Space Science

Japan launches Hayabusa2 asteroid mission

An H-2A rocket blasted off from Japan's picturesque Tanegashima Space Center late Tuesday, boosting an innovative science probe into space for a six-year mission to rendezvous with an asteroid and bring soil samples back to Earth. Read More...

Philae comet lander loses power, drops off line

Trapped in rough, forbidding terrain with its solar panels draped in shadow, the Philae comet lander raced the clock Friday to carry out high-priority science operations, including an attempt to drill into the surface of the nucleus, before exhausting its batteries. Read More...

Philae comet lander bounced into shadows, raising battery fears

When the Philae spacecraft landed on a comet Wednesday, the anchors needed to hold it down in the feeble gravity failed to fire and the lander bounced back into space, soaring more than a half mile before hitting the ground more than a half mile away. Read More...

Rosetta comet lander touches down; status uncertain

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe released a small lander early Wednesday that descended to touchdown on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but it was not immediately clear whether the spacecraft was stable in the feeble gravity. Read More...

Rosetta poised to release comet lander in historic first

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, flying in close formation with a slowly tumbling comet, was on track to release a small lander Wednesday that will attempt an unprecedented touchdown on the boulder-strewn, debris-spewing nucleus. Read More...

Comet's brush with Mars generates 'mind-blowing' meteor shower

Comet Siding Spring's close flyby of Mars last month dumped several tons of primordial dust into the thin martian atmosphere, likely creating a brief but spectacular meteor shower with thousands of shooting stars had any astronauts been there to see it. Read More...

Comet Siding Spring's Mars flyby a boon to science

The red planet's brush with Comet Siding Spring Sunday was a close encounter of the best kind for science, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study a pristine remnant of the solar system's birth 4.6 billion years ago. Read More...

MAVEN healthy, collects initial science data

Initial data from NASA's MAVEN Mars orbiter demonstrates the orbiter's ability to study the red planet's upper atmosphere with the precision required to help map out its structure and evolution.
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Mars spacecraft poised for dramatic comet flyby

An international fleet of five Mars orbiters and two rovers will have ringside seats when a mountain-size comet streaks by on Oct. 19, passing within a scant 87,000 miles of the red planet at a blistering 126,000 mph, NASA scientists said Thursday.
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NuStar discoveres brilliant 'mighty mouse' pulsar

A NASA space telescope studying X-ray emissions from a nearby galaxy has discovered the brightest pulsar ever detected, the fast-spinning remnant of a collapsed star that shines so intensely it was initially mistaken for a massive black hole.
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MAVEN spacecraft brakes into orbit around Mars

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft braked into orbit around Mars Sunday, a major milestone for a $671 million mission find out how much of the martian atmosphere leaked away in the distant past.
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Curiosity reaches Mount Sharp; NASA defends science plan

Responding to criticism from a review panel that questioned the science agenda of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, senior managers Thursday defended the $2.5 billion mission, saying the spacecraft had more than achieved its primary science goals. Read More...

New Horizons probe on track for 2015 Pluto flyby

Eight years outbound from Earth, NASA's New Horizons probe passed the orbit of Neptune Monday, in good health and on course for a high-speed dash past enigmatic Pluto and its large moon Charon next summer.
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Rosetta matches orbits with comet in historic first

After a 10-year, 3.7-billion-mile chase, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft finally caught up with its target Wednesday, firing its main engine to precisely match orbits with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Read More...

ESA's Rosetta probe closes in on comet for historic rendezvous

After a 10-year space odyssey highlighted by four velocity-boosting planetary flybys and a pair of asteroid encounters, Europe's $1.7 billion Rosetta spacecraft finally reaches its target Wednesday, matching orbits with an oddball comet in a historic rendezvous. Read More...

NASA selects instruments for Mars 2020 rover

NASA's next Mars rover will feature state-of-the-art science and technology instruments, including a device to cache rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth and another to extract oxygen from the martian atmosphere, officials said Thursday. Read More...

New techniques, healthy instruments keep Hubble on frontier

A quarter of the century after launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope is still pushing the frontiers of observational astronomy, thanks to the sensitivity of its instruments, the ultra precise way the observatory can be controlled and ingenious new techniques.
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Hubble Space Telescope in good shape 5 years after final servicing

Five years after a final shuttle servicing mission, the Hubble Space Telescope's instruments are operating in near-flawless fashion and while one of its six stabilizing gyros has failed, engineers are optimistic the observatory will operate through the end of the decade. Read More...

