News, Space flight

A hundred people shortlisted for one-way trip to Mars

Maggie, one of the 100 selected participants. Image via BBC.

Selected from more than 200,000 applicants, 50 men and 50 women have become the final contenders for the one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch not-for-profit company is planning to send groups of four people on a one-way trip to the red planet in about a decade to start a permanent human settlement – now, we can take a better look at those people.

Space, Space flight

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft set for historic rendez-vous with Pluto

Artistic representation of New Horizons nearing Pluto.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has officially begun its six month approach to the planet Pluto. This is the first time a human shuttle will flyby the icy dwarf planet.

Astrophysics, News, Space, Space flight

China Reaches Moon Orbit, Wants to Mine Very Rare, Energy Dense Element


China’s has reached a new milestone in its space program – its latest spacecraft service module has entered orbit around the moon, after being successfully tested on Earth a few months ago. Chinese media reports that the service module of a test lunar orbiter has successfully began orbiting the Moon. The goal of this mission is to land on the Moon, retrieve…

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


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


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


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…