AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-12-30

Twin NASA Probes Have New Year

No matter how exciting your plans are for New Year’s, two NASA spacecraft have you beat – they’ve got a date with the moon. After more than three months of spaceflight, NASA’s twin Grail probes are set to start orbiting the moon this weekend, with Grail-A arriving Saturday (Dec. 31) and Grail-B following on Sunday (Jan. 1). Continue reading

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 2011-09-23

Soyuz Space Capsule Lands Safely With US-Russian Crew

A Russian-built Soyuz space capsule landed safely back on Earth late Thursday (Sept. 15), returning an American astronaut and two cosmonauts home after more than five months in space. The Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft touched down at about 9:59 a.m. Friday local time at their landing site on the steppes of Kazakhstan in central Asia. Continue reading

AstroBlog Follow Friday & Weekly Stumbles For 2011-09-16

The powerful jets of radio waves that can explode from monster black holes at the center of galaxies may erupt from much closer to these giants than previously thought, scientists say. Although black holes entrap anything that falls onto them, a vast amount of energy can radiate outward from matter rushing into the black holes. 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