April 17, 2012 |
A solar flare that sparked a spectacular light show Monday took a convenient left turn. But although Earth is now safe from the impact of a solar storm, some NASA spacecraft are in the line of fire. A solar observatory that monitors space flares; the Mars Science Laboratory, now traveling to Mars with precious cargo, the rover Curiosity; and the Spitzer Space Telescope will feel the effects of the solar storm, said solar astrophysicist Alex Young. "The Spitzer Space Telescope is going to take the biggest impact," Young said Tuesday in an interview with The Times.
March 21, 2012 |
The smallest planet in the solar system keeps serving up big surprises. Scientists working on the Messenger mission to Mercury have found that the planet has unexpected inner layers and craters with tilted bottoms, and it may have been geologically active far later into its life than previously imagined. In the first of two studies released Wednesday by the journal Science, a team led by MIT geophysicist Maria Zuber scanned the surface of Mercury's northern hemisphere and found the planet's surface to be unusually flat when compared with the terrain of the moon or Mars.
January 16, 2012 |
Hawthorne rocket venture Space Exploration Technologies Corp. again delayed its mission to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The company, better known as SpaceX, planned to send its Dragon capsule into space aboard its 18-story Falcon 9 rocket Feb. 7 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. But on Monday the company said that more engineering work was needed before it would embark on the historic mission. SpaceX did not give a new launch date. The company already has a $1.6-billion contract to haul cargo in 12 flights to the space station for NASA.
January 14, 2012 |
An ill-fated 14.6-ton Russian spacecraft built to explore the Martian moon Phobos is expected to crash back to Earth this weekend, Russian officials said. Exactly where and when Phobos-Ground will strike, nobody knows. But scientists say it could fall as far north as London or as far south as Patagonia, leaving most populated portions of the planet at risk. Most of the craft will burn up as it reenters the atmosphere, and because the majority of Earth's surface is covered by water, chances are the space vehicle won't crash on land.
December 14, 2011 |
For half a century, the sprawling 110-acre aerospace complex in Redondo Beach has played host to the development of the nation's most advanced and secret spacecraft. Known as Space Park, the site was built at the height of the Cold War after the launch of Sputnik for engineers to develop a high-powered rocket that could deliver a nuclear warhead 6,000 miles away in less than an hour to virtually wipe out an entire city: the intercontinental ballistic missile. The complex's 47 buildings have served as a nerve center for the development and construction of high-powered lasers, cutting-edge electronics and sophisticated spacecraft.
November 10, 2011 |
Russian controllers battled Wednesday to redirect a space probe stuck in a low orbit, raising fear that it could crash back to Earth. The $167-million unmanned Phobos-Ground spacecraft was launched early Wednesday from Baikonur cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan. But when the probe separated from its booster rocket, the engines did not fire to put it on the path to Phobos, one of Mars' two moons. "We had a hard night because for a long time we couldn't detect the spaceship," Vladimir Popovkin, who heads the Roskosmos space agency, told reporters.
September 20, 2011 |
Bringing commercial spaceflight a step closer to reality, a privately funded aerospace firm has built a production plant where it will assemble the world's first fleet of passenger-ready spaceships. The 68,000-square-foot facility next to a runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port about 100 miles north of Los Angeles is one of the first aircraft assembly plants to be built in the region in decades. It'll be home to Spaceship Co. — a joint venture of Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 16, 2011 |
As word spread of the greenish, glowing, fast-moving fireball streaking across the southwestern U.S. sky, speculation raged among conspiracy theorists and armchair astronomers. Many took to social media Wednesday night with the theory that it was a spacecraft that suffered a SkyLab-style reentry. Some said it was a piece of low-orbiting space junk. Others went to a far darker place: It was the opening volley of an alien invasion. But experts say none of those scenarios is the most likely explanation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 16, 2011 |
The desert planet of Tatooine is home to all manner of wonderful creatures — womp rats and banthas and jawas. But any proper "Star Wars" fan knows that the planet's most dynamic feature is its two suns, creating a magnificent double sunset that a young Luke Skywalker stares into during his wistful moments. On Thursday, astronomers announced the discovery of a real planet that orbits two suns, a scenario that breaks so many galactic rules that it was thought by many to exist only in science fiction.
September 11, 2011 |
Shaking off a two-day delay that began with swirling winds on the coast of Florida, NASA launched its GRAIL mission to the moon Saturday, seeking a greater understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor through a promising dual-spacecraft technology. The Delta II rocket carrying the paired washing-machine-sized craft that make up the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory lifted off into a blue sky from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 9:08 a.m. About 90 minutes later, NASA confirmed that GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B had separated from the rocket, unfurled their solar panels and begun a 31/2-month trip to the moon.