Tagged With nasa

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On Wednesday, Earthlings were shocked — and certainly relieved — to finally get a push notification about planetary discovery, not political corruption. News broke that an international team of scientists had spied seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the nearby star TRAPPIST-1. Three of those planets are located in the habitable zone, where liquid water might form. NASA, the unofficial conductor of this hype train, is doing everything in its power to drum up public excitement — including building a mythology for TRAPPIST-1 that blends science fact and fiction.

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Today NASA announced that a team of scientists has confirmed seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a star located just 39 light-years away from our Sun. The six inner planets are very likely to be rocky, are roughly the same mass as Earth, and are thought to have comparable surface temperatures to our own planet. Three of the planets may even be able to support liquid water and perhaps, life.

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"It's bullshit," Alan Stern, principle investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, has said about the demotion of Pluto from the ranks of official planet status. Now Stern is heading up a team of NASA scientists who have proposed a new definition of planets that would do more than just reinstate the icy dwarf planet with the big heart to its former glory.

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Today, SpaceX was to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Launch Complex 39A for the first time. The mission was originally scheduled to happen last year from a different NASA platform but was rescheduled after a Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad. Unfortunately, SpaceX was forced to push the launch to tomorrow.

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On Saturday, February 18, a SpaceX Dragon capsule will shuttle a superbug into space that kills more Americans each year than emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's Disease and homicide combined: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA. It's on behalf of a study conducted by NASA and biomedicine company Nanobiosym, but I can't help but feel like this was Elon Musk's idea for a science fiction spec he's working on.

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For years, space poop has been handled by NASA the old-fashioned way — nappies. But as the agency gears up to send humans into deep space, it needs a new method that can handle an emergency situation in which an astronaut may have to go longer periods in a poop-filled suit. Today, the ingenious winners were announced.

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After much anticipation, NASA has finally released a shortlist of landing sites for its Mars rover mission slated for July 2020. The three finalists are Northeast Syrtis, which may have been warmed by volcanic activity; the Jezero Crater, which could be the remnants of a Martian lake; and Columbia Hills, which NASA's Spirit lander explored in early-to-mid 2000s. Though Jezero is reportedly the favourite among NASA scientists, in this case, it's the underdog that could be our best shot at finding hints at past or present life on the Red Planet — which is exactly what the 2020 mission seeks to do.

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Who would have guessed a little slice of Westeros would make its way to the final frontier? On Saturday, February 18, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry NASA's "three-eyed" Raven technology module to its destination just outside the International Space Station (ISS). Once there, Raven will use its sensors to collect information about incoming and outgoing spacecrafts so that, ultimately, NASA can develop navigation technology for autonomous rendezvous in space — something that's a lot easier said than done.