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China Launches Moon Mission to Test Key Lunar Sample Return Technologies

China launched a robotic mission to the Moon today (Oct. 23 EDT/Oct. 24 BJT) that will test a slew of key technologies required for safely delivering samples gathered from the Moon’s surface and returning them to Earth later this decade for analysis by researchers. Today’s unmanned launch of what has been dubbed “Chang’e-5 T1” is […]

Beautiful Images of the October 23, 2014 Partial Solar Eclipse

“The Sun looks like it has a bite taken out of it!” said one enthusiastic viewer of the partial solar eclipse on October 23. Although I only had my paper plate pinhole projector that I shared with a crowd of folks (you can see an image of it near the bottom of the images here), […]

Asteroid 2014 SC324 Zips By Earth Friday Afternoon – Tips on How to See it

What a roller coaster week it’s been. If partial eclipses and giant sunspots aren’t your thing, how about aclose flyby of an Earth-approaching asteroid? (...)Read the rest of Asteroid 2014 SC324 Zips By Earth Friday Afternoon – Tips on How to See it (477 words) Bob King for Universe Today, 2014. | Permalink | […]

Rosetta’s Comet Springs Spectacular Leaks As It Gets Closer To The Sun

Jet! The comet that the Rosetta spacecraft is visiting is shedding more dust as machine and Solar System body get closer to the Sun. While activity was first seen at the “neck” of the rubber-duckie shaped comet a few weeks ago, now scientists are seeing jets spring from across the comet. (...)Read the rest of […]

Astronomy Cast Ep. 354: Mars vs Comet Siding Spring

Visit the Astronomy Cast Page to subscribe to the audio podcast! We record Astronomy Cast as a live Google+ Hangout on Air every Monday at 12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern. You can watch here on Universe Today or from the Astronomy Cast Google+ page. Fraser for Universe Today, 2014. | Permalink | […]

Hubble Composite Picture Shows How Close Siding Spring Comet Was To Mars

We’ve seen spectacular images of Comet Siding Spring from Mars spacecraft, showing just how close the small body was to the Red Planet when it whizzed by Sunday (Oct. 19). But how close were the two objects actually, in the sky? This Hubble Space Telescope composite image shows just how astoundingly near they were. Above […]

Unusual Distributions of Organics Found in Titan’s Atmosphere

A new mystery of Titan has been uncovered by astronomers using their latest asset in the high altitude desert of Chile. Using the now fully deployed Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, astronomers moved from observing comets to Titan. A single 3 minute observation revealed organic molecules that are askew in the atmosphere […]

The Physics Behind “Intellstellar’s” Visual Effects Was So Good, it Led to a Scientific Discovery

While he was working on the film Interstellar, executive producer Kip Thorne was tasked with creating the black hole that would be central to the plot. As a theoretical physicist, he also wanted to create something that was truly realistic and as close to the real thing as movie-goers would ever see. On the other […]

Two Comet Groups Discovered Around Beta Pictoris

Between the years 2003 and 2011, the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher – better known as HARPS – made more than a thousand observations of nearby star, Beta Pictoris. On board the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, the sensitive instrument normally combs the sky nightly in search of exoplanets, […]

Questioning the Impact Theory: What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?

About sixty five and a half million years ago, the Earth suffered its largest known cosmic impact. An asteroid or comet nucleus about 10 km in diameter slammed into what is now the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It gouged out a crater 180 to 200 km in diameter: nearly twice as large as the prominent […]

WEBCAST REPLAY: Partial Solar Eclipse Webcast by Slooh

Slooh will host a live webcast of the partial solar eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23. Watch it live here.

Partial Solar Eclipse Snippet Time-Lapsed | Video

The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California captured the solar eclipse on October 23rd, 2014. Five minutes of the eclipse has been sped up 15,000 times to show the movement of the Moon.

