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.
The United Kingdom has successfully launched a satellite using a rocket that they built themselves exactly once, in October of 1971. The Prospero spacecraft operated for two years and was contacted annually until 1993, and now British scientists want to wake it up again for its 40th anniversary.
We're been looking for planets around other stars that are as like Earth as possible, but new simulations show that habitable exoplanets may be much more like Arrakis (or Mars) than Earth.
It may not take us a long time to get to Mars, but on the off-chance that it does take several years for humans to get there and back, we're gonna need a bunch of food along the way. NASA's been thinking about it, and they've got some menu ideas.
Domino's Pizza Japan has just unveiled plans to construct a pizza restaurant on the Moon. Seriously. It's going to take 15 rocket launches and 14 billion dollars and will have dart boards and pool tables and delivery motorbikes and awesomeness. It's also possible that this is all just a complicated publicity stunt, but let's just pretend that it's not.
With a few exceptions, space seems very static to us humans with our short lifetimes. By stitching together some 14 years of Hubble images of young stars emitting huge jets of gas, astronomers have created videos that show how dynamic our universe actually is.
While most astronomers seem to be understandably worried about the best way to steer asteroids away from Earth, Chinese scientists are instead trying to figure out how they can capture nearby asteroids into Earth orbit. And then mine them.