Laser communications technology could help NASA communicate with farflung spacecraft in the future, including the sending and receiving of data.
Expedition 37 arrives at International Space Station
NASA: NASA has confirmed that a new trio of Expedition 37 residents has arrived at the International Space Station, docking to the Poisk mini-research module Wednesday at 10:45 p.m. EDT aboard a Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft.
Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy are scheduled for a five-and-a-half month stay in space, living and working inside the orbital laboratory.
Image via NASA
NASA launches probe to the moon
NBC News: NASA launched a new mission to the moon late Friday night with a small robotic spacecraft. The spacecraft, called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), will orbit the moon to gather information about the atmospheric conditions near the lunar surface and their influence on lunar dust.
It will take approximately one month to transfer LADEE from the Earth orbit to the lunar orbit and another 40 days before scientific observations to begin.
The probe, about the size of a small car, will circle the moon for approximately 100 days.Photo: The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer sits aboard a Minotaur V rocket after a rollout at NASA’s Wallops Island test flight facility in Wallops Island, Va., Thursday Sept. 5, 2013.(NASA, Patrick Black)
NASA confirms Voyager 1 has left the solar system
National Geographic: NASA has confirmed that Voyager 1 has slipped from the solar system. Launched in 1977, the spacecraft is now more than 11.66 billion miles from the sun, becoming the first to enter interstellar space.
Image: This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space, or the space between stars. Interstellar space is dominated by the plasma, or ionized gas, that was ejected by the death of nearby giant stars millions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Evidence of water spotted on the moon
SPACE.com: Evidence of water found on the moon’s surface may have originated from a hidden source deep in the interior of the moon, scientists say.
The water was discovered by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper which is currently aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 probe.
This new water finding is fueling speculation that polar craters on the moon could be home to large quantities of water ice, which some private firms want to turn into rocket propellant in order to fuel further expeditions into the solar system.
Photo: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University via SPACE.com
The astronaut candidates will spend 2 years learning about living in space, touring NASA facilities and going through flight training.
The spacecraft will orbit the gas giant for a full Earth year in an effort to learn about Jupiter’s origins, structure and composition.
Mars food study researchers emerge from dome
Researchers who have spent nearly four months simulating what it’s like to live on Mars have emerged from their experiment on a barren Hawaii lava field.
The NASA-funded study is researching what foods astronauts might eat during a mission to Mars.
The researchers left their simulated Martian base Tuesday for the first time without the mock space suits their experiment required whenever they ventured out of the dome on the northern slope of the Big Island’s Mauna Loa.
The University of Hawaii and Cornell University selected six people of various scientific backgrounds to cook meals from a list of dehydrated and shelf-stable ingredients that are not perishable.
Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Investigator Kim Binsted hopes to present findings at the International Astronautical Congress this year. [x]
Spitzer Discovers Young Stars With a ‘Hula Hoop’
Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have spotted a young stellar system that “blinks” every 93 days. Called YLW 16A, the system likely consists of three developing stars, two of which are surrounded by a disk of material left over from the star-formation process.
As the two inner stars whirl around each other, they periodically peek out from the disk that girds them like a hula hoop. The hoop itself appears to be misaligned from the central star pair, probably due to the disrupting gravitational presence of the third star orbiting at the periphery of the system. The whole system cycles through bright and faint phases, with the central stars playing a sort of cosmic peek-a-boo as the tilted disk twirls around them. It is believed that this disk should go on to spawn planets and the other celestial bodies that make up a solar system.
Last month, NASA launched a new telescope, known as IRIS, into space to study the sun. Today we got our first glimpse of what IRIS is seeing, and … wow.
[Image: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/NASA]
Space Shot of the Day: What Earth Looks Like From 900 Million Miles Away
Check out this raw image of Earth and the Moon, captured and transmitted by NASA’s Cassini 898,410,414 miles away from home.
Solar system has trailing tail, just like comet
NASA can prove it now. Our solar system has a tail, just like comets.
Scientists revealed images Wednesday showing the tail emanating from the bullet-shaped region of space under the grip of the sun, including the solar system and beyond. The region is known as the heliosphere, thus the name heliotail.
The findings are based on data from by NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX. The Earth-orbiting spacecraft was launched in 2008.
Scientists always presumed the heliosphere had a tail, but this provides the first real data on the shape.
Chief IBEX investigator David McComas, who’s with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, says it’s difficult to calculate the length of the heliotail. But the evaporating end of the tail could stretch 100 billion miles.
The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.
Luca Parmitano becomes 1st Italian to walk in space
Space.com: Luca Parmitano spent just over six hours working outside the International Space Station alongside crewmate Chris Cassidy of NASA today and became the first Italian to ever walk in space.
"Thank you," Parmitano said, adding another round of thanks in his native Italian language before signing off.
Among other tasks, Parmitano and his fellow space station crewmember NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy retrieved a pair of materials science experiments, installed radiator grapple bars and successfully replaced a space-to-ground communications controller unit that failed in December 2012.
Photo: European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano is moved via the International Space Station’s robotic arm to a different part on the outside of the orbiting laboratory. (NASA)