SpaceX Falcon 9 Breaths First Fire at KSC Pad 39A – Successful Static Fire Test Paves Path to Feb. 18 ISS Launch First SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket atop Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center comes to life with successful static hot fire test at 430 p.m. on 12 Feb 2017 as seen from Space View Park, Titusville, Fl. This is the first rocket to stand on pad 39A since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in July 2011. Credit: Ken Kremer/ SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – For the first time in more than half a decade, a rocket came to lifeRead More →

Asteroid 2017 BQ6 Looks Like A Brick   This composite of 25 images of asteroid 2017 BQ6 was generated with radar data collected using NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California’s Mojave Desert. It sped by Earth on Feb. 7 at a speed of around  25,560 mph (7.1 km/s) relative to the planet. The images have resolutions as fine as 12 feet (3.75 meters) per pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR To radar imager Lance Benner at JPL in Pasadena, asteroid 2017 BQ6 resembles the polygonal dice used in Dungeons and Dragons. But my eyes see something closer to a stepping stone or paver you’d use to build a walkway.Read More →

91 Astronomers Combine 1000 Images Into One Amazing Journey to Jupiter A renewed era of space exploration is underway. Compared to the Space Race of the 20th century, which was characterized by two superpowers locked in a game of “getting there first”, the new era is defined predominantly by cooperation and open participation. One way in which this is evident is the role played by “citizen scientists” and amateur astronomers in exploration missions. Consider the recently-released short film titled “A Journey to Jupiter” by Peter Rosen – a photographer and digital artist in Stockholm, Sweden. Using over 1000 images taken by amateur planetary photographers fromRead More →

First SpaceX Falcon 9 Erected at Historic Launch Pad 39A for Feb. 18 Blastoff First SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands erect atop Launch Complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center on 10 Feb 2017 as seen from Playalinda Beach, Fl. This is the first rocket to stand on pad 39A since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in July 2011. Liftoff to the ISS is slated for 18 Feb 2017 on the CRS-10 resupply mission for NASA. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The first SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ever to grace historic launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in FloridaRead More →

What is the Surface Area of the Earth? Whoever coined the phrase “it’s a small world” obviously never tried to travel around it! In truth, the planet’s dimensions are quite impressive, and determining just how big it is took many thousands of years. From astronomers determining that Earth was in fact round (and not a flat disc, cube or ziggurat), to the first successful attempts at circumnavigation, our estimates have changed over time. And in the era of modern astronomy, improvements in instrumentation, methodology, and the ability to see Earth from space have certainly helped. According to modern estimates, the surface area of the EarthRead More →

The Centaurus Constellation Welcome back to Constellation Friday! Today, in honor of the late and great Tammy Plotner, we will be dealing with the “Centaur”, the Centaurus constellation! In the 2nd century CE, Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus (aka. Ptolemy) compiled a list of all the then-known 48 constellations. This treatise, known as the Almagest, would used by medieval European and Islamic scholars for over a thousand years to come, effectively becoming astrological and astronomical canon until the early Modern Age. One of these is the famous Centaur of classical antiquity, otherwise known as the constellation Centaurus. As one of the 48 constellation included in theRead More →

Time To Build A Venus Rover Venus is often described as being hell itself, because of its crushing pressure, acidic atmosphere, and extremely high temperatures. Dealing with any one of these is a significant challenge when it comes to exploring Venus. Dealing with all three is extremely daunting, as the Soviet Union discovered with their Venera landers. Actually, dealing with the sulphuric rain is not too difficult, but the heat and the pressure on the surface of Venus are huge hurdles to exploring the planet. NASA has been working on the Venus problem, trying to develop electronics that can survive long enough to do usefulRead More →

Watch the Curiosity Rover Roll Across Mars’ Surface We all love the ‘selfies’ the Curiosity rover takes of itself sitting on Mars. We love them because it’s so amazing to see a human-made object on another world, and these images give us hope that one day we might have pictures of ourselves standing on the surface of the Red Planet. But wouldn’t it be great if we see Curiosity ‘in action’ on Mars, and be like a fly on a rock, watching the rover roll past us? Thanks to graphic artist Seán Doran, we can do just that. Take a look at this absolutely amazingRead More →

Weekly Space Hangout – February 10, 2017: Weekend Eclipse, Occultation and Comet 45P! Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Guests: Paul M. Sutter ( / @PaulMattSutter) Morgan Rehnberg ( / @MorganRehnberg) Dave Dickinson ( / @astroguyz) Their stories this week: Comet 45P Flies Past Earth A new “kind” of black hole A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse The Moon Occults Regulus Mars didn’t have enough CO2 to sustain liquid water ISS is getting a commercial airlock We use a tool called Trello to submit and vote on stories we would like to see covered each week, and then Fraser will be selecting the stories from there. Here is theRead More →

This Is The Highest Resolution Image Of Europa We Have … For Now This is the highest resolution image taken by Galileo at Europa — Jupiter’s 4th largest moon — until our next mission to the planet. It was obtained at an original image scale of 19 feet (6 meters) per pixel. The gray line down the middle resulted from missing data that was not transmitted by Galileo. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact, the sequel to Stanley’s Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, black Monoliths multiply, converge and transform Jupiter into a new star. We next hear astronaut David Bowman’s disembodiedRead More →

