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Universe Today — Space and astronomy news

Universe Today — Space and astronomy news
The Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule stand ready for launch prior to the detection of a helium leak in one of the engines forcing a scrub of the launch attempt on April 14. 2014 – now reset to April 18, 2014. Credit: NASA and SpaceX are marching forward towards a Friday, April 18 liftoff attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket sending a commercial Dragon cargo craft on the company’s third resupply mission to the International Space Station following the scrubbed launch attempt on Monday, April 14 – forced by the discovery of a Helium gas leak inside the rocket during the latter stages of the countdown. An on time blastoff of the upgraded Falcon 9 sets the stage for an Easter Sunday rendezvous and berthing of the Dragon resupply spacecraft at the massive orbiting outpost packed with almost 5000 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the six person crew. However the weather prognosis is rather [click to continue…] The newly-confirmed extrasolar planet has been dubbed Kepler-186f. Related:  Spacespace

Beyond 2012: Why the World Didn't End Beyond 2012: Why the World Didn't End If you're reading this story, it means the world didn't end on Dec. 21, 2012. Despite reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, a mysterious planet on a collision course with Earth, or a reverse in Earth's rotation, we're still here. The Mayan connection "was a misconception from the very beginning," says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. "The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date." › Read More About the Mayans Video: Why The World Didn't End Yesterday For years leading up to the supposed apocalypse, NASA scientists worked to dispel the myths and answer questions on a host of 2012 topics: Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012? Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012? A: Absolutely not.

NASA develops 3D printing factory in space News: NASA is developing an orbiting factory that will use 3D printing and robots to fabricate giant structures such as antennas and solar arrays of up to a kilometre in length, as part of its ongoing search for extra-terrestrial life. The US space agency this week announced it was awarding technology firm Tethers Unlimited Inc (TUI) a $500,000 contract to develop the facility. The NASA funding - a second-phase contract that follows an initial contract issued earlier this year - will allow TUI to continue work on its SpiderFab technology, which allows large-scale spacecraft components to be built in space, avoiding the expense of building the components on earth and transporting them into space using rockets. “On-orbit fabrication allows the material for these critical components to be launched in a very compact and durable form, such as spools of fiber or blocks of polymer, so they can fit into a smaller, less expensive launch vehicle.” Said TUI CEO and chief scientist Dr Rob Hoyt.

smOnline | The online manifestation of MetroCosm What does it take to wipe out more than 90 per cent of all the life on Earth... and how long would it take to do it? It seems all you need are greenhouse gas-belching volcanoes and about 60,000 years THROUGHOUT ITS 3.8bILLION-YEAR HISTORY, life on Earth has faced more than its fair share of challenges, set backs and catastrophes. That’s not to say that life laughs in the face of adversity – it has been pushed to brink of annihilation several times in its long history (most famously by the asteroid that ended the reign of the dinosaurs), but perhaps the closest life ever came to total obliteration was 251million years ago. At the end of the Permian period, the Earth was visited by an environmental catastrophe so extreme that the land was left with just 30 per cent of its inhabitants still standing (or crawling, or growing roots) and the oceans were stripped of 96 per cent of its marine life.

50 Years of Incredible Space Images From the European Southern Observatory | Wired Science This week marks the 50th anniversary of one of the world’s leading astronomical institutions, the European Southern Observatory. In honor of ESO’s birthday, we take a look at some of its most stunning shots of the night sky, amazing objects in space, and the organization's beautiful telescope facilities. ESO started when astronomers from five European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden – came together on Oct. 5, 1962 to build a telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. Having a large telescope south of the equator gave these member states access to unprecedented clear skies and celestial objects that simply can’t be seen from the Northern Hemisphere, such as the Magellanic Clouds. Over the decades, many more countries have joined, including Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Finland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Austria, and, in 2010, Brazil, which became the first non-European state to join. Above: Image: ESO/J.

Nasa-backed space spider concept to build giant satellites in orbit Space is a place for finished products. The satellites we send into orbit are checked, rechecked and then triple checked to make sure that nothing will fail. That finished product is then neatly folded, packed away atop a giant rocket, and blasted off into orbit. But one company in the US, recently awarded $500,000 (£320,000) by Nasa, wants to change this paradigm. Tethers Unlimited wants to change the way we think about the things we put into space. In their words, they want to "launch the process, not the product". Introducing SpiderFab, a potentially revolutionary idea for constructing satellites and other piece of kit in orbit, instead of building them on Earth and launching them ready-made. "What we're working towards is enabling a satellite to fabricate and integrate large components on orbits," Rob Hoyt, CEO and Chief Scientist of Tethers Unlimited. Hoyt thinks there's a better way. "It's kind of like the process by which a spider builds a web," says Hoyt. - Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine Space Science Stories to Watch in 2014 Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter Orion moves towards its first EFT-1 spaceflight later this year. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times,” and 2013 certainly fit the bill in the world of spaceflight and space science. But it’s a brave new world out there. An artist’s conception of ESA’s Rosetta and Philae spacecraft approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta to Explore a Comet: On January 20, 2014, the European Space Agency will hail its Rosetta spacecraft and awaken it for its historic encounter with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko later this year in August. The October 19th, 2014 passage of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Springs past Mars. A1 Siding Springs vs. A recent tweet from @NewHorizons_2015, a spacecraft that, ironically, launched just weeks before Twitter in 2006. The LIGO Livingston Observatory. An artist concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars. About David Dickinson