News, Space

Nasty, cannibal star reveals cosmic secrets

An artist's conception depicts an immense disk of gas surrounding a massive, bright Wolf-Rayet star (at center). NASA, ESA, AND G. BACON (STSCI)

Astronomers have captured a glimpse in the life of a massive star, a brief transitory stage in its evolution that might reveal the secrets of a unique class of stars. It’s called Nasty1, a name derived from its catalogue name, NaSt1; but the name is quite fitting, considering that the star itself has a pretty erratic behavior. Nasty1 is part of

News, Space

China wants to be the first to land on the Dark Side of the Moon

Chang'e-3 lunar probe. Image: ECNS

According to the Chinese Central Television, China wants to land rover on the far side of the moon, also know as the dark side of the moon, by 2020. This would make it the first nation to land a spacecraft of any sort there. First, the rover will orbit the moon piggy-bagged by the Chang’e 4 spacecraft then later deployed to a launch site. The rover will carry out some scientific missions, but the main goal really is to test China’s space launching capabilities, but also as a show of force. Flex those muscles, sort to speak. Some analysts, however, speak out that there might be more to it, namely a bid for the moon’s resources.

News, Space

A crime in the sky: galaxies die by strangulation

Artist’s impression of one of the possible galaxy strangulation mechanisms: star-forming galaxies (fed by gas inflows) are accreted into a massive hot halo, which ‘strangles’ them and leads to their death. Image: Cambridge University

There are two types of galaxies: ‘alive’ and ‘dead’ ones. Those galaxies that are still alive are called so because they still produce stars inside, while the dead ones are stripped and devoid of their stellar nurseries. In a case of forensic astronomy of the utmost importance, a team at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Observatory Edinburgh has revealed the leading cause of death for most deceased galaxies of average size: death by strangulation. What remains now is to identify the killer, the researchers say.

News, Space

It’s just crazy enough to work – NASA plans to send gliding probes to Mars

This illustration shows how the MARSDROP mission concept would land microprobes on Mars using an entry vehicle and parawing glider. Inset: A MARSDROP prototype under its parawing. ILLUSTRATION: PLANETARY SCIENCE INSTITUTE/INSET: MATTHEW EBY

An innovative concept might allow engineers to send probes on Mars in previously inaccessible locations. The project, called MARSDROP, would send two landers to the Red Planet, where they would detach from the shuttle and glide down to the planetary surface.

News, Space, Technology

ISS astronauts could use laser cannon to blast off hazardous space junk

There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris in orbit. Image via Wikipedia.

Astronauts onboard the ISS may soon get a new “toy” – a space laser cannon to blast off space debris that might threaten the space station. Even a tiny scratch or dent could cause massive problems, and with us putting more and more stuff in space, the risk of damage constantly increases too.

News, Space

ISS astronauts capture spectacular aurora

aurora

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station were given a treat – they witnessed one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon on Earth, from space. From onboard the station, Terry Virts also filmed it and took some pictures, so we can all enjoy.

Great Pics, Space

A gorgeous blue sunset on Mars

Mars blue sunset

That’s the sun setting over the rim of Gale Crater on Mars, as shot by the Curiosity Rover. Notice some differences? Well, first of all, the sun looks a lot smaller. Of course, it should look smaller considering Mars is farther away from the sun than Earth is. This way, the sun looks approximately two-thirds as big as from our own planet. Next, that’s a blue-tinted sunset, fading out in a pinkish tinge. In terms of colors, that’s more or less the exact opposite of what happens here on Earth where sunsets tend to fade from warm, ruddy colors like orange-red. This can be explained by the differences between airborne particles in the two atmospheres.

Alien life, Science, Space

Algae and bacteria will provide oxygen for astronauts living on Mars

Mars colony

NASA has partnered with a private company to design and build an oxygen production facility for a Martian outpost or colony. The make the oxygen, bacteria and algae would use the nitrogen-rich Martian soil to make the precious oxygen, essential for the astronauts’ survival. It can be used to make air, water and fuel.

News, Space, Technology

NASA is offering over $2 million for the best design for a 3D printed Martian habitat

Image via Slashgear.

NASA is offering up to $2.25 million to anyone that can successfully design a habitat that can be 3D printed on Mars. The announcement is part of a broader attempt by NASA to outsource ideas and projects.

Astronomy, Observations

Scientists discover extremely rare quadruple quasar system

It's like winning the lottery - twice. Astronomers have spotted a rare cluster of four quasars—some of the brightest objects in the universe, formed from active black holes. Photograph by Hennawy and Arrigoni Battaia, MPIA.

A team of astronomers has discovered a unique system of quadruple quasars. The quartet, discovered at the very edge of the universe, is one of the most massive structures in the known universe.