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July 2012


As seen through windows in the Cupola, the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm moves toward the unpiloted Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) as it approaches the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, both Expedition 32 flight engineers, used the station's robotic arm to capture and berth the HTV-3 to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony node. The attachment was completed at 10:34 a.m. (EDT) on July 27, 2012. ISS032-E-010609 (27 July 2012) --- high res (1.2 M) low res (96 K)

More photos below

As seen through windows in the Cupola, the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm moves toward the unpiloted Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) as it approaches the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide, both Expedition 32 flight engineers, used the station's robotic arm to capture and berth the HTV-3 to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony node. The attachment was completed at 10:34 a.m. (EDT) on July 27, 2012. ISS032-E-010609 (27 July 2012) --- high res (1.2 M) low res (96 K)

More photos below


A year ago, the largest and most complex scientific instrument on the International Space Station was delivered to the orbital outpost. Searching for antimatter and the origins of our Universe, it is working flawlessly thanks to the continuous support from its own 'mission control'.

A year ago, the largest and most complex scientific instrument on the International Space Station was delivered to the orbital outpost. Searching for antimatter and the origins of our Universe, it is working flawlessly thanks to the continuous support from its own 'mission control'.

A year ago, the largest and most complex scientific instrument on the International Space Station was delivered to the orbital outpost. Searching for antimatter and the origins of our Universe, it is working flawlessly thanks to the continuous support from its own 'mission control'.

On the morning of February 1st, 2011, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, took its last snapshot of the sky. This "last light" image is reminiscent of the "first light" image from WISE, taken only 13 months prior. WISE's final picture shows thousands of stars in a patch of the Milky Way Galaxy, covering an area 3 times the size of the full Moon, in the constellation Perseus. In the upper left corner, a faint wispy cloud can be seen bending around a pulsating variable star called EV Persei.


Hot, toxic, and murky, Venus serves as an extraordinary engineering challenge, according to Jim Garvin. Venus is bizarre. One day on Venus is nearly as long as one year on Earth. It rotates about its axis in the opposite direction of all the other planets in our solar system.

Hot, toxic, and murky, Venus serves as an extraordinary engineering challenge, according to Jim Garvin.

"An interactive version of XKCD 1071: Exoplanets using data from Planetary Habilitability Laboratory (via @ProfAbelMendez) and adapted code from the d3.js Bubble Chart example (by @mbostock). Planets are drawn to scale using radius data. The dataset also includes attributes such as atmosphere type, which is included in the information area on the left. All blue and light brown planets are smaller than Jupiter. Brown represents the planets larger than Jupiter, while red represents the largest of them all. For the color by distance option, the more blue a planet is, the further away it is from the nearest star." Interactive feature at codementum.org

"DigitalGlobe (DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, today announced an agreement with the Enough Project to continue providing unrivaled imagery and analysis services to monitor evidence of bombings, razed villages and possible threats to civilians in Sudan in an effort called the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). In addition to the imagery and analysis provided under the terms of this new agreement, DigitalGlobe will also contribute additional in-kind services." More

This diagram illustrates the differences between orbits of a typical near-Earth asteroid (blue) and a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA (orange). PHAs are a subset of the near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and have the closest orbits to Earth's orbit, coming within 5 million miles (about 8 million kilometers). They also are large enough to survive passage through Earth's atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale.


Over fifty years ago, a supernova was discovered in M83, a spiral galaxy about 15 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make the first detection of X-rays emitted by the debris from this explosion.

Over fifty years ago, a supernova was discovered in M83, a spiral galaxy about 15 million light-years from Earth. Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to make the first detection of X-rays emitted by the debris from this explosion.


The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope offers this delightful view of the crowded stellar encampment called Messier 68, a spherical, star-filled region of space known as a globular cluster.

Saturn's moon Mimas peeps out from behind the larger moon Dione in this view from the Cassini spacecraft.

Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is near the bottom center of the image. Saturn's rings are also visible in the top right. This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Dione (698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across). North on Dione is up and rotated 20 degrees to the right. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope offers this delightful view of the crowded stellar encampment called Messier 68, a spherical, star-filled region of space known as a globular cluster.

Mutual gravitational attraction among a cluster's hundreds of thousands or even millions of stars keeps stellar members in check, allowing globular clusters to hang together for many billions of years. Astronomers can measure the ages of globular clusters by looking at the light of their constituent stars.

Polar View (Norway) has carried out this GSP study comparing the needs of Arctic stakeholders (as articulated in policies and strategies) with the contribution different types of satellite technologies can make to meet current and future requirements.

Scientists have discovered a one mile deep rift valley hidden beneath the ice in West Antarctica, Experts from the University of Aberdeen and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) made the discovery below Ferrigno Ice Stream, a region visited only once previously, over fifty years ago, in 1961, and one that is remote even by Antarctic standards.

@Astro_Suni: She's back! 47P returned on her own systems tonight. Even though she's filled w trash, it's good to have her back. pic.twitter.com/NuX1sZMA


Opportunity is roving at the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater. Progress was again impacted by a second safe mode entry by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. With normal Ultra-High Frequency relay with Odyssey restored, Opportunity was able to drive on Sol 3019 (July 21, 2012).

Opportunity is roving at the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater. Progress was again impacted by a second safe mode entry by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. With normal Ultra-High Frequency relay with Odyssey restored, Opportunity was able to drive on Sol 3019 (July 21, 2012).

