NASA Tests Supersonic Parachute For Mars 2020 Rover Landing

Landing on Mars is difficult and not always successful. A fair number of missions to the Martian surface have failed, even some launched by the U.S. But we’ve been on something of a roll since 2003 with four consecutive successes: the Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix and Curiosity all landed safe and sound. Tingly-good animation of Curiosity…
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A Beguiling Crescent-Planet Rendezvous / My New Book

Will we ever get bored of looking at crescent moons? No way. There can never be too many. Lots of times, crescents meet planets and booya, we get a pretty pairing called a conjunction. That happens tonight when the 2-day-old moon joins Saturn and Mercury low in the southwestern sky at dusk. The moon will…
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Interstellar Interloper 1I/’Oumuamua Gone Forever

Back in October, astronomers discovered the first known interstellar object passing through our solar system. Interstellar meaning that it came from another planet around another star and was somehow ejected into space.Here in our neck of the woods that likely happened when Jupiter and Saturn migrated across the solar system some half-billion years after its formation, scattering…
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Newfound Planet Only 11 Light Years Away Could Support Life

Planets, planets everywhere and here and there an Earth. Astronomers announced the discovery this week of a new, temperate Earth-sized planet only 11 light years away orbiting the star Ross 128 in the constellation Virgo. After Proxima b, the planet circling Proxima Centauri in the Alpha Centauri triple star system, it’s the closest, potentially life-friendly…
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China’s Tiangong 1 Space Station Expected To Burn Up In Early 2018

Better watch your back in 2018. China’s 8½ ton Tiangong 1 (Chinese for “heavenly palace”) space station will make an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere sometime early next year. While friction with the air will vaporize most of the craft, it’s likely that some of the larger, denser pieces will survive the plunge despite temperatures in…
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