The first RS-25 flight engine, No. 2059, is placed on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The engines were built by Aerojet Rocketdyne and are being tested in 2015 and 2016 to certify them to fly on NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. SLS-1 will launch on its first uncrewed mission in 2018. Credit: NASA
NASA took another big step on the path to propel our astronauts back to deep space and ultimately on to Mars with the long awaited decision to formally restart production of the venerable RS-25 engine that will power the first stage of the agency’s mammoth Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket, currently under development.
The launch of the New Shepard rocket from Blue Origin’s launch site in Texas on Nov. 23, 2015. Credit: Blue Origin.
Commercial space company Blue Origin achieved a huge milestone by successfully launching their New Shepard rocket to suborbital space and landing it dead center on target – and upright – back at their proving grounds in West Texas. This is the first successful landing of a reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) rocket that has reached space.
“This flight validates our vehicle architecture and design,” said founder Jeff Bezos, the billionaire who also started Amazon.com. [click to continue…]
Dr. Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University alongside illustrations of a black hole and an event horizon with Hawking Radiation. Credit: BBC/Illus.: T.Reyes
When we think of major figures in the history of science, many names come to mind. Einstein, Newton, Kepler, Galileo – all great theorists and thinkers who left an indelible mark during their lifetime. In many cases, the full extent of their contributions would not be appreciated until after their death. But those of us that are alive today are fortunate to have a great scientist among us who has made considerable contributions, and is still alive and kicking – Dr. Stephen Hawking.
Considered by many to be the “modern Einstein”, Hawking’s work in cosmology and theoretical physics is unmatched among his contemporaries. In addition to his work on gravitational singularities and quantum mechanics, he is also responsible for discovering that black holes emit radiation. On top of that, Hawking is a cultural icon, endorsing countless causes, appearing on many television shows as himself, and penning several books that have made science accessible to a wider audience. [click to continue…]
All fundamental particles are either fermions or bosons. Last week we talked about quarks, which are fermions. This week we’ll talk about bosons, including the famous Higgs boson, recently confirmed by the Large Hadron Collider. [click to continue…]
Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina shows off a compact green coma and two tails in this photo taken this morning (Nov. 22, 2015) at dawn from Arizona. The green color comes from carbon compounds fluorescing in UV sunlight. Credit: Chris Schur
Amateur astronomer Chris Schur of Arizona had only five minutes to observe and photograph Comet Catalina this morning before twilight got the better of the night. In that brief time, he secured two beautiful images and made a quick observation through his 80mm refractor. He writes:
“Very difficult observation on this one. (I observed) it visually with the 35mm Panoptic ocular. It was a round, slightly condensed object with no sign of the twin tails that show up in the images. After five minutes, we lost it visually as it was 2° degrees up in bright twilight. Images show it for a longer time and a beautiful emerald green head with two tails forming a Y shaped fan.” [click to continue…]
SpaceX Crew Dragon will blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for missions to the International Space Station. Pad 39A is undergoing modifications by SpaceX to adapt it to the needs of the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are slated to lift off from the historic pad in the near future. A horizontal integration facility (right) has been constructed near the perimeter of the pad where rockets will be processed for launch prior of rolling out to the top of the pad structure for liftoff. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com
Restoring America’s ability to once again launch US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from US soil on US rockets took another significant step forward when NASA ordered the first the agency’s first commercial crew rotation mission from the Hawthorne, California based-company SpaceX. NASA and SpaceX hope that the blastoff with a crew of up to four astronauts will take place by late 2017.
On approach in July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.” The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.
A day on Pluto is 6.4 Earth days (6 days 9 hours and 36 minutes) long. That’s a lengthy, cold, and rather dark day. But this new image released by the New Horizons spacecraft team gives us a better idea of what a day on Pluto might be like. This montage of images shows Pluto rotating over the course of a full Pluto day.
It is interesting to note that Pluto’s moon Charon is tidally locked around Pluto, so this means that Charon takes 6.4 Earth days to orbit around Pluto – the same amount of time as a day on Pluto. If you were standing on Pluto, Charon would always be at the same place in the sky, or you wouldn’t be able to see it at all. And vise versa if you were on Charon.
New Horizons also captured a full day rotation for Charon, too, which you can see below. [click to continue…]
Special Guest: Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Director of the new documentary, Sky Line, The Space Elevator Documentary. The film debuted at DOC NYC 2015 [Nov 12-19] – America’s largest documentary festival — and will be released on all major On Demand platforms on November 20th, 2015.