"The competition judges have awarded Space Ground Amalgam, LLC first place in the 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition and the $100,000 prize was presented by competition Project Manager, Tom Olson. Digital Solid State Propulsion, LLC earned second place in the competition, along with a $10,000 prize. In a last minute addition, Honorable Mention is given to Terapio Corporation for providing an unusually commendable technology that will address one of the inherent risks of space settlement. The hosting organization, the Space Frontier Foundation, and judges congratulate the winners and thank all the finalists for their participation. The awards were presented on July 28th at the NewSpace Awards Gala, the culminating event of the NewSpace 2012 Conference." More

Rock on - A charitable foundation is to launch the first private, scientific space mission, Economist

"Budget cuts have hit NASA's science missions hard. NEOCam is not certain to fly, and the foundation worries that, although NASA has already catalogued most of the biggest, civilisation-ending asteroids, thousands of smaller rocks, of similar dimensions to the one that exploded over Siberia, remain undetected. If one were to hit the wrong part of the planet it would cause a catastrophe. Hence the shift in focus from deflection to discovery. Sentinel's mission will be broadly similar to NEOCam's. Both telescopes will have 50cm mirrors. Both will scan the sky in the infra-red spectrum, where dark but comparatively warm asteroids should show up brightly against the cold of deep space. Both will inhabit orbits between Earth and the sun, in order to get the best possible vantage point. The foundation's ambition is to produce an asteroid map that records 90% of near-Earth objects that are more than 140 metres across, and half of those bigger than 50 metres. Armed with data on their orbits and velocities, astronomers should be able to calculate which pose a threat over the coming century or so."

B612 Foundation Announces First Privately Funded Deep Space Mission

Donate to B612 Foundation


The Curiosity rover continues to make its way to Mars and its scheduled landing in Gale Crater on Monday, Aug. 6. Also Mars Yard; New record set; New heat shield test and new mission previewed; Landsat 40 and remembering Sally Ride and more.

The unpiloted Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) approaches the International Space Station. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched HTV-3 aboard an H-IIB launch vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 10:06 p.m. EDT July 20 (11:06 a.m. July 21, Japan time). The HTV is bringing 7,000 pounds of cargo including food and clothing for the crew members, an aquatic habitat experiment, a remote-controlled Earth-observation camera for environmental studies, a catalytic reactor for the station's water regeneration system and a Japanese cooling water recirculation pump. The vehicle will remain at the space station until Sept. 6 when, like its predecessors, it will be detached from the Harmony node by Canadarm2 and released for a fiery re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.ISS032-E-009997 (27 July 2012) - high res (1.4 M) low res (34 K)

We're excited to release this footage of Masten's July 25, 2012 Mars landing trajectory test flight on Xombie. The flight reached 476.5 meters in altitude and translated 500 meters downrange. The test was carried out for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)** to test the powered descent and landing trajectory optimization algorithms for future Mars Entry Descent & Landing (EDL) applications. It is the first EDL style trajectory carried out on a terrestrial vertical takeoff and vertical landing testbed. Masten's native Guidance, Navigation & Control system controlled Xombie as it followed the JPL-provided Mars landing trajectory. More

We're excited to release this footage of Masten's July 25, 2012 Mars landing trajectory test flight on Xombie. The flight reached 476.5 meters in altitude and translated 500 meters downrange. The test was carried out for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)** to test the powered descent and landing trajectory optimization algorithms for future Mars Entry Descent & Landing (EDL) applications. It is the first EDL style trajectory carried out on a terrestrial vertical takeoff and vertical landing testbed. Masten's native Guidance, Navigation & Control system controlled Xombie as it followed the JPL-provided Mars landing trajectory. More

The Flame Nebula sits on the eastern hip of Orion the Hunter, a constellation most easily visible in the northern hemisphere during winter evenings. This view of the nebula was taken by WISE, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

Expedition 32 Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide used the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to install the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-3, to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node at 10:34 a.m. EDT Friday.


Researchers from Western University have discovered further evidence linking subsurface volatiles, such as water or ice, to previously recognized (but thought to be rare) pits, which commonly arise on the floors of Martian impact craters.

Investigating extremely detailed images of Mars produced by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera (http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/) - the largest ever carried on a deep space mission - researchers from Western University have discovered further evidence linking subsurface volatiles, such as water or ice, to previously recognized (but thought to be rare) pits, which commonly arise on the floors of Martian impact craters.


On the same night Curiosity lands on Mars, a "Martian Triangle" will appear in sunset skies of Earth. The first-magnitude apparition on August 5th gives space fans something to do while they wait for news from the Red Planet.


The three members of the Expedition 33/34 crew, NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitski, talk about their upcoming mission to the International Space Station at a news briefing held July 26 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The trio is scheduled to launch to the orbiting laboratory in September.


After a journey of 245 days across 352 million miles, the moment of truth for the Mars Science Laboratory begins late in the evening of August 5 when the spacecraft roars into the Martian atmosphere, traveling at 13,200 miles an hour.


The Newseum in Washington, DC hosted a look back and ahead at the contributions of the Landsat program to our understanding of the Earth on the 40th anniversary of the Landsat on July 23.

Today, July 25, 2012, Felix Baumgartner completed the final milestone remaining before he attempts to achieve his dream of becoming the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall. According to preliminary data, his test jump from a 5.3 million cubic-foot / 150,079 cubic-meter balloon achieved an altitude of over 96,640 feet / 29,455 meters, seeing Baumgartner execute a 3 minute, 48 second freefall jump reaching speeds of 536 mph / 862 kmh.

Researchers analyzing meteorite fragments that fell on a frozen lake in Canada have developed an explanation for the origin of life's handedness - why living things only use molecules with specific orientations.

