AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch ORB-3 on a Antares rocket from Wallops Island, VA
scheduled for:
21 Oct 14 2:29:00 GMT
20 Oct 14 22:29:00 EDT

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Comet ISON Fizzes Like a Soda Pop

Photo Credit: NASA / SST

Coming soon to a region of space near you: comet ISON, which is expected to put on a spectacular show toward the end of the year. Currently, ISON is about 258 million miles from the Sun, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Its tail already stretches out more than three-quarters of [...]

Pluto's Unnamed Moons Given Names by IAU

Two newly discovered moons orbiting Pluto have been given official names by the International Astronomical Union. Image Credit: NASA / STSci

Two of Pluto’s small moons, previously known just as P4 and P5, have been given official names by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Pluto is the god of the underworld in classical mythology, [...]

Undiscovered Country: Of New Horizons and the Kuiper Belt

Neptune’s largest moon, Triton, seen here in an image from the Voyager 2 flyby, is thought to be a captured Kuiper Belt Object. Photo Credit: NASA.

Starting at about the orbit of Neptune and stretching out to roughly 50 astronomical units (1 AU = Earth-Sun distance), or 7.5 billion kilometers from the Sun, is [...]

Whatever Happened to Space Colonies?

Why is it that the concept of orbital colonies, destinations which could alleviate many of the problems here on Earth, have faded away? Image Credit: NASA / Ames

Back in the 1960s and ’70s, it seemed everyone was talking about orbital colonies and emigrating into space with their families. The publication of Gerard K. [...]

Countering the Threat Posed by Orbital Debris

In this computer simulation, the sheer amount of orbital debris becomes apparent—as does the need to find a way to prevent it. Image Credit: NASA

There’s a lot of junk up there. Around 20,000 bits and pieces of satellites and old rocket parts, bigger than 5 cm (2 inches) across, are floating around in [...]

Astronomy at the High Frontier

Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from the Shuttle Atlantis during the fourth servicing mission in May 2009. Photo Credit: NASA

The atmosphere is a problem for astronomers for two big reasons: it’s turbulent, so it smears out the light from cosmic objects, and it blocks out huge swathes of the electromagnetic spectrum. To see [...]

What Will We Find At Pluto?

NASA’s first mission to the dwarf planet Pluto is two years away from its destination. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie Southwest Research Institute

Something odd happened a few months after NASA’s deep space probe New Horizons was launched Jan. 19, 2006—its target got demoted from a planet to a “dwarf planet.” In [...]

The Search for Alien Life Part 1: Where are the Martians?

Mars shows plenty of evidence for flowing water on its surface, as in the case of these channels in Newton Crater. Does this mean that the Red Planet ever supported life? Photo Credit: NASA

On July 20, 1976, a 572-kilogram spacecraft, supported on three sturdy legs, touched down on the orange sands of Mars [...]

Reaching for the Stars Part 1: First Steps

The trajectories of the twin Voyagers and Pioneers shown together with the more direct route to the edge of the solar system, which would be followed by a purpose-built interstellar probe. Image Credit: NASA

Will we ever be able to send spacecraft to the stars in a reasonable amount of time? The big problem—and [...]