space

Stellar Cocoons
8:45 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Observatory in Chile is Wesleyan Radio Astronomer's Answer to Hubble

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array in northern Chile has 66 antennae, seen here in June 2014.
A. Marinkovic Creative Commons

A Wesleyan astronomer has just returned from a conference in Tokyo, Japan, where she discussed research from the ALMA space telescope -- a radio observatory partly funded by the National Science Foundation -- which is just finishing construction.

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Art Exhibit
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Art Installation Imagines Iconic New York Buildings as Rockets

The multimedia film "Plan of the City" presumes that all buildings in New York City are equipped with rocket thrusters.
Joshua Frankel

A new installation at Hartford's Real Art Ways imagines New York City lifting off to Mars, building by building. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Sizzling Space Spectacular

Meredith Hughes is an assistant professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University
Chion Wolf WNPR

When it comes to space, there’s a lot to be excited about. Telescopes are scanning the farthest reaches of our galaxy and we’re learning more than ever before about the origins of planets.

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Sky-Watching
11:24 am
Sun December 14, 2014

Geminid Meteor Showers Light Up Both Hemispheres

The Geminid meteor shower above Skopje, Macedonia, on Saturday.
Robert AtanasovskiI AFP/Getty Images

The annual Geminid meteor shower dazzled Earthlings around the world late Saturday and early Sunday.

Pieces of gravel and dust from a "rock comet" called 3200 Phaethon shot across the sky and lit up discussion boards from NASA.gov to Twitter — for those who could tear their eyes away long enough to type.

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Curiosity Rover
10:17 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

NASA Photos Show New Signs Of A Lake On Mars

NASA says "cross-bedding" in the layers of this Martian rock is proof that water moved on Mars, leaving waves or ripples of loose sediment. The image is from a site at Mount Sharp that NASA calls "Whale Rock."
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:41 pm

Signs of water currents and sediments are seen in the latest photos NASA's Curiosity rover sent home from Mars, the space agency said Monday. The images suggest "ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes," NASA says.

In the huge Gale Crater where Curiosity has been exploring, the water and sediment flow might have been massive enough to build a mountain — the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp — NASA researchers say. But they acknowledge that they're still working to solve the mystery of how the mountain formed in a crater.

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Unmanned Test, Take Two
7:14 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Orion Spacecraft Splashes Down After High-Orbit Test

The Orion spacecraft awaits its launch in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
NASA

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 1:00 pm

NASA's unmanned Orion spacecraft has successfully splashed down about 400 miles west of La Paz, Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean after a liftoff, two orbits and re-entry that lasted just under 4 1/2 hours.

Orion, which could one day take astronauts to Mars, made a "bull's-eye splashdown" at 11:29 a.m. ET, mission control said, after the spacecraft endured a searing 4,000-degree Fahrenheit re-entry and was carried to the ocean surface under four giant red-and-white parachutes.

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Unmanned Test Orbit
9:35 am
Thu December 4, 2014

NASA Scrubs Launch Of Orion Spacecraft

NASA's Orion spaceship early Thursday in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 2:38 pm

Update at 9:35 a.m. ET

NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day send astronauts to Mars, is stuck on terra firma for at least another day after the space agency's mission control was unable to satisfactorily resolve a number of issues before a 9:45 a.m. ET launch window closed.

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Searching Space
3:14 am
Thu December 4, 2014

To Search For A New Supernova, Build A New Camera

A blast from the past: Using data from four telescopes, NASA created this image of the first documented sighting of a supernova, made by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Williams

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 2:03 pm

The search for the massive star explosions called supernovae is about to get a big boost. Astronomers at Caltech in Pasadena are building a new camera that will let them survey the entire night sky in three nights.

The problem with looking for supernovae is you can't really be sure when and where to look for them. Most telescope cameras can only capture a small patch of sky at a time. But the new camera, to be mounted on a telescope at the Palomar Observatory, has a much larger field of view.

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Orion
5:45 am
Tue December 2, 2014

NASA Prepares To Test New Spacecraft (That You've Likely Never Heard Of)

The Orion capsule is poised to make its first test flight Thursday. If all goes as planned, the unmanned vehicle will orbit Earth twice before splashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Kim Shiflett NASA

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 3:43 pm

NASA is about to launch a new spaceship into orbit, and Mallory Loe has never heard of it.

"I mean, technically, NASA doesn't have another spaceship, do they?" she asks incredulously during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

She's hardly the only one who doesn't know about this new spacecraft. In fact, none of a half-dozen tourists NPR interviewed in the museum's lobby was aware of the Orion spaceship.

