Latest NASA News

  • Mars researchers suspend reality when working in Utah desert
    Mars researchers suspend reality when working in Utah desert Fri, May 1, 2015

    HANKSVILLE, Utah (AP) — The Mars Society chose the American Southwest for its training facility because the soil and lack of vegetation resemble the landscape of the red planet, but that's where the similarities end. More »

  • Five Mercury Craters Named to Celebrate End of NASA's MESSENGER Mission
    Five Mercury Craters Named to Celebrate End of NASA's MESSENGER Mission Fri, May 1, 2015

    Just hours before NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft was expected to crash onto the surface of Mercury, ending the probe's four-year observation of the rocky planet, the winners of a contest to name five new craters on Mercury were announced. The five winning crater names are: Carolan, Enheduanna, Karsh, Kulthum and Rivera. MESSENGER, which captured stunning images of Mercury's cratered surface, crashed into the surface of the planet at at 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT) yesterday (April 30). The new crater names have been approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). More »

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' rocket company test-flies suborbital spaceship
    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' rocket company test-flies suborbital spaceship Fri, May 1, 2015

    Blue Origin – a start-up space company owned by Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos – launched an experimental suborbital spaceship from Texas, the first in a series of test-flights to develop commercial unmanned and passenger spaceflight services, the company said on Thursday (30 April). The New Shepard vehicle blasted off on Wednesday (29 April) from Blue Origin's test facility near Van Horn, Texas, and rose to an altitude of 58 miles before the capsule separated and parachuted to Earth. Blue Origin is among a handful of companies developing privately owned spaceships to fly experiments, satellites and passengers into space. Like Virgin Galactic, a US offshoot of Richard Branson's London-based Virgin Group, and privately owned XCOR Aerospace, Blue Origin is eyeing suborbital spaceflights, which reach altitudes of about 62 miles, as a stepping stone to orbital flight. More »

  • Remote Utah outpost serves as stand-in for surface of Mars
    Remote Utah outpost serves as stand-in for surface of Mars Fri, May 1, 2015

    HANKSVILLE, Utah (AP) — Four people wearing space helmets and square backpacks emerge from a circular structure resembling a water tank and step onto a reddish, barren landscape. More »

  • Nasa's Messenger Probe Smashes Into Mercury
    Nasa's Messenger Probe Smashes Into Mercury Fri, May 1, 2015

    NASA's Messenger spacecraft has slammed into the surface of the planet Mercury, ending a successful 11-year-mission. The probe, the first ever to orbit Mercury, had run out of fuel and crashed into the planet's surface at a speed of 8,750 miles per hour. During its mission the spacecraft completed 4,104 orbits of Mercury and collected more than 277,000 images. "A NASA planetary exploration mission came to a planned, but nonetheless dramatic, end Thursday when it slammed into Mercury's surface at about 8,750 miles per hour and created a new crater on the planet's surface," NASA said in a statement. More »

  • Quotations in the News Fri, May 1, 2015

    "Well I guess it is time to say goodbye." — Twitter post for NASA's spacecraft Messenger, which succumbed to Mercury's gravity and crash-landed on the planet after orbiting it since 2011. More »

  • NASA pushes back against proposal to slash climate budget
    NASA pushes back against proposal to slash climate budget Fri, May 1, 2015

    NASA pushed back against a congressional proposal to slash more than $300 million in funding from its branch focused on climate issues. More »

  • Spacecraft smashes into Mercury
    Spacecraft smashes into Mercury Fri, May 1, 2015

    An American spacecraft's pioneering mission to Mercury has come to a dramatic end with the probe smashing into the planet at more than 8,750 mph, mission controllers have confirmed. More »

  • In Search for Alien Life, Follow the Water
    In Search for Alien Life, Follow the Water Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    The search for life beyond Earth homes in on water, whose abundance throughout the solar system is becoming increasingly clear to scientists. Water is a polar molecule and a solvent, two properties that are important for certain chemical reactions critical to life, said NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan. "We think water is key to life as we know it," Stofan said Tuesday (April 28) during the Asimov Memorial Debate, an annual event at New York's American Museum of Natural History that was moderated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum's Hayden Planetarium. Jupiter's moon Europa is covered with a sheet of ice that very likely sits on top of a global ocean, and Saturn's moon Enceladus shows evidence of subsurface water as well. More »

  • Doomsday at Mercury: NASA craft falls from orbit into planet
    Doomsday at Mercury: NASA craft falls from orbit into planet Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The only spacecraft ever to orbit Mercury ended its four-year tour with a crash landing Thursday More »

