Space

Memorable moments in space shuttle history

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: May 6, 2010   View Article

After more than 130 missions over nearly 30 years, NASA’s space shuttle program is gearing up for its final flight, when Endeavour will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $1.5 billion particle detector, to the International Space Station.

“It is obviously time for these vehicles to be given an honorable retirement, and I do emphasize honorable,” said Roger Launius, senior curator of human spaceflight at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. “They have served well, but they are obsolete and it’s time to move on.”

Follow along as msnbc.com and Launius take a look back at memorable moments in space shuttle history

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SETI: 50 years of searching for ET

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 26, 2010   View Article

Somewhere out there, alien civilizations might be communicating with each other. They might even be trying to contact us. Fifty years ago, this reasoning compelled astronomer Frank Drake to point a radio telescope at the stars and listen for chatter. He didn’t hear E.T. calling us, calling home, or calling anywhere else during his four-month-long experiment at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va., but the effort officially kicked off what is known as SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Sun Erupts: Epic Blast Seen by NASA Solar Observatory

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2010   View Article

NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory may be getting all the press this week for its retina-searing first pictures of the sun. But two old sun-observing warhorses recently showed they’re not quite ready for pasture yet.

The twin, golf cart-size spacecraft of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission filmed, in ultraviolet light, the largest solar “prominence” in 15 years, according to the space agency.

Seven out-of-this world destinations

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 13, 2010   View Article

We are headed to Mars … eventually. But first we need the rocket technology and human spaceflight savvy to get us there safely and efficiently. And the best way to do that is to visit places such as asteroids, our moon, a Martian moon and even no man’s lands in space called “Lagrange points,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden explained during the unveiling of the agency’s revised vision for space exploration.

The vision shifts focus away from a return to the moon as part of a steppingstone to Mars in favor of what experts call a “flexible path” to space exploration, pushing humans ever deeper into the cosmos.

Comet “Shower” Killed Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 7, 2010   View Article

The comet that created the annual Taurid meteor shower was also responsible for snuffing out large mammals in North America 13,000 years ago, a controversial new study says.

The geologic record shows that global temperatures plummeted by as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) just as Earth was thawing out from the last ice age.

This cold snap probably led to the extinction in North America of large animals such as saber-toothed cats and wooly mammoths. But scientists have been unsure what triggered the abrupt change.

New Proof Unknown “Structure” Tug at Our Universe

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 22, 2010   View Article

“Dark flow” is no fluke, suggests a new study that strengthens the case for unknown, unseen “structures” lurking on the outskirts of creation.

In 2008 scientists reported the discovery of hundreds of galaxy clusters streaming in the same direction at more than 2.2 million miles (3.6 million kilometers) an hour.

This mysterious motion can’t be explained by current models for distribution of mass in the universe. So the researchers made the controversial suggestion that the clusters are being tugged on by the gravity of matter outside the known universe.

Water Found in Apollo Moon Rocks?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 9, 2010   View Article

Recently NASA crashed two spacecraft into the moon and orbiters scanned the lunar surface for telltale light signatures—all to confirm the rocky body isn’t bone dry after all.

But, it turns out, solid evidence for water on the moon was under our noses the whole time.

Tiny amounts of water have been found in some of the famous moon rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo astronauts, scientists announced last Wednesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach