SEATTLE — The advisory group for the National Space Council is looking at ways that NASA’s human exploration plans can also support space science, while acknowledging the lack of representation of the scientific community in the group. Two members of the Users’ Advisory Group (UAG) of the National Space Council met with attendees of the
SEATTLE — NASA confirmed Jan. 10 that an uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will now take place no sooner than February, due at least in part to the ongoing government shutdown. In a statement, NASA said it was “targeting no earlier than February” for the mission, known as Demo-1 or DM-1. The
WASHINGTON — SpaceX launched the final 10 Iridium Next satellites into orbit Jan. 11, completing its first mission of the year and the last in a multi-launch contract for its largest non-government customer, Iridium Communications. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off at 10:31 a.m. Eastern from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Almost an
Any species reaching for the stars is bound to have its fingertips singed. Probably more than once. One of NASA’s posts on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website is an iconic reminder of the mishaps in our spacefaring history. “A flying saucer from outer space crash-landed in the Utah desert after being tracked by
PHOENIX – Greenhouse gas monitoring was a hot topic at the American Meteorological Society’s annual conference with international agencies discussing a global constellation and companies showing a new generation of sensors. “We are looking quite hard in Europe, in the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites and the Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites at a carbon monitoring verification
Scientists have discovered mysterious streaking patterns crossing huge distances in the clouds of Venus. The discovery is giving us new insight into the brutal conditions and climate on the strange planet second closest to the Sun. Based on advanced computer modelling, the team thinks moving air caused by polar jet streams, similar to those on
SEATTLE — SpaceX is laying off about 10 percent of its workforce, a cost-cutting move the company says is required to focus on development of its next-generation launch system and a broadband satellite constellation. In a statement late Jan. 11, the company confirmed that SpaceX is laying off a portion of its workforce in the
Black holes are mysterious cosmic destroyers, but we just got one step closer to figuring out one of the key characteristics of how they work: how fast they’re spinning. Peering into the event horizon of a black hole, astronomers have detected brief X-ray pulses that indicate a rotation speed of a gob-smacking 50 percent of the
SEATTLE — The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has awarded contracts to Ball Aerospace and Space Systems Loral to develop designs for a privately funded satellite to track methane emissions. EDF announced Jan. 10 that the two companies had received study contracts, with an overall value of $1.5 million, to advance concepts for MethaneSAT, a spacecraft
For only the second time, astronomers have picked up a mysterious repeating signal coming from an unknown source in space. They’re called fast radio bursts. And in less than the blink of an eye, they ping into the data collected by radio telescopes out of nowhere, with as much energy as a hundred million Suns.
WASHINGTON — Thales Alenia Space said Jan. 10 it received a contract from the European Space Agency worth approximately 150 million euros ($172.4 million) to build the Fluorescent Explorer satellite. Fluorescent Explorer, or FLEX, is an ESA Earth Explorer mission that will measure photosynthetic activity by mapping vegetation fluorescence. The satellite is projected to launch
As far as supernovae go, AT2018cow – detected last year – was among the brightest ever seen. The flash was so intense, some mistook it for an explosion inside the Milky Way. In the event’s wake, all eyes turned to the expanding wave of debris to better understand the cause of this extreme flash. Now,
SEATTLE — Despite a recent problem with one of its instruments, managers of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are confident that the mission can continue to operate well into the next decade. NASA announced Jan. 8 that the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument on Hubble suffered a hardware problem that forced it to suspend operations.
Long after fusion has faded and her furnaces have cooled, our Sun’s embers will form a giant crystal hanging in the sky – one of countless sprinkled throughout our galaxy. Astronomers have found evidence that massive white dwarf stars solidify into metallic crystals rather early in retirement. Poetic descriptions aside, it could challenge how we
SEATTLE — The latest taxi test of the giant aircraft being developed by Stratolaunch for its air-launch system is a sign the plane’s first flight may take place soon. The company announced Jan. 9 that its airplane, the largest in the world by wingspan, performed its fastest taxi test to date at the Mojave Air
One of the most cherished science fiction scenarios is using a black hole as a portal to another dimension or time or universe. That fantasy may be closer to reality than previously imagined. Black holes are perhaps the most mysterious objects in the Universe. They are the consequence of gravity crushing a dying star without
One of the upgrades is to support the military M-code, a secure anti-jam GPS signal that the Air Force plans to deploy in 2020. WASHINGTON — While work continues on a costly new ground control system for the GPS 3 constellation, the Air Force is investing in major upgrades to the existing ground infrastructure so
We have been closely following the progress of Chang’e-4, the Chinese Moon lander that touched down on the far side of the Moon last week and released a rover called Yutu 2. As the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon in history, the mission was a coup for the Chinese space program.
PHOENIX — Researchers examining data produced by small satellites launched in 2016 to track ocean winds were surprised the mission produced valuable information on soil moisture and flooding. NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, a constellation of eight 30-kilogram satellites built by the Southwest Research Institute and the University of Michigan, observed the Amazon River basin
SEATTLE — The ongoing partial government shutdown has grounded a NASA aircraft used for astronomical observations amid reviews about how to operate that program in the future. The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747 with a 2.5-meter telescope mounted in its fuselage, has been unable able to perform any science flights since