NASA Approves First Commercial Airlock for Space Station Science and SmallSat Deployment Artists concept of first commercially funded airlock on the space station being developed by NanoRacks that will launch on a commercial resupply mission in 2019. It will be installed on the station’s Tranquility module. Credits: NanoRacks In a significant move towards further expansion of the International Space Station’s (ISS) burgeoning research and commercial space economy capabilities, NASA has approved the development of the first privately developed airlock and is targeting blastoff to the orbiting lab complex in two years. Plans call for the commercial airlock to be launched on a commercial cargo vesselRead More →

Can We Launch Nuclear Waste Into the Sun? When I look at the Sun, I don’t see a warm life-giving orb, nourishing all living creatures here on Earth. No, I see that fiery ball as a cosmic garbage compactor. A place I can dump all my household garbage, to make room for new impulse purchases. I mean, the Sun is right there, not doing anything right? It’s hotter than any garbage incinerator, and it’s the gravitational well at the heart of the Solar System. Get me a rocket, let’s blast that waste into oblivion. Okay, I suspect it’s going to get expensive, so let’s justRead More →

Watch the Moon Make a Pass at Earth’s Shadow, Then Kiss Regulus This Valentine’s Weekend The Moon occults Regulus of January 15th, 2017. Image credit and copyright: Lucca Ruggiero In the southern hemisphere this weekend in the ‘Land of Oz?’ Are you missing out on the passage of Comet 45/P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, and the penumbral lunar eclipse? Fear not, there’s an astronomical event designed just for you, as the Moon occults (passes in front of) the bright star Regulus on the evening of Saturday, January 11th. The entire event is custom made for the continent of Australia and New Zealand, occurring under dark skies. Now for theRead More →

The Magellenic Clouds Stay Connected By A String Of Stars Astronomers have finally observed something that was predicted but never seen: a stream of stars connecting the two Magellanic Clouds. In doing so, they began to unravel the mystery surrounding the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). And that required the extraordinary power of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia Observatory to do it. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) are dwarf galaxies to the Milky Way. The team of astronomers, led by a group at the University of Cambridge, focused on the clouds and on one particularRead More →

Uber Brings In NASA Engineer To Build Flying Cars Flying cars have become something of a hot ticket item of late. In the past few years, companies like Terrafugia, Aeromobil and Moller International have all grabbed headlines with their particular designs. And soon enough, international transportation giant Uber could be joining the ranks of those looking to turn a popular staple of science fiction into science fact. In a move to expand their ride-sharing services to the skies, the company recently hired NASA aerospace engineer Mark D. Moore to spearhead Uber Elevate. For 30 years, Moore has worked for NASA, researching advanced aircraft and technologiesRead More →

31 Years After Disaster, Challenger Soccer Ball Finally Gets To Orbit The Challenger disaster is one of those things that’s etched into people’s memories. The launch and resulting explosion were broadcast live. Professional astronauts may have been prepared to accept their fate, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic. There’ve been fitting tributes over the years, with people paying homage to the crew members who lost their lives. But a new tribute is remarkable for its simplicity. And this new tribute is all centred around a soccer ball. Ellison Onizuka was one of the Challenger seven who perished on January 28, 1986, when theRead More →

Carnival of Space #495 The tent is up! This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Kimberly Arcand at the Chandra X-Ray Observatory blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #495. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really wantRead More →

Curiosity’s Martian Chronicles Rife With Intriguing Inconsistencies The study of Mars’ surface and atmosphere has unlocked some ancient secrets. Thanks to the efforts of the Curiosity rover and other missions, scientists are now aware of the fact that water once flowed on Mars and that the planet had a denser atmosphere. They have also been able to deduce what mechanics led to this atmosphere being depleted, which turned it into the cold, desiccated environment we see there today. At the same time though, it has led to a rather intriguing paradox. Essentially, Mars is believed to have had warm, flowing water on its surface atRead More →

Cassini Images Of Enceladus Highlight Possible Cradle For Life During its long mission to Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft has given us image after spectacular image of Saturn, its rings, and Saturn’s moons. The images of Saturn’s moon Enceladus are of particular interest when it comes to the search for life. At first glance, Enceladus appears similar to other icy moons in our Solar System. But Cassini has shown us that Enceladus could be a cradle for extra-terrestrial life. Our search for life in the Solar System is centred on the presence of liquid water. Maybe we don’t know for sure if liquid H2O is requiredRead More →

SpaceX Awaits FAA Falcon 9 Launch License for 1st Pad 39A Blastoff on NASA ISS Cargo Flight SpaceX crews are renovating Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for launches of commercial and human rated Falcon 9 rockets as well as the Falcon Heavy, as seen here during Dec 2016 with construction of a dedicated new transporter/erector. New rocket processing hangar sits at left. Credit: Ken Kremer/ KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – With liftoff tentatively penciled in for mid-February, SpaceX still awaits FAA approval of a launch license for what will be the firms first Falcon 9 rocket to launch from historic pad 39ARead More →