  • Farewell, MESSENGER! NASA Probe Crashes Into Mercury
    Farewell, MESSENGER! NASA Probe Crashes Into Mercury Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    This violent demise was inevitable for MESSENGER, which had been orbiting Mercury since March 2011 and had run out of fuel. The 10-foot-wide (3 meters) spacecraft was traveling about 8,750 mph (14,080 km/h) at the time of impact, and it likely created a smoking hole in the ground about 52 feet (16 m) wide in Mercury's northern terrain, NASA officials said. MESSENGER was the first spacecraft ever to orbit the solar system's innermost planet, and its observations over the last four years helped lift the veil on mysterious Mercury, mission team members said. "Although Mercury is one of Earth's nearest planetary neighbors, astonishingly little was known when we set out," MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon, director of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a statement. More »

  • NASA spacecraft crashes on Mercury after 11-year mission
    NASA spacecraft crashes on Mercury after 11-year mission Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    An unmanned NASA spacecraft has crashed on the surface of the planet Mercury, after it ran out of fuel following a successful 11-year mission, the US space agency said Thursday. More »

  • US Air Force tracks spinning space capsule as orbit drops
    US Air Force tracks spinning space capsule as orbit drops Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Air Force is keeping close tabs on Russia's tumbling, out-of-control space capsule as it comes closer to re-entering Earth's atmosphere. More »

  • NASA spacecraft smashes into Mercury
    NASA spacecraft smashes into Mercury Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    Collision of Messenger spacecraft with the planet brings an end to one of the space agency's most productive missions. More »

  • Jeff Bezos' Rocket Company Test-Flies Suborbital Spaceship
    Jeff Bezos' Rocket Company Test-Flies Suborbital Spaceship Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Blue Origin, a startup space company owned by Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos, launched an experimental suborbital spaceship from Texas, the first in a series of test flights to develop commercial unmanned and passenger spaceflight services, the company said on Thursday. The New Shepard vehicle blasted off on Wednesday from Blue Origin’s test facility near Van Horn, Texas, and rose to an altitude of 58 miles (93 km) before the capsule separated and parachuted back to Earth. “Fortunately, we’ve already been in work for some time on an improved hydraulic system ... We’ll be ready to fly again soon." Blue Origin is among a handful of companies developing privately owned spaceships to fly experiments, satellites and passengers into space. Like Virgin Galactic, a U.S. offshoot of Richard Branson’s London-based Virgin Group, and privately owned XCOR Aerospace, Blue Origin is eyeing suborbital spaceflights, which reach altitudes of about 62 miles (100 km), as a stepping stone to orbital flight. More »

  • Space Station Astronauts Take Russian Cargo Ship Failure in Stride
    Space Station Astronauts Take Russian Cargo Ship Failure in Stride Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    A robotic Russian cargo spacecraft won't make it to the International Space Station as planned this week, but astronauts aboard the orbiting lab say the failure is not the end of the world. "We are 100 percent confident that we will be living and working productively onboard the space station up until the time that the next cargo vehicle is going to come," Kornienko told reporters in a video interview Wednesday (April 29). Kornienko is one of the six crewmembers who make up the space station's current Expedition 43. He and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly are one month into an unprecedented yearlong mission that's designed to help pave the way for journeys to Mars and other deep-space destinations. More »

  • NASA Spacecraft Crashes Into Mercury Today: See the Live Slooh Webcast
    NASA Spacecraft Crashes Into Mercury Today: See the Live Slooh Webcast Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    Update for 5 pm ET: NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has impacted Mercury and ended its mission as planned. After more than three years orbiting Mercury, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft will smash into the closest planet to the sun today (April 30). The online Slooh community observatory will host the free webcast at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) and will stream it live at: www.slooh.com/. NASA expects MESSENGER will crash into Mercury around 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT). More »

  • Probe to hit Mercury in mission end
    Probe to hit Mercury in mission end Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    A spacecraft that has been orbiting Mercury for the last four years is set to bring its mission to an explosive end tonight by crashing into the planet. More »

  • Planet Mercury: Some Surprising Facts for Skywatchers
    Planet Mercury: Some Surprising Facts for Skywatchers Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    We have just entered a very favorable period for observing the so-called "elusive" planet Mercury.  From now, until about May 13, you should be able to find it with not much difficulty. In 1965, radar studies showed that Mercury's rotation period is 58.65 days or almost exactly two-thirds of its orbital period of 87.969 days. This would mean that a certain point on the planet's surface faces the sun every other time that Mercury arrives at its closest point to the sun (called perihelion). In fact, if Mercury always moved with the same angular velocity that it has at perihelion, it would take only 56.6 days to orbit the sun. More »

