NASA’s Curiosity rover hammers into ‘Bonanza King’ rock outcrop evaluating potential as 4th drill site for sampling at ‘Hidden Valley’ in this photo mosaic view captured on Aug. 20, 2014, Sol 724.  Inset MAHLI camera image at right shows resulting rock indentation that caused it to budge and be unsafe for further drilling.  Note the background of sand dune ripples and deep wheel tracks inside Hidden Valley that forced quick exit to alternate route forward. Navcam camera raw images stitched and colorized.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA’s Curiosity rover hammers into ‘Bonanza King’ rock outcrop evaluating potential as 4th drill site for sampling at ‘Hidden Valley’ in this photo mosaic view captured on Aug. 20, 2014, Sol 724. Inset MAHLI camera image at right shows resulting rock indentation that caused it to budge and be unsafe for further drilling. Note the background of treacherous sand dune ripples and deep wheel tracks inside Hidden Valley that forced quick exit to alternate route forward. Navcam camera raw images stitched and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA’s Curiosity rover will skip drilling into a possible 4th rock target and instead resume the trek to Mount Sharp after finding it was unfortunately a slippery rock at the edge of a Martian valley of slippery sands and was therefore too risky to proceed with deep drilling and interior sampling for chemical analysis.

After pounding into the “Bonanza King” rock outcrop on Wednesday, Aug. 20, to evaluate its potential as Curiosity’s 4th drill target on Mars and seeing that it moved on impact, the team decided it was not even safe enough to continue with the preliminary ‘mini-drill’ operation that day.

So they cancelled the [click to continue…]

SpaceX's F9R rocket prototype during a successful test in May 2014. Credit: SpaceX/YouTube (screenshot)

SpaceX’s F9R rocket prototype during a successful test in May 2014. Credit: SpaceX/YouTube (screenshot)

No injuries are reported after a SpaceX rocket prototype detonated in Texas today (Aug. 22) after an anomaly was found in the rocket, the company said in a statement.

The  Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) — a successor to the Grasshopper vertical take-off and landing rocket — was completing the latest in a series of ambitious tests that previously saw the prototype successfully testing new steerable fins.

“Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test,” SpaceX said in a statement (which you can read in full below the jump.) “As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.”

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Reid Wiseman, NASA astronaut and part-time master of Vine videos, has done it again. This time he’s showing off a flame experiment on the International Space Station called the Flame Extinguishment Experiment-2 (FLEX-2).

“Ignition, jellyfish of fire, warp-drive finish!” wrote Wiseman on Vine yesterday (Aug. 22). He also posted a slow-motion capture of flames in action, which you can see below the jump. [click to continue…]

Stolen Meteorite Found at a Tennis Court

by Jason Major on August 22, 2014

The Meteorite of Serooskerken (Source: Sterrenwacht Sonnenborgh)

The Meteorite of Serooskerken (Source: Sterrenwacht Sonnenborgh)

Here’s a bit of good news: the Serooskerken meteorite, which was stolen from the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands on Monday night, has been recovered. It was found in a bag left in some bushes alongside a tennis court and turned in to the police.

It’s not quite “game, set, match” though; unfortunately the meteorite was broken during the theft. (See a photo here via Twitter follower Marieke Baan.) Still, the Sonnenborgh Museum director is glad to have the pieces back, which he said will remain useful for research and can still be exhibited. (Source)

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Talk about recycling! Twenty-five years after Voyager 2 zinged past Neptune’s moon Triton, scientists have put together a new map of the icy moon’s surface using the old data. The information has special relevance right now because the New Horizons spacecraft is approaching Pluto fast, getting to the dwarf planet in less than a year. And it’s quite possible that Pluto and Triton will look similar.

Triton has an exciting history. Scientists believed it used to be a lone wanderer until Neptune captured it, causing tidal heating that in turn created fractures, volcanoes and other features on the surface. While Triton and Pluto aren’t twins — this certainly didn’t happen to Pluto — Pluto also has frozen volatiles on its surface such as carbon monoxide, methane and nitrogen.

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