Spencer

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How One Man's One-Way Trip To Mars Is Dividing His Family

Choosing between the Earthlings you love and the adventure of a lifetime<p>Ken Sullivan has applied for a one-way trip to Mars, and, good news, he's made it past the first round of Mars One applicants! Hooray! Surely nothing could stand in his way.<p>Except his wife and four children, who are less than …

Mystery Gas Cloud On Course To Enter Supermassive Black Hole At Milky Way's Heart

The result could be a boom or a sizzle.<p>Astronomers expect a mysterious gas cloud to cross paths with the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy in the next few months. Then, one of two things could happen. The cloud could plunge on in, throwing off intense X-rays as it goes. Or, if the …

Why Are These Stars Fleeing The Milky Way?

A new class of speedy rogue stars are accelerated by an unknown force.<p>Astronomers have discovered a new class of potential hypervelocity stars that could suggest an alternative escape route from the galaxy.<p>Hypervelocity stars are so called because, uh, they travel really fast—enough to break free …

Space Dust Carries Molecules Of Water, Study Finds

Water and carbon may be… universal.<p>The grains of dust prevalent throughout the cosmos could carry with them molecules of water, according to a new analysis. They carry molecules of carbon, too, <i>New Scientist</i> reports, meaning the things that are necessary for life could be common in the universe. …

Penn State Students Seek Crowdfunding To Land A Hopping Rover On The Moon

The Lunar Lion is designed to land and then take off again across the surface of the moon.<p>Just before winter break, students at Pennsylvania State University sat in a control room behind a two-foot-thick concrete wall. On the other side of the wall was a cryogenic rocket. As the rocket fired away, …

Despite Small Glitch, The Comet-Chasing Craft Rosetta Has Awoken After Years Of Sleep

Rosetta had to reboot itself twice, giving engineers a small scare.<p>It was brought to life to chase comets but has been asleep for 31 months, drifting beyond the orbit of Jupiter. Yesterday (Jan. 20), the European spacecraft Rosetta successfully turned itself on. The craft had been powered down to …

Just Look at What Saturn's Moons Do To Its Rings

Saturn's moons do more than just orbit the planet: they interact with its rings, too. In this image, you can see the moon Prometheus' gravitational …

How Many Model Rockets Would You Need To Get To Space? [Infographic]

A lot of them! And that's just if you know how to stack them for optimal use.<p>Today, the always-great web-comic XKCD gets Wile E. Coyote on everyone by explaining how many model rockets you'd need to shoot a rocket into space. (Spoiler: you will need several model rockets.)<p>The creator of XKCD, …

Curiosity Finds A Former Lake On Mars

Was it home to life? It could have been. Meanwhile, the search for organic compounds continues.<p>Once upon a time, in the lowest part of Gale Crater on Mars, there was a lake about the length and width of one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. It was fed by rivers that ran into it. If you stood …

One-Way, Manned Mission To Mars Just Got Closer To Reality

Mars One announces deals with Lockheed Martin and SSTL to develop technology to colonize the Red Planet by 2025.<p>Yesterday, Netherlands-based private spaceflight project Mars One announced the companies it hopes will build the technology necessary for the first private mission to Mars. Lockheed …

NASA's Plan To Deal With Pesky Moon Dust

A space dust buster<p>The Problem<p>Moon dust is dangerous. Each mote is like a tiny shard of glass—there’s no wind or rain to soften the edges of lunar soil. During the Apollo missions, it jammed equipment and got stuck in the seals of space suits, causing a serious loss of pressure. Martian dust poses …

Cassini Spots Mosaic Of Extraterrestrial Seas

The Cassini space probe, exploring Saturn and her moons, has revealed extraordinary lakes and seas of liquid methane around the north pole of Titan.<p>The joint NASA-ESA Cassini space probe, exploring Saturn and her moons, has revealed extraordinary lakes and seas of liquid methane around the north …

Seeing Inside The Apollo Lunar Module

Most pictures of the Apollo lunar module show the full, spidery spacecraft from the outside. Some of the best pictures are of it sitting on the surface of the Moon, accidentally but somehow artfully lit by the sunlight reflected off the lunar surface with a space-suited astronaut climbing down the …

The Bizarre, Tangled Tale of the Only Sculpture on the Moon

One crisp March morning in 1969, artist Paul van Hoeydonck was visiting his Manhattan gallery when he stumbled into the middle of a startling …

Where's The Best Of What's New?