SpaceRef Interactive Inc. and the Secure World Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose of disseminating original multimedia content from Secure World Foundation events.

CERN today marked the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer's first year in space with a visit from the crew of the shuttle mission, STS-134, that successfully delivered AMS to the International Space Station just over a year ago.

"Team Phoenicia announced today they have teamed up with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) to work on lunar and interplanetary small satellite and CubeSat launch opportunities. This teaming arrangement covers collaboration on the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE; collaboration on future interplanetary and lunar nanosat Launches; and tapping into each other's knowledge bases for both the competition flights and beyond.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date, challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is one of three active competitions from the X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization for creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions."

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On-orbit servicing (OOS) and active debris removal (ADR) are part of an emerging category of future on-orbit activities that are critical for taking the next leap in our use of Earth orbit.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.

Pulsars are superlative cosmic beacons. These compact neutron stars rotate about their axes many times per second, emitting radio waves and gamma radiation into space. Using ingenious data analysis methods, researchers from the Max Planck Institutes for Gravitational Physics (MPG) and for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR), in an international collaboration, dug a very special gamma-ray pulsar out of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The pulsar J1838-0537 is radio-quiet, very young, and, during the observation period, experienced the strongest rotation glitch ever observed for a gamma-ray-only pulsar.

The Great Lakes in sunglint are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 31 crew member on the International Space Station. From the vantage point of the space station, crew members observe many spectacular phenomena including aurora, noctilucent clouds, airglow, and sunglint on Earth's water bodies. Sunglint is light reflected off of a water surface towards the observer such that it creates the appearance of a mirror-like surface.

@Astro_Suni" 47P, Agat and the ISS fly over Hawaii!!!! Larger image

This artist's conception illustrates a storm of comets around a star near our own, called Eta Corvi. Evidence for this barrage comes from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, whose infrared detectors picked up indications that comets were recently torn to shreds after colliding with a rocky body. In this artist's conception, one such giant comet is shown smashing into a rocky planet, flinging ice- and carbon-rich dust into space, while also smashing water and organics into the surface of the planet.


For several days this month, Greenland's surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its 2-mile-thick (3.2-kilometer) center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.

Actor Wil Wheaton, "The Next Generation's" Wesley Crusher, hosts this look at the Mars Science Laboratory mission and its rover, Curiosity.


Sally Ride died peacefully today surrounded by family at the age of 61 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally Ride was the first American woman to fly in space on June 18, 1983 as part of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger. She flew twice in space before leaving NASA and pursuing a career as an educator.


NASA and the Interior Department Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the Landsat program, the world's longest-running Earth-observing satellite program. The first Landsat satellite was launched July 23, 1972, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


A large inflatable heat shield developed by NASA's Space Technology Program has successfully survived a trip through Earth's atmosphere while travelling at hypersonic speeds up to 7,600 mph.

"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas. Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)." More.

"Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS. I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop. Compiled and arranged in Sony Vegas. Music by John Murphy - Sunshine (Adagio In D Minor)." More.


The Japanese HTV-3 known as KOUNOTORI 3 resupply spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station following its successful launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.


The most advanced robot ever sent to another world is nearing its destination, and NASA scientists and managers at a Headquarters news briefing called the Curiosity Rover mission the hardest one attempted in the history of robotic planetary exploration. Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars in the early morning hours of August 6, Eastern. Also, J-2X Test; 'Chutes Assured; New Digs for Space Trio; Science Supporters; Space Sojourn; Enterprise Unveiled; Remembering Apollo 11; and more.

"Imagine a fully-instrumented satellite the size of a half-gallon milk carton. Then imagine that milk carton whirling in space, catching never-before-seen glimpses of processes thought to be linked to lightning. The little satellite that could is a CubeSat called Firefly, and it's on a countdown to launch next year. CubeSats, named for the roughly four-inch-cubed dimensions of their basic building elements, are stacked with modern, smartphone-like electronics and tiny scientific instruments. Built mainly by students and hitching rides into orbit on NASA and U.S. Department of Defense launch vehicles, the small, low-cost satellites recently have been making history. Many herald their successes as a space revolution."

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"Discovered by Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), NEA (near-Earth asteroid) 2002 AM31, an asteroid the size of a city block, will make its close approach to Earth Sunday evening (July 22) -- just 39 days after newly discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 paid an unexpected visit to Earth. Slooh Space Camera will cover its near-approach live on http://www.slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 4:30 p.m. PDT / 7:30 p.m. EDT / 23:30 UTC -- accompanied by real-time discussions by Slooh's Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman."

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The Caribbean country of Cuba is pictured in this image from the Envisat satellite. Cuba is an archipelago of islands in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In the southeast, the dark coastal area is home to the Sierra Maestra mountains. It is the highest mountain range on the island, with Pico Turquino reaching nearly 2000 m. The area is also rich in minerals, like copper and iron.

For many years, Titan's thick, methane- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere kept astronomers from seeing what lies beneath. Saturn's largest moon appeared through telescopes as a hazy orange orb, in contrast to other heavily cratered moons in the solar system.


For many years, Titan's thick, methane- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere kept astronomers from seeing what lies beneath. Saturn's largest moon appeared through telescopes as a hazy orange orb, in contrast to other heavily cratered moons in the solar system.

A stunning image showing Aurora Australis - the Southern Lights - glowing over Concordia station in the Antarctic, one of the remotest places on Earth, on 18 July 2012. It was taken by ESA-sponsored scientist Alexander Kumar and his colleague Erick Bondoux from about 1 km from the station, located in the Antarctic at 75*S latitude.

