The last lunar eclipse of 2011 as seen from the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles on Dec 10, 2011.
Credit Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images
The squiggly lines on this image show the path of a simulated minimoon that is temporarily captured by Earth. The asteroid in the corner of the image, 1999 JM8, is nearly 2 miles across and more than 1,000 times larger than the minimoons.
Credit Institute for Astronomy / University of Hawaii
There's a small spacecraft called Messenger that's been orbiting the planet Mercury for a year. Today, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, astronomers revealed what they've learned about the innermost planet in our solar system, and some of the new knowledge is puzzling.
Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied a large crater 900 miles across called Caloris.
Russia's unmanned Progress space freighter, headed for the International Space Station, blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Oct. 30, 2011. A string of mission failures has raised concerns over the reliability of Russia's space program.
Credit STR / Reuters /Landov
A Russian satellite is displayed at the Memorial Space Museum in Moscow. Russia's once proud space program is now struggling.
Credit Daniil Tomilov / Xinhua /Landov
Russia's space agency ground personnel check a Soyuz TMA-02 capsule after its landing near the town of Arkalyk in northern Kazakhstan, on Nov. 22, 2011. The next Soyuz launch, to send a relief crew to the International Space Station, is scheduled for May 15.
Every so often, pieces of heaven crash into Earth.
They can come from our own solar system, or millions of light years away. Few of us are lucky enough to get our hands on one of these space rocks. But for meteorite hunters and dealers such as Ruben Garcia, touching a piece of outer space is a daily routine.
The Best Hunting Grounds
One of Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.
After decades of global dominance, America's space shuttle program ended last summer while countries like Russia, China and India continue to advance their programs. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of the new book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, says America's space program is at a critical moment. He thinks it's time for America to invest heavily in space exploration and research.
Ask people who know John Herman of Newmarket and they’ll tell you he keeps really busy –plays, meetups, video blogs, improv comedy, music… He’s basically everywhere at once, but there’s one place even John Herman hasn’t gone (yet): space.
That may change, as John is one of 20 semifinalists in the Space Race 2012 contest; the winner goes into sub-orbital flight on a trip with a commercial spaceflight company.
The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, seen in this artist's rendering, will be built on the peak of the Cerro Pachon mountain in Chile and will survey every patch of the night sky. The data the telescope will collect will allow researchers to "answer fundamentally different questions about the universe," says one astronomer.
Credit Todd Mason / LSST Corp.
The telescope's unique, compact design allows it to swivel very quickly to different parts of the sky. This gives astronomers the ability to capture images quickly.
Every 10 years, about two dozen of this country's top astronomers and astrophysicists get together under the auspices of the National Research Council and make a wish list. The list has on it the new telescopes these astronomers would most like to see built. At the last gathering, they said, in essence, "We most want the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."
Here's why. A synoptic survey is a comprehensive map of every square inch of the night sky. The Large Synoptic Survey — LSST — will do that multiple times.
Roger Boisjoly was a booster rocket engineer at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol in Utah in January, 1986, when he and four colleagues became embroiled in the fatal decision to launch the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Boisjoly was also one of two confidential sources quoted by NPR three weeks later in the first detailed report about the Challenger launch decision, and the stiff resistance by Boisjoly and other Thiokol engineers.
The latest twist in the Obama administration’s so-called Asian pivot. The president’s chief science advisor, John Holdren, has said the US would benefit from cooperating with China on future space missions. But federal legislation now prohibits NASA from pursuing such efforts with a little known clause that’s popped up in two pieces of legislation within the past year.
Space! The final frontier, an immense void populated by our imaginations and as far as we know, not much else. Since the NASA shuttle program topped headlines for one last nostalgic time this summer, there have been few newsworthy developments in space exploration… until now. Here to share some big news is freelance science journalist Lee Billings, who’s working on a book about the inter-galactic search for earth-like planets.