NASA’s InSight spacecraft is now parked on Mars and gearing up to spend the next two years probing the interior of the Red Planet. InSight also beamed back 52 photos of its immediate environment, which were used to create a mosaic of a 4x7-foot area of the surface directly beside the lander. Unlike Curiosity and other NASA rovers on Mars, InSight isn’t mobile. Since InSight touched down on Nov. 26, NASA engineers have been powering up and testing each of...
A Rocket Lab Electron booster is scheduled to launch NASA's ElaNa-19 mission from the company's private Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand's North Island. Tonight's launch will mark Rocket Lab's first flight for NASA and the fourth orbital flight of the company's Electron booster over all. For this first flight for NASA, Rocket Lab opted to name the mission in honor of a NASA icon: Sir William Pickering, former head of the U.S. space agency's Jet...
Now the probe is sending data back from its close solar encounter, scientists reported December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C."What we are looking at now is completely brand new," solar physicist Nour Raouafi of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md., said at a news conference. Parker launched August 12 (SN Online: 8/12/18) and will make 24 close passes by the sun over the next seven years, eventually going to within about 6...
A marsupial lion skeleton found during a dig in Naracoorte National Park, Australia. The marsupial lion — a giant carnivore that hunted in Australia tens of thousands of years ago — has long mystified scientists. The newfound bones suggest that the marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) was an apex predator that relied on both ambush hunting and scavenging to satisfy its hearty appetite. It also had a stiff, muscular tail that it could use as tripod while handling food or climbing,...
Go below the soil, beyond the bedrock, and you’ll find a hot, sweaty underworld teeming with life that puts the surface biosphere to shame. Just how much life is down there has been an open question that the 1,200 scientists with the Deep Carbon Observatory have been trying to answer by probing the Earth’s crust. Rick Colwell, a scientist at Oregon State who works on the Deep Carbon Observatory’s deep life census, told Gizmodo the observatory began by trying to...
On Monday, Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk to investigate the nature and cause of a mysterious 2-millimeter-wide hole in a Russian spacecraft. Alexander Gerst, an astronaut for the German European Space Agency and current commander of the International Space Station (ISS), tweeted photos on Monday of a rare sight: four spacecraft viewed at once from the ISS cupola. Gerst also posted other striking photos taken from the ISS, where he and five other astronauts are conducting experiments to learn more...
In part one of our interview with United Launch Alliance Chief Executive Tory Bruno, we talked about the company's efforts to develop the Vulcan rocket, its Centaur upper stage, and other projects at the Colorado-based rocket builder. In part two, below, we asked Bruno about the company's collaboration with new space company Blue Origin and its ongoing rivalry with SpaceX. These two relatively new launch companies have taken different approaches with United Launch Alliance, which was founded by legacy aerospace...
To help answer these and other intriguing questions, a team of astronomers has conducted ALMA's first large-scale, high-resolution survey of protoplanetary disks, the belts of dust and gas around young stars. Known as the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP), this "Large Program" of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has yielded stunning, high-resolution images of 20 nearby protoplanetary disks and given astronomers new insights into the variety of features they contain and the speed with which planets...
At the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington DC, NASA displayed images from its Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which launched less than three months ago. The ATLAS (Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System) instrument onboard bounces a pulse of visible green laser light split into six individual beams off the Earth’s surface and measures the time for individual photons to return. Not only can ATLAS measure ice elevations with an accuracy of roughly 1 cm to reveal ice structure,...
As winter cold hits much of the Northern Hemisphere, the reliable Geminid meteor shower peaks in the middle of the month, rewarding those willing to bundle up and venture out into the night. But this year brings a skywatching bonus: the peak of the Geminids comes Thursday and Friday night, just as the brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, is set to come historically close just a few nights later on Dec. 16. This remarkable video shot by Joe Lawton of...
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