In the past decade, thousands of planets have been discovered beyond our Solar System. This has had the effect of renewing interest in space exploration, which includes the possibility of sending spacecraft to explore exoplanets. Given the challenges involved, a number of advanced concepts are currently being explored, like the time-honored concept of a light sail (as exemplified by Breakthrough Starshot and similar proposals).
However, in more recent years, scientists have proposed a potentially more-effective concept known as the electric sail, where a sail composed of wire mesh generates electrical charges to deflect solar wind particles, thus generating momentum. In a recent study, two Harvard scientists compared and contrasted these methods to determine which would be more advantageous for different types of missions.
Continue reading “What’s the Best Way to Sail From World to World? Electric Sails or Solar Sails?”
It’s time to update the rules. That’s the conclusion of a panel that examined NASA’s rules for planetary protection. It was smart, at the dawn of the space age, to think about how we might inadvertently pollute other worlds with Earthly microbes as we explore the Solar System. But now that we know a lot more than we did back then, the rules don’t fit.
Continue reading “A NASA Panel Says We Don’t Need to be so Careful About Infecting Other Worlds”
When a NASA engineer announces a new and revolutionary engine that could take us to the stars, it’s easy to get excited. But the demons are in the details, and when you look at the actual article things look far less promising.
Continue reading “NASA Engineer Has A Great Idea for a High-Speed Spacedrive. Too Bad it Violates the Laws of Physics”
A team of Japanese researchers have used sperm from mice that spent time aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to fertilize female mice back on Earth. While previous research has shown that freeze-dried mouse sperm stored in space can experience radiation damage, these results show that the sperm from live mice may not suffer the same damage.
Continue reading “Mice That Spend a Month in Space Were Able to Reproduce Once They Got Back to Earth”
Picture two tissue box-sized spacecraft orbiting Earth.
Then picture them communicating, and using a water-powered thruster to approach each other. If you can do that, then you’re up to speed on one of the activities of NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP.) It’s all part of NASA’s effort to develop small spacecraft to serve their space exploration, science, space operations, and aeronautics endeavors.
Continue reading “NASA Tests Water Powered Spacecraft in Orbit”
Where you can travel in space depends on how much propellant you’ve got on board your rocket and how efficiently you can use it. But there’s a source of free propellant right here in the Solar System – the Sun – which is streaming out photons in all directions. You just need to catch them.
And right now, the Planetary Society’s new LightSail 2 spacecraft is testing out just how well it’ll work.
Continue reading “Planetary Society Deploys LightSail 2’s Solar Sail. What Does The Future Hold For Solar Sails?”
After months of discussion, the space agencies behind the Lunar Gateway have decided how the space station will orbit the Moon. NASA and the ESA are developing the Lunar Gateway jointly, and the orbital path that it will follow around the Moon is a key part of mission design. It’ll affect all the vital aspects of the mission, including how spacecraft will rendezvous and land at the station.
Continue reading “The Lunar Gateway Will be in a “Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit””
Mystery. Secrecy. A Need-To-Know Basis. These are the hallmarks of science. Wait a minute: no they’re not. So what’s with all the mysterious secret objective talk from SpaceIL about Beresheet2?
Continue reading “SpaceIL Scraps its Plans to go Back to the Moon. Instead, it’s Got a New Secret “Significant Objective” for Beresheet 2″
The 50th anniversary of You-Know-What is coming up and LEGO is getting in on the celebration. The much-beloved company has released a replica of the Apollo 11 Eagle Lunar Lander. The new lander is part of LEGO’s Creator Expert collection.
LEGO teamed up with NASA on this effort, and the model boasts quite a few realistic touches.
Continue reading “LEGO’s New Apollo 11 Lunar Lander has been Released”
Blue Origin is going to the Moon. In an hour-long presentation in Washington DC on May 9th, Jeff Bezos spelled out his plans for reaching the Moon, confirming what many guessed he was hinting at in a tweet from the previous week.
Bezos and his company, Blue Origin, are developing a lunar lander capable of landing a large payload of 6.5 metric tons (14,330 lbs.) on the lunar surface. The lander is being called ‘Blue Moon’ and the target date for its rendezvous with the Moon is 2024.
Continue reading “The Blue Origins Founder Wants to Get to the Moon by 2024”