Editor's note: CNN's John Zarrella brings us this insider's view of Endeavour:
From the outside, you can’t see much. The engines have been removed. The vehicle is encased in scaffolding. But it’s still unmistakable.
In between the steel and ramps and stairs, you can make out the word "Endeavour" down the side. This space shuttle, which flew 122 million miles on 25 flights now sits in a building called the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Here, workers are preparing the orbiter for life after flying, life in a museum.
NASA on Wednesday gave members of the news media the opportunity to get up close, kick the tires. In fact, the tires were worn right down to the cords, nearly bald in spots. If Endeavour had been scheduled to fly again, they would have been replaced. Shuttles never flew with the same tires twice. One landing chewed them up.
U.S. politics had its "Super Tuesday" yesterday, and so did the sun, says Joseph Kunches from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.
That's because the sun had two solar flares associated with two coronal mass ejections. Coronal mass ejections involve massive amounts of energy and charged particles shooting out of the sun, and can cause problems if directed at Earth, as was the case over the last couple of days.
This event may stir up a geomagnetic storm, and lead to disruptions to high-frequency radio communications, global positioning systems and power grids, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said Wednesday. The peak of the storm is expected to hit Thursday morning; it may gradually diminish by Friday morning.
One of these coronal mass ejections is the strongest since December 2006, NOAA said. The equivalent of 10 billion tons of highly charged particles are hurtling at a rate of 3 million to 4 million miles an hour toward Earth. NASA says the leading edge of this coronal mass ejection will hit Earth at 1:25 a.m. E.T. (give or take seven hours).
Did the moon and sun conspire to sink the Titanic?
In a way, yes, researchers at Texas State University say.
Donald Olson and Russell Doescher, members of the physics faculty at the university in San Marcos, teamed up with Roger Sinnott, senior contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine, to determine how the iceberg the liner struck late on April 14, 1912, came to be in the North Atlantic shipping lanes. More than 1,500 people died when the liner sank less than three hours after hitting the berg.
"Resembling looming rain clouds on a stormy day, dark lanes of dust crisscross the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A.
Hubble's panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust.
The warped shape of Centaurus A's disk of gas and dust is evidence for a past collision and merger with another galaxy. The resulting shockwaves cause hydrogen gas clouds to compress, triggering a firestorm of new star formation. These are visible in the red patches in this Hubble close-up.
At a distance of just over 11 million light-years, Centaurus A contains the closest active galactic nucleus to Earth. The center is home for a supermassive black hole that ejects jets of high-speed gas into space, but neither the supermassive black hole or the jets are visible in this image.
This image was taken in July 2010 with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3."Source: NASA
This could be the year of the Higgs boson, the most sought-after particle in all of physics. More clues about it are emerging at a U.S.-based collider whose budgetary woes shut it down last year.
The Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has just announced that it has found hints of the ever-so-important particle, which are consistent with observations from the Large Hadron Collider.
Finding the Higgs boson would help explain the origin of mass, one of the open questions in physicists' current understanding of the way the universe works. The particle has been so difficult to pin down (metaphorically speaking) that physicist Leon Lederman reportedly wanted to call his book "The Goddamn Particle." But he truncated that epithet to "The God Particle," which may have helped elevate the particle's allure in popular culture.