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Look Up
1:48 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Yale Recruits the Crowd in the Hunt for New Planets

This section of the Milky Way captures Kepler's field of view.
Carter Roberts NASA

If you're looking for life elsewhere in the universe, there's a lot to look at, and computers are pretty good at it. At least, they're good at analyzing the stuff you tell them -- for example, the brightness of stars in our sky.

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Philae Lander
2:46 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Comet Lander's Big Bounce Caught On Camera

The Rosetta spacecraft, which orbits the comet, captured this series of images of the Philae lander bounding off the surface. The precise spot the lander came to a stop remains unknown.
Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 7:41 pm

Updated at 3:45PM ET

It was the first ever landing on a comet, and it was perfect.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the journey for the European Space Agency's unmanned Philae lander. After touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the lander bounced off the surface and flew a kilometer back up into space.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:36 am
Mon November 17, 2014

The Scramble Got Stuck In a Wormhole

Credit Iryna Yeroshko / Creative Commons

Let's play a game. I'm going to name five things and you tell me what they are - "An Unnecessary Woman," "All the Light We Cannot See," "Redeployment," "Station Eleven," "Lila." They are the five fiction finalists for this year's National Book Award which will be given out this week.  Don't feel bad if you didn't get the answer - I wouldn't have either. My  connection to the nominees begins and ends with having picked up one of the five books from a table at - of all places - Whole Foods.

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Difficult Operations
8:12 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Comet Lander, Firefighters Execute Dazzling Feats Above The Earth

Onlookers take cell phone pictures of stranded window washers hanging from scaffolding on the side of One World Trade Center.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 10:21 am

Everyone has days in which we wonder if much of anything works. Websites crash. Screens blink, go blank, or taunt: I'm sorry. Try later. We have an unusually high volume of calls. Download to update. Click here if you've forgotten your password.

But for a couple of hours on an afternoon this week, people got glimpses of excellence.

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Philae
9:59 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Comet Lander Deploys Drill, But Could Lose Power Tonight

Engineers at the European Space Agency fear that they won't be able to communicate with the Philae lander after Friday. Here, lander manager Stefan Ulamec (left, in foreground) watches as data confirming the comet landing arrived Wednesday.
European Space Agency

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 12:38 pm

Philae, the lander currently on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, may not be able to perform its extended mission — scientists at the European Space Agency worry that the probe may have landed in a spot too shadowy for solar panels to recharge its batteries. The ESA says it may not be able to contact the craft after Friday night.

Worries over the robotic lander's power supply prompted engineers to take the risky step of activating its drill, an operation that had been shelved out of fears that it would sap the remaining charge.

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Space
3:27 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Separates Fact From Fiction In 'Interstellar'

Matthew McConaughey plays an astronaut explorer in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.
Paramount Pictures Melinda Sue Gordon

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 9:42 am

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

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Wish You Were Here
6:57 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Photo Shows Lander Sitting On Comet After Bounce-Landing

The Philae lander beamed back images showing one of its three feet on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko . This photo is compiled from two images; a wider version will be released later Thursday.
ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 12:11 pm

The European Space Agency released a new photo Thursday of the Philae lander safely resting in its new home on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as it hurtles through space. The agency's data also show the lander bounced twice before coming to rest.

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Exploration
11:54 am
Wed November 12, 2014

For First Time in Human History, Spacecraft Lands on Comet

This image was captured when the Philae lander was just 3km from the surface of the comet.

The European Space Agency made history on Wednesday morning, landing the first man-made object on the surface of a comet. 

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Space
3:30 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Researchers To Attempt Robotic Landing On Comet's Surface

Europe's Rosetta spacecraft is about to send a lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 10:12 am

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

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Space Tourism
2:17 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

Investigation Of Deadly Spaceship Crash Begins In Mojave Desert

Wreckage lies near the site where a Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, crashed in Mojave, Calif., on Friday.
Ringo H.W. Chiu AP

Originally published on Sat November 1, 2014 7:55 pm

More than a dozen investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are on the ground in California's Mojave Desert to find out why a manned spaceship crashed on Friday.

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Space Tourism
5:50 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

1 Dead After Commercial Spaceship Crashes During Test Flight

The commercial space ship, pictured here in an earlier test flight, crashed in the California desert.
Mark Greenberg Virgin Galactic

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 5:28 pm

In what could be a major setback for commercial space tourism, a manned spaceship has crashed in California's Mojave Desert.

The Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two was on a test flight this morning, with two pilots aboard. Minutes after its rocket fired, the company announced on Twitter that spacecraft experienced an "anomaly."

Capt. Tom Ellison of Kern County Fire Department said that Spaceship Two had a malfunction shortly after it separated from White Knight Two, the rocket that gives Spaceship Two a lift up to 45,000 feet.

