National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

8:31am

Fri August 16, 2013
Science

Kepler Space Telescope Is Beyond Repair, NASA Says

An artist's illustration of Kepler-22b, a planet that circles its star in the "goldilocks" zone.
Ames/JPL-Caltech/NASA Getty Images

There's some sad news from NASA: The space agency says its Kepler space telescope is beyond repair.

The $600 million planet-hunting probe whose mission was to search other solar systems for Earth-like planets has lost its ability to keep its gaze on target.

Two of the four gyroscope-like reaction wheels that keep Kepler pointed in the right direction have broken down and can't be fixed, but NASA is still hoping it can find some less-stressful work for the orbiting observatory.

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12:27pm

Thu August 8, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. 'Space Fence' Will Cease To Operate, Site Says

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 2:54 pm

A rendering of objects currently in Low Earth Orbit (not illustrated to scale). According to NASA, "approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites."
NASA

A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.

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10:44am

Thu August 8, 2013
Science

NASA: Sun Getting Ready For A 'Field Flip'

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 1:05 pm

NASA/SDO

Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.

The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.

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1:28pm

Mon August 5, 2013
Space

No Tax Dollars Went To Make This Space Viking Photo

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 2:02 pm

The Vikings Have Landed: Photographer Ved Chirayath staged this photograph in Palo Alto Foothills Park in California last December.
Courtesy of Ved Chirayath

Scrutinizing the books of government agencies can turn up lavish parties or illicit trips at the taxpayers' expense. But not every investigation turns out that way. And when they don't, the hunt for waste can appear to be a waste itself.

Such appears to be the case with a recent inquiry involving NASA and Viking re-enactors. This whole saga began with an idea from Ved Chirayath, an aeronautics graduate student at Stanford University who loves photography. He was talking over what to shoot one day with a colleague, and thought of Vikings.

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11:19am

Mon August 5, 2013
The Two-Way

Goodbye Earth! What Messenger Saw On Its Way To Mercury

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 12:48 pm

Earth as seen by the Messenger spacecraft.
NASA

For its "Astronomy Picture of the Day," NASA is featuring a time-lapse video of what Earth looked like from the Messenger spacecraft as it left its home planet in August of 2005 for its mission to Mercury, our solar system's innermost planet:

NASA explains:

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