Space News, updated every weekday

Smoky Silhouette | Space Wallpaper

The smoky black silhouette in this gorgeous space wallpaper is part of a large, sparse cloud of partially ionized hydrogen — an HII region — known as Gum 15.

NASA Holds Off on Asteroid-Capture Mission Decision Until Early 2015

NASA has postponed deciding whether to attempt to capture an entire asteroid, or just a piece of one, by 2025 until at least early 2015. Both options are feasible, a senior NASA official said Wednesday (Dec. 17).

WATCH LIVE THURSDAY @ 10 am ET: Briefing on 1-Year Mission to International Space Station

NASA officials and space station partners will host a news conference Thursday (Dec. 18) to discuss the planned one-year mission to the International Space Station at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).

Photos: India's GSLV Mark-III Rocket and 1st Crew Capsule

See photos of India's new Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III rocket and the CARE crew capsule prototype in these photos from the Indian Space Research Organisation. The test launch is set for December 2014.

Venus Express to Flame Out in Blaze of Glory

Already running on fumes as its fuel reserves dwindled, Venus Express' most recent attempts at maintaining its altitude fell short.

European Comet Lander May Wake Up from Space Slumber

It's now approaching summer in the presumed location of Europe's Philae lander on a comet, so the washing-machine-size probecould soon access enough energy to open its eyes and start working again, Rosetta mission scientists said.

Relive Curiosity's '7 Minutes Of Terror' On Discovery Channel | Video Clip

Adam Steltzner and the rest of the Mars Science Laboratory team eagerly anticipate the rover's landing on Mars in this exclusive clip from "Red Planet Rover". The show premieres on the Discovery Channel on Dec. 18th, 2014 at 10pm EST/PST.

Holiday Lights From Space Tell Cultural Tale | Video

Imagery from the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite show lighting patterns change on holidays around the world. Energy usage varies across across different cultural and socioeconomic areas.

Hey Space Fans! Big Discounts on Stellar Gifts

Save up to 60% on space-related gifts ranging from skywatching gear to Star Wars memorabilia. New coupon codes each weekday.

Curiosity Rover Finds Life's Building Blocks on Mars

The discovery is not evidence that life exists, or has ever existed, on Mars, researchers stressed. But it does mark the first time that organics have been confirmed inside Red Planet rocks, and it checks off a chief goal of the rover team.

Holiday Lights From Space: Satellite Sees Cities Brighten (Photos)

City lights across the United States blaze 20 to 50 percent more brightly in December than they do the rest of the year, and some cities in the Middle East brighten by more than 50 percent during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, researchers said.

Blue Stars Sparkle in Spectacular Deep Space Star Cluster (Video, Photos)

A new image of a well-known star cluster in the southern sky, shows off hot blue stars sparkling amid red giants.

Young, Hot Blue Stars Dazzle Especially Open Cluster | Video

New imagery captured by the La Silla Observatory MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope of of star cluster Messier 47, shows a star cluster where only ~50 stars can be seen in an area 12 light-year across area.

Holiday Lights From Space: Images From the Suomi NPP Satellite

These images show that many cities around the world shine more brightly during the holiday season — December in the United States, and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East — than they do during the rest of the year.

Misty La Silla Sunset | Space Wallpaper

This stunning dream like space wallpaper of the La Silla sunset was released Dec. 8, 2014.

Mars Curiosity: Facts and Information

The two-year mission of the one-ton rover is to find out if Mars is, or was, capable of supporting life.

Star Facts: The Basics of Star Names and Stellar Evolution

Learn how stars form, how stars and constellations are named, what happens when stars like our sun evolve, and ultimately, die.

Stephen Hawking's 'Bad Ass' Theory - Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains | Video

COSMOS - A Spacetime Odyssey's presenter/co-writer talks about Stephen Hawking's black hole theory, known as "Hawking Radiation".

Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Rock, Finds Water

NASA's Curiosity rover is continuing to help scientists piece together the mystery of how Mars lost its surface water over the course of billions of years.

How Space Station Tech Is Helping the Fight Against Cancer

Space creates an important laboratory to fight against cancer on the ground.

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar Space

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft — the only object made by humans to leave the solar system — might still be caught in a tsunami-like shock wave that first hit the probe in February.

Geminid Meteors Rain Over Los Angeles | Time-Lapse Video

Maxim Senin compiled over 15,000 photos taken on the evening of Dec. 12th into the early morning hours of Dec. 13th. Up to 5 meteor per minute could be seen even through the light pollution of the major U.S. city.

Present Life On Mars Not Ruled Out – Curiosity Rover | Video

Inside the Curiosity Rover's Mars Methane Discovery (Infographic)

Although methane had been discovered before from space, NASA's Curiosity rover made the first in-situ discovery of rapid changes in methane concentration from the surface of Mars.

