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Posts Tagged "space exploration"

@ScientificAmerican

Thank You, Guest Editor LeVar Burton

Image credit: Reading Rainbow

We at Scientific American share several passions with the actor, producer and educator LeVar Burton: fostering children’s literacy, science, social good and education. And, of course, Star Trek. So perhaps it’s only natural that this past Wednesday we welcomed Burton as our Guest Editor for the day. Burton conducted a “site takeover”—making story assignments, deciding [...]

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Guest Blog

How the Ansari X Prize Altered the Trajectory of Human Spaceflight

SpaceShipOne in her new home in the National Air and Space Museum. (Credit: Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons)

Looking up into the bright Mojave sky in 2004, I strained to keep my eyes on the tiny spaceship 50,000 feet up. “Three, two, one… release, release, release!” came the call over the loudspeakers. I held my breath as I watched the rocket motor ignite and the spaceship ascend on a plume of fire with [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Failure Is Always An Option

One of the lucky ones...Saturn V launch (NASA)

Do not try this at home. A Russian Proton-M launch goes wrong – and it can happen to anyone (wait for the shock wave). A rocket is a controlled bomb. The fully fueled Saturn V ‘moon rocket’ held an explosive force of about half a kiloton of TNT, enough to do some serious damage if [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Interview: The New Moon

moon

Think you know about the Moon? I did, but then I started reading ‘The New Moon: Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation‘ (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and realized that my knowledge amounted to a teensy scrap of lunar dust. For the past few years my colleague Prof. Arlin Crotts has been assembling an astonishingly detailed look [...]

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Life, Unbounded

New Horizons Mission Catches Pluto And Charon Waltzing

Pluto and Charon in their orbits, taken July 2014 (Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

After a ten year journey, NASA’s New Horizons mission is still 420 million kilometers from the Pluto system – but that’s close enough to begin to see the orbital dance of an icy world and its major moon. This far out from the Sun it’s easier for planetary objects to hold onto satellites, so even [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Sneaking up on a Sweaty Comet

(ESA)

Over the coming month the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission will fire its main engines no less than eight times to tweak its interplanetary intercept course with Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko; eventually sidling up to the 4 kilometer wide cometary nucleus at about 7.9 meters per second in early August. At that point, with some gentler [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Snow, a Slowing Planet, and a Last Dangerous Dance with Venus

20140516_Venus_Express_aerobraking_f537

                In about a month’s time, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express spacecraft will adjust its orbit and dip into the outer venusian atmosphere. This hypervelocity skimming will allow scientists to not only obtain a little more data on Venus’s atmosphere, but to also learn more about [...]

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Life, Unbounded

‘Jade Rabbit’ is on the Moon

Sinus Iridum

At 1.11pm UTC today (8.11 am EST) the Chang’e-3 mission made a successful soft landing in an area toward the edge of the Sinus Iridum and Mare Imbrium – shown in this image by the red flag. That’s on the nearside of the moon – marked in a red ellipse in the figure below. Next [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Great Martian Storm of ’71

(NASA)

                          On November 14th 1971 NASA’s Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to successfully orbit another planet. Its video-camera imaging system powered up, and American scientists eagerly awaited the first detailed pictures of Mars since the flyby of Mariners 6 and 7 just [...]

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Life, Unbounded

‘We Are The Explorers’: A Symphony Of NASA And Star Trek

ISS025-E-09858_lrg

NASA produces a lot of great visual material, including some slick inspirational videos. But as a federal agency it can’t legally purchase air time to put this material in front of TV or movie-going audiences. Enter a crowdfunded effort to place ‘We Are The Explorers’ as a trailer to the upcoming Star Trek movie ‘Into [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Help Name Two Of Pluto’s Moons

Pluto's currently known moons (Credit: NASA/HST)

Far from the Sun planetary bodies can hold onto many more moons. The latest count for Pluto is five satellites, and the most recent two need names. Back in 2011 and 2012 it was announced that Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Pluto system had spied first one and then another new candidate moon. For [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Veins, not Flowers, on Mars

Light color mineral veins in martian rock - a strong clue to a water soaked past (NASA/JPL)

NASA’s Curiosity rover is preparing to drill for the first time, into what appears to be sedimentary rock criss-crossed by mineral-filled veins.         Back in September last year the Mars Science Laboratory carried by the rover found a rocky outcrop on the wall of Gale Crater that was full of a crusty [...]

