Tagged With space

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You would never buy a hundred million-dollar computer without a repair plan, but that's exactly what NASA does when it sends costly satellites into space. To ensure that its prized eyes-in-the-sky don't become the solar system's most expensive e-waste, the space agency is now building a robot capable of repairing and refuelling satellites in orbit.

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During a recent trip to Antarctica, where the 86 year old became the oldest man to reach the south pole, second man to walk on the moon Buzz Aldrin suffered from fluid on his lungs.

Transferred to a hospital in Christchurch, his treatment is being undertaken by a doctor who happens to share a name with another "starman": the late David Bowie.

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Video: Going to space is definitely one of the coolest things a human could ever do, but damn if it doesn't do a doozy to your body. If you were able to spend time in space, your bones would become brittle, your leg and back muscles would wither away, the back of your eyeballs might flatten and your heart could lose mass and become more spherical. None of that is good.

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Obviously, fire is pretty dangerous. To say fire is pretty dangerous in space, however, is a gross understatement. And that's basically the story of why NASA decided to do some space fire tests, with a range of materials.

Lucky for us (because space fire is ridiculously cool) footage of the tests were released by NASA - and you can watch them here.

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If we ever get proof of past life on Mars, it will come in the form of biosignatures, fingerprints that could only have been left by living organisms. We're a long way from finding that smoking gun evidence, but an analysis of silica minerals discovered by NASA's Spirit rover pushes us one step closer. Because of their similarity to silica deposits shaped by microbial life on Earth, these intriguing Martian minerals are now being called a "potential biosignature".

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Placed on Earth, it would stretch from Washington DC to New York to Denver. Larger than the Grand Canyon, wider and deeper than East Africa's Great Rift Valley, Mercury's newly-discovered "Great Valley" boggles the imagination. But it's more than size that makes this geologic feature remarkable. The Great Valley may be our best evidence that Mercury's entire crust is contracting.

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The men and women who came up with the 88 officially-recognised constellations definitely had richer imaginations than I do. I don't see animals, dragons and centaurs when I look at the night sky, and I'm generally OK with that. Still, when I came across this new celestial map, I got a small taste of the wonder the ancient Greeks must have felt gazing at the stars.