  • New 'Space Spider' 3D Scanner Could Work in Space
    New 'Space Spider' 3D Scanner Could Work in Space Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    The company behind a new 3D scanner says the device would make a good addition to the International Space Station. The "Space Spider" handheld 3D scanner can work in microgravity and features an advanced cooling system that prevents overheating — a common issue for electronics in space, said representatives of Luxembourg-based Artec 3D, which developed the machine. "Imagine the potential of using 3D scanning technology on the International Space Station paired with a 3D printer," Artec 3D president and CEO Artyom Yuhkin said in a statement Wednesday (April 29). "The Space Spider boasts an enhanced cooling system that allows the user to capture accurate 3D data more rapidly. More »

  • NASA's Best Photos of Pluto Yet Show Possible Ice Cap (Video)
    NASA's Best Photos of Pluto Yet Show Possible Ice Cap (Video) Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    A Pluto-bound NASA probe has captured the best-ever images of the dwarf planet, revealing surface features that include a possible polar ice cap. The photos were captured in mid-April by NASA's New Horizons probe, which will make the first-ever flyby of Pluto on July 14. The new photos "are just a little bit better than anything that's ever been obtained in history," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said during a news conference today (April 29). One of the features visible in the new photos of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon — which were taken by New Horizons' Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager camera between April 12 and April 18, from less than 70 million miles (113 million kilometers) away — is a large, white patch near one of Pluto's poles. More »

  • Aurora Flare-ups on Jupiter Caused by Volcanic Moon Io
    Aurora Flare-ups on Jupiter Caused by Volcanic Moon Io Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Jupiter's supervolcanic moon Io is apparently responsible for dramatic brightenings of the giant planet's stunning blue auroras, a new study suggests. Auroras are generated when electrically charged particles collide with a planet's atmosphere, where they excite gases and cause them to glow. Jupiter's auroras, which are sparked by particles from the planet's moons as well as the sun, are thousands of times more energetic than Earth's and many times bigger than Earth itself. These flare-ups occurred on days when the sun's usual flow of charged particles was relatively weak. More »

  • Graveyard of Stars May Surround Milky Way's Monster Black Hole
    Graveyard of Stars May Surround Milky Way's Monster Black Hole Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    The remains of thousands of stars might exist in a vast graveyard near the giant black hole at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, a region where dead stars feed on companions like zombies and unleash X-ray "howls," researchers say. Scientists have long thought that a monster black hole with the mass of 4.3 million suns, named Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A star), lurks at the heart of the Milky Way. Recently, astronomers discovered that a surprising number of young, massive stars exist within a few dozen light-years of this black hole. "These young, massive stars are puzzling because when we think about how stars form from clouds of gas that gravitationally collapse in on themselves, it's hard to figure how these clouds could have survived long enough to form stars, given the intense gravitational pull of the supermassive black hole that's so close to them," lead study author Kerstin Perez, an astrophysicist now at Columbia University in New York, told Space.com. More »

  • ISS Cargo Spacecraft 'Plummeting To Earth'
    ISS Cargo Spacecraft 'Plummeting To Earth' Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    An unmanned Russian spacecraft is spinning out of control and is believed to be plunging back towards Earth after a failed mission to resupply the International Space Station. It reached orbit and deployed solar panels, but ground control then lost contact and was unable to confirm if it was ready to steer toward the ISS. NASA said the craft was now in an uncontrolled spin. Four attempts to regain control as the craft hurtled over Russian airspace have been unsuccessful and a back-up plan to dock with the ISS on Thursday has been scrapped. More »

  • Russia loses control of unmanned spacecraft
    Russia loses control of unmanned spacecraft Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Russia said Wednesday it had lost control of an unmanned spacecraft taking supplies to the International Space Station and it is plunging back to Earth but is likely to burn up in the atmosphere. More »

  • NASA detects possible polar cap on Pluto
    NASA detects possible polar cap on Pluto Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Pluto may have a polar ice cap, NASA scientists said Wednesday after analyzing the latest images from an unmanned spacecraft that is approaching the distant dwarf planet. More »

  • Space Station Astronauts Get Big Screen, Watch 'Gravity'
    Space Station Astronauts Get Big Screen, Watch 'Gravity' Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Space station astronauts have finally hit the big time, at least when it comes to the big screen. More »

