Scientists who study Earth, the sun and stars have long used high-altitude scientific balloons to carry their telescopes far into the stratosphere for a better view of their targets. Not so much for planetary scientists. That's because they needed a highly stable, off-the-shelf-type system that could accurately point their instruments and then track planetary targets as they moved in the solar system.
Space rocks hitting Mars excavate fresh craters at a pace of more than 200 per year, but few new Mars scars pack as much visual punch as one seen in a NASA image released today.
Given NASA's unique needs for highly customized spacecraft and instrument components, additive manufacturing, or "3-D printing," offers a compelling alternative to more traditional manufacturing approaches.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover reached the edge of a dune on Jan. 30 and photographed the valley on the other side, to aid assessment of whether to cross the dune.
While the origin of life remains mysterious, scientists are finding more and more evidence that material created in space and delivered to Earth by comet and meteor impacts could have given a boost to the start of life. Some meteorites supply molecules that can be used as building blocks to make certain kinds of larger molecules that are critical for life.
The team operating NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is considering a path across a small sand dune to reach a favorable route to science destinations. A favorable route would skirt some terrain with sharp rocks considered more likely to poke holes in the rover's aluminum wheels.
A storm of stars is brewing in the Trifid nebula, as seen in this view from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The stellar nursery, where baby stars are bursting into being, is the yellow-and-orange object dominating the picture. Yellow bars in the nebula appear to cut a cavity into three sections, hence the name Trifid nebula.
An exceptionally close stellar explosion discovered on Jan. 21 has become the focus of observatories around and above the globe, including several NASA spacecraft. The blast, designated SN 2014J, occurred in the galaxy M82 and lies only about 12 million light-years away.
Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and a suite of other telescopes to reveal one of the most powerful black holes known. The black hole has created enormous structures in the hot gas surrounding it and prevented trillions of stars from forming.
On Jan. 24, 2014, Marilia Samara will be waiting for the perfect aurora. Samara and her science team will be at the Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska, looking for classic curls in the aurora in the night sky – curls that look like cream swirling in a cup of coffee.
NASA has received 58 proposals for science and exploration technology instruments to fly aboard the agency's next Mars rover in 2020, twice the usual number submitted for instrument competitions in the recent past, and an indicator of the extraordinary interest in exploration of the Red Planet.
Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans.
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and its recent tracks from driving in Gale Crater appear in an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Dec. 11, 2013.
This new Hubble image shows the spiral galaxy Messier 83, otherwise known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy. One of the largest and closest barred spirals to us, this galaxy is dramatic and mysterious; it has hosted a large number of supernova explosions, and is thought to have a double nucleus lurking at its core.
The latest tool for checking space weather is an internet radio station fed by data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The radio station essentially operates in real time, receiving measurements of how much radiation the spacecraft is experiencing and converting those into a constant stream of music.
A bright, long duration flare may be the first recorded event of a black hole destroying a star in a dwarf galaxy. The evidence comes from two independent studies using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes.
Swirling, stormy clouds may be ever-present on cool celestial orbs called brown dwarfs. New observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that most brown dwarfs are roiling with one or more planet-size storms akin to Jupiter's "Great Red Spot."
An international team of astronomers, using NASA's Fermi observatory, has made the first-ever gamma-ray measurements of a gravitational lens, a kind of natural telescope formed when a rare cosmic alignment allows the gravity of a massive object to bend and amplify light from a more distant source.
Fourteen mountain peaks on Earth stand taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). The tallest of these “eight-thousanders” is Mount Everest, the standard to which all other mountains are compared. The Nepalese name for the mountain is Sagarmatha: “mother of the universe.”
The second year of an unprecedented balloon campaign in Antarctica has just begun. The NASA-funded mission – called the Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses, or BARREL – is led by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. The mission is unique, as it relies not on one gigantic balloon, but on many smaller ones, 20 in total.