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists from the Radio Astrophysics and Sensing Section of the Remote Sensing Division in conjunction with radio astronomers and engineers from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Socorro, N.M., achieve "First Light" image, May 1, 2012, at frequencies below 1-gigahertz (GHz) on the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA).


U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists from the Radio Astrophysics and Sensing Section of the Remote Sensing Division in conjunction with radio astronomers and engineers from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Socorro, N.M., achieve "First Light" image, May 1, 2012, at frequencies below 1-gigahertz (GHz) on the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA).


Editor's note: As of yesterday SpaceRef is now using a new provider, MailChimp, for our mailing lists. With the change we'll better able to respond to the needs of our readers. The upgrade includes a switch from our text based newsletter to an HTML based newsletter although you can opt to receive text only. We'll use a basic design for now, but will upgrade and enhance the newsletter as we go forward.

A telescope launched July 11 aboard a NASA sounding rocket has captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the sun's million-degree atmosphere called the corona. The clarity of the images can help scientists better understand the behavior of the solar atmosphere and its impacts on Earth's space environment.

The European Space Agency (ESA) Lunar Lander is a robotic explorer that will demonstrate key European technologies and conduct science experiments. The mission is a forerunner to future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars. It will establish European expertise to allow strong international partnerships in exploration.

Some of of the challenges of exploring Mars is not only finding a safe landing spot for a future rover, but a place that is scientifically compelling as well.

HiRISE has taken scores of observations for other missions like Phoenix and the Mars Science Laboratory to help those science teams better understand possible terrain hazards. In this observation, we are trying to explore for the presence of minerals called quartz and feldspar, which are even more common on Earth than Mars.


The Expedition 32 crew onboard the International Space Station, flying an altitude of approximately 240 miles, recorded a series of images of Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, on July 15.

The Expedition 32 crew onboard the International Space Station, flying an altitude of approximately 240 miles, recorded a series of images of Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, on July 15. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, flight engineer, recorded the series of images from the Tranquility node. The Canadarm2 robot arm is in the foreground. ISS032-E-007896 (15 July 2012) --- high res (1.2 M) low res (61 K)"

This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on July 19, 2012 of an M7.7 class solar flare. The image represents light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, which is particularly good for seeing flares, and which is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO Larger image


This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) on July 19, 2012 of an M7.7 class solar flare.


According to NASA it's pure science and not art. But when Nicholeen Viall, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center created a new data visualization technique, the resulting solar images were reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting.

"Engineers and student interns at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., are gearing up to support and witness what may be the most thrilling ride a nanosatellite has ever taken. This October, for the first time, a small cubesat - a satellite weighing less than two pounds, housed in a 10 cm cube - will be one of five to jettison into orbit around Earth from the International Space Station.

The pioneering satellite, dubbed TechEdSat, is a collaboration among Ames; San Jose State University; the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) via AAC Microtec, Uppsala, Sweden; and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). TechEdSat is set to launch to the space station along with other experiments and essential supplies in the "Kounotori 3" H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) at 7:06 p.m. PDT Friday, July 20, 2012, from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan."

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These three Cassini images show a propeller-shaped structure created by an unseen moon in Saturn's A ring. Propellers and other details of Saturn's rings are greeting scientists for the first time in two years, as Cassini's orbit took the spacecraft out of Saturn's equatorial plane in the spring of 2012, making face-on views of the rings possible again.

This image from Japan's ALOS satellite shows southern France and the divide of the Rhone River: the 'Grand Rhone' flows down the centre of the image while the 'Petit Rhone' is visible to the west.

These layers near the North Pole of Mars probably record global climate changes, similar to ice ages on Earth.

They appear wavy here either because flat-lying layers have been eroded into shallow valleys and ridges, or because the layers are not horizontal. Some of these layers are truncated, or appear to pinch out against other layers, evidence of a period of erosion followed by continued deposition of new layers.


Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have detected what they believe is a planet two-thirds the size of Earth. The exoplanet candidate, called UCF-1.01, is located a mere 33 light-years away, making it possibly the nearest world to our solar system that is smaller than our home planet.

"NASA's Office of Education has selected more than 200 organizations across the country to receive Summer of Innovation (SoI) mini-grants. Each award has a maximum value of $2,500. This investment is designed to expand NASA's education network and help the agency keep middle school students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities throughout the summer break and beyond. Last month, NASA announced it was seeking collaborators to infuse NASA-themed STEM content into existing summer and after school programs for middle school students. The agency received more than 500 proposals in response to this solicitation."

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On May 25, 2012, SpaceX made history when the Dragon spacecraft became the first privately developed vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments -- the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency -- had achieved this feat.

On May 25, 2012, SpaceX made history when the Dragon spacecraft became the first privately developed vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station. Previously only four governments -- the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency -- had achieved this feat.

"We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm "1U" CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth's equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world's inhabited regions. SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube's balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You'll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube's balloon isn't just for visibility. It will - within 3 weeks - bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery "grand finale" that avoids any buildup of space debris." More at Kickstarter

"On September 22 we are going to send 1000 student projects to the edge of space. These experiments and projects are made by kindergartners, university professors, high school science classes and home schools kids. All the projects fit inside ping pong balls. We call them PongSats. Students from all over the world send us their PongSats we fly them to 100,000 feet on weather balloons. After the landing the PongSats are returned to their creators along with data from the flight a DVD with video of the launch and on board scenes and a certificate showing they flew."

More at Kickstarter


With large swaths of oceans, rivers that snake for hundreds of miles, and behemoth glaciers near the north and south poles, Earth doesn't seem to have a water shortage. And yet, less than one percent of our planet's mass is locked up in water, and even that may have been delivered by comets and asteroids after Earth's initial formation.


NASA Space Technology Program researchers will launch and deploy a large inflatable heat shield aboard a rocket travelling at hypersonic speeds this weekend during a technology demonstration test from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

This close-up view shows the docking mechanism of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft as it undocks from the International Space Station's Rassvet Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1) on July 1, 2012.

This close-up view shows the docking mechanism of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft as it undocks from the International Space Station's Rassvet Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM-1) on July 1, 2012.

In this image, we see several very sinuous ridges, some very eroded, and others still very well defined. The eroded ridges are located in a trough, while the well-preserved ridges are at higher elevation.

Toshka Lakes in southern Egypt are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 31 crew member on the International Space Station. The Toshka Lakes (center) were formed in the Sahara Desert of Egypt by water from the River Nile conveyed from Lake Nasser by a canal to the Toshka Depression.

After spending two days getting to the the International Space Station after launching Sunday morning from Kazakhstan, the three member crew in the Soyuz spacecraft docked and entered the International Space Station this morning. The crew of Expedition 32 includes NASA astronaut Suni Williams, Aki Hoshide of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko who join Russian Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joseph M. Acaba already in orbit.

The International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) is once again holding its annual conference in Seattle and for the first time it will be held at the Museum of Flight. The 3-day conference opens on August 25th and has a theme of Operating and Maintaining a Space Elevator.

Conference events to include:


At a news conference today NASA discussed the landing on Mars of the Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity Rover which takes place in less than three weeks on Monday, August 6th at 1:31 a.m. EDT (Sunday at 10:31 p.m. PDT). NASA described the mission as the hardest mission ever attempted with a never used before landing system. While everyone is hopeful the mission will succeed, there is no guarantee the rover will land safely on Mars.


NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered an extraordinary outburst by a black hole in the spiral galaxy M83, located about 15 million light years from Earth.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered an extraordinary outburst by a black hole in the spiral galaxy M83, located about 15 million light years from Earth. Using Chandra, astronomers found a new ultraluminous X-ray source, or ULX. These objects give off more X-rays than most normal binary systems in which a companion star is in orbit around a neutron star or black hole.

They were once so elusive that scientists gave them a mystical name. "Red sprites" are short-lived, red flashes that occur about 80 kilometers (50 miles) up in the atmosphere. With long, vertical tendrils like a jellyfish, these electrical discharges can extend 20 to 30 kilometers up into the atmosphere and are connected to thunderstorms and lightning.

On July 16th, 1969 Apollo 11 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on its historic mission to the moon. Onboard were Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. Relive the launch with original footage from CBS and and Walter Cronkite reporting.

This observation shows a gullied crater in the Southern mid-latitudes with light-toned deposits near the center of its floor, and two areas of collapsed terrain at the northern and southern edges of the crater floor.

Data from the CRISM instrument--also onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter--tentatively show a minerals containing chemically-bound water in the "chaotic" areas. Larger Image. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

A Russian Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft launched to the International Space Station on July 15 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Inside the spacecraft for the two-day journey are Expedition 32/33 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Flight Engineer Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the station's next crew.

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 32/33 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Flight Engineer Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency participated in a variety of activities in preparation for their launch to the International Space Station Saturday night.

Nano-satellite offers best hope for Australia's future in space

"A lightweight spacecraft with capabilities that punch above its weight could provide the perfect launching pad for a sustainable Australian space program, a leading engineer says. Dr Steven Tsitas from the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) atUNSW has developed an innovative system design for a new shoebox-sized spacecraft that enables night imaging and agricultural monitoring missions previously requiring much larger crafts. With the right instrumentation, the 8-kilogram spacecraft known as the 6U CubeSat can perform some of the commercial earth-observationmissions of 'microsatellites' that weigh around 100 kg and are roughly the size of a washing machine, he says."

NASA is developing a robotic explorer at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to track down water on the moon, Mars or on an asteroid. A partner in the project is the Canadian Space Agency who are providing: The Artemis Junior terrestrial rover will serve as the semi-autonomous mobile platform for payloads, including NASA instruments designed to prospect for water ice and other lunar resources; Destin, a versatile onboard drill and sample transfer system; and Q6 Stack, an avionics suite consisting of a powerful, low-mass and low- power hybrid processors and interface modules, which will control the RESOLVE system.

Today's X1.4-class solar flare released a Type O Coronal Mass Ejection, traveling at approx. 1,400 km/s. It is traveling Earth bound but and its impact will create some geomagnetic storms, currently estimated between G2 and G4 levels. That could produce aurorae as far South as Northern California and Alabama and central UK/ Europe.


Real-time data that will be used in everything from weather forecasts to disaster response is now being beamed down to Earth from a cone-shaped appendage aboard the nation's newest Earth-observing satellite.

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft is rolled out by train on its way to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The launch of the Soyuz spacecraft with Expedition 32 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide is scheduled for the morning of Sunday, July 15, local time. Image Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi. Larger images

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft is rolled out by train on its way to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Thursday, July 12, 2012. The launch of the Soyuz spacecraft with Expedition 32 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide is scheduled for the morning of Sunday, July 15, local time. Image Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi. Larger images

Scientists have long believed that comets and a type of very primitive meteorite called carbonaceous chondrites were the sources of early Earth's volatile elements -- which include hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon -- and possibly organic material, too. Understanding where these volatiles came from is crucial for determining the origins of both water and life on the planet.

