SpaceX Brings Astronauts Home Safely in a Historic First

During the descent, the capsule’s heat shield experienced temperatures above 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit as it used the atmosphere as a brake to reduce its speed from 17,000 to just 350 miles per hour. Once the capsule was about three miles above the surface—half the cruising altitude of a passenger jet—it deployed its small drogue parachutes […]

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NASA Just Launched Its New Perseverance Rover to Mars

Perseverance will enter the tenuous Martian atmosphere going more than 10,000 miles per hour, which means that as it slices through the air it will experience temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. “The heat shield really takes the brunt of hitting the atmosphere,” says Tice of the lander’s protective structure. But if it works as […]

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China’s First Mars Rover Launch Could Make History

For the last 20 years, the only sign of activity on Mars was a succession of NASA-built rovers slowly rolling across the barren desert landscape. Today, only one of these rovers—Curiosity—is still operational. But in just a few months it will have some new wheeled visitors. One of them is Curiosity’s descendant. It’s called Perseverance, […]

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How NASA Built a Self-Driving Car for Its Next Mars Mission

Matthies has helped build the visual navigation systems for every rover that’s ever gone to Mars. Aside from Sojourner, NASA’s first rover on the Red Planet, all of its mobile explorers have used a combination of stereo vision and visual odometry to get around. But what makes Perseverance special is that it has dedicated hardware […]

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The Hunt Is On for Elusive Ghost Particles in Antarctica

Unlike light and other forms of radiation produced by these galaxies, a neutrino doesn’t lose its energy as it travels through space, since it doesn’t interact with other matter. This makes neutrinos extremely difficult to detect, but it also makes them the best way to study exotic celestial objects like quasars and blazars that are […]

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What’s Next for SpaceX’s Crewed Mission to the ISS?

For missions that send satellites to orbit, a rocket can launch within a predetermined window that might be anywhere from a few minutes to several hours long. The launch window is mostly determined by the spacecraft’s destination and operating requirements. But having a wide window helps when there’s spotty weather on the ground; if things […]

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Virgin Orbit’s Air-Launched Rocket Failed Its First Test

On Monday afternoon, a Boeing 747 with a bright red tail emblazoned with “VIRGIN” departed from Mojave Air and Space Port. Tucked under its port side wing was LauncherOne, a liquid-fueled rocket loaded with a dummy payload. The plane—known as Cosmic Girl—was headed for a patch of airspace over the Pacific just off the California […]

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