September 30th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

SpaceX releases future-of-spaceflight concept

Elon Musk's SpaceX has been working hard to advance commercial spaceflight, pushing NASA to allow flights to ISS on an accelerated schedule and making bold claims about flights to the Moon and beyond.

Check out this (pretty awesome, I think) concept video of SpaceX's plans for the future: a fully reusable spacecraft.

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Filed under: In Space • Voices
September 30th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Failure Is Not An Option

"Gene Kranz (foreground, back to camera), an Apollo 13 Flight Director, watches Apollo 13 astronaut and lunar module pilot Fred Haise onscreen in the Mission Operations Control Room, during the mission's fourth television transmission on the evening of April 13, 1970. Shortly after the transmission, an explosion occurred that ended any hope of a lunar landing and jeopardized the lives of the crew."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
September 30th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

#FollowFriday

Every Friday, @CNNLightYears will suggest interesting and exciting space and science Twitter accounts to follow.

Today, @CNNLightYears is giving a #FollowFriday to a few Twitter accounts that tweet about astronomy, the scientific study of celestial objects, space, and the universe as a whole.

FULL POST

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Filed under: FollowFriday • Voices
September 29th, 2011
10:14 AM ET

NASA's J-2X Engine

"This image from 2008 shows NASA's J-2X engine. NASA conducted a 40-second test of the J-2X rocket engine Sept. 28, the most recent in a series of tests of the next-generation engine selected as part of the Space Launch System architecture that will once again carry humans into deep space. It was a test at the 99 percent power level to gain a better understanding of start and shutdown systems as well as modifications that had been made from previous test firing results."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
September 28th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

The Pacman Nebula

"High-mass stars are important because they are responsible for much of the energy pumped into our galaxy over its lifetime. Unfortunately, these stars are poorly understood because they are often found relatively far away and can be obscured by gas and dust. The star cluster NGC 281 is an exception to this rule. It is located about 6,500 light years from Earth and, remarkably, almost 1,000 light years above the plane of the galaxy, giving astronomers a nearly unfettered view of the star formation within it.

This composite image of NGC 281 contains X-ray data from Chandra, in purple, with infrared observations from Spitzer, in red, green, blue. The high-mass stars in NGC 281 drive many aspects of their galactic environment through powerful winds flowing from their surfaces and intense radiation that creates charged particles by stripping electrons off atoms. The eventual deaths of massive stars as supernovas will also seed the galaxy with material and energy.

NGC 281 is known informally as the "Pacman Nebula" because of its appearance in optical images. In optical images the "mouth" of the Pacman character appears dark because of obscuration by dust and gas, but in the infrared Spitzer image the dust in this region glows brightly.

NGC 281 is typically divided into two subregions: the region in the upper middle of the image, which is surrounded by the purple 10-million-degree gas, and a younger region in the lower part of the image. There is evidence that the formation of a cluster, appearing in a beige cloud to the lower right, was triggered by a previous generation of star formation. Also, astronomers have found some isolated star formation on the left side of the image that appears to have been occurring at the same time as star formation in other regions of the cluster. This supports the idea that something externally triggered the "baby boom" of stars in NGC 281."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
'Fried Egg Nebula' served up
September 28th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

'Fried Egg Nebula' served up

It's called IRAS 17163-3907, but "Fried Egg Nebula" rolls off the tongue better, like a buttery breakfast.

This rare celestial object, about 13,000 light years from our planet, is has a diameter about a thousand times bigger than the Sun, and it appears to shine about 500,000 times more brightly. Its mass is about 20 times that of the Sun. This image comes from the European Southern Observatory'a Very Large Telescope.

FULL POST

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Filed under: In Space
UARS enters Earth's atmosphere over Pacific Ocean, NASA says
UARS re-entry
September 27th, 2011
04:11 PM ET

UARS enters Earth's atmosphere over Pacific Ocean, NASA says

A defunct satellite entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean at 12:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 24, NASA said Tuesday in a statement.

The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California determined NASA’s decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) entered the atmosphere at 14.1 degrees south latitude and 189.8 degrees east longitude over the Pacific Ocean.

FULL POST

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Filed under: In Space • News
September 24th, 2011
11:38 AM ET

NASA: Pieces of plunging satellite have settled on Earth

Miami (CNN) - Pieces of a defunct satellite that plummeted to Earth have settled, NASA said Saturday morning.

The space agency said the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite "is down," according to the space agency's Twitter page. NASA said debris fell to Earth between 11:23 p.m. ET Friday and 1:09 a.m. ET Saturday, but it was not immediately clear where the pieces may have landed.
NASA said the satellite pierced through the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, but the exact time and location were not known.

About two dozen pieces of the satellite were expected to survive the crash through the Earth's atmosphere.

Late Friday night, NASA predicted satellite parts would pass "over Canada and Africa, as well as vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans."

"The risk to public safety is very remote," NASA said. The 26 pieces expected to survive the descent - made of stainless steel, titanium and beryllium that won't burn - ranged from about 10 pounds to hundreds of pounds, according to NASA.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: In Space • News
September 23rd, 2011
09:42 AM ET

#FollowFriday

Every Friday, @CNNLightYears will suggest interesting and exciting space and science Twitter accounts to follow.

Today, @CNNLightYears is giving a #FollowFriday to 5 space agencies and companies that are doing some amazing things in the world of spaceflight and exploration.
FULL POST

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Filed under: FollowFriday • Voices
Scientists: Particles appear to travel faster than light
A monitor showing the first ultra high-energy collisions is seen at the CMS experiment control room at CERN in 2010.
September 23rd, 2011
08:56 AM ET

Scientists: Particles appear to travel faster than light

Scientists in Switzerland say an experiment appears to show that tiny particles traveled faster than the speed of light - a result that would seem to defy the laws of nature.

The physicists say that neutrinos sent 730 kilometers (453.6 miles) underground between laboratories in Switzerland and Italy arrived a fraction of a second sooner than they should have, according to the speed of light.

The report was published Friday by a group of researchers working on the so-called Opera experiment, based at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

FULL STORY from CNN.com

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Filed under: Discoveries • On Earth
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