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Homecoming view of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft after returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2014 after successful blastoff on Dec. 5, 2014.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Homecoming view of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft after returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2014 after successful blastoff on Dec. 5, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a history making journey of more than 60,000 miles through space, ocean splash down and over 2000 mile cross country journey through the back woods of America, NASA’s pathfinding Orion crew capsule has returned to its home base at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The Orion mission was a spectacular success,” said Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin Program manager for Orion at KSC, during a homecoming event attended by space journalists including Universe Today on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. [click to continue…]

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Weekly Space Hangout – Dec. 19, 2014: Methane on Mars!

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
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SpaceX Falcon 9 erect at Cape Canaveral launch pad 40  awaiting launch on Sept 20, 2014 on the CRS-4 mission. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

A SpaceX Falcon 9 erect at Cape Canaveral launch pad 40 awaiting launch on Sept 20, 2014, on the CRS-4 mission in this file photo. The next Falcon 9 launch has been postponed to Jan. 6, 2015 to ensure the rocket is ready. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Due to technical problems encountered during a hot fire test of the first stage engines this week with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the planned Dec. 19 launch of the commercial rocket and NASA contracted Dragon cargo freighter to the International Space Station (ISS) on a critical resupply mission has been postponed a few weeks into the new year to Jan. 6 at the earliest “out of an abundance of caution,” SpaceX officials told Universe Today. [click to continue…]

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Compromises Lead to Climate Change Deal

Secretary-General Addresses Lima Climate Action High-level Meeting.  Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Addresses Lima Climate Action High-level Meeting.
Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For over two weeks, representatives debated and discussed the issue, which at times became hotly contested and divisive.

In the end, a compromise was reached between rich and developing nations, which found themselves on opposite sides for much of the proceedings.

And while few member states walked away feeling they had received all they wanted, many expressed that the meeting was an important step on the road to the 2015 Climate Change Conference. It is hoped that this conference will, after 20 years of negotiations, create the first binding and universal agreement on climate change.

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Christmas lighting displays like this one near Duluth, Minn. U.S. are visible from outer space. Credit: Bob King

Christmas lighting displays like this one near Duluth, Minn. U.S. contribute to increased brightness around cities that can be seen from outer space. Credit: Bob King

Call it holiday light creep. A NASA satellite has been tracking the spread of Christmas lighting from 512 miles up for the past three years and according to the data, nighttime lights around many major U.S. cities shine 20 to 50 percent brighter during Christmas and New Year’s when compared to light output during the rest of the year. Not surprisingly, most it comes from suburban areas.

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