Thursday, September 22, 2011

NASA's Next Manned Mission to an Asteroid

Now that the Space Launch System program is officially on its tracks, lets take a look at what NASA plans to do with the giant rocket. After the first couple of test flights (including a manned fly-by around the moon somewhere between 2017 and 2021), the first big objective is to send 4 astronauts to a 6 month trip to a Near Earth Object (NEO). The mission would be called 'Plymouth Rock'.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NASA Officially Announces the Space Launch System

Last Wednesday NASA officials publicly unveiled the Space Launch System, the new heavy lift rocket that will send astronauts beyond earth orbit, to asteroids, the moon and possibly some day to Mars. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the design has been known for a few months now, but for various political reasons, the project hadn't been officially announced yet.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kepler telescope finds planet Tatooine!

NASA engineers operating the Kepler Space telescope have announced this morning that they have discovered the first planet to orbit a twin-star system. The planet is a gas giant about the size of Jupiter, and its temperature is about -70 C, so it's not really habitable. What is important about this discovery is that it proves that planets can be formed on binary star systems. Before today, it had been speculated but never proven.

The newly discovered planet is officially designated as Kepler 16b, but NASA officials have proposed that it should be named Tatooine, after the twin-sun planet in Star-Wars, barring any licensing issues with Lucasfilm...

The Kepler 16 star system is about 200 light-years from earth.

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