Space, Space flight

42 years ago today, Apollo 17 lifted off from the moon. Human beings haven’t travelled beyond low Earth orbit ever since

The Apollo 17 Roving vehicle. Image via Wiki Commons.

It’s a glorious reminder, but a sad day as well. It’s been 42 years since humans have been on the moon… or anywhere else beyond low orbit for that matter. Apollo 17 was the final mission of the United States’ Apollo lunar landing program, and was the sixth and last landing of humans on the Moon. It left the Moon…

Space, Space flight

Japanese mission plans to blow asteroid and return chunks of it to Earth [UPDATE]

A rendering of Hayabusa-2 approaching an asteroid.	Image via JAXA.

UPDATE:  The Hayabusa 2 probe was successfully launched late Tuesday night from the Tanegashima Space Cente While just two weeks ago we were telling you about the European Rosetta mission which orbited a comet and ultimately sent a lander to the surface of the comet, now, the Japanese space agency, JAXA, is preparing to one-up Rosetta: they plan not only to land…

News, Space, Space flight

Rosetta’s Philae probe landed on a comet – why this is HUGE news

First image from the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from the Rosetta million’s lander Philae Photograph: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA/Photograph: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

OK, so we’ve been keeping you up to date with what’s been happening with the Rosetta mission, but we had to sleep eventually, and wonderful things have happened in the mean time. In case you’re not aware, here’s a short summary: Rosetta is a probe launched by the European Space Agency (the European equivalent of NASA) in order to study…

News, Space flight

India’s Mangalyaan shuttle has now successfully entered the Mars orbit

IMAGE: ARUN SANKAR K/ASSOCIATED PRESS

We were telling you yesterday about India’s Mangalyaan shuttle, which was set to enter Martian orbit. Here’s the update: everything went fine, Mangalyaan has entered the red planet’s orbit in a historic moment for Indian science. “History has been created today”, said  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We have achieved the near impossible. I congratulate all ISRO scientists and all my fellow Indians…

News, Space, Space flight

The International Space Station is out of parking space

Space_X

At this very moment, the International Space Station has all its docking ports fully booked, as five manned and cargo spacecraft have occupied all available slots. Most expensive parking ticket ever The spacecrafts in question are: Soyuz TMA-12M, Soyuz TMA-13M, Cygnus 2, Progress 56, and ATV-5. The Soyuz crafts are tasked with ferrying the crew of Expedition 39/40 and 40/41 to and from…

Astrophysics, News, Physics, Space flight

NASA confirms “Impossible” propellant-free microwave thruster works

emdrive-537x345

Designs for a device called a “microwave thruster” were proposed in 2006. While the device was physically sound and followed the principles of relativity, it has been dismissed by researchers who claimed that such a functioning device would defy the law of conservation of momentum. A team from NASA set out to trial the device and see if it works; lo and…

Alien life, Space, Space flight

Mars could become colonized by stowaway Earthling tiny space travelers

Electron micrographs of Bacillus pumilus SAFR-032 spores on aluminum before and after exposure to space conditions. [Reproduced with permission from P. Vaishampayan et al., Survival of Bacillus pumilus Spores for a Prolonged Period of Time in Real Space Conditions. Astrobiology Vol 12, No 5, 2012.] Image Credit: P. Vaishampayan, et al./Astrobiology

Whenever alien invasions are concerned, most people tend to image extraterrestrial spaceships landing on Earth, not the other way around. In reality, this alien invasion most likely will happen or already has happen in reverse, as Earth-based life forms could reach distant asteroids or planets, like Mars, hitching rides on human spaceship. To assess this possibility, NASA researchers published three…

Space, Space flight

NASA to conduct unprecedented twin experiment: one twin will spend a year circling the Earth, while the other stays grounded

gfbgnh

It’s something that puzzled me for years now: consider a pair of identical twins; say, one gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into space. The other is also an astronaut, but he decides to skip this one and stay home. After a while, they reunite, but are they still identical? That’s exactly what NASA wants to find out! In…

News, Space flight

Developing Galactic Gas Stations

20140304162529-0

Future lunar missions may be fueled by gas stations in space, according to a new plan developed by MIT engineers. A spacecraft might dock at a propellant depot, somewhere between the Earth and the Moon, and pick up some more fuel before heading on to the moon. The carry load is still a major problem for scientific expeditions. Basically, you need…

News, Space, Space flight

China’s rover on route for the moon and first lunar landing in 40 years

China’s lunar probe as seen against the limb of the Earth. (c) CCTV

In the early hours of December 2nd, China deployed its Chang’e-3 spacecraft on route for the moon after launching it via a  Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang launch centre in Sichuan. The spacecraft is expected to reach lunar orbit in about 4 days, if everything goes as planned. On 14 December, the probe is expected to touch base with the moon at Sinus…