August 6th, 2012
07:46 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November.  Watch Live for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

12:00 pm ET - Mars rover post-landing briefing - The Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars this morning, and NASA and JPL officials are celebrating.  Two briefings on the landing and mission will take place today - the first at noon ET, with the second at 7:00 pm ET.


Filed under: Elections • Mars • On today • Politics • Solar System • Space
Space shuttle sails through New York Harbor
Space shuttle Enterprise is carried by barge underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Sunday in New York City.
June 4th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Space shuttle sails through New York Harbor

The space shuttle Enterprise took a journey more akin to those of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise than its orbital sister ships on Sunday.

The prototype shuttle floated on a barge through New York Harbor, from John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Bayonne, New Jersey.

There, it will be transferred to another barge, this one with a crane. On Tuesday, the second barge will carry it back up the Hudson and lift the shuttle onto the deck of the USS Intrepid Museum, a former aircraft carrier and Enterprise's final destination.

The Enterprise was flown into JFK on the back of a 747 on April 27.

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Filed under: New York • Shuttle • Space
May 25th, 2012
07:48 AM ET

Friday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November. Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

1:00 pm ET - SpaceX Dragon status briefing - The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has a rendezvous with the international space station today.  NASA and SpaceX officials discuss the mission this afternoon. Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.

Filed under: Crime • Justice • On today • Space
Stellar week for SpaceX founder Elon Musk
SpaceX founder Elon Musk
May 22nd, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Stellar week for SpaceX founder Elon Musk

It’s officially a stellar week for Elon Musk, the billionaire engineer behind SpaceX, the company that made history Tuesday launching the first private spacecraft bound for the International Space Station.

The rocket, originally set to hit the stratosphere Saturday, might have taken to the sky a few days late, but the excitement Musk expressed on Twitter about the launch extends a victory streak that also includes more earthly passions.

On Monday, Musk tweeted that Tesla – the luxury electric car company he co-founded in Silicon Valley - had reached a “major milestone” by completing crash testing and gaining approval for sale to the public.


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Filed under: Science • Space • Technology
Open Thread: The future of space travel
SpaceX aborted the historic launch of its Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station at the last second because of a rocket engine glitch.
May 19th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

Open Thread: The future of space travel

The rocket engines of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft fired, and then abruptly stopped as the countdown to launch reached zero on Saturday. The