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Rocket Explosion
4:02 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Russian Engines Could Be Focus Of Antares Launch Failure Probe

The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket suffers a catastrophic anomaly moments after launch at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday.
Joel Kowsky AP

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 9:34 am

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that as investigators examine what went wrong with the launch of an unmanned Antares rocket on Tuesday, they'll likely take a hard look at powerful engines originally destined to send cosmonauts to the moon, a project that was scrapped by the USSR more than four decades ago.

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Space
6:48 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

WATCH: Unmanned Antares Rocket Explodes Shortly After Takeoff

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 10:01 pm

A unmanned rocket carrying 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station exploded shortly after blastoff on Tuesday at NASA's facility on Wallops Island, Va.

The rocket was made by Orbital Sciences, which was contracted by NASA to ship supplies up to the International Space Station.

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Orbital Mission
12:46 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Secret U.S. Space Plane To Land After 22 Months In Orbit

This photo released by Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday shows the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, the Air Force's unmanned, reusable space plane, after it landed at Vandenberg from a previous orbital mission.
Paul Pinner AP

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 8:59 pm

This much we know: It's not a bird and it's not exactly a plane.

Beyond that, the U.S. Air Force holds all the answers. The mission of the unmanned X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which is scheduled to touch down at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Tuesday after 22 months in orbit, has been described only vaguely as "to gather more test data."

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Night Sky
11:13 am
Tue October 7, 2014

'Blood Moon' Eclipse To Be Visible Throughout U.S.

A "blood moon" captured on the night of Jan. 20, 2000.
Fred Espenak NASA

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 12:59 pm

If you missed the total eclipse of the moon in April, you might have another chance: On Wednesday morning, the second of four lunar eclipses this year and next will occur.

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Space
8:43 am
Mon September 22, 2014

NASA: MAVEN Spacecraft Safely Circling Mars

Artist concept of MAVEN spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 10:44 am

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft conducted a 33-minute burn of its six main engines to ease into an orbit around Mars after a nearly yearlong, 442 million-mile voyage from Earth. The probe's mission is to study the red planet's atmosphere.

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Space
8:02 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Mission To Study Mars' Climate Enters Red Planet's Orbit

In this artist concept provided by NASA, the MAVEN spacecraft approaches Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere.
AP

Originally published on Sun September 21, 2014 10:41 pm

This Sunday night, we headed back to Mars: NASA's MAVEN spacecraft fired its six main engines, slowing down enough so it could be captured by the gravity of the red planet and go into orbit.

MAVEN, which stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, is a distinctly un-sexy name for a project as cool as a sojourn to Mars. But whatever it's called, the probe is on a mission that should be of interest to everyone who likes living on Earth.

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Space Travel
4:37 am
Fri September 19, 2014

How NASA's New Spaceships Stack Up

The new capsules are being built by Boeing and SpaceX. They look similar, but there are differences.
SpaceX, The Boeing Company

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 10:24 pm

Earlier this week NASA announced that two private companies will build spaceships to take astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA hopes that both models will eventually be used by space tourists to get into orbit. Which got us wondering, which one would we rather fly in?

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Space Flight
6:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Boeing And SpaceX Win $6.8 Billion In NASA Contracts

In an image provided by NASA, astronaut Randy Bresnik prepares to enter Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft for an evaluation at the company's Houston Product Support Center. NASA awarded Boeing with a $4.2 billion contract Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 7:29 pm

NASA has chosen Boeing and SpaceX to build the vehicles that will transport its astronauts to the International Space Station, putting the two American companies on a course to take over a job that NASA has recently relied upon Russia to perform: carrying out manned space flights.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says vehicles from the two companies are expected to be ready for service by 2017.

Announcing its decision Tuesday, the space agency included these details:

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Space Weather
12:15 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Solar Flare Could Trigger Auroras Tonight For Northern U.S.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft captures Wednesday's solar flare eruption.
NASA/SDO

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:19 pm

Earth is in the line of fire of a powerful solar flare that has already begun hitting us, but most of the energy from the Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME, will skirt safely by, scientists say, with major disruptions to the electric grid, satellites and communications unlikely.

But if you're lucky — and far enough north — you might see a nice display of aurora borealis.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Bringing Space Closer to Home

View of the International Space Station from Space Shuttle Discovery.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Creative Commons

This hour, the final frontier comes closer to home. Waterbury native Richard Mastracchio is a NASA astronaut who just returned from six months on the International . He’s done nine space walks - leaving the space station, usually to do maintenance. He’ll talk about his experiences and his amazing twitter feed, full of photos from space.

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