We've known since February that the leading candidate for NASA's next major manned mission is a station located at the L2 Earth-Moon Lagrange Point out beyond the far side of the moon. The latest rumors suggest that this mission was probably approved by the Obama administration, and now that he's been reelected, it has a good chance of actually happening.
NASA astronaut and photographer extraordinaire Donald Pettit discusses the difficulty of combining both passions.
An effect of the commercial space revolution has been a resurgence of independent space-oriented projects. One of the latest efforts hopes to lower the costs of space travel using pulsed plasma jet thrusters.
It's one of those nagging problems science has yet to solve: how do we save Earth if one of our asteroid neighbors starts heading our way? We've noodled everything from tractor beam, lasers, and even nuking them Armageddon style. A new proposal joining the chorus suggests hitting asteroids with white paintballs could do the trick — first by steering them off course with the force of impact, then by using the force of reflected sunlight bouncing off the paint to slowly move the offender out of the way.
Commercial operators like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic may be taking the lead in terms of manned space travel, but NASA continues to explore new ways to travel to and from space. The agency's latest research is focused on what could become a rotor-equipped space capsule re-entry vehicle.
Today's observations suggest that our Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars — estimates go as high as 400 billion. If that doesn't make you feel small, then how about this: you can start counting plenty of those in this jaw-dropping 9-billion-pixel image that contains over 84 millions stars.
Uranus is surrounded by methane gas. This presents a problem for those of us who are interested in looking at it, since all that gas makes it hard to see what's really going on. Voyager and Hubble have the same problem, but new long-wavelength observations from the Keck II telescope in Hawaii have looked past the gas to examine Uranus in unprecedented detail.
Did you miss the Orionid meteor shower last weekend?
Unmanned missions and robots may be dominating the space corridor for the moment, but that doesn't mean that NASA has given up on the idea of putting people in space. To that end, NASA has unveiled a new robotic exoskeleton for astronauts called the XI.
Well, this is pretty damn exciting: astronomers have confirmed the detection of a planet just 1.13 times the size of Earth orbiting around Alpha Centauri B, which is part of the closest star system to Earth. At just 4.3 light-years away, it's potentially reachable in just a few decades with near-term technology, and now we've got a place to land. Er, sort of.