≡ Menu
Observations of Comet Siding Spring Oct. 19 by the Mars Orbiter Mission. Credit: Indian Space Research Organisation

Observations of Comet Siding Spring Oct. 19 by the Mars Orbiter Mission. Credit: Indian Space Research Organisation

Feeling lucky? Events such as the Comet Siding Spring approach by Mars in October only happen about once every eight million years, according to NASA.

And after we were treated to spectacular views from the agency’s spacecraft (see Curiosity and Opportunity and MAVEN, for example), we now have fresh pictures this month from an Indian mission. Also, NASA has released science results suggesting that the chemistry of Mars’ atmosphere could be changed forever from the close encounter.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }
Artist's impression of Venus Express performing aerobreaking maneuvers in the planet's atmosphere in June and July 2014. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau

Artist’s impression of Venus Express performing aerobreaking maneuvers in the planet’s atmosphere in June and July 2014. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau

It’s been an interesting year for Venus Express. A few months ago, controllers deliberately dipped the spacecraft into the atmosphere of the planet — for science purposes, of course. The daring maneuver was approved because the spacecraft is near the end of its mission. It’s nearly out of fuel and will fall into Venus — sometime. Likely in 2015. No one knows exactly when, however.

Until Dec. 30, European Space Agency operators are going to boost the spacecraft’s orbit to try to get a little more productivity out of it. After that, all depends on what gas is left in the tank.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

How Do Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving On The Space Station?

As Americans get ready for turkey feasts and other Thanksgiving goodies today, let’s take a few moments to think about the crew of six people on board the International Space Station. Two Americans, a European and three Russians are working there now and will be taking most of today (Nov. 26) off for the holiday.

What the heck will they eat? The NASA interview above provides some clues, including a surprise about leftovers. More details below the jump.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }
Gas and dust stream from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in this mosaic from the Rosetta spacecraft taken Nov. 20, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Gas and dust stream from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in this mosaic from the Rosetta spacecraft taken Nov. 20, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Get a load of those streaks! Rosetta’s comet is picking up in activity as it moves ever closer to the Sun, sending out a steady stream of gas and dust captured in this image released today (Nov. 26). It’s also possible that there might be an “atmosphere” developing around the comet, although the images aren’t clear on if that’s an artifact of Rosetta itself.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

NASA Airship Could Watch The Stars Without The Need Of a Rocket

Artist's concept of a NASA airship that would fly at a suborbital altitudes for hours at a time. Credit: Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive)/Keck Institute for Space Studies

Artist’s concept of a NASA airship that would fly at a suborbital altitudes for hours at a time. Credit: Mike Hughes (Eagre Interactive)/Keck Institute for Space Studies

Dreams of space are often tied to jet engines or solar sails or taking a ride on a rocketship. But it’s often quite efficient to do research from Earth, especially from the high reaches of the atmosphere where there are few molecules to get in the way of observations.

NASA wants to do more of this kind of astronomy with an airship — but at an extreme height of 65,000 feet (20 kilometers) for 20 hours. No powered-airship mission has managed to last past eight hours at this height because of the winds in that zone, but NASA is hoping that potential creators would be up to the challenge.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }