Space Hub

Virgin Galactic Space Tourism Vehicle Makes Highest Flight Yet: VIDEO


Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo commercial aircraft has successfully completed yet another test flight, according to LiveLeak, this time achieving an altitude of 71,000 feet, 2,000 feet higher than their previous record. The latest in a series of exciting developments, the flight on January 10th indicated that Virgin Galactic is on schedule to begin providing commercial space flight by the end of 2014. Projects like this make anything seem possible, but would you want to travel into space? 

Check out an awesome video of the flight (and picture yourself on board!), AFTER THE JUMP...

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'Hand of God' Photo Captured by NASA Telescope



NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array released an image of a dead star Friday nicknamed the "Hand of God," renewing debate about religion and astronomy.

It may look like an X-ray from the doctor's office.

But it's actually an enormous cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded an estimated 17,000 light years away.

"We don't know if the hand shape is an optical illusion," McGill University's Hongjun An said in a statement from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) Mission.

The object is known as a pulsar wind nebula.

Dubbed PSR B1509-58 (B1509 for short), it measures about 12 miles in diameter and spins around at a brisk seven times per second.

As the dead star spins, it spews particles "upheaved during the star's violent death," according to NuSTAR.

One of the big mysteries is whether the pulsar particles are interacting with material ejected from the star in a specific way to make it look like a hand, or if the material is in fact shaped like a hand, NASA said in a statement.

Launched in June 2012, the NuSTAR space telescope is tasked with observing black holes, dead and exploded stars and "other extreme objects," according to NuSTAR.

Gemini Planet Imager Captures Its First Direct Picture of an Extrasolar Planet: PHOTO


Teams at the Gemini Observatory in Chile announced the functionality of their long-awaited Gemini Planet Imager by releasing the above picture, the first in what is expected to become a string of exoplanet images from across the galaxy. Gizmodo reports:

Acquired by the world's most powerful planet-hunting instrument, the Gemini Planet Imager, it shows a 10-million-year-old planet called Beta Pictorus orbiting its giant parent star [at a distance of 63 light years from Earth]. It's the first such image to come from Gemini, which has been under development for over a decade but is only now producing data like this.

The Imager detects infrared radiation to readily spot young planets, whose post-formation afterglow is in that part of the spectrum, while masking light emitted by parent stars that can often interfere with images.

While only around a dozen exoplanets have been directly photographed to date, the Gemini’s advanced technology is enabling its team to already begin analyzing 600 other young stars and the planets that surround them.

The Imager has also taken some impressive shots of polarized light of stars and Jupiter's moon Europa. Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Check Out China's Historic Moon Landing and 'Jade Rabbit' Rover Deployment: VIDEO

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After a successful landing on Saturday, China became the third country, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. It was the first "soft landing" on the moon since 1976.

Then, early Sunday morning, Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center commanded the lander's 'Jade Rabbit' rover to roll onto the lunar surface to begin its mission conducting geological surveys.

Check out awesome footage of both events, AFTER THE JUMP...

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The Earth and Moon as Seen by the Passing Juno Spacecraft: WATCH

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NASA's Juno spacecraft, which flew past us back in October, captured this stunning footage of the Earth and Moon as it began its approach.

The spacecraft's flyby was to utilize a gravity assisted speed boost so that it can reach its ultimate target, Jupiter, on July 4, 2016.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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NASA's Morpheus Lander and Valkyrie Superhero Robot Step Out in Flashy Sci-Fi Style: VIDEO


NASA's Morpheus lander, which crashed and burned back in August of 2012 and has been outshone by the similar vertical Grasshopper from Elon Musk's space corporation SpaceX, completed its first successful test flight this week at Kennedy Space Center.

According to NASA:

The 54-second test began with the Morpheus lander launching from the ground over a flame trench and ascending approximately 50 feet, then hovering for about 15 seconds. The lander then flew forward and landed on its pad about 23 feet from the launch point.

Project Morpheus integrates NASA's automated landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) with an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, or "green" propellants, into a fully operational lander that could deliver cargo to asteroids and other planetary surfaces. Morpheus and ALHAT are examples of the partnerships that exist within the agency since seven of the 10 NASA centers have contributed time, energy and resources to both.

Also, NASA's Johnson Space Center unveiled a  6-foot tall, 275-pound humanoid robot.

Writes Gizmodo:

Valkyrie's two cannon-like arms are interchangeable, and its legs are designed to walk over rough, uneven terrain. It's equipped with cameras on its head, body, forearms, knees, and feet, not to mention with additional LIDAR and sonar units. While it operates via remote right now, the ultimate goal is to make Valkyrie as autonomous as possible. It's hard not to see that glowing circle in the center of its chest and not think about Iron Man.

Watch the lander and the robot in action, AFTER THE JUMP...


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