Partial Solar Eclipse of Oct. 23: See the First Photos

The moon blocked out part of the sun on Oct. 23, 2014 to create a stunning partial solar eclipse visible to observers across the United States.

Buzz Aldrin Says One-Way Trips to Mars Could Actually Work

Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin wants to send people on a trip to Mars, and he doesn't want them to come home — at least not at first.

Wow! This Hubble Telescope Photo of Mars with a Comet Is Amazing

A telescope orbiting Earth has captured a jaw-dropping image of a comet making an incredibly close flyby of Mars.

Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary Exhibit Opens at NYC Museum

The Hubble Space Telescope takes center stage at the new Hubble@25 exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. Former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, who visited Hubble twice, gives us a glimpse of the exhibit.

Partial Solar Eclipse Occurs Today: Watch It Live

The online Slooh Community Observatory will air a special three-hour solar eclipse webcast Thursday starting at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT). You can watch the show at, or here at, courtesy of Slooh.

First Private Moon Mission to Launch on Chinese Rocket Today

The 4M mission will piggyback on a Chinese moon flyby unofficially dubbed Chang'e 5-T1, which aims to test out tech for a future lunar sample-return mission. Liftoff is set for 1:59 p.m. EDT Thursday from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Partial Solar Eclipse Today: A Weather Forecast

Viewers throughout most of the United States are in position to see a partial solar eclipse Thursday afternoon (Oct. 23). Unfortunately, clouds will likely get in the way in some parts of the country.

Huge Sunspot Full Of X and M Flares | Video

On October 22nd, 2012, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an M-class and X-class flare erupting from sunspot AR2192.

Ex-Astro Mike Massimino Previews Hubble@25 Exhibit on Intrepid | Video

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum’s Senior Advisor for Space Programs and the exhibit's Co-Curator shares stories of his trips to service the Space Telescope and describes the exhibit.

A Decade into a New Spaceflight Era, a Mixture of Frustration and Optimism

Company executives and government officials at a commercial space conference expressed a mixture of optimism and impatience.

Cosmonauts Breeze Through Speedy Spacewalk at Space Station

Cosmonauts Max Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev went outside the International Space Station today. They completed what was supposed to be a six-hour spacewalk in just three hours and 38 minutes.

Spacewalk Photos: Cosmonauts Float Outside Space Station (Oct. 22, 2014)

Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency worked outside in the International Space Station on Oct. 22, 2014.

Military Space - Spacecraft, Weapons and Tech

From spy satellites and missile defense to robot space planes and orbital platforms, get the latest news and views on military space technology.

Huge Magnetic 'Ropes' Drive Powerful Sun Explosions

Eruptions on the sun's surface are probably caused by giant, unstable magnetic plasma arches, a new study reports — a discovery that brings scientists one step closer to predicting solar outbursts that can wreak havoc on Earth.

Hundreds of 'Exocomets' Around Nearby Star Come in Two Flavors

The best look yet at nearly 500 comets around a distant star reveals these alien snowballs come in very different flavors, just like comets around the sun. These "exocomets" could shed light on what the solar system was like in its tumultuous youth.

Alien Comets of Star Beta Pictoris Explained (Infographic)

Astronomers have detected the signatures of hundreds of comets disintegrating in a distant, chaotic solar system 63 light-years away.

Hundreds Of Comets Spotted Around Nearby Star | Artist Impression Video

Astronomers at the La Silla Observatory in Chile took a census of comets around the star Beta Pictoris (62 light-years away), discovering they belong to two families.

Obama Nominates Dava Newman for NASA Deputy Administrator Post

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Dava Newman to become the next deputy administrator of NASA.

'Interstellar' Actors Quizzed on Space Trivia in New Video

How much do the stars of the highly anticipated movie "Interstellar" really know about space? Entertainment Weekly attempted to find out in a newly released video that features three of the space film's stars answering a series of trivia questions.

Cosmonauts Take Spacewalk Outside Space Station Today: Watch It Live

Russian cosmonauts from International Space Station's Expedition 41 crew will complete a six-hour spacewalk on Wednesday (Oct. 22).

China Poised to Launch Next Moon Mission on Thursday

The unmanned mission will apparently send a spacecraft around the moon; on its way back toward Earth, the probe will release a capsule to perform a high-speed plunge through the planet's atmosphere.

Pandora's Cluster | Space Wallpaper

This space wallpaper of Abell 2744 is the first to come from Hubble's Frontier Fields observing programme.

Mars-Bound Comet: Photos of Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring (Gallery)

See photos and images of the Mars-bound comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring, which will buzz the Red Planet on Oct. 19, 2014. Comet Siding Spring was discovered in January 2013. Its pass through the inner solar system will be closely watched by Mars probes.

Tom Hanks Flies Alan Bean to the Moon in 'The New Yorker'

There's a certain irony to the observation that Tom Hanks today may be better known for flying to the moon than Alan Bean, who actually went there. The actor and director celebrates Bean and laments his anonymity in the pages of "The New Yorker."

Buzz Aldrin, Elon Musk to Speak at MIT Conference This Week: Watch Live

Astronauts and innovators, including SpaceX's billionaire founder Elon Musk, are descending upon MIT this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the university's aeronautics and astronautics department.

Sun Unleashes Powerful X-Class Solar Flare (Video, Photos)

The sun fired off an X-class solar flare — the most powerful type — that peaked at 1:01 a.m. EDT Sunday. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captured photos and video of the intense sun storm, which researchers classified as an X1.1 flare.

'Halo' Of Echoing X-rays From Magnetar Outburst | Video

A highly magnetized neutron Star named SGR J1550-5418 erupted with a series of powerful x-ray and gamma-ray flares on Jan 22, 2009. NASA's Swift satellite observed the outburst over the course of 6 days.

NASA Mars Probes See Rare Comet Flyby (Photos)

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Opportunity rover have beamed back amazing views of a comet that made an extremely close pass of the Red Planet on Sunday (Oct. 19).

Orionid Meteor Shower: See Halley's Comet Crumbs Online Tonight

Some skywatchers captured incredible views of the Orionid meteor shower earlier this week, but even if you can't catch the peaking shower outside tonight (Oct. 21), you can still see it live online.

WATCH LIVE NOW: Cosmonauts Take Spacewalk Outside Space Station

NASA officials will air a Russian spacewalk live via NASA TV on Wednesday (Oct. 22). You can watch the spacewalk live starting at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT).

Comet Imaged From Mars' Surface and Orbit | Video

NASA's Opportunity Rover and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had their cameras fixated on comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on October 19th, 2014.

Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014: Visibility Maps

Find out what the partial solar eclipse of Oct. 23, 2014 might look like from around North America using these sky maps and images.

See the Partial Solar Eclipse Thursday with a Pinhole Camera (Video)

A potentially amazing partial solar eclipse is due to darken skies above North America Thursday (Oct. 23), and you can build and easy tool to help you view it safely.

Early Protocluster | Space Wallpaper

This space wallpaper depicts the formation of a galaxy cluster in the early Universe.

Folding Origami Solar Panels Could Be Headed to Space (Video)

NASA engineers, researchers from Brigham Young University and origami expert Robert Lang are developing origami-inspired solar panel arrays that fold and unfold.

NASA Spacecraft at Mars Survive Close Encounter with Comet

Three spacecraft at Mars survived a close brush with a comet that buzzed by the Red Planet Sunday (Oct. 19), while scientists on Earth captured some amazing images of the comet's close pass.

Orionid Meteor Shower Is Peaking Now: How to See It

If you step outside before dawn during the next week or so, you might be able to see bright meteors streaking through the sky.

Partial Solar Eclipse - How To View It | Video

Warning: Do not look directly at the Sun. On October 23rd, 2014, most of the North America will be treated to the eclipse. Viewing from the eastern U.S. will be especially beautiful, weather permitting, due to it occurring at the end of the day.

