AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-12-23

Do Newfound Alien Planets Need Better Names?

Astronomers on Tuesday (Dec. 20) announced the discovery of the first two Earth-size alien planets – a historic find for sure, but the newfound worlds didn’t exactly receive historic names. The two alien planets are officially known as Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, a nod to the instrument that detected them, NASA’s prolific Kepler space telescope. Continue reading

AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-12-09

Course Excellent, Adjustment Postponed: Mars Science Laboratory Mission Status Report

Excellent launch precision for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission has forestalled the need for an early trajectory correction maneuver, now not required for a month or more. That first of six planned course adjustments during the 254-day journey from Earth to Mars had originally been scheduled for 15 days after… Continue reading

AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-09-09

The retirement of the space shuttle has sparked a debate about the value of human spaceflight. Some see it as a waste of resources. Robots are better, cheaper alternatives, they say – and robotic missions don’t risk human lives. Others see the ability to fly humans into space as being tied up with national prestige, influence, and soft power. Continue reading

AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-09-02

The International Space Station may have to start operating without a crew in November if Russian engineers don’t figure out soon what caused a recent rocket failure, NASA officials announced today. The unmanned Russian cargo ship Progress 44 crashed just after its Aug. 24 launch to deliver 2.9 tons of supplies to the orbiting lab. Continue reading