6 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SpaceX Falcon 9 is now certified for USAF launches. SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon blastoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 14, 2015 at 4:10 p.m. EDT on the CRS-6 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
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The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday that they have certified SpaceX to launch the nations critical and highly valuable national security satellites on the firms Falcon 9 rocket, thereby breaking the decade old launch monopoly held by launch competitor United Launch Alliance (ULA). ULA is a joint venture owned by aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

The Air Force’s goal in approving the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster is aimed at drastically cutting the high cost of access to space by introducing competition in the awarding of military mission launch contacts. [click to continue…]

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The fascinating surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa looms large in this newly-reprocessed color view, made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. This is the color view of Europa from Galileo that shows the largest portion of the moon's surface at the highest resolution.  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

The fascinating surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa looms large in this newly-reprocessed color view, made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. This is the color view of Europa from Galileo that shows the largest portion of the moon’s surface at the highest resolution. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

In a major move forward on a long dreamed of mission to investigate the habitability of the subsurface ocean of Jupiter’s mysterious moon Europa, top NASA officials announced today, Tuesday, May 26, the selection of nine science instruments that will fly on the agency’s long awaited planetary science mission to an intriguing world that many scientists suspect could support life.

“We are on our way to Europa,” proclaimed John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, at a media briefing today outlining NASA’s plans for a mission dedicated to launching in the early to mid-2020s. “It’s a mission to inspire.” [click to continue…]

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The International Space Station in orbital twilight during the departure of STS-119 Space Shuttle Discovery. Image credit: NASA/STS-119

The summer season means long days and short nights, as observers in the northern hemisphere must stay up later each evening waiting for darkness to fall. It also means that the best season to spot that orbital outpost of humanity—the International Space Station—is almost upon us. Get set for multiple passes a night for observers based in mid- to high- northern latitudes, starting this week. [click to continue…]

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