"It's a project 500 million years in the making. Only this time, instead of playing on a movie screen in Jurassic Park, it's happening in a lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. This bacterium has now been growing for more than 1,000 generations, giving the scientists a front row seat to observe evolution in action. "This is as close as we can get to rewinding and replaying the molecular tape of life," said scientist Betuel Kacar, a NASA astrobiology postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech's NASA Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution. "The ability to observe an ancient gene in a modern organism as it evolves within a modern cell allows us to see whether the evolutionary trajectory once taken will repeat itself or whether a life will adapt following a different path." More

A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency's robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D now is available for free on the iPhone and iPad. Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will touch down on Mars on Aug. 5 at 10:31 p.m. PDT (Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT), and the twin GRAIL spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, currently orbiting the moon.

"With Spacecraft 3D and a mobile device, you can put high definition, three-dimensional models literally into the hands of kids of all ages," said Stephen Kulczycki, deputy director for communications and education at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Spacecraft 3D is among the first of what are known as augmented-reality apps for Apple devices. Augmented reality provides users a view of a real-world environment where elements are improved by additional input. Spacecraft 3D uses the iPhone or iPad camera to overlay information on the device's main screen. The app instructs users to print an augmented-reality target on a standard sheet of paper. When the device's camera is pointed at the target, the spacecraft chosen by the user materializes on screen.


The effect of spaceflight on a microscopic worm -- Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) -- could help it to live longer. The discovery was made by an international group of scientists studying the loss of bone and muscle mass experienced by astronauts after extended flights in space.


False-color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the development of a hood of high-altitude haze - which appears orange in this image -- forming over the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan.

False-color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the development of a hood of high-altitude haze - which appears orange in this image -- forming over the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan. These images were obtained on May 22 and June 7, 2012 by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer in infrared wavelengths. Scientists assigned the colors red, green and blue to wavelengths mostly sensitive to the stratosphere, troposphere, and surface components, respectively.

Each century, about two massive stars in our own galaxy explode, producing magnificent supernovae. These stellar explosions send fundamental, uncharged particles called neutrinos streaming our way and generate ripples called gravitational waves in the fabric of space-time. Scientists are waiting for the neutrinos and gravitational waves from about 1000 supernovae that have already exploded at distant locations in the Milky Way to reach us.


This computer-simulated image shows gas from a star that is ripped apart by tidal forces as it falls into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space. Using observations from telescopes in space and on the ground, astronomers gathered the most direct evidence yet for this violent process: a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close.

This computer-simulated image shows gas from a star that is ripped apart by tidal forces as it falls into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space. Using observations from telescopes in space and on the ground, astronomers gathered the most direct evidence yet for this violent process: a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close.

So this is what I did over this past winter when I was not making people coffee. It's all time-lapse footage shot in and around Anchorage, Alaska, with the emphasis on the nature around the city rather then on the people and buildings. This is a collection of the nicer stuff I shot of the northern lights, stars, sunset, and the tide. All of this was shot between October 2011 and April 2012. More.


A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

This deep image shows the region of the sky around the quasar HE0109-3518. The quasar is near the centre of the image. The energetic radiation of the quasar makes dark galaxies glow, helping astronomers to understand the obscure early stages of galaxy formation. Dark galaxies are essentially devoid of stars, therefore they don't emit any light that telescopes can catch. This makes them virtually impossible to observe unless they are illuminated by an external light source like a background quasar. This image combines observations from the Very Large Telescope, tuned to detect the fluorescent emissions produced by the quasar illuminating the dark galaxies, with colour data from the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Credit: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and S. Cantalupo (UCSC)


For the first time, dark galaxies -- an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now -- may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, an international team thinks they have detected these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar.

I believe in 'just trying your best' no matter if you win or lose, succeed or fail the truth will always prevail and so Satyameva Jayte is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning just that. If we do good things then good things will happen to us and vice versa. So if we look after our world then it will be a better place for all of us, if we neglect or damage it then the outcome and truth will not be very good especially for our future generations, our actions dictate our future ... The time lapse sequences of photographs were taken by the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS), I downloaded over 20k+ images and used Quicktime Pro to create the timelapse, GBDeFlicker to smooth out the flicker, Avid Studio HD to edit and colour grade with MBL, After Effects to slow it down with Twixtor and rotate some scenes and finally Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5 to crop and compact this film. More"


Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show a concentration of high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan, signs that the seasons are turning on Saturn's largest moon.

Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show a concentration of high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan, signs that the seasons are turning on Saturn's largest moon.


This image from the Pleiades satellite shows the island of Mont Saint Michel and its surrounding bay in northwest France.

This image from the Pleiades satellite shows the island of Mont Saint Michel and its surrounding bay in northwest France.


An international team of astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made an unparalleled observation, detecting significant changes in the atmosphere of a planet located beyond our solar system.

An international team of astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope made an unparalleled observation, detecting significant changes in the atmosphere of a planet located beyond our solar system.


An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data in June 2012 is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system.

These two images show HD 157728, a nearby star 1.5 times larger than the sun. The star is centered in both images, and its light has been mostly removed by an adaptive optics system and coronagraph belonging to Project 1640, which uses new technology on the Palomar Observatory's 200-inch Hale telescope near San Diego, Calif., to spot planets. Image credit: Project 1640 Full image and caption

It's been nearly two years since NASA's Cassini spacecraft has had views like these of Saturn's glorious rings. These views are possible again because Cassini has changed the angle at which it orbits Saturn and regularly passes above and below Saturn's equatorial plane. Steeply inclined orbits around the Saturn system also allow scientists to get better views of the poles and atmosphere of Saturn and its moons.

