The poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, released Thursday, one month before the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, lists asteroid and comet monitoring as the No. 1 desired objective for the U.S. space program. About two-thirds of Americans call that very or extremely important, and about a combined 9 in 10 say it's at least moderately important.
NASA's Curiosity Rover has detected the highest ever levels of methane in the course of its mission on Mars, an exciting discovery because the gas could point to the existence of microbial life. But the methane could also be produced as a result of interactions between rocks and water.
American businesses will help NASA land astronauts on the Moon in five years and establish a sustainable presence there, as part of the agency's larger Moon to Mars exploration approach. NASA has selected 363 proposals from small businesses and research institutions across 41 states to help advance the types of capabilities needed for those future missions, as well as to support the agency in other areas.
The effective diameter of the Terahertz Space Telescope, Walker says, would be about 25 meters. To put this in perspective, the James Webb Space Telescope--which is slated to launch in 2021, and will be the most sensitive telescope ever sent to space--has an aperture of about 6.5 meters. The price difference is even more dramatic: Walker estimates the inflatable telescope would cost around $200 million to send to orbit, whereas the James Webb telescope is expected to cost about $10 billion by the time it’s launched.
NASA has big plans for its immediate future, including missions to Mars and of course the Moon 2024 effort that was completely unaccounted for in the most recent federal budget. When it comes to science, funding can be hard to come by, and many of NASA’s projects are pricey.
NASA is just over a year away from the launch of the Mars 2020 rover, and all systems are go for the rover’s flying passenger. After completing its flight test early this year, the Mars Helicopter Scout (MHS) is undergoing final preparation and could join the rover this summer. If it works as planned, the MHS will be the first flying machine on another planet.
NASA unveiled an ambitious program Friday to commercialize low-Earth orbit, making way for visits by private-sector astronauts to the International Space Station as early as next year. It would also allow product development and even advertising aboard the space station, along with use of a station docking port for privately financed research and development modules.
Under contracts valued at $253.5 million, NASA is funding three fast-track Moon landers in a programme intended to kick-start private-sector exploration and technology development, key elements in the space agency’s drive to return astronauts to the Moon’s surface in 2024.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been studying the red planet since 2006, making amazing discoveries the whole time. As a testament to how much there still is to learn about Mars, the MRO just spotted signs of a huge volume of water ice on the planet. Scientists believe this may be the remains of Mars’ long-lost ice caps.
The first humans to settle on the moon might need quake-proof housing. Moonquakes recorded during the Apollo missions have been linked to specific cracks on the lunar surface, suggesting that the moon is still tectonically active today.