Partial Solar Eclipse to Darken US Skies This Week

Nearly all of North America will experience the solar eclipse. People who live east of a line running from roughly Quebec City to Montauk Point, New York, will miss out, since the sun will set before the dark disc of the moon begins to encroach upon it.

Who Owns the Moon? (Op-Ed)

Without proper regulation, the moon risks becoming an extra-planetary Wild West.

Spacecraft Watched the Lunar Eclipse from Mercury

Last week's lunar eclipse wasn't just a show for Earthlings, NASA's MESSENGER mission was also watching from Mercury, 66 million miles away.

Comet Siding Spring's Rare Mars Flyby: Full Coverage

A comet is due to make a close flyby of Mars Sunday (Oct. 19), allowing scientists an unprecedented look at the comet as it flies by the Red Planet.

Comet Buzzes Mars in Once-in-a-Lifetime Flyby

Comet Siding Spring came within just 87,000 miles of the Martian surface at 2:27 p.m. EDT today — about one-third of the distance between Earth and the moon. The comet barreled by at 126,000 mph relative to the Red Planet, NASA officials said.

Comet Flies By Mars Today in Rare Encounter: Watch It Online

A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system is due to give Mars a close shave on Sunday (Oct. 19), and you can watch the flyby live online.

Sun Blasts X-Flare - Spacecraft's Multiple Wavelength Views | Video

An large sunspot (AR2192) emitted a X1-class solar flare on October 19th, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the fireworks. The blast site was not Earth-directed.

Comet's Mars Buzz - NASA Scientist's 'Need To Know' | Exclusive Video

NASA scientist Dr. Michelle L Thaller tells's @MiriKramer what you need to know about comet Siding Spring's fly-by, its implications for the Red Planet and how humans will be able to observe it. Full Coverage:

Secretive X-37B Space Plane Lands At Vandenberg AFB | Video

The unmanned, reusable space plane landed at the Air Force Base in Californoa on October 17th, 2014. The Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3) spent 22 months in space on a secret mission. Full Story:

Comet Siding Spring at Mars: How a Rare Celestial Event Was Discovered

Comet Siding Spring — unknown and undiscovered until 2013 — will zoom past the Red Planet Sunday afternoon (Oct. 19) in an encounter that could help scientists better understand how the solar system came to be.

Space News From SpaceDaily.Com

China launches first mission to moon and back

Beijing (AFP) Oct 24, 2014
China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious programme to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only natural satellite. The unnamed, unmanned probe will travel to the moon, fly around it and head back to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere and landing, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement.

Two families of comets found around nearby star

Paris (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
Beta Pictoris is a young star located about 63 light-years from the Sun. It is only about 20 million years old and is surrounded by a huge disc of material - a very active young planetary system where gas and dust are produced by the evaporation of comets and the collisions of asteroids. Flavien Kiefer (IAP/CNRS/UPMC), lead author of the new study sets the scene: "Beta Pictoris is a very e

Organic molecules in Titan's atmosphere are intriguingly skewed

Washington DC (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
While studying the atmosphere on Saturn's moon Titan, scientists discovered intriguing zones of organic molecules unexpectedly shifted away from its north and south poles. These misaligned features seem to defy conventional thinking about Titan's windy atmosphere, which should quickly smear out such off-axis concentrations. "This is an unexpected and potentially groundbreaking discovery,"

U.S. holds test on Aegis tracking capability

Washington (UPI) Oct 21, 2014
The U.S. military has demonstrated that Lockheed Martin's Aegis weapon system can destroy a ballistic missile solely on tracks from remote airborne sensors. Results of the demonstration by the Ballistic Missile Defense Agency and the Navy will be used to enhance the Ballistic Missile Defense System and support the advancement of Phase 2 of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defens

