Mercury probe points to different origin for 1st planet
September 18th, 2012
06:33 PM ET

Mercury probe points to different origin for 1st planet

X-ray data from NASA's MESSENGER probe points to high levels of magnesium and sulfur on the surface of the planet Mercury, suggesting its makeup is far different from that of other planets, scientists say.

The unmanned orbiter has been beaming back data from the first planet for a year and a half. Readings from its X-ray spectrometer point to a planet whose northern volcanic plains formed through upwellings of rocks more exotic than those often found on the Earth, the Moon or Mars, said Shoshana Weider, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

"Before this MESSENGER mission, a lot of people assumed it was very like the Moon - it's dark, it's grey," Weider said. But while the Moon's surface formed when light materials floated to the top of an ocean of molten rock, the low level of calcium on Mercury indicates that didn't happen there.

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Filed under: In Space
September 18th, 2012
04:04 PM ET

Astronaut marks first triathlon in space

The CNN Fit Nation Lucky 7 get major props for finishing the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this weekend, and so does NASA astronaut Sunita Williams.

Williams did the swimming, biking and running events aboard the International Space Station using exercise equipment specialized for space. This makes her the first person ever to complete a triathlon in space.

“I’m happy to be done," she said after finishing her activities. "It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure everyone out in California is excited to be done, too.”

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space
Space Shuttle Endeavour
September 18th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Space Shuttle Endeavour

"Space shuttle Endeavour is seen atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The SCA, a modified 747 jetliner, will fly Endeavour to Los Angeles where it will be placed on public display at the California Science Center. This is the final ferry flight scheduled in the Space Shuttle Program era."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
September 17th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Three return from space station

Two cosmonauts and one astronaut land in Kazakhstan after departing the International Space Station.


Filed under: In Space
A short history of Endeavour
Endeavour as seen from the International Space Station in 2009.
September 17th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

A short history of Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour will begin its final journey Wednesday, flying atop a 747 on its way to the California Science Center. It will make various stops along the way.

Endeavour's departure was originally scheduled for Monday, but it was postponed because of a forecast of unfavorable weather Monday and Tuesday, NASA said.

This shuttle was born out of tragedy. It would never have been built if not for that terrible disaster on a bitterly cold January morning in 1986.

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Filed under: On Earth
Expedition 32 Landing
September 17th, 2012
10:29 AM ET

Expedition 32 Landing

"The Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 32 Commander Gennady Padalka of Russia, NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba and Russian Flight Engineer Sergie Revin in a remote area near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on Monday, September 17, 2012. Padalka, Acaba and Revin returned from five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Wolf spider
September 14th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Spiders: Creepy but fascinating

Do spiders send shivers down your spine, or do they pique your curiosity? An exhibition in New York will teach you lots about these creatures.

The American Museum of Natural History exhibit about arachnids is called Spiders Alive!

The exclamation is with good reason, since the spiders really are alive. They're safely ensconced behind glass but alive all the same. I'm not one of those people who gets freaked out by spiders, but even so, there's something inherently creepy about them. Maybe it's those wonderfully sinister names that look like they could be splashed across the title sequence of a B-movie from the 1950s: The Black Widow! The Brown Recluse! Tarantula!

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New monkey unveiled to the world
September 12th, 2012
05:47 PM ET

New monkey unveiled to the world

Scientists are claiming they have discovered a new species of monkey living in the remote forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo - an animal well-known to local hunters but until now, unknown to the outside world.

In a paper published Wednesday in the open-access journal Plos One, the scientists describe the new species that they call Cercopithecus Lomamiensis, known locally as the Lesula, whose home is deep in central DR Congo's Lomami forest basin. The scientists say it is only the second discovery of a monkey species in 28 years.

In an age where so much of the earth's surface has been photographed, digitized, and placed on a searchable map on the web discoveries like this one by a group of American scientists this seem a throwback to another time.

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Filed under: Discoveries • On Earth
Mars rover performing 'almost flawlessly'
Curiosity took a picture of its own wheels, which have holes in them that spell "JPL" in Morse code.
September 12th, 2012
03:53 PM ET

Mars rover performing 'almost flawlessly'

Curiosity is on its 37th Martian day, and it's almost ready to head out on its first scientific expedition.

The 2,000-pound wonder-rover is about to complete its (or "her," if you're fond of spacecraft) final day of checkouts.

Scientists have been testing many of the instruments and components of the rover and updating software. Curiosity has performed "almost flawlessly" in all aspects, Jennifer Trosper, Curiosity's mission manager, said at a news briefing Wednesday hosted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars
340,000 votes may have come from Facebook message
Social media was shown to be quite effective in getting people to the polls, says a recent study.
September 12th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

340,000 votes may have come from Facebook message

With nearly 1 billion users, Facebook has clearly become a feature of many people’s lives worldwide. A new study suggests that the social network has the potential to get hundreds of thousands of people to engage in a single behavior – namely, voting.

Researchers report in the journal Nature that one Facebook message may have gotten 340,000 additional people to the polls for the 2010 United States Congressional elections.

The team, led by James Fowler, professor at the University of California, San Diego, designed the experiment with the cooperation of Facebook. Cameron Marlow of the data science division of Facebook collaborated on the study, too.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • News • Science Education
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