Curiosity Sniffs Mars’ Methane - Where’s It Coming From? | Video

These finding "strongly suggests that Mars is active" according to atmospheric scientist Sushil K. Atreya of the Mars Science Laboratory mission team as he breaks down possible sources of the methane on Mars.

Mars Makes Methane, Curiosity Rover Finds | Video

The Mars Science Laboratory's Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) instrument was used to confirm the presence of methane on several occasions during the rovers' study of the Red Planet.

Curiosity Rover Finds Methane on Mars: What It Could Mean for Life

NASA's Curiosity rover has recently made a surprising find on Mars that could help scientists get one step closer to figuring out if the Red Planet has ever supported life.

Want to Name a Crater on Mercury? Now's Your Chance

The International Astronomical Union has announced a competition to name five craters on Mercury, and the winners will be announced next spring at the end of the MESSENGER spacecraft's mission.

Rare Bright Sprites Dance in South Dakota's Night Sky (Photos)

A storm over central South Dakota provided these stunning images for astrophotographer Randy Halverson.

Glaciers on Mars Likely Helped Carve Red Planet's 'Grand Canyon'

New findings suggest that glaciers played a role in carving out Valles Marineris, the Martian 'Grand Canyon.'

Interstellar 'Tsunami Waves' Last Much Longer Than Predicted | Video

NASA’s Voyager 1recorded three 'waves' of plasma set in motion by coronal mass ejections from our Sun. Plasma interacting with ionized matter creates energy fluctuations which have been converted to sound by researchers.

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to Space

A NASA spacecraft that recently arrived in orbit around Mars is already helping to solve a Martian mystery. See how NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is revealing new secrets of the Red Planet.

New Omega Skywalker X-33 Space Watch Features Astronaut's Invention

A European astronaut's idea for improving the wristwatches worn in space has become the basis for a new version of the timepiece first used on the moon. ESA astronaut Jean-Franois Clervoy's clockwork is in Omega's new Speedmaster Skywalker X-33.

SyFy's 'Ascension' Takes 1960s Nuclear Spaceship Idea to the Stars

A spaceship powered by nuclear bombs secretly launched in the 1960s. A colony ship on 100-year journey to spread humanity to the stars. Meet the SyFy Channel's epic miniseries: 'Ascension.'

Two Moons Cast Shadows on Jupiter Tonight: How to See It

Skywatchers with telescopes on Earth will be able to witness a remarkable cosmic event tonght: Two of Jupiter's moons will cast shadows on the face of the gas giant in the same night.

Geminid 'Shooting Stars' Snapped By NASA Cameras | Video

The night sky turned into a shooting gallery on Dec. 14th, 2014, as the annual meteor shower lit up the skies with the debris from asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

Geminid Meteor Shower Wows Skywatchers Around the World (Photos)

The Geminid meteor shower amazed skywatchers willing to brave the cold to catch the annual display this weekend.

Project Orion Nuclear Propulsion - 1950s Tests | Unclassified Video

Raw footage of early “nuclear pulse propulsion" tests aimed at inexpensive interplanetary travel; essentially nuclear bombs driving spacecraft via Newton’s laws. 1963’s Test Ban Treaty damped further experimentation.

Awesome Geminid Meteor Shower Photos for 2014 (Gallery)

Gemind meteors rained down in 2014. See photos of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower in this gallery.

How a Rocket Sled Launched 'The Fastest Man Alive'

It has been 60 years since Col. John P. Stapp sailed down a test track, strapped in tight onboard Sonic Wind Rocket Sled 1.

Meteor Over Morocco Captured in Stunning Photo

Astrophotographer Jason Matias took this image in July 2014 above the High Atlas mountains in sub-Saharan Morocco.

Colliding Galaxies Spark a Stunning Holiday Light Show (Photo)

The new image shows "ultra-luminous X-ray sources" (ULXs) studding the spiral galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163, which are grazing each other about 130 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Canis Major.

Iranian Woman's Quest to Become an Astronaut Stars in Documentary

"Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars" follows a young Iranian woman who dreams of becoming an astronaut but faces obstacles from her conservative country.

Giant Sun Storm of 2012 Shown in Fiery Detail (Video)

NASA released a video with incredible views of the massive coronal mass ejection that erupted from the sun in July 2012.

WATCH LIVE TONIGHT! Geminid Meteor Shower Webcasts from Slooh, NASA

The online Slooh community observatory will broadcast live views of the Geminid meteor shower Saturday (Dec. 13) starting at 8 p.m. EST (0100 Dec. 14 GMT).

Best Space Photos of the Week - Dec. 13, 2014

From what looks like a freshly baked pie on Mars to a great shot of Dwarf Planet Ceres, don't miss these amazing space images of the week for Dec. 13, 2014.

