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December 12, 2013 | By Tony Barboza
The hole in the ozone layer is stabilizing but will take until about 2070 to fully recover, according to new research by NASA scientists. The assessment comes more than two decades after the Montreal Protocol , the international treaty that banned chlorofluorocarbons and other compounds that deplete the ozone layer, which shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays. Levels of chlorine in the atmosphere are falling as a result of the treaty, but have not yet dropped below the threshold necessary to have a shrinking effect on the ozone hole that forms each year over Antarctica, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
December 11, 2013 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
A cooling system failure aboard the International Space Station may require a spacewalk, NASA officials said Wednesday. One of two ammonia cooling loops on the station's exterior shut down Wednesday morning, NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. “You need the cooling in space because heat doesn't dissipate like it does on the ground,” she said. Authorities think that an excess of ammonia triggered a safeguard to shut the loop down. [Update, 9:05 p.m. Dec. 11: NASA's Johnson Space Center used Twitter to update followers on the situation.
December 9, 2013 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated. Please see details below.
Scientists working on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission have been somewhat sparing until now when describing exactly how the rocks drilled, gobbled and cooked by the Curiosity rover paint a picture of a life-friendly environment. Well, no more. In a suite of findings announced Monday, the scientists are painting a vivid picture of Gale Crater: filled with a modest lake of water, rich in the chemical ingredients for life, theoretically able to support a whole Martian biosphere based on Earth-like microbes called chemolithoautotrophs.
December 7, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
NASA's extraterrestrial smartphone has phoned home. The 4-inch-square satellite, PhoneSat 2.4, which uses an off-the-shelf Samsung Nexus S phone running Google's Android operating system, transmitted data back to its Santa Clara University ground station, the space agency announced last week. As the number implies, this is not the first smartphone NASA has hurled into orbit. The first, in April, proved the concept of using commercially available electronics for satellites in low-Earth orbit.
November 26, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Live streaming video by Ustream While you are pigging out on a turkey dinner here on Earth this Thanksgiving, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be enjoying their own Thanksgiving meal -- more than 250 miles above our planet. But is a Thanksgiving meal in space any good? On Wednesday morning, you can find out. Astronaut Tom Marshburn --veteran of two space missions-- will discuss the Thanksgiving menu with Vickie Kloeris, the agency's manager of the station's food system, in a live broadcast.
November 22, 2013 | By Amy Hubbard
NASA spotted Comet ISON coming on strong on Thursday. An awesome set of images shows Comet Encke, its tail wriggling, along with Mercury and Earth. Then ISON enters the field. It looks like a comet race. It's evidence, the space agency says, that ISON is still intact and hasn't splintered as it approaches the sun. A camera on NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory captured the action Thursday. Watch the tails of the comets below. Solar wind, the particles that stream outward from the sun at 1 million miles per hour, make the comets' tails move.
November 21, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Is there life beyond Earth in our solar system? If there is, NASA's new chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, would like to find it. "If I had an unlimited budget, I would really be probing that question of life, because we know what the questions are, and we know what the destinations are," she said.  Stofan was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Wednesday, attending meetings and speaking with the press. She landed NASA's top scientist job in August, but this was not her first visit to the campus in La Canada Flintridge.
November 18, 2013 | By Amy Hubbard
[Updated, 10:41 a.m. Nov. 18: Success! The Atlas V rocket, carrying MAVEN on its mission to Mars, lifted off this morning just as the launch window opened.  Social media lighted up as the robotic explorer left the launchpad at Cape Canaveral. This is just the first step in a 10-month journey. ] And lift off of the #MAVEN spacecraft on a journey to Mars aboard an #Atlas5 rocket: - NASA (@NASA) November 18, 2013 MAVEN is on schedule for its launch to Mars today.
November 18, 2013 | By Amina Khan
A rocket carrying NASA's MAVEN spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 1:28 p.m. ET Monday, on a mission to answer a profound mystery about Mars' planetary evolution: What happened to the atmosphere? The agency's latest robotic explorer will sample gas isotopes, catch solar particles and probe magnetic fields in the upper atmosphere, to try and figure out how long the Red Planet was capable of protecting liquid water -- and perhaps even supporting life. Mars' atmospheric pressure is less than 1% of Earth's, making it so thin that it can't keep liquid water from boiling away.
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