<b>We're still adapting our Best of What's New pages from prior to 2014--thanks for your patience!</b><p><b>Until then, take a look at our 2014 BOWN winners.</b>

Watch China’s Moon Lander Touch Down

A lander's eye view<p>China’s Chang’e 3 spacecraft landed on the surface of the moon Saturday night, Beijing time. The craft is China’s first to land on the surface of the moon. This is a video of the landing, taken by cameras installed on Chang’e 3. At first, you'll see the lunar landscape unspooling …

The Trials And Torments Of Space School

What does it take to become a citizen astronaut?<p>Sending people to space has always involved a frank assessment of their defects, and in the early days, it was a matter of finding people without any. First it was fighter pilots—calm in a crisis, physically perfect, unquestioning in their execution …

New Study Finds Milky Way Has Four Arms, Not Two

Sometimes it’s hard to see the shape of something from the inside.<p>A new study provides evidence that our own home galaxy actually has four major spiral “arms,” instead of two. Can I just point out this is 100 percent more arms than our latest understanding of the shape of the Milky Way?<p>The evidence …

Build These DIY 3-D Glasses To Make Photos Of The Moon Pop

Stereoscopic vision in 20 minutes<p>When viewed from Earth, the moon appears flat. Stereo vision requires each eye to see an object from slightly different angles, but the intervening 239,000 miles squash the moon’s deep craters and spherical shape into a uniform, luminous pancake. You could build a …

Help This Astronomer Digitize 100 Years of Irreplaceable Space Photos

Now, the historic astronomy images are on glass plates in a building. But what if they were digital and on the internet?<p>In the mountains of western North Carolina, on a campus once used for tracking astronauts in space, there lies an archive full of astronomical data. The data comes in the form of …

Happy 15th Birthday, International Space Station!

Soon you'll be old enough to drive!<p>Fifteen years ago today, the Russian Space Agency launched the first component of the International Space Station into orbit. The piece was a pressurized module called Zarya, which means sunrise. Two weeks later, the U.S. shipped their own ISS component, Unity, on …

Is Inspiration Enough to Launch Inspiration Mars?

In 2001, Dennis Tito used his millions to buy a seat on a Soyuz spacecraft for an eight-day visit to the International Space Station. On February 27 of this year, he announced his plan to foot a large portion of the bill for Inspiration Mars, a flyby mission to the red planet. On Wednesday in front …

NASA's Tips For Interpreting Satellite Images

Example tip: Farmed vegetation often looks brighter green than natural vegetation<p>Here at <i>Popular Science</i>, we love satellite images. They offer cool views of Earthly phenomena such as plankton blooms and erupting volcanoes. They give important perspective on the impact of natural disasters such as …

Asteroid Named After Thomas Pynchon

Both dense and complex.<p>In the November 20 edition of the Minor Planet Circular, 49 minor planets got new names. Many are named after fellow scientists, such as Jeffrich (Jeffrey Rich Jr.) or the discoverer. But then there's some that are named after other Earthlings of import. In this particular …

See Comet Tails Flap In Solar Wind

Or, giant space sperm swim toward Planet Ova.<p>Last Thursday, NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) captured images of two comets passing through solar wind. At the center is Comet Encke, and emerging later is Comet ISON.<p>STEREO consists of two sun-orbiting observatories, one ahead …

A Family Built This Museum-Quality Curiosity Rover

You can barely tell the difference between it and the real thing.<p>When Camille Beatty was 10 years old, she dismantled a TV remote and handed the parts to her surprised father, Robert. Next came a string of questions about the circuitry. “I got to a point in my life where electronics seemed magical, …

First Chinese Rover On Its Way To The Moon

It will be the first soft-landing craft to visit the moon since 1976.<p>For the first time in more than three decades, the moon may soon see some soft-landing, human-made visitors. China launched its first moon rover—and third moon mission—at 1:30 am today, local time.<p>The Chinese rover should land …

A Snapshot Of Earth's Exoplanet Neighbors [Infographic]

Earth looks like a small-fry here<p>There may be more Earth-like planets outside of our solar system than we once thought, but as this infographic from the great webcomic xkcd shows, we're still outnumbered by plenty--and plenty bigger--planets.<p>The infographic shows all exoplanets within 60 light …

Asteroid With Six Tails Leaves Astronomers Dumbfounded

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a possibly doomed asteroid with multiple comet-like tails.<p>Weird things are afoot in the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. A newly identified asteroid called P/2013 P5 is posing as a comet, with not one but six dust tails trailing …