Scientists have, for the first time, directly detected part of the invisible dark matter skeleton of the universe, where more than half of all matter is believed to reside.

The discovery, led by a University of Michigan physics researcher, confirms a key prediction in the prevailing theory of how the universe's current web-like structure evolved.


Scientists have, for the first time, directly detected part of the invisible dark matter skeleton of the universe, where more than half of all matter is believed to reside.

This movie shows an M6.9 class flare on July 7, 2012 as captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in a combination of the 131, 171, and 304 Angstrom wavelengths. It has been colorized in yellow and red. The movie covers the time frame from 12:00 PM EDT to 1:30 PM.

It might not be a giant leap for mankind just yet, but Western-led training in the Canadian Arctic may lead to the first steps for future international missions to the Moon or Mars. In order to prepare for those missions, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Jeremy Hansen has joined Western planetary geologist Gordon 'Oz' Osinski and his research team in the Canadian Arctic until July 12 to investigate a possible new meteorite impact crater.

Using observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, researchers have obtained the first X-ray evidence of a supernova shock wave breaking through a cocoon of gas surrounding the star that exploded. This discovery may help astronomers understand why some supernovas are much more powerful than others.


A beautiful blue butterfly flutters towards a nest of warm dust and gas, above an intricate network of cool filaments in this image of the Vela C region by ESA's Herschel space observatory.

A beautiful blue butterfly flutters towards a nest of warm dust and gas, above an intricate network of cool filaments in this image of the Vela C region by ESA's Herschel space observatory.

A decade of future visions from ESA's Advanced Concepts Team

"Ion beams to clean up space debris, exotic metamaterials, fluid-like spacecraft made up of many tiny fractionated parts and planetary landers borrowing tips from bumblebees - ESA's Advanced Concepts Team looked forward on its tenth anniversary, discussing creative ideas for space's future. Based at ESTEC, ESA's technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the team celebrated its first decade on 2-3 July, gathering former members and research partners from all across Europe, with guests from the US and Japan.... Alastair Reynolds explained the relationship between science and science fiction was really two-way in nature: today's mainstream scientific concepts such as terraforming and wormholes originated in yesterday's science fiction - and the movie 2001 back in 1968 depicted a prototype iPad, highlighted in a copyright court case last year.

ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012 (SOCIS 2012) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It aims at offering student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers.

This is the second edition of SOCIS, the first one (SOCIS 2011) selected 20 mentoring organisations, each one having one project. The program is inspired by (but not affiliated or related in any way to) Google's Summer of Code initiative, and is designed with the following objectives in mind:

* raise the awareness of open source projects related to space within the open source programming community, especially among students;
* raise awareness of ESA within the open-source community;
* improve existing space-related open-source software.

More information

The city of Al Jubayl (or Jubail) is located on the coast of Saudi Arabia, along the Persian Gulf. The city has a history extending back more than 7,000 years, but since 1975 it has been associated with the petrochemical, fertilizer, and steel industries. At night, these industrial areas form a brightly lit region (image center) to the south of the residential and commercial center of Al Jubayl (characterized by green-gray lighting). An artificial peninsula extending into the Persian Gulf to the northeast hosts supertanker docks and petroleum storage facilities.


Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. As stars run low on fuel, they become unstable. Every few thousand years, U Cam coughs out a nearly spherical shell of gas as a layer of helium around its core begins to fuse. The gas ejected in the star's latest eruption is clearly visible in this picture as a faint bubble of gas surrounding the star.

"Explore the innovation behind Samarai, Lockheed Martin's maple seed-inspired UAV. Fly it yourself with the LM Tomorrow® app available on the App Store: http://bit.ly/JzzdDA"

Keith's note: Picture a swarm of these things - sized to function on Mars - powered by the sun.


This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter.

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ. Full image and caption


ESA's Mars Express has imaged an area to the south of the famed Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, showing a wide range of tectonic and impact features.


This image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012, at 5:55 AM EDT.

ESA's Mars Express has imaged an area to the south of the famed Valles Marineris canyon on the Red Planet, showing a wide range of tectonic and impact features.

On 17 April, the orbiter pointed its high-resolution stereo camera at the Melas Dorsa region of Mars. This area sits in the volcanic highlands of Mars between Sinai and Thaumasia Plana, 250 km south of Melas Chasma. Melas Chasma itself is part of the Valles Marineris rift system.

This image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows the M5.3 class solar flare that peaked on July 4, 2012, at 5:55 AM EDT. The flare is shown in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength that is particularly good for capturing the radiation emitted from flares. The wavelength is typically colorized in teal as shown here. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/Helioviewer. Larger image.

With the shortened work week This Week at NASA is a recap of events from the previous week through July 2nd. Onboard the International Space Station, Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko handed over the reins of the orbiting outpost to cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. The start of Padalka's tenure as the lead of Expedition 32 makes him the first three-time commander of the station.

"Using the same technology that NASA uses in space suits, our proprietary blend of fibers, "Apollo" will literally control your body temperature. Imagine you're outside on a hot day. Apollo uses Phase-change Materials (PCMs) to pull heat away from your body and actually store it in the shirt - like a battery. This way, when you get back into your AC'ed office, the shirt will release the heat back to you and keep your skin at the temperature it should be at. The difference is noticeable, and can change your day. Ministry of Supply is literally bringing this technology down from space." More at Kickstarter

Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Sun Editor: U.S. Antarctic Program research stations across Antarctica marked the beginning of the end of winter this week.


