On Friday, the space shuttle Endeavour made one last flight aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, flying from Edwards Air Force Base and making a tour of California before landing in Los Angeles en route to her final resting place at the California Science Center. DVICE was at NASA's Ames Research Center taking pictures of the flyby, and we've also picked out a few of our favorite images from elsewhere along Endeavour's journey.
Warp drive, a staple of science-fiction, has just been deemed "plausible and worth further investigation" by the smart and apparently not crazy people over at NASA. And by way of further investigation, they've gone and started trying to create warp bubbles in the lab.
In all the fuss about Curiosity, the new kid on the Martian block, it's been easy to forget about the Opportunity rover, and the work it has been doing for eight long years. Well, it seems Opportunity has made an interesting discovery worth looking at — small, round spherules which scientists are calling "blueberries."
If you love space, and you love getting behind the scenes access then, the AsteroidMappers project is perfect for you. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's spacecraft Dawn recently finished its orbit of the asteroid Vesta, and has delivered so much data that citizen scientists are being asked to help analyze what has been found.
To move spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building out to the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center, NASA has a pair of huge Crawler-Transporters. These 5.5 million pound tracked hauled 12 million pounds worth of space shuttle and launch pad around, but to handle the new Space Launch System, they'll be getting an upgrade.
35 years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched from Earth and ventured out into the galaxy. It's the farthest man-made object from home, at over 11 billion miles from us. Voyager's mission is to just keep on heading out into the final frontier (at least until it's picked up and brought back in time for Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the mid-2270s), and it's currently in the process of exiting our solar system and entering intergalactic space. On its way out of the solar system, Voyager 1 passed Jupiter and Saturn, sending back spectacular high resolution pictures of the gas giants and their moons. In the gallery below, we've chosen some of our favorite pictures from Voyager's tour, along with a few snapshots of the spacecraft itself before it left Earth.
Two astronauts armed with a toothbrush, a wire cleaner and some nitrogen air boldly took their second spacewalk in less than a week. A faulty bolt was preventing the installation of a power station unit on the International Space Station, which was discovered after a marathon eight-hour spacewalk on August 30.
As far as humans are concerned, the most important part of a spaceship isn't the turbodrive or the turbolifts or even the turbolasers. No, it's the life support system, the thing that keeps us from, you know, dying. These systems are generally bulky and complex, but a new concept from NASA would weave them directly into spaceship hulls instead.
Like everything they build, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed Curiosity's Sky Crane landing system to work. But nothing is guaranteed in spaceflight. The team wouldn't know for sure whether the mission's entry, descent, and landing (or EDL) was successful until they got confirmation from the rover. The problem was that Curiosity's landing site in Gale Crater would be out of range at touchdown, so the team brought in a communications relay: the Mars Odyssey orbiter. It was a simple and obvious solution, except that Odyssey experienced its first ever malfunctions weeks before Curiosity's landing.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has concluded its survey of the asteroid Vesta and is now heading to Ceres, the largest asteroid (or smallest dwarf planet) in the solar system. As Dawn's mission director puts it, "thrust is engaged, and we are now climbing away from Vesta atop a blue-green pillar of xenon ions." Whoa.