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Observations

Live Chat at Noon Today on Dreams of Other Worlds and NASA’s Next Mars Mission

Robotic exploration of space is fascinating, complex and quite important to our understanding of the universe. To learn more about how scientists and engineers overcome challenges of robotic space exploration for successful data collection, join us for a live chat today (Tuesday, October 29) at noon EDT with Chris Impey, astronomer and author of Dreams of [...]

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Observations

Millionaire Plans Manned Mission to Mars in 2018

Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars

Yesterday, a mysterious group called the Inspiration Mars Foundation announced vague plans for a “historic journey to Mars and back in 501 days” scheduled for 2018. The group neglected to mention if the trip would be manned, instead directing the public to a press conference scheduled for February 27. But new information reveals that the [...]

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Observations

Curiosity Gears Up to Zap Rocks in Huge Crater at Red Planet

Mars, rover

Now that NASA’s “seven-minutes of terror” have passed safely, the Mars Curiosity rover’s exploratory mission is off and running. Over the next two years—probably more, if it’s anything like the Opportunity or Spirit rovers—the Jeep-sized rover will explore its new home using a variety of tools. One of the Curiosity’s most important objectives will be [...]

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Observations

Planetary Resources’ Crazy Plan to Mine an Asteroid May Not Be So Crazy

Vesta, asteroid, Dawn, space

In a widely anticipated announcement today, the new company Planetary Resources revealed their plans for near-Earth asteroid domination. The group has mapped out a multi-stage process to map, observe, capture, tow and eventually mine asteroids for valuables. “A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the platinum group metals mined in history,” reads [...]

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Observations

Could a Balloon Fly in Outer Space?

Here’s the sort of crazy idea that animates our office conversation at Scientific American. It all started with my colleague Michael Moyer’s joke that a certain politician could build his moon base using a balloon: just capture the hot air and float all the way up. Ha ha, we all know that balloons don’t work [...]

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Observations

Who Should Explore Space: Astronauts or Astro-Bots?

document.write(“”); Check out our latest Space Exploration coverage: This Way to Mars In-Depth Report : The Future of Deep-Space Exploration Forget Asteroids—Send a Manned Flyby Mission to Venus How an Energy-Efficient Spacecraft Could Revolutionize Space Travel [Video] Breaking the Deep-Space Barrier [Interactive]

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Observations

New Museum Exhibit Invites Visitors to Smell the Moon, Nuke an Asteroid or Colonize Mars

NEW YORK CITY—”Beyond Planet Earth,” the slick new exhibit on space exploration at the American Museum of Natural History, is thoroughly modern. It has an augmented-reality iPhone app that produces hovering, three-dimensional animations. It has an interactive station where museumgoers can terraform a virtual Mars on a giant touch-screen to make the Red Planet habitable. [...]

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Observations

T-minus 18 months and counting: Virgin Galactic and the future of space tourism

Twenty-five years ago when Sir Richard Branson (sans the "sir," at the time) called up Boeing and asked for a spare 747, few would have predicted the brash entrepreneur would so radically disrupt the formerly staid business of air travel. Perhaps folks had higher hopes for the former record executives’ feature film production debut at [...]

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Symbiartic

Commander Hadfield Shows Us What Science Communication Could Be. Visually.

c_hadfield_mini

Science communication has seldom had a better champion than Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield who just returned to Earth last night. Astronauts tweeting and talking from space is not a new phenomena, and though interesting scientific experiments abound way up on the ISS, they weren’t what caught the public’s imagination this go round. It was [...]

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Symbiartic

The SciArt Buzz: SciArt Happenings in March/April 2013

Pulse

Oh, my. The more I look, the more I find. Get your sciart on, peeps! _____________ EXHIBITS: NORTHEAST REGION Pulse: Art and Medicine February 16 to April 13, 2013 The Mansion at Strathmore 10701 Rockville Pike North Bethesda, MD Imagine the place where art, science and the human body intersect: that’s the idea behind Pulse: [...]

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Symbiartic

See Where Our Curiosity Gets Us?

12-020FEATURE

I’m so excited I might burst. The first images from Curiosity’s cameras rained down to Earth in the middle of last night, after a 14 minute journey from the red planet. Here they are, in all their glory. Larger, color images will be available next week. Let the imagination soar!! Other neat tidbits from Curiosity: [...]

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