A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the candle-like Flame nebula lighting up a cavern of dust. The Flame nebula is part of the Orion complex, a turbulent star-forming area located near the constellation's star-studded belt.

A new image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows the candle-like Flame nebula lighting up a cavern of dust. The Flame nebula is part of the Orion complex, a turbulent star-forming area located near the constellation's star-studded belt.

This picture of Phobos near the limb of Mars was captured in 2010 by Mars Express currently orbiting Mars. Phobos is a heavily cratered and barren moon, with its largest crater located on the far side.


This picture of Phobos near the limb of Mars was captured in 2010 by Mars Express currently orbiting Mars. Phobos is a heavily cratered and barren moon, with its largest crater located on the far side.

Masten's Xaero returns to the skies to complete a flight to 444 meters AGL - a record for Xaero and the company. Xaero took some time off while the team put significant work into updating her landing gear and cutting mass and solving some guidance issues. Onward and upward!

Masten's Xaero returns to the skies to complete a flight to 444 meters AGL - a record for Xaero and the company. Xaero took some time off while the team put significant work into updating her landing gear and cutting mass and solving some guidance issues. Onward and upward!

Yuri's Night Announces Pete Worden As Recipient of 2012 Spirit of Yuri's Night Award

"Yuri's Night, the World Space Party, today announced that NASA Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden is the 2012 recipient of the Spirit of Yuri's Night Award. The Spirit of Yuri's Night Award, chosen each year by the Yuri's Night Board of Directors, recognizes "a person or persons that embody the Yuri's Night mission of using space and art to contribute to the future of humanity, both in space and on Earth." The Spirit of Yuri's Night Award will be presented to Dr. Worden at the NewSpace 2012 Awards Gala, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara on July 28, 2012."

Resembling a Fourth of July skyrocket, Herbig-Haro 110 is a geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets off the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen. Although the plumes of gas look like whiffs of smoke, they are actually billions of times less dense than the smoke from a July 4 firework. This Hubble Space Telescope photo shows the integrated light from plumes, which are light-years across.


Resembling a Fourth of July skyrocket, Herbig-Haro 110 is a geyser of hot gas from a newborn star that splashes up against and ricochets off the dense core of a cloud of molecular hydrogen.


X-ray observations have revealed something curious about the young star that illuminates McNeil's Nebula, a glowing jewel of cosmic dust in the Orion constellation: The object is a protostar rotating once a day, or 30 times faster than the Sun. The stellar baby also has distinct birthmarks -- two X-ray-emitting spots, where gas flows from a surrounding disk, fueling the infant star.

X-ray observations have revealed something curious about the young star that illuminates McNeil's Nebula, a glowing jewel of cosmic dust in the Orion constellation: The object is a protostar rotating once a day, or 30 times faster than the Sun. The stellar baby also has distinct birthmarks -- two X-ray-emitting spots, where gas flows from a surrounding disk, fueling the infant star.

At 10:43 UT time on July 2, 2012 a M5.6-class solar flare erupted from Active Region 1515. It peaked at 10:52 UT. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) accompanied the solar flare and hurled a cloud of plasma into Space. In the last segment it can be seen that part of the CME is being pulled back to the surface. It did not have the escape velocity of 384 miles per second needed to continue its journey. In comparison; it takes 7 miles per second escape velocity to leave Earth. Coronal rain has long been a mystery. It's not surprising that plasma should fall back to the Sun. After all, the sun's gravity is powerful.

NASA Space Tech Program Selects Technologies For Development And Demonstration On Suborbital Flights

"NASA'S Space Technology Program has selected 14 technologies for development and demonstration on commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles. The selected proposals offer innovative cutting-edge ideas and approaches for technology in areas including active thermal management, advanced avionics, pinpoint landing and advanced in-space propulsion. They also address many of the high-priority technology needs identified in the recent National Research Council's Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities report. These payloads will help NASA advance technology development needed to enable NASA's current and future missions in exploration, science and space operations."


Soyuz TMA-03M is seen as it lands with Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, Flight Don Pettit, and Andre Kuipers in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012.

Entombed by the distinctive foam pyramids typical of test chambers, the main antenna of the Gaia billion-star surveyor has been put through its paces ahead of launch next year.

The antenna will send Gaia’s precious science data to Earth from its location 1.5 million kilometres away.
Over five years, Gaia is expected to download 200 TB of data – the equivalent of nearly 45 000 standard DVDs – as it makes precise measurements of the positions of a billion stars.

Entombed by the distinctive foam pyramids typical of test chambers, the main antenna of the Gaia billion-star surveyor has been put through its paces ahead of launch next year.

The antenna will send Gaia’s precious science data to Earth from its location 1.5 million kilometres away.
Over five years, Gaia is expected to download 200 TB of data – the equivalent of nearly 45 000 standard DVDs – as it makes precise measurements of the positions of a billion stars.

The first images of an upward surge of the Sun's gases into quiescent coronal loops have been identified by an international team of scientists. The discovery is one more step towards understanding the origins of extreme space storms, which can destroy satellite communications and damage power grids on Earth.

Relatively few galaxies possess the sweeping, luminous spiral arms or brightly glowing center of our home galaxy the Milky Way. In fact, most of the Universe's galaxies look like small, amorphous clouds of vapor. One of these galaxies is DDO 82, captured here in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Though tiny compared to the Milky Way, such dwarf galaxies still contain between a few million and a few billion stars.


Three members of the Expedition 31 crew undocked from the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth Sunday, July 1, wrapping up a mission that lasted six-and-a-half months.