Delta 2 boosts NASA environmental satellite into orbit

A workhorse Delta 2 rocket roared to life and climbed away from California coast early Wednesday, boosting an environmental research satellite into orbit on a $468 million mission to precisely measure global carbon dioxide levels, a key factor in climate change. (UPDATED)
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OCO-2 launch scrubbed by launch pad glitch

An attempt to launch an environmental research satellite atop a Delta 2 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, Tuesday was derailed just 45 seconds before the planned liftoff by a glitch in the pad's sound-suppression water system. Read More...

NASA preps environmental satellite for launch

Getting a second chance after a 2009 launch failure, environmental researchers are eagerly awaiting launch early Tuesday of a $468 million mission designed to precisely measure carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere.
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Mars entry test vehicle, parachute recovered; engineers elated

Despite the failure of a huge supersonic parachute to fully inflate during a test flight at the edge of space Saturday, engineers said Sunday they were elated with the otherwise near-flawless performance of a research craft built to study improved aerobraking for Mars landers. Read More...

NASA launches 'flying saucer' for tests of Mars entry technology

A huge high-altitude balloon took off from Hawaii Saturday, gracefully lifting a 3.5-ton flying saucer-shaped Mars research vehicle on a ride to the edge of space for a dramatic rocket-powered test of an inflatable doughnut-like braking system and a huge supersonic parachute. Read More...

Kepler finds Earth-size planet in 'goldilocks' zone

Scientists analyzing data from the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope have chalked up another first, finding an Earth-size world orbiting in the habitable zone of its parent star, researchers announced Thursday.
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Japan launches $1.2 billion weather research satellite

A Japanese H-2A rocket boosted a sophisticated weather research satellite into orbit Thursday, the centerpiece of a $1.2 billion international mission to study global precipitation in a bid to improve climate models, forecasting and understanding of the water cycle. Read More...

Kepler data reveals 715 newly found planets

A statistical analysis of data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope has confirmed the discovery of 715 newly-found planets orbiting 305 stars, pushing to total number of known planets beyond Earth's solar system to nearly 1,700, researchers announced Wednesday.
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NuSTAR sheds light on supernova mechanisms

A space-based X-ray telescope has detected the glow of radioactive titanium created in the catastrophic death throes of a distant star, shedding new light on the mechanisms that may be responsible for destroying massive suns. Read More...

Opportunity Mars rover marks 10 years on the red planet

NASA's solar-powered Opportunity Mars rover, designed to operate for just 90 days on the red planet's cold, dust-shrouded surface, celebrates 10 years of exploration Friday, enduring a few age-related aches and pains but still making valuable observations. Read More...

ESA's Rosetta comet probe wakes up from 2.5-year hibernation

After hibernating for 31 months, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe woke itself up and phoned home Monday, a major milestone in a $1.7 billion attempt to orbit a comet and place a lander on its icy surface. Read More...

China's Chang'e-3 spacecraft lands on moon (UPDATED)

A Chinese spacecraft, carrying a suite of instruments and a small rover named Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit," settled to an on-target touchdown on the moon Saturday, the first such lunar landing in 37 years and a major achievement for the Chinese space program. Read More...

Curiosity findings prompt new search strategy for organics

Studying an ancient lakebed on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover team is now looking for areas where erosion may have uncovered pristine layers in which organic compounds -- and possibly remnant traces of life -- might still be found, scientists said Monday.
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Comet ISON's demise a boon to science

During the final hours of its one and only trip into the inner solar system, Comet ISON almost certainly disintegrated in the hellish glare and crushing grip of the sun, leaving a cloud of debris -- and a treasure trove of data -- in its wake. Read More...

China launches Chang'e-3 lunar lander

A powerful Long March 3B rocket boosted China's first lunar lander into space Sunday, an unmanned mothership that will descend to the surface in mid December and deploy a rover named Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit," for independent scientific observations. Read More...

Comet ISON lives up to reputation for surprises (UPDATED)

After a multi-million-year plunge from the frozen fringes of the solar system, Comet ISON may have broken apart and evaporated in the fierce heat and crushing gravity of the sun before or during a close flyby Thursday, scientist say. Or maybe not. (UPDATED) Read More...

Comet ISON closes in on the sun

Astronomers around the world are closely monitoring Comet ISON's plunge through the inner solar system and awaiting data from a fleet of space telescopes to find out whether the enigmatic chunk of ice will survive a blistering Thanksgiving Day flyby of the sun.
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Rover engineers troubleshoot possible 'soft short'

Science observations by the Curiosity Mars rover are on hold pending tests to pin down the cause of an unexpected voltage change that was detected last Sunday, NASA said in a status report Wednesday. Read More...

MAVEN orbiter launched on 10-month flight to Mars

A new NASA Mars probe began a 10-month voyage to the red planet Monday, blasting off on a $671 million mission to study the martian atmosphere and the cause of a dramatic case of climate change.
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NASA Mars orbiter cleared for launch

NASA's next Mars probe is poised for launch Monday, weather permitting, to kick off a $671 million mission to find out why a good portion of the red planet's atmosphere leaked away ages ago in an extreme case of climate change.
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Stunning Cassini mosaic shows Earth, Mars and Venus

A spectacular panorama of the ringed planet Saturn, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft as it flew through the planet's shadow July 19, was unveiled Tuesday, showing Earth and its two sister planets, Mars and Venus as star-like points of light. Read More...

Kepler finds Earth-size planets commonplace

Data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope indicates one in five sun-like stars likely hosts an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone where life as it is known on Earth can, in theory, exist, scientists say. Read More...

Juno probe in safe mode, but managers optimistic about recovery

NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft went into "safe mode" just 10 minutes after a gravity-assist flyby of Earth Wednesday, but managers said Thursday they are back in touch and the spacecraft appears healthy.
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Jupiter-bound Juno races toward Earth flyby

Returning to its starting point after a loop out beyond the orbit of Mars, NASA's Juno probe raced toward Earth Wednesday for a velocity-boosting flyby, using the planet's gravity to fling the craft on to Jupiter.
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In historic first, Voyager 1 sails into interstellar space

NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, 36 years and 12 billion miles from Earth, has crossed the boundary between the sun's influence and interstellar space, becoming humanity's first true starship, scientists said Thursday.
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NASA launches moon probe to study thin lunar atmosphere

Lighting up the night sky with a trail of fiery exhaust, an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 5 rocket blazed away from the Virginia coast late Friday, boosting a small NASA probe on a trajectory toward the moon. Read More...

NASA preps innovative probe for launch on moon mission

An innovative spacecraft perched atop a five-stage booster is poised for launch from the Virginia coast late Friday on a mission to study the moon's ultra-thin atmosphere look for signs of suspended moon dust. Read More...

NASA studies alternative missions for crippled Kepler

Engineers have concluded NASA's Kepler space telescope will no longer be able to search for Earth-size planets because of trouble with the spacecraft's gyroscopic stabilization system.
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Curiosity Mars rover marks one year on red planet

One year after a nail-biting descent to the surface of Mars, NASA's $2.5 billion Curiosity rover, fresh from confirming the red planet was habitable in the distant past, is making its way to the base of Mount Sharp. Read More...

Cassini captures stunning images of Saturn, rings and distant Earth

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has beamed back spectacular pictures of Saturn, its rings and distant Earth, a "pale blue dot" nearly a billion miles away, as the robot passed behind the ringed planet last Friday.
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Cassini poised to take photo of 'pale blue dot'

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is poised to snap a dramatic portrait of Earth Friday, capturing a mosaic showing humanity's home in space as a pinprick of light just to one side of Saturn's spectacular rings.
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2020 Mars rover to search for evidence of past life

A team of scientists studying possible mission scenarios for a planned 2020 Mars mission modeled on NASA's Curiosity rover has recommended a spacecraft designed to look for traces of past life. Read More...

Pegasus rocket carries sun-study satellite into orbit

A winged Pegasus rocket lifted a compact solar observatory into orbit around Earth's poles Thursday to study the mysterious mechanisms that heat up the sun's outer atmosphere to extreme temperatures. Read More...

Curiosity poised to begin trek to Mount Sharp

Ten months after landing, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is poised to begin the long trek to Mount Sharp, a towering mound of layered rock that is expected to shed new light on the planet's history and habitability.

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Rover data comfirm dangers of space radiation

Future manned missions to Mars will require internal shielding and advanced propulsion systems to shorten transit times, minimizing exposure to caner-causing space radiation, scientists said Thursday. Read More...

Hubble stays relevant on astronomy's high frontier

Despite steady advances in ground-based astronomy, the Hubble Space Telescope remains an icon of world-class science, more productive today than at any point in its history, scientists say. Read More...

Kepler space telescope sidelined by reaction wheel problem

NASA's $600 million Kepler Space Telescope, a leading player in the hunt for Earth-like planets orbiting sun-like stars, has been sidelined by problems with stabilizing gyroscopic reaction wheels. Read More...

Kepler closing in on Earth-like exoplanets

NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered the smallest worlds yet found orbiting in or near the habitable zones of two distant suns, researchers report.
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NASA unveils 2014 budget, touts asteroid capture mission

The Obama administration is requesting $17.7 billion for NASA in its fiscal 2014 budget proposal, including $105 million to begin laying the groundwork for a proposed mission to robotically capture a small asteroid. Read More...

NASA mulls asteroid capture mission, eventual manned visits

NASA is working on plans to robotically capture and tow a small asteroid back to Earth's vicinity by the end of the decade, setting the stage for manned visits in the early 2020s, officials say. Read More...

Initial AMS data consistent with dark matter, but not yet proof

A $2 billion cosmic ray detector attached to the International Space Station has detected positrons that could be the result of dark matter interactions, but scientists say more observations are needed to be sure.
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Dismal weather prompts 24-hour delay for Soyuz landing

Dismal weather in Kazakhstan forced Russian flight controllers to order a one-day landing delay for two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut who are closing out a nearly five-month stay in space. Read More...

Mars rover confirms habitable environment in distant past

Analyzing samples drilled from the interior of a sedimentary rock, the Curiosity Mars rover has detected traces of the chemicals and compounds necessary for a habitable environment in the distant past. Read More...

Curiosity computer swap, troubleshooting, continues

Work to switch operations to a backup flight computer aboard the Curiosity Mars rover is continuing amid analysis to figure out how to fix memory corruption discovered last week in the rover's active computer. Read More...

Engineers assess Curiosity computer glitch (UPDATED)

Space radiation may be to blame for corrupted memory used by the Curiosity Mars rover's flight computer, resulting in software glitches that interrupted the flow of science data Wednesday. Read More...

X-ray telescopes measure black hole rotation, space distortion

An innovative NASA X-ray telescope working in concert with a European Space Agency satellite has measured the rotation of a supermassive black hole lurking at the heart of a distant galaxy. Read More...

Curiosity delivers first drill sample

The Curiosity rover's power drill has successfully collected its first subsurface sample, about a tablespoon of powdered rock that will be fed into the spacecraft's on-board laboratory instruments for detailed analysis. Read More...

Kepler spies smallest exoplanet yet

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered a solar system 210 light years from Earth with the smallest planet yet found orbiting another sun-like star. Read More...

Astronomers eagerly await asteroid flyby

An asteroid a half a football field across is expected to safely pass within just 17,200 miles of Earth on Friday, a record close encounter that will carry it well inside the orbits of communications satellites. Read More...

NASA launches Earth observation satellite

An Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from California Monday and boosted a new Earth-watching Landsat into its planned polar orbit to kick off an $885 million mission to monitor the planet and its resources. (UPDATED) Read More...

In major milestone, Curiosity drills into Mars rock

In a long-awaited milestone, the Curiosity Mars rover successfully drilled into a martian rock, prompting NASA science chief John Grunsfeld to declare the nuclear-powered robot fully operational. Read More...

Study indicates Earth-like planets likely commonplace

A new study indicates some 60 percent of the galaxy's most ubiquitous stars likely host planets smaller than Neptune and about 6 percent host Earth-size worlds orbiting in the so-called "Goldilocks" zone. Read More...

Opportunity Mars rover moves into 10th year of operations

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, with a design life of just 90 days, moves into its 10th year of operations, exploring the rim of Endeavour Crater. Principal Investigator Steve Squyres discusses the mission. Read More...

Mars rover finds more evidence of watery past

Taking their time with a surprising variety of scientific targets, scientists are gearing up to test the Curiosity Mars rover's powerful impact drill before beginning a year-long trek to Mount Sharp some six miles away. Read More...

As planned, moon probes crash into lunar cliff

Going out with a bang, two small NASA probes that flew in formation to precisely map the moon's gravity field crashed into a mile-high mountainside Monday, bringing a successful mission to an abrupt end.
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Successful moon mission set for kamikaze conclusion

Two washing machine-size science probes that have completed their mission to map the lunar gravity field will slam into a mile-high mountainside Monday, bringing a successful mission to a kamikaze conclusion.
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NASA announces new Mars rover

NASA announced plans Tuesday to build and launch a new rover to the red planet in 2020 based on the design of the agency's hugely successful Curiosity. Read More...

Voyager enters unexpected region near edge of interstellar space

NASA's aging Voyager 1 probe has crossed into an unexpected, exceedingly remote region of the solar system that may represent the spacecraft's final step before moving into the vast realm of interstellar space.
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Curiosity detects organics, but more tests needed for conclusive result

NASA's Curiosity rover has found traces of simple organic compounds in a martian soil sample, but more tests are needed to rule out the presence of any lingering earthly contaminants in the rover's science gear. Read More...

NASA spacecraft finds strong evidence for ice on Mercury

NASA's Messenger spacecraft has found strong evidence for vast ice deposits in ultra-cold, permanently shadowed craters near the poles of hellish Mercury, scientists said Thursday.
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Mars rover sparks curiosity, but NASA downplays speculation

NASA is downplaying widespread speculation that one of the Curiosity Mars rover's instruments, designed to look for organic compounds, has made a major discovery. A news conference is planned Monday. Read More...

Mars rover gears up to move on after initial sample collection

Buffeted by ethereal whirlwinds and twisters, the Curiosity Mars rover is wrapping up initial soil analysis operations and preparing to move on in search of suitable targets for a compact rock drill. Read More...

Mars rover sniffs atmosphere, finds no clear signs of methane

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has not found any definitive evidence of methane in the thin air at the Gale Crater landing site, project scientists said Friday, but additional observations are planned.
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Three-man crew blasts off, heads for space station

Two rookie cosmonauts and a NASA shuttle veteran rocketed into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz ferry craft Tuesday and set off after the International Space Station. Read More...

Rover begins soil analysis; scientists ponder bright fragment

The Curiosity Mars rover is processing its first soil sample in an instrument designed to identify the minerals present in soil and rock samples. A small shiny fragment near the rover is thought to be naturally occurring. Read More...

Curiosity gets the scoop on Mars

The Mars Curiosity rover is pausing for a few weeks near fine-grained sand dunes to scoop up soil and run it through the vehicle's sample acquisition system to clean out lingering traces of Earth's environment.
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Mars rover finds ancient streambed frozen in conglomerate rock

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found outcrops of conglomerate rocks made up of eroded gravels that scientists believe were transported across the floor of Gale Crater by a "vigorous" flow of water. Read More...

Hubble 'extreme deep field' captures oldest galaxies yet seen

A two-million-second time exposure using cameras aboard the Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of proto galaxies as they appeared just 450 million years after the big bang. Read More...

Curiosity poised for first 'hands-on' geology

The Curiosity Mars rover, more than halfway to its first scientific destination, is pausing for a few days to carry out its first hands-on geology, focusing on a pyramid-shaped rock known as 'Jake.' Read More...

Curiosity set to resume roving after robot arm tests

Engineers testing the Curiosity Mars rover are wrapping up a series of robot arm calibration and motion tests before resuming a slow trek toward a nearby rock formation this weekend. Read More...

Mars rover pauses for robot arm checkout

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, now about 270 feet from its landing site, is pausing for a week of robot arm tests and checkout before pressing on to Glenelg, an area where three types of rock come together.
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NASA launches twin radiation belt satellites (UPDATED)

An Atlas 5 rocket boosted a pair of heavily shielded satellites into space early Thursday, kicking off a $686 million mission to map out the structure and behavior of the Van Allen radiation belts. Read More...

Mars rover beams back spectacular photos of Mount Sharp

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has beamed back stunning photos of the foothills of Mount Sharp, showing a rugged landscape marked by towering hills and gaping canyons reminiscent of the American Southwest. Read More...

Stormy weather delays Atlas launch; rollback ordered (UPDATED)

A second attempt to launch an Atlas 5 rocket carrying a pair of NASA satellites was called off early Saturday because of nearby thunderstorms. Faced with a dismal forecast, NASA delayed a third try to Aug. 30. Read More...

NASA radiation belt mission delayed 24 hours (UPDATED)

Launch of an Atlas 5 rocket carrying two NASA satellites to study the Van Allen radiation belts was rescheduled for Saturday after engineers resolved an issue with tracking equipment. Read More...

Twin satellites poised for radiation belt mission

Two heavily shielded satellites set for launch early Friday will fly in tandem through Earth's energetic Van Allen radiation belts to probe their structure and how they are affected by solar storms. Read More...

Curiosity takes a spin on Mars

In a major milestone, the Curiosity Mars rover took its first baby steps Wednesday, rolling about 15 feet forward, turning and then backing up to prove the $2.5 billion science lab is, in fact, ready to rove. Read More...

After steering test, Mars rover set for initial test drive

With a broken wind sensor the only problem of any note aboard the Curiosity Mars rover, engineers planned to uplink commands overnight for an initial test drive. Read More...

Curiosity rover flexes robot arm for first time

The Curiosity Mars rover flexed its 7-foot-long robot arm for the first time Monday, moving it through a commanded series of steps to verify the basic operation of the complex appendage.
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NASA plans mission to study hidden interior of Mars

NASA plans to launch a relatively low-cost Mars lander in 2016 that will make a rocket-powered descent to the surface to study the hidden interior of the red planet. Read More...

Rover successfully test fires laser at target rock

The Curiosity rover successfully test fired a powerful laser at a nearby rock Sunday, blasting it with rapid-fire million-watt pulses to vaporize the outer layers for spectroscopic analysis. Read More...

Tentative travel plans for Mars rover unveiled

The Curiosity rover likely will spend the rest of the year working near its landing site in Gale Crater before it heads for the rugged foothills of Mount Sharp, just four-and-a-half miles, but many months, away. Read More...

Rover descent video mashup gives viewers ringisde seat

Intriguing video combines low-resolution descent video from the Curiosity Mars rover with mission control audio and a timeline of major entry, descent and landing events to give viewers a ringside seat. Read More...

Curiosity's software successfully updated; mobility tests on tap

Engineers successfully updated the Curiosity rover's computer software and plan initial tests of the mobile science lab's ability to drive across the martian terrain within the next week or so, officials said Tuesday.
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Obama congratulates Mars rover team

President Obama congratulated the Mars Science Laboratory team Monday for the successful landing of the Curiosity rover, joking that engineers should let him know ASAP if the spacecraft spots any martians. Read More...

Rover's first high-res color frames provide stunning view of Mars

Portions of the Curiosity rover's first high-resolution color panorama were unveiled Saturday, providing stunning vistas of the mountain-like walls of Gale Crater in the hazy distance. Read More...

Slow but rugged, Curiosity computer up to challenge at Mars

The electronic brain controlling NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has far less horsepower than the microchips found in a modern smart phone. But it has one big advantage: it's virtually impervious to high-energy radiation. Read More...

Curiosity prepped for software load, snaps color panorama

In a complex bit of electronic brain surgery, engineers are gearing up to flush landing software from the Curiosity rover's central computer and replace it with programming optimized for surface operations. Read More...

Curiosity's camera mast erected as checkout continues

The Curiosity Mars rover, stepping through a complex post-landing checklist in near flawless fashion, has raised its main camera mast and beamed down razor-sharp navigation camera views of its surroundings. Read More...

Curiosity health checks good; MRO snaps descent photo

The Curiosity Mars rover survived its nail-biting plunge to a pinpoint landing on the floor of Gale Crater in remarkably good shape, engineers said Monday as tests and checkout proceeded. (UPDATED) Read More...

Mars rover lands in Gale Crater, kicking off $2.5 billion mission

In an unparalleled technological triumph, a one-ton nuclear-powered rover the size of a small car was lowered to the surface of Mars late Sunday to kick off an unprecedented $2.5 billion mission. Read More...

Mars Science Lab poised for trail-blazing mission

In a $2.5 billion gamble, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover will attempt a pinpoint landing on the red planet overnight Sunday to search for the chemical building blocks of life and signs of past or present habitability. Read More...

Curiosity relies on untried 'sky crane' for descent to Mars

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will rely on a rocket-powered "sky crane" to lower the car-size rover to the surface, a make-or-break maneuver that solves a host of daunting technical challenges. Read More...

Mars relay sats will confirm rover's landing

During the Curiosity rover's nail-biting descent to Mars, engineers will rely on an aging NASA science satellite to relay telemetry back to Earth that will confirm success or failure in near realtime. Read More...

Engineers study options for realtime data during Mars landing

Problems with a NASA satellite in orbit around Mars could delay confirmation of a successful landing by the agency's Mars Science Laboratory rover, but engineers say that will have no impact on the actual descent. Read More...

NuSTAR X-ray telescope launched on mission to search for black holes

A small X-ray telescope was boosted into orbit by an air-launched Pegasus XL rocket Wednesday, the first step in an ambitious low-cost mission to study supermassive black holes and the creation of heavy elements. Read More...

Mars Science Lab rover on track for August descent to red planet

NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory rover is in good shape and on target for a nail-biting seven-minute plunge to a bulls-eye landing on the red planet in early August, mission managers said Monday.
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NASA's 2013 budget cuts Mars missions, boosts manned space initiatives

The Obama administration is requesting $17.7 billion for NASA in its fiscal 2013 budget, boosting spending for commercial manned space flight while reducing the scope of Mars exploration.
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Twin GRAIL spacecraft achieve lunar orbit (UPATED)

Ringing in the new year with back-to-back successes, a second NASA science satellite slipped into orbit around the moon Sunday, one day after an identical spacecraft braked into the same polar orbit. Read More...

Earth-like planet in habitable zone found in Kepler data

For the first time, astronomers using NASA's Kepler space telescope have confirmed a roughly Earth-size planet orbiting a sun-like star in the habitable zone where conditions may be favorable for life as it is known on Earth.
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Atlas 5 rocket boosts Mars Science Lab toward red planet

A towering Atlas 5 rocket flashed to life and vaulted into space Saturday, putting on a spectacular show as it boosted NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover on an eight-and-a-half-month voyage to the red planet. Read More...

NASA Mars launch delayed one day to replace suspect battery

Launch of NASA's $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory rover atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has been delayed one day, from Friday to Saturday, to replace a battery in the booster's self-destruct system.
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Next-generation $1.5 billion weather satellite launched

A Delta 2 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base early Friday, boosting a $1.5 billion weather satellite into space to improve both short-range forecasting and understanding of long-term climate change.
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German X-ray space telescope falls back to Earth (UPDATED)

An out-of-service German space telescope apparently plunged back into the atmosphere late Saturday. Experts predicted much of its heat-resistant 1.7-ton X-ray mirror and carbon composite support structure would survive re-entry to hit the ground, but there was no immediate confirmation. Read More...

Survey finds fewer near-Earth asteroids than previously believed

Analysis of data collected by a NASA infrared space telescope shows there are fewer near-Earth asteroids than previously believed, scientists said Thursday. But most of the nearly 20,000 bodies have yet to be detected. Read More...

Spotting UARS re-entry will require patience -- and lots of luck (UPDATED)

Amateur satellite trackers hoping to catch a glimpse of NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite when it plunges into the atmosphere Friday will need patience, clear skies and a large helping of luck, experts say. Read More...

Kepler spacecraft discovers planet orbiting binary star system

NASA's Kepler space telescope, searching for planets around distant suns, has found a Saturn-size world orbiting a pair of stars 200 light years from Earth, the first discovery of a "circumbinary" planet. Read More...

NASA launches dual satellite moon mission

A Delta 2 rocket blasted off Saturday and successfully boosted two NASA science satellites into space to kick off an ambitious $496 million mission to map the moon's gravity and internal structure.
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GRAIL moon launch delayed to Saturday (UPDATED)

Launch of a Delta 2 rocket carrying twin satellites designed to precisely map the moon's gravity has been delayed to Saturday because of high winds aloft and a potential issue with the rocket's propulsion system. Read More...

GRAIL set for launch on innovative moon mission, weather permitting

A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket is on track for launch Thursday, weather permitting, to kick off a $496 million mission to precisely map the moon's gravitational field. Read More...

Lunar orbiter beams back closeup views of Apollo landing sites

NASA unveiled new closeup views of three Apollo landing sites Tuesday, clearly showing the footprints of visiting astronauts, the lower stages of the lunar landers and the tracks left behind by a dune buggy-like rover. Read More...

Curiosity Mars rover completes key pre-launch tests

NASA's $2.4 billion Mars Science Laboratory has completed an exhaustive series of functional tests to verify the car-size rover's readiness for launch in November on an eight-and-a-half-month voyage to the red planet .
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Juno launched on long voyage to Jupiter (UPDATED)

A powerful Atlas 5 rocket roared to life Friday and successfully launched NASA's Juno probe on a five-year voyage to Jupiter, the first step in a $1.1 billion mission to look for clues about the origins of the solar system. Read More...

NASA satellite spots signs of flowing salt water on Mars

A NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars has detected signs of what appear to be seasonal flows of salty water on the surface of the red planet during warmer summer months, researchers said Thursday.
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Dawn rises on Vesta: NASA unveils spectacular photos of cratered asteroid

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, now in orbit around the asteroid Vesta, is beaming back a treasure trove of data about one of the solar system's most ancient bodies. Read More...

Juno set for launch on five-year voyage to Jupiter

NASA is readying the $1.1 billion Juno probe for launch Aug. 5 on a five-year voyage to Jupiter to kick off a challenging one-year mission to answer key questions about the formation and evolution of the solar system. Read More...

President Obama congratulates shuttle crew, vows 'exciting new era' of exploration

President Barack Obama called the International Space Station Friday to congratulate the shuttle Atlantis' crew on NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission, vowing an "exciting new era" of space exploration. Read More...

X-ray telescope spots massive black holes in early universe

NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory satellite has detected super massive black holes in the dusty cores of numerous galaxies that formed within a billion years of the big bang birth of the universe. Read More...

NASA, Argentina launch oceanography satellite

A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket carrying a sophisticated oceanography satellite blasted off Friday on a long-awaited mission to monitor the salinity of Earth's oceans. Read More...

Voyager spacecraft shed new light on solar system boundary

NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft, approaching the edge of the solar system, have detected signs of what may be gigantic magnetic bubbles at the interface between the sun's influence and interstellar space. Read More...

Endeavour astronauts set for final spacewalk

The Endeavour astronauts plan to carry out a fourth and final spacewalk Friday to mount the shuttle's no-longer-needed heat shield inspection boom on the International Space Station. Read More...

MESSENGER pictures of Mercury wow scientists

Two weeks after slipping into orbit around Mercury, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is beaming back a steady stream of intriguing pictures. A year-long campaign to map the planet is scheduled to begin Monday. Read More...

MESSENGER spacecraft brakes into orbit around Mercury (UPDATED)

After a six-and-a-half-year journey, NASA's compact MESSENGER probe braked into a looping orbit around hellish Mercury Thursday, becoming the first spacecraft to take up long-term residence around the innermost planet.
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Shuttle Discovery glides to final landing (UPDATED)

The shuttle Discovery glided to a smooth touchdown Wednesday to wrap up the orbiter's 39th and final mission, a milestone marking the beginning of the end for NASA's winged rocketships. Read More...

NASA's Glory satellite lost in $424 million launch failure (UPDATED)

NASA's Glory environmental research satellite crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean Friday in a $424 million launch failure, the second in a row for the Orbital Sciences Taurus XL booster. Read More...

Discovery astronauts set for first spacewalk (preview)

Astronauts Alvin Drew and Stephen Bowen plan to install a backup electrical cable between two space station modules, store a failed ammonia pump module and perform general maintenance during a planned 6.5-hour spacewalk. Read More...

Shuttle crew works through wing, nose cap inspections; rendezvous preps (UPDATED)

The Discovery astronauts are working through a routine but busy day in space, highlighted by inspections of the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels, along with preparations for docking with the space station Saturday (Updated at 12:40 p.m. EST). Read More...

Stardust-NExT zooms past comet Tempel 1 (UPDATED)

NASA's Stardust-NExT spacecraft raced past comet Tempel 1 Monday in a Valentine's Day flyby to map out changes in the icy body since another spacecraft encountered the comet in 2005. Read More...

Stardust-NExT images posted

Images from NASA's Stardust-NExT spacecraft, shot as the probe streaked past comet Tempel 1 late Monday, are being posted on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website. Read More...

NASA unveiils FY 2012 budget

Faced with reduced funding and an uncertain outlook, NASA's $18.7 billion fiscal 2012 budget prioritizes the Obama administration's major goals and objectives but leaves unclear when post-shuttle manned spacecraft might fly. Read More...

Kepler spacecraft detects more than 1,200 possible planets orbiting distant suns

NASA's Kepler space telescope has found more than 1,200 possible planets orbiting distant suns, including 68 roughly Earth-sized worlds, in the initial stages of a three-year project to find out how common Earth-like worlds might be. Read More...

Hubble detects what may be oldest, most distant object ever seen

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found what appears to be a small proto-galaxy 13.2 billion light years away, making it the most distant -- and oldest -- object ever detected. Read More...

Review panel warns of $1.5 billion budget overrun in space telescope project

An independent review panel has found that miscues by NASA management threaten to add $1.5 billion to the cost of the agency's next generation space telescope, a projected overrun that is prompting a shakeup at agency headquarters. Read More...

NASA spacecraft flies past Comet Hartley 2, sends back spectacular photos (UPDATED)

NASA's recycled Deep Impact spacecraft flew past the nucleus of Comet Hartley 2 Thursday, beaming back spectacular pictures of its frozen, peanut-shaped nucleus and multiple jets of icy debris (UPDATED with news briefing) Read More...

$2 billion space station particle detector delivered to Kennedy Space Center

A $2 billion physics experiment bound for the International Space Station was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center Thursday after a busy summer of work to replace the magnet at the heart of the powerful particle detector. Read More...

NASA spacecraft finds multi-planet solar system

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has found its first confirmed multi-planet solar system, including two Saturn-class worlds and a possible low-mass planet just slightly larger than Earth. The announcement follows a European discovery, using a different technique, of a solar system with up to seven planets. Read More...

Multi-planet solar system may include near Earth-size world

Astronomers discover a solar system 127 light years away with up to seven planets, including one world just a bit larger than Earth. If confirmed, this would be the least massive extra-solar planet yet found. Read More...

On Mars, satisfaction awaits Curiosity rover

NASA's $2.4 billion Mars Science Laboratory rover -- Curiosity -- is the most sophisticated unmanned lander ever built, a robot scientists hope will revolutionize humanity's understanding of the red planet (CNET repost). Read More...

How the Curiosity rover will land on Mars

In a high-speed computer-orchestrated descent jokingly referred to as "six minutes of terror," NASA's newest Mars rover will rely on a rocket-powered "sky crane" to lower the car-size robot to the surface (CNET repost). Read More...

The Mars science gear on Curiosity

Loaded with sophisticated instruments and a nuclear power pack immune to sunlight-dimming dust, NASA's Curiosity rover will search for carbon compounds and geologic clues about the habitability of the red planet (CNET repost). Read More...