Laser instrument on NASA Mars Rover tops 100,000 zaps

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has passed the milestone of 100,000 shots fired by its laser. It uses the laser as one way to check which chemical elements are in rocks and soils.

Glimpsing the infrastructure of a gamma-ray burst jet

A new study using observations from a novel instrument provides the best look to date at magnetic fields at the heart of gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic explosions in the universe. An international team of astronomers from Britain, Slovenia and Italy has glimpsed the infrastructure of a burst's high-speed jet.

Supernova blast provides clues to age of binary star system

Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed faint remnants of a supernova explosion and helped researchers determine Circinus X-1 -- an X-ray binary -- is the youngest of this class of astronomical objects found to date.

Hubble traces subtle signals of water on hazy worlds

Using the powerful­ eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets. The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

Blue Origin test-fires new rocket engine

NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., announced it has tested a new, hydrogen- and oxygen-fueled engine designed to lift the company's crewed Space Vehicle on future missions out of Earth's atmosphere. Blue Origin is one of the American companies developing next generation rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying humans to low-Earth orbit.

The mystery of neutron stars heats up

Until now, scientists were pretty sure they knew how the surface of a neutron star – a super dense star that forms when a large star explodes and its core collapses into itself – can heat itself up. However, research by a team of scientists led by a Michigan State University physicist has researchers rethinking that theory.

Smaller black holes can eat plenty

Observations of a black hole powering an energetic X-ray source in a galaxy some 22 million light-years away could change our thinking about how some black holes consume matter.

A fiery drama of star birth and death

Located only about 160 000 light-years from us (eso1311) in the constellation of Dorado (The Swordfish), the Large Magellanic Cloud is one of our closest galactic neighbours.

Helping China to the moon

Shortly after China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft departed Earth to land on the Moon, ESA’s network of tracking stations swung into action, providing crucial support for the vessel’s five-day lunar cruise.

Report: Search for habitable planets should be more conservative

Scientists should take the conservative approach when searching for habitable zones where life-sustaining planets might exist, according to James Kasting, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State, including when building Terrestrial Planet Finders.

Our Galaxy takes its food in pills

The Galaxy has been making stars for the last 8 billion years. What’s kept it going all that time? When old stars die, some of their gas goes back into the galactic “soup” for star making. But in the long run a lot of it gets locked up in long-lived dwarf stars.

Do black holes come in size medium?

Black holes can be petite, with masses only about 10 times that of our sun -- or monstrous, boasting the equivalent in mass up to 10 billion suns. Do black holes also come in size medium? NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is busy scrutinizing a class of black holes that may fall into the proposed medium-sized category.

Ancient minerals: Which gave rise to life?

Life originated as a result of natural processes that exploited early Earth's raw materials. Scientific models of life's origins almost always look to minerals for such essential tasks as the synthesis of life's molecular building blocks or the supply of metabolic energy.

Mach 1000 shock wave lights supernova remnant

When a star explodes as a supernova, it shines brightly for a few weeks or months before fading away. Yet the material blasted outward from the explosion still glows hundreds or thousands of years later, forming a picturesque supernova remnant. What powers such long-lived brilliance?

Curiosity resumes science ops after analysis of voltage issue

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed full science operations on Saturday, Nov. 23. Activities over the weekend included use of Curiosity’s robotic arm to deliver portions of powdered rock to a laboratory inside the rover. The powder has been stored in the arm since the rover collected it by drilling into the target rock "Cumberland" six months ago. Several portions of the powder have already been analyzed. The laboratory has flexibility for examining duplicate samples in different ways.

Black hole birth captured by cosmic voyeurs

Intelligent telescopes designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory got a front row seat recently for an unusual birth.

What might recyclable satellites look like?

No matter how painstakingly we choose the materials to build satellites, once a mission is over they are just so much junk. But what if one day they could be recycled in space for future missions – perhaps as construction material, fuel or even food?

NASA's portrait of global winds

High-resolution global atmospheric modeling provides a unique tool to study the role of weather within Earth’s climate system. NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS-5) is capable of simulating worldwide weather at resolutions as fine as 3.5 kilometers.

Infant galaxies merge near 'cosmic dawn'

Astronomers using the combined power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile and NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have discovered a far-flung trio of primitive galaxies nestled inside an enormous blob of primordial gas nearly 13 billion light-years from Earth. It's possible the trio will eventually merge into a single galaxy similar to our own Milky Way.

How to cook a comet

A comet's journey through the solar system is perilous and violent. A giant ejection of solar material from the sun could rip its tail off. Before it reaches Mars -- at some 230 million miles away from the sun -- the radiation of the sun begins to boil its water, the first step toward breaking the comet apart.