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NASA wants to visit celestial bodies we've never been to before, so it has started testing a precise landing system that will first be used for future trips to Mars. The engineers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory used a rocket by Masten Space Systems called XA-0.1B "Xombie" (a reusable test rocket tha...

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March 19, 2015 at 9:07AM
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As much as humanity knows about Mars, the planet is still chock-full of surprises. Just ask NASA: University of Colorado researchers using its MAVEN probe have discovered phenomena in the Martian skies that you would never see on Earth. For one, there are auroras that are so energetic (their elect...

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Here's the first X-class solar flare of 2015, which erupted on March 11th. Here's the good part: it was so powerful it caused radio blackouts in many parts of the globe. According to NASA, it was an X2 flare: an explosion on the sun's surface that's twice as intense as the already huge and uncom...

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NASA's set to test a wing concept it says "may herald (the) future" of electric planes, but it almost looks like a joke -- it has one-third the wing area of a normal aircraft and 18 electric motors. However, the space agency is dead serious about the LEAPTech wing, a joint partnership with two pri...

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"Asteroid hunters." It sounds like some Hollywood blockbuster / straight-to-DVD "classic" that already exists, but now you, yes you, can be one... from your PC. NASA has launched a desktop app that recruits civilians to help identify asteroids from telescope photography, helped by a special astero...

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If all goes well, NASA will finally launch its Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observatories tonight. Comprised of four identical spacecraft (shown above in a clean room), its purpose is to study the magnetic fields around Earth for information on how they connect and disconnect. The MMS is headed...

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Last month, the FAA announced regulations for piloting drones, requiring you to keep your eyes on the unmanned aircraft at all times. Looking to help ease those rules, Excelis is developing an air traffic control system for drones, and it's nearly ready for trials at the Federal Aviation Administr...

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As you might imagine, astronauts typically need to stay laser-focused on their missions -- even a brief distraction could lead to a broken part or some other crisis. They won't have to worry about keeping their eyes (and hands) on the ball if NASA has its way. It's teaming up with Osterhout Design...

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We know: The progress toward NASA using the SLS (or Space Launch System if you aren't into the whole brevity thing) has been painfully slow, starting way back in 2011. Today marks a significant step toward it shooting astronauts into the furthest reaches of space, however -- testing its booster sy...

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You probably know that Mars hasn't always been so barren, but have you wondered what it was like in its heyday? You almost wouldn't recognize it, according to an international team of scientists. They've used six years of atmospheric monitoring to determine that Mars had enough water to form a big...

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Back when the US was in a race against Russia to send the first humans out there, NASA actively toured schools to spread word about what it does. That traveling unit of NASA employees is called the Spacemobile, and the image above is one of its posters. Yup, this really was from the golden age of ...

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The Curiosity rover's drilling career is in danger. Its robotic arm has been having sporadic short circuits ever since late February. Its issues started on February 27th, when a surge of current shut down the the rover while it was processing some samples. After running a couple of tests, NASA pin...

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The largest object in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter is Ceres, an odd, water-rich proto-planet roughly the size of Texas (590 miles in diameter). Scientists have long puzzled about the origin of the bright white spot near the equator, which we recently learned is two bright spots....

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Metals are full of microscopic structures that define properties like strength, but it's hard to figure out how those structures work on Earth, where gravity skews their effects. An experiment aboard the International Space Station may have solved that dilemma, however. By freezing alloys in the s...

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According to environmentalist Lester Brown, droughts are going to be increasingly prevalent over the next few years. At the same time that he was making these claims, however, NASA was activating a spacecraft that it's hoped will do something about that. The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) sat...

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It's no secret that scientists want the Curiosity rover to drill into Mars more often. However, it first has to learn how to drill properly -- until now, it was so aggressive that it sometimes broke the rocks it was trying to sample. Thankfully, NASA has a fix. It recently started testing a new dr...

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Wondering why February has been so mind-numbingly cold? Here's why. NASA's Terra research satellite took a snapshot on February 19th showing that much of the US has been draped in Arctic and Siberian air masses, painting the country white with snow. Even southern cities like Macon, Georgia dipped ...

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Astronauts can't waste their jetpacks' fuel horsing around, lest they run into trouble, Gravity-style. Instead, they practice on board the ISS with a chunky laptop strapped to their head -- for real. That laptop runs a virtual reality simulator through a VR headset that's far more... substantial t...

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