Thales providing satcom capability to Qatar

Paris (UPI) Oct 21, 2014
The military forces of Qatar are receiving a satellite communications system and network operations center from Thales. The monetary value of the award and the performance timeline for the work were not disclosed but Thales said its communications system would be supplied on a turnkey basis. "Satellite communication systems are an important component of a military force's voice a

NASA uses ultra-black nano-coating for solar coronagraph

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
An emerging super-black nanotechnology that is to be tested for the first time this fall on the International Space Station will be applied to a complex, 3-D component critical for suppressing stray light in a new, smaller, less-expensive solar coronagraph designed to ultimately fly on the orbiting outpost or as a hosted payload on a commercial satellite. The super-black carbon-nanotube co

Cosmonauts complete 3rd EVA for October

Washington DC (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
Russian spacewalkers Max Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev closed the Pirs docking compartment hatch at 1:06 p.m. EDT ending the third spacewalk for Expedition 41. The cosmonauts were outside the International Space Station for three hours and 38 minutes. Two U.S. spacewalks took place Oct. 7 and 15. The duo's first task was to remove the Radiometriya experiment that was installed on the Zv

New lunar mission to test Chang'e-5 technology

Beijing (XNA) Oct 24, 2014
China will launch a new lunar mission this week to test technology likely to be used in Chang'e-5, a future lunar probe with the ability to return to Earth. The experimental spacecraft launched this week is expected to reach a location near the moon and return to Earth, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Wednesday. The te

Next Chinese mission to moon will return to Earth

Moscow (RIA Novosti) Oct 24, 2014
This week China will launch a new lunar orbiter, which, in contrast with previous space probes, will return to Earth after orbiting the Moon, China's official Xinhua news agency reports. Ye Peijian, senior adviser to the China Academy Of Space Technology talked to Xinhua about the probe earlier this month: "After we are able to have probes return to earth, we'll study and move to possible

NASA-led study sees Titan glowing at dusk and dawn

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
New maps of Saturn's moon Titan reveal large patches of trace gases shining brightly near the north and south poles. These regions are curiously shifted off the poles, to the east or west, so that dawn is breaking over the southern region while dusk is falling over the northern one. The pair of patches was spotted by a NASA-led international team of researchers investigating the chemical m

Suomi team ward off recent space debris threat

Silver Spring MD (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
While space debris was the uncontrolled adversary in the award-winning space thriller film "Gravity," space debris, also known as "space junk," is an ongoing real-life concern for teams managing satellites orbiting Earth, including NOAA-NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP, satellite. It is not unusual for satellites that have the capability of maneuvering to be reposit

NASA's Fermi Satellite Finds Hints of Starquakes in Magnetar 'Storm'

Washington DC (SPX) Oct 23, 2014
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a rapid-fire "storm" of high-energy blasts from a highly magnetized neutron star, also called a magnetar, on Jan. 22, 2009. Now astronomers analyzing this data have discovered underlying signals related to seismic waves rippling throughout the magnetar. Such signals were first identified during the fadeout of rare giant flares produced by mag

NASA Awards Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder for the JPSS-2 Mission

Washington DC (SPX) Oct 24, 2014
NASA has awarded a sole source contract modification to Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, of Azusa, California, for the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Instrument for flight on the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission. This is a cost-plus-award-fee modification in the amount of $121 million. This action extends the period of performance of the contract from May 2

Successful test for India's Nirbhay cruise missile

New Delhi (UPI) Oct 21, 2014
The second test flight of India's Nirbhay long-range cruise missile achieved all its mission objectives, the India Defense R&D Organization reports. The missile, the first Indian cruise missile designed and developed locally, flew 621 miles in a 70-minute flight. "The missile maintained an accuracy better than 10 meters (32.8 feet) throughout its path and covered a distance of mo

NASA Webb's Heart Survives Deep Freeze Test

Washington DC (SPX) Oct 23, 2014
After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Teams of engineers and technicians have been on heart-monitoring duty