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Moon May Have Sustainable Water

When you think of the moon you might picture a dry, desolate, rocky place, but recent evidence has been putting this idea to the test.

A new study shows the surface of the moon has more water than we thought, suggesting the interior of our natural satellite could hold a deep reservoir of water.

This new finding bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich, which could make colonising it for future space exploration much easier.

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Pictured is a map of water molecules on the moon in the morning and midday, crafted by reading how certain wavelengths of light are reflected or absorbed at its surface. The warmer colors show where there is more water on the lunar surface (credit: TU Dortmund) read more

Are We Being Watched?

If there were aliens sitting on at least nine exoplanets in other solar systems, they would be ideally placed to spy on what we’re doing on Earth, a new study has found.

Researchers identified parts of the distant sky from where various planets in our solar system could be seen to pass in front of the sun – so-called ‘transit zones’.

In addition to this, the team estimate there should be approximately ten (currently undiscovered) worlds which are favourably located to detect the Earth and could sustain life as we know it.

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Image shows where transits of our solar system planets can be observed. Each line represents where one of the planets could be seen to transit, with the blue line representing the transit of Earth. If an observer were located along this line they could detect us

Image shows where transits of our solar system planets can be observed. Each line represents where one of the planets could be seen to transit, with the blue line representing the transit of Earth. If an observer were located along this line they could detect us.

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Dream Chaser Spacecraft

A test version of a spacecraft resembling a mini space shuttle was carried aloft over the Mojave Desert by a helicopter Wednesday in a precursor to a free flight in which it will be released to autonomously land on a runway as it would in a return from orbit.

Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Dream Chaser craft was lifted off the ground at 7:21 a.m., at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was carried to the same altitude and flight conditions it will experience before release in a free flight.

A control team sent commands to the wingless vehicle and collected data before the helicopter brought it down at 9:02 a.m., the company said.

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Strange Signals from Space

A star located just 11 light-years away from Earth is sending out ‘strange’ radio signals leaving experts baffled.

The mysterious signals appear to be coming from Ross 128, a little-explored red dwarf star which is not known to have any planets surrounding it.

Researchers said the unusual signals were picked up in ‘almost periodic’ bursts, and added further investigation is needed to find the source of the signals.

A star located just 11 light-years away from Earth is sending out 'strange' radio signals, scientists have said (stock image of a satellite against star trails)

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New Meaning to Harvest Moon

The 2020
The 2020 “Harvest Moon” expedition will be the first commercial operation to send lunar rocks back to Earth (Credit: Moon Express)

The private race to the moon just kicked up a notch with Moon Express revealing in detail its plan to begin commercially harvesting moon rocks by 2020. The company is set to become the first commercial presence on the Moon sending back lunar samples as well as establishing a permanent lunar research outpost. read more

Private Sector Space Race

A private spaceflight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to build a powerful new rocket engine in Alabama for space flight, the company and state officials announced Monday.

Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said his company is seeking a production contract with United Launch Alliance, a private company that provides satellite launches for the U.S. government and others.

He said the company will locate a production factory for the BE-4 rocket engine in Huntsville upon a contract being signed.

Jeff Bezos rocket firm Blur Origin plans to build a powerful new rocket engine in Alabama for space flight, the company and state officials have announced.

According to the company’s website, the powerful BE-4 engine is designed to end dependence on Russian-built engines for launching payloads into space. read more

Time to Clean up Space

Artist's concept of a magnetic tug nearing a derelict satellite
Artist’s concept of a magnetic tug nearing a derelict satellite (Credit: ESA/Philippe Ogaki)

An ESA-funded scientist is developing a magnetic space tug to combat the growing problem of space debris. The tugs could lock onto derelict satellites and deorbit them before they become a hazard to navigation, and because they use cryogenic magnets, they wouldn’t have to even touch the derelicts and the targets wouldn’t need to be specially modified for towing. read more

Paul Allen’s New Plane

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world’s largest aircraft on Wednesday.

The massive plane rolled out by Allen’s aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, according to Popular Mechanics.

With a wingspan of 385 feet, the six-engine plane will be larger than Howard Hughes’ 1947 H-4 Hercules, known as the ‘Spruce Goose,’ and the Antonov An-225, a Soviet-era cargo plane originally built to transport the Buran space shuttle that is currently the world’s largest aircraft.

The Stratolaunch is an aircraft that is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages.

In 2011, the project’s cost was initially estimated to be at $300million, though there is no word as to the updated figures.

After the plane reaches altitude, it would then drop the launch vehicle, which will subsequently fire its boosters and launch into space from the air.

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world's largest aircraft on Wednesday. The massive plane rolled out by Allen's aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built

Drones for Mars Exploration

The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a ‘crash-proof’ drone to fly on missions to Mars and beyond.

The new drones could one day help Martian settlers explore lava tubes on the planet by mapping out tight spots that humans cannot reach.

The drone, surrounded by a protective spherical cage and equipped with thermal cameras, deliberately bumps into its surroundings in order to build a 3D-map.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a 'crash-proof' drone (pictured) to fly on missions to Mars and beyond. It is pictured being tested in a cave in Sicily

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