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.
When we choose to go to the Moon (or do other things out in space), the one of the major limiting factors to how long we can stay will be consumables. Simply put, can we ship enough food and water from home to keep astronauts fat n' happy? For a little while, sure, but semi-permanent outposts on the Moon will need their own farms, and that means LEDs. And nukes.
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.
Not that we're keeping score or anything, but it seems like every time we earthlings become diverted by other solar objects like Mars or Jupiter, our Sun reminds us it's the center of things by putting on some sort of show.
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.
One of the slightly more bizarre things that Einstein predicted to go along with all of his relativity and whatnot was a phenomenon called gravitational waves, where waves of gravitational energy would propagate through the fabric of space itself. We've never managed to catch one in action, but astronomers have found new evidence that they exist.
Imagine: you're riding in a spaceship toward the Moon, cresting on the wave of history itself. What happens if you get there is anyone's guess. It's unthinkable that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could ever have done less than the impossible, but President Richard Nixon had a speechwriter prepare for the worst.
The WISE space-based infrared survey telescope has completed two surveys of the sky in the infrared, revealing millions of new supermassive (and ravenous) black holes called quasars. And we weren't exactly looking for Hot DOGs out there, but we found a bunch of 'em anyway.
We love exoplanets here at DVICE. We just can't get enough of 'em. Over the last few years, astronomers have found a whole bunch of new worlds, some of which are potentially habitable by alien life, and a few of which may even be habitable by humans. But what exactly does "habitable" mean? What is it that we're looking for? The easy thing to say is that we're looking for a planet exactly like Earth, but really, it's a complicated question with a much more nuanced answer.