  • Russia's spinning cargo capsule for space station total loss
    Russia's spinning cargo capsule for space station total loss Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A Russian supply capsule that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch was declared a total loss Wednesday, but astronauts at the International Space Station said they will get by without the delivery of fresh food, water, clothes and equipment. More »

  • Newborn Star Erupts After Binging on Gas and Dust
    Newborn Star Erupts After Binging on Gas and Dust Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Astronomers call this a "Class 0" protostar. Although a Class 0 protostar has yet to generate energy by fusing hydrogen into helium deep in its core, it still shines, albeit faintly. Studies have shown, however, that the light heats up the dust around the protostar, causing it to give off a faint glow that can then be detected by infrared observatories, like the Spitzer Space Telescope. In this way, astronomers can detect a protostar's presence via the faint glow of its surrounding dust clouds. More »

  • See Amazing Photos of Mercury By a Doomed NASA Spacecraft (Video)
    See Amazing Photos of Mercury By a Doomed NASA Spacecraft (Video) Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    A new NASA video celebrates the life and accomplishments of the first probe ever to orbit Mercury, just days before the spacecraft ends its landmark mission with a death plunge onto the planet's many-cratered surface. NASA's MESSENGER probe, which has been orbiting Mercury since March 2011, is nearly out of fuel and will smash into the planet on Thursday (April 30), probably around 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT), space agency officials say. NASA released the new MESSENGER video on Monday (April 27) as a tribute, and a memorial of sorts. On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER became the first probe ever to circle Mercury and just the second to study the planet up close. More »

  • Doomed Russian Space Station Cargo Ship Will Fall Back to Earth Soon
    Doomed Russian Space Station Cargo Ship Will Fall Back to Earth Soon Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    An ailing Russian cargo spacecraft is falling from space and will soon meet a fiery demise in Earth's atmosphere after suffering a serious malfunction on Tuesday (April 28), a NASA astronaut said today. The unmanned Progress 59 spacecraft is doomed to burn up in Earth's atmosphere in the next few days after failing to deliver more than 3 tons of supplies to the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly told reporters in a series of televised interviews. "We were both told recently by both the U.S. and Russian flight control centers that Roscosmos [Russia's space agency] announced that the Progress will not be docking and will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere here some days in the future to be determined," Kelly said from the station as he and crewmate Mikhail Kornienko answered questions. The launch went smoothly, but shortly after the spacecraft separated from its rocket, Russian flight controllers had difficulty receiving telemetry data from the craft. More »

  • Probe plunge to end Mercury mission
    Probe plunge to end Mercury mission Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    An American spacecraft is due to smash into the planet Mercury tomorrow after running out of fuel, bringing a dramatic end to its four year mission. More »

  • Spinning spacecraft 'a total loss'
    Spinning spacecraft 'a total loss' Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    A Russian supply capsule that went into an uncontrollable spin after launch has been declared a total loss, but astronauts at the International Space Station said they will get by without the delivery of fresh food, water, clothes and equipment. More »

  • 'Astronaut Wives Club' Trailer: First Look at ABC's Spacemen Spouses …
    'Astronaut Wives Club' Trailer: First Look at ABC's Spacemen Spouses … Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    The docudrama, which will premiere on the Disney-owned television network Thursday, June 18, is based on author Lily Koppel's 2013 bestselling book about the real wives of America's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts. "Get your first taste of 'Astronaut Wives Club' with promos aired during [the shows] 'Scandal,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' and American Crime," actress Erin Cummings, astronaut Deke Slayton's wife Marge in the series, wrote on Twitter. The teaser provided a peek at Cummings, along with her co-stars Anna Garcia Swisher, Yvonne Strahovski, Odette Annable, Dominique McElligott, Azure Parsons, and Zoe Boyle, as the young first spouses of NASA's "Original 7" Mercury pilots. More »

  • Space Shuttle Enterprise Exhibit in NYC Dedicated to Fallen Astronaut Crews
    Space Shuttle Enterprise Exhibit in NYC Dedicated to Fallen Astronaut Crews Wed, Apr 29, 2015

    Three years to day after arriving in New York City for its public display, NASA's prototype space shuttle Enterprise on Monday (April 27) was dedicated to the astronauts who lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration. Family members of the Apollo 1, Challenger STS-51L and Columbia STS-107 crews joined NASA officials aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for the dedication. "It is our great privilege to stand alongside the families of the brave crew members of Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia as we dedicate space shuttle Enterprise to their heroism, vision, passion and sacrifice," Susan Marenoff-Zausner, the museum's president, said. Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee died Jan. 27, 1967, as a result of a fire engulfing their spacecraft during a test on the launch pad. More »