Geminid Meteor Shower Is Peaking Now: Watch It Live Online

See the Geminid meteor shower peak tonight (Dec. 13) through three webcasts airing live online.

'Journey To Space' to Take Moviegoers on Giant-Screen Trip to Mars

Having successfully splashed down after its first spaceflight, NASA's Orion spacecraft is set to launch onto the big screen in a large-format 3D film. 'Journey To Space' tells the true story of what the next chapter of space exploration will bring.

'Journey To Space' Documentary To Hit IMAX Screens | Trailer

NASA's present and possible future exploration plans are showcased in the giant screen format. Boeing and Toyota sponsored the film.

Space Station Laser Link Blasts Broadband from Orbit

A new laser link with the International Space Station could do what optical fiber has done for internet access on Earth -- by turning orbital communications from painfully slow dial-up to blazing-fast broadband.

Universe Today

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket to Attempt Daring Ocean Platform Landing with Next Launch

In a key test of rocket reusability, SpaceX will attempt a daring landing of their Falcon 9 first stage rocket on an ocean platform known as the “autonomous spaceport drone ship” following the planned Friday, Dec. 19, blastoff on a high stakes mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying […]

New Pictures Of Philae’s Lonely Resting Spot On The Comet Emerge

In scientific style, researchers are slowly narrowing down where the Philae lander arrived on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Earlier today (Dec. 17) at the American Geophysical Union meeting, more pictures from the European spacecraft were released showing its landing site and also what the terrain looked like underneath Philae as it bounced to its destination. The pictures […]

The Universe’s Tour Guide

The hazy, white horizon lifts away slowly, giving way to the blue and green, cloud-swept marble we call home. I take in a deep breath, astonished by the Earth’s staggering beauty in stark contrast to the sprinkled backdrop. People are still shuffling into the 429-seat Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, their […]

NASA’s Curiosity Rover detects Methane, Organics on Mars

On Tuesday, December 16, 2014, NASA scientists attending the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco announced the detection of organic compounds on Mars. The announcement represents the discovery of the missing “ingredient” that is necessary for the existence – past or present – of life on Mars. Indeed, the extraordinary claim required extraordinary […]

How To Experience ‘Zero Gravity’ Without Leaving Home: Virtual Reality

If you don’t have a few thousand dollars to spend on a “Vomit Comet” ride, and especially if you can’t afford to buy a ticket for a future weightless joyride in a spacecraft, virtual reality remains the best option to “experience” weightlessness. There’s a new game available for the virtual-reality headset Oculus Rift that lets […]

Morning Star, We Hardly Knew Ya: Venus Express’ Best Discoveries In 8 Years

Venus Express is mostly dead. The spacecraft spent more than eight years faithfully relaying information from the Morning Star/Evening Star planet, but it’s now out of fuel, out of control and within weeks of burning up in the atmosphere. While we mourn the end of the productive mission, the European Space Agency spacecraft showed us […]

Gallery: Saturn Moons Show How Not To Be Seen In Cassini Images

Peekaboo! Tethys makes a (mostly in vain) attempt to hide behind Rhea in this picture taken by the Cassini spacecraft a couple of years ago, but highlighted by NASA in a recent picture essay. Besides the neat view of the orbital dance, one thing that is clearly visible between the two moons is the different […]

Astro-Challenge: Taming the Pup-Can You Glimpse Sirius B?

Astronomy is all about thinking big, both in time and space. The Earth turns on its axis, the Moon passes through its phases, and the planets come into opposition and solar conjunction on a routine basis.(...)Read the rest of Astro-Challenge: Taming the Pup-Can You Glimpse Sirius B? (1,048 words) David Dickinson for Universe Today, […]

Astrophotos: Views of the Geminid Meteor Shower from Around the World

It’s nice to know that not everyone around the world was plagued by clouds, dense fog, driving rain and snowstorms like we had in Minnesota during this year’s Geminid Meteor Shower (and all that weather was within one 24-hour period!) In fact, some astrophotographers were able to capture some stunning views of the Geminids, like […]

How Many Horses Can A Rocket Carry? Cool Comic Comparison

The challenge with thinking about space is putting it into terms that we can understand. How far is a light-year? Just how powerful is NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System, which the agency hopes will bring astronauts out into the solar system? Luckily for us, the comic xkcd is a regular contributor to making space understandable, […]

Space News From SpaceDaily.Com

ESA scientists say Philae lander will wake up in 2015

San Francisco (UPI) Dec 17, 2014
The team of scientists and engineers responsible for this fall's historic comet landing are confident Philae's current slumber is only temporary. "I think within the team there is no doubt that we will wake up," lead lander scientist Jean-Pierre Bibring told reporters at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting, held this week in San Francisco. "And the question is OK, in what sh

