SPACE

space

Hazardous Living: Atlantis' final countdown

As the space shuttle Atlantis prepared for liftoff for the final time this morning, I was humming Europe’s 1986 hit “Final Countdown” in my office. As the countdown proceeded, I got chills. When Atlantis lifted off, I got a little teary-eyed. Watching NASA TV for the next hour, I couldn’t help but wonder what will become of all the people involved in the space shuttle program — mission control, the engineers, the astronauts. It’s hard not to think of this as the end of the U.S. space program. But as we’re assured by NASA, it most certainly is not.

08 Jul 2011

Benchmarks: April 9, 1895: James Edward Keeler confirms Saturn's rings not solid

On April 9 and 10, 1895, astronomer James Edward Keeler snapped the most important photographs of his life. With a 13-inch (33-centimeter) refracting telescope, Keeler captured proof that Saturn’s rings were not solid disks, but instead a collection of particles revolving around the planet. The discovery put to rest a question that astronomers had been pondering for more than two centuries.
 
01 Apr 2011

Keeler's legacy

James Edward Keeler led a brief life, but his legacy lives on. Scientists have named several natural phenomena after him.
 
01 Apr 2011

Saturn's rings: The remains of an icy moon

James Edward Keeler’s work didn’t end all speculation about Saturn’s rings. For example, scientists still don’t know when they formed, but researchers are getting closer to understanding how they came to be.
 
01 Apr 2011

Hazardous Living: Discovery's emotional final voyage

Today, at 4:53 p.m. ET, the space shuttle Discovery launched for the last time. When it returns to Earth in 11 days, the shuttle will be retired.

24 Feb 2011

Opening up space travel to everyone

Jason Marsh is done waiting around for someone else to transport him into space.

Marsh, a system administrator near Washington, D.C., is preparing to launch a new website for his Open Space Movement (OSM — currently here), a nonprofit project that aims to be a platform for developing and funding aerospace technology — and will be open to anyone who wants to join in. 

31 Aug 2010

Bids in space: When should we outsource government science?

Government research and development has its limits: Time, money and bureaucracy can all hamper the timely progress of research. As a result, many federal agencies are looking to private companies to help drive new innovation and keep costs down — but it’s never that simple. Two current hot-button topics — returning humans to space and geoengineering — highlight a range of issues related to how private and public investment in science can coexist. This month, we focus on NASA.

30 Jun 2010

Hubble's pics of Pluto: Dark orange and charcoal-black

Blogging on EARTH

Today NASA released new Hubble images of dwarf planet Pluto — and far from being just an icy colorless rock, the images show a mottled, dynamic, orangey-black world that changes color with the seasons (on Pluto, the change of seasons lasts 248 Earth years — and although on Earth the seasons change due to the axial tilt of the planet, Pluto's eccentric, non-circular orbit plays a big role in its seasonal variations).

04 Feb 2010

Benchmarks: February 4, 1962: Five planets align - but no end of the world

In the movie "2012," released in theaters last November, an alignment of five planets in our solar system — supposedly foretold by the Mayans thousands of years ago — causes horrors that span nearly every earth science disaster movie cliché: solar flares, neutrinos, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, poles shifting, oceans washing over the tallest mountains in the world, cities falling into the sea, mass hysteria and, basically, total destruction of life as we know it.
 
04 Feb 2010

On Her Majesty's space agency

The United Kingdom is to have its own dedicated space agency, U.K. Minister for Science Lord Paul Drayson announced last month. Supporters of the U.K. space program hope the agency, which will coordinate all of Britain’s space activities, will not only bring more jobs and income but will also increase the profile of the space program.

19 Jan 2010

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