space stories

 
In August of 1883, an astronomer in Mexico named José Bonilla spotted hundreds of fuzzy objects passing in front of the sun that nobody could explain. A new analysis of these observations suggests that what Bonilla saw was anywhere from a billion to a trillion tons of comet passing as close as a few hundred miles from the surface of the Earth.
 
Today is day 2,816 of Opportunity's 90 day mission to Mars. If you do the math, it means that we've been surprised by how awesome this robot is doing about 30 times over. It's traveled a staggering 20 miles over the last six or seven years, and JPL has put together this time-lapse of a three-year, 13-mile section of that journey.
 
That mysterious robotic spaceship that the U.S. Air Force sent into orbit for seven straight months last year may get a bit of an upgrade. Boeing is toying with the idea of expanding the X-37B into the X-37C, which could carry up to six astronauts into space and back. We could be looking at the next generation of space shuttle.
 
Uranus isn't just gassy, it's also tilted completely sideways, such that instead of rotating like a spinning top, it rolls around the plane of the solar system more like a giant ball. Now astronomers think they know how this happened, and it means that Uranus has been pounded really, really hard not once, but twice.
 
Think being part of the mile high club sounds exciting? Imagine joining the 62-mile high club (technically at that altitude, you're in space). James Bond definitely qualified for having a climatic congress with Holly Goodhead in the 1979 film Moonraker. But in reality just how enjoyable, or realistic, is sex in space?

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