SpaceX to try to 'precision-land' rocket in ocean

Miami (AFP) Dec 17, 2014
SpaceX said Wednesday it will for the first time try to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform in the ocean after launching cargo to the International Space Station. Just a 50-50 chance of success in Friday's attempt was predicted by the California-based company led by billionaire Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk. Currently, most rockets burn up on re-entry, but SpaceX is trying

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty Between USSR, US in Details

Moscow (Sputnik) Dec 16, 2014
On December 13, 2002, US President George W. Bush announced that the United States will unilaterally withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with the USSR. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) between the Soviet Union and the United States was signed on May 26, 1972 in Moscow and entered into force on October 3, 1972. The treaty barred the parties from deploying ant

Atlas 5 launches spysat payload for NRO

Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) Dec 16, 2014
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-3 on Dec. 12 at 7:19 p.m. PST. Designated NROL-35, the mission is in support of national defense. "We are honored to deliver the NROL-35 spacecraft to orbit together with our customers, the NRO Office of Space Launch and the Air Force," said Jim

Lockheed Martin opens MUOS application development facility

Sunnyvale CA (SPX) Dec 16, 2014
With the U.S. Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) expected to achieve global communications coverage next year, Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] recently established a new radio terminal development and certification facility to help put MUOS' new capabilities into warfighters' hands faster. Developed by Lockheed Martin, MUOS operates like a satellite-based, smart-phone cell network, vas

Israel, US in abortive missile defence test

Jerusalem (AFP) Dec 16, 2014
Israel and the United States on Tuesday tested the Jewish state's Arrow 3 ballistic missile interception system, the defence ministry said, with local media reporting the trial was cut short. "A target missile was successfully launched and tracked by the Arrow Weapon System, as part of the planned joint testing programme," the ministry said in a statement, providing no further details. A

Room temp quantum optics chip geneates tunable photon-pair spectrum

San Diego CA (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated a way to emit and control quantum light generated using a chip made from silicon-one of the most widely used materials for modern electronics. The UC San Diego researchers recently described their new device's performance online in the journal Nature Communications, available via Open Access. The researche

Composite materials can be designed in a supercomputer virtual lab

London, UK (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
UCL scientists have shown how advanced computer simulations can be used to design new composite materials. Nanocomposites, which are widely used in industry, are revolutionary materials in which microscopic particles are dispersed through plastics. But their development until now has been largely by trial and error. The 'virtual lab' developed using supercomputer simulations greatly improv

Live images from inside materials

Furth, Germany (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
X-rays are a tried and tested way to investigate components and materials. Researchers are now developing an X-ray detector capable of delivering particularly high-quality 3D images in real time. This will make it possible to precisely reconstruct even the processes going on inside materials and e.g. provide a reliable way of detecting minoscule faults. In medicine, X-rays provide high-res

New high-entropy alloy light as aluminum, as strong as titanium

Raleigh NC (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
Researchers from North Carolina State University and Qatar University have developed a new "high-entropy" metal alloy that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other existing metal material. High-entropy alloys are materials that consist of five or more metals in approximately equal amounts. These alloys are currently the focus of significant attention in materials science and en

Super-Earth spotted by ground-based telescope, a first

Cambridge, Mass. (UPI) Dec 17, 2014
For the first time, a ground-based telescope has observed a super-Earth alien planet passing in front of its host star. The exoplanet, roughly twice the size of Earth, is 55 Cancri e. Its host star is 55 Cancri, a Sun-like star 40 light-years away that can be spied with the naked eye in the Cancer constellation. The telescope is the Nordic Optical Telescope, located on the small island

Turning hydrogen into graphene

Washington DC (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
New work from Carnegie's Ivan Naumov and Russell Hemley delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals remarkable parallels between hydrogen and graphene under extreme pressures. Their work is the cover story in the December issue of Accounts of Chemical Research. Hydrogen is the most-abundant element in the cosmos. With only a single e

Carbon-trapping 'sponges' can cut greenhouse gases

Ithaca NY (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
In the fight against global warming, carbon capture - chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it releases into the atmosphere - is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping "sponges" that could lead to increased use of

First steps for Hector the robot stick insect

Bielefeld, Germany (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
A research team at Bielefeld University has succeeded in teaching the only robot of its kind in the world how to walk. Its first steps have been recorded in a video. You can watch them in Bielefeld University's latest posting on 'research_tv'. The robot is called Hector, and its construction is modelled on a stick insect. Inspired by the insect, Hector has passive elastic joints and an ultraligh

Is effluent water the future?

Las Cruces NM (SPX) Dec 17, 2014
In June, Bernd Leinauer, New Mexico State University professor and extension turfgrass specialist, and Elena Sevostianova, post-doctoral research associate, were approached by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and travelled to Rome, Italy, after their research on effluent water was published and garnered the attention of the scientific community worldwide. "We published