space

Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, a man-made object was flung at a comet Wednesday — and now it's sticking to the rock as it hurtles through space.

"We are on the comet," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager, announced Wednesday, marking a historic achievement.

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

KUOW Photo/Jimmy Lovaas

Tonight is the first night in the new moon’s cycle, which means the moon is almost completely dark.

That’s great news if you want to look at the night sky through a telescope.

”Full moons are really disastrous for observing because they light up all the atmosphere, they’re very bright. It’s one of the worst light polluters,” said Jonathan Fay.

Space is a dangerous place. That message resonated again on Monday, when the Russian Federal Space Agency — Roscosmos — announced that a team of experimental geckos tasked with copulating while in orbit did not survive their journey.

"All geckos, unfortunately, died," the space agency said in a terse statement.

Roscosmos is launching an investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the geckos' deaths, but the mission seemed star-crossed from the start.

Flickr Photo/NASA Goddard Photo (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with astrophysics professor Adam Frank about what a plasma cloud is, the chances of one hitting Earth and what that means for our civilization. Spoiler: All the answers are scary. 

After a decade of travel, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft arrived at a comet early this morning.

"Ten years we've been waiting in the car to get to scientific Disneyland," ESA's Mark McCaughrean said. "It's a wonderful moment."

In November of 1969, astronaut Alan Bean became the fourth man to walk on the moon. His mission, Apollo 12, arrived at the moon a few months after Apollo 11 made the first moon landing. That historic event celebrates its 45th anniversary Sunday.

Apollo 12 got off to a dramatic start: A storm rolled in as the rocket was scheduled to launch. Bean, with fellow astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon, sat inside the spacecraft while the bad weather threatened the operation.

A gung-ho group of space enthusiasts has started the process of putting a vintage NASA spacecraft on a new flight path, so that this venerable piece of hardware will be able to do useful science once again.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. The International Space Station is getting a real coffee maker. Not surprisingly, this first-ever, zero-gravity espresso machine is Italian, developed by the coffee company Lavazza. Up until now, astronauts made do with the instant stuff. The brewer should be there in time for the arrival this fall of Italy's first woman astronaut. She tweeted her excitement - I'll get to operate the first space espresso machine. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

This month, NASA revealed new details of the plan to send humans to Mars by 2030. It's an elaborate and expensive mission, involving a giant deep-space rocket, and roping an asteroid into the moon's orbit to use as a stepping stone to Mars.

But there are still some serious questions about a manned expedition to Mars. Namely, is it safe? That's where astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly come in. The Kelly brothers are identical twins, and the only siblings ever to both fly in space.

Twitter Photo/AstrobiologyNAI

Forget selfies, geeks and science. The word of the year is astrobiology.

According to KUOW.org’s web trends, a search for the term "astrobiology" was the way many of you found your way to our website.*

Flickr Photo/NASA HQ Photo

Steve Scher talks to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield about his time on the space station, his viral YouTube video and his new book, "An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth: What Going To Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, And Being Prepared For Anything.”

Defending Earth From Asteroids

Nov 5, 2013
Flickr Photo/Robert Davies

Ross Reynolds talks with Association of Space Explorers' Rusty Schweickart, former astronaut and founder of asteroid defense organization, B612, about defending this planet from space objects.

Sending 3D Printers Into Space

Oct 3, 2013
Flickr Photo/NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA is sending a 3D printer to the space station. Right now, you can make a copy of the Space Needle out of layer upon layer of extruded plastic, or a new jawbone, or a child’s toy. Soon, if an astronaut needs a very specific part, they won’t have to wait for delivery from a space ship. Made In Space Inc. has been contracted by NASA to develop a 3D printer.

Michael Chen, chief strategy officer for Made In Space Inc., explains how they're designing the new technology. The Made In Space 3D printer will be launched for another test into space on a SpaceX rocket flight next year. If it works, the printer is expected to be delivered to the International Space Station in 2015.

If you’re pondering what to do this weekend consider the shining reviews coming in for the movie "Gravity" with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Here’s Seattle film writer David Chen with his take on "Gravity."

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