Carl Sagan once proposed the idea of sailing through the cosmos via a solar-powered spacecraft. This spaceship would use sunlight radiation to power its flight much like a boat uses the wind for propellant. On May 20th, the Sagan co-founded Planetary Society will initiate its first test flight for such a solar vehicle: the LightSail.
At 3:30pm ET on April 30, 2015, and after four years of studying, NASA’s Messenger Probe crashlanded the surface of Mercury. After being in service for more than a decade, it is the first vehicle to ever make it to Mercury. However, it didn’t leave without saying goodbye.
Back in 2012, the news hit that a proposed one-way trip to Mars was in the works by the non-profit organization, Mars One. Based out of the Netherlands and headed up by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, the mission was to take 4 crew members to the Martian surface and set up a permanent frontier. This was the crux of the news story: Many wondered who would volunteer for such a mission–to never see and step foot on Earth again. But thousands applied, and as the years whittled down the applicants it seemed that the mission was getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. But then that all fell apart when it was revealed to be a bit of a scam.
I’ve always imagined that one day I’d get home, turn on the news, and see this big developing news story that evidence of life beyond our solar system had been discovered. It’s typically the stuff of movies and comic books, but recently NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, predicted that signs of alien life will be discovered by 2025 with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow.
Thanks to NASA and the Hubble Telescope we now have the largest and clearest image ever taken of our universe. It is a 1.5 billion-pixel image (69,536 x 22,230) of M31, also known as the Andromeda Galaxy.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has traveled roughly 3 billion miles at this point and it’s finally set its sights on the dwarf planet Ceres. Images of Ceres were released back in December, but those images were just for calibration. Dawn’s recently captured pictures are about 27 pixels across, about three times better than what it took last month.
Dr. Carter Emmart, Producer of Dark Universe and director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, will present a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the most accurate three-dimensional mapping data of the universe was used to create the show’s beautiful visual effects.
NASA’s newest spacecraft, Orion, will be launching into space for the first time this Thursday, December 4th, on a flight that will take it further than any spacecraft built to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years and through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava to put its critical systems to the test.
Yesterday, NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX to bring astronauts back into space. This signals the agency’s return to manned space flight after the end of the space shuttle program.
NASA is one step closer to putting humans back into space. Watch the conference here…