Our solar system was a tempestuous place in its early days, with asteroids smashing into planets left and right and aliens stopping by to seed life on Earth. But before all that, simulations have shown that there may have been an extra ice giant in the mix, until Jupiter stepped in and flung it off into interstellar space.
Take a close look at this detailed time lapse video of Earth and its natural elements — taken from the International Space Station over the course of one night. It's beautiful, isn't it?
The Dawn spacecraft has only been orbiting Vesta for a few months now, but it's been taking scads of pictures and streaming them straight back to Earth. Among the highlights are these spectacular oblique images of the asteroid's dramatic topography. Check out some of our favorites from the most recent imagery release in the gallery below.
Photographer Vincent Fournier has spent the last ten years capturing the lonely mechanical emptiness of space programs all over the world. He's been to Russia, China, Africa, the U.S., and just about everywhere else, and his pictures are a striking (and oftentimes strange) take on technology. We've picked out 14 of our favorite images in the gallery below, but there are lots more on Vincent's website. Also below is a short documentary which follows Vincent to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he talks about how and why he does what he does.
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but a major NASA project is years behind schedule, billions over budget, and at serious risk of cancellation. A new appropriations bill might give the James Webb Space Telescope enough money to get it off the ground by 2018, but only at the expense of other NASA research.
When a Russian Progress resupply capsule crashed on the way to the ISS last month, the worry was that a design flaw could mean the grounding of the only way to get astronauts to the station. Russia has now identified the cause of the crash, and while it's not a flaw in the design, it's something almost as bad.
Solar sails harness the pressure of the solar wind to propel spacecraft across the solar system essentially for free, without the need for engines or fuel. An electric solar sail works more or less the same way, except without the sail: all you need are a bunch of wires.
The 6.5 ton UARS satellite has been orbiting Earth since 1991, and it's now headed back in an uncontrolled fall. NASA isn't sure exactly when, and they're not sure exactly where, but over 1,000 pounds of ex-satellite could make it through the atmosphere to your front lawn. Um, duck?
This is one of the first pictures of Blue Origin's suborbital spacecraft, which had a test launch last week that sent it up 45,000 feet at Mach 1.2. Shortly afterwards, the engines cut out, and the vehicle returned to Earth rather violently. Oops.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has just beamed down some of the best, sharpest images yet of the landing sites of Apollo 12, 14 and 17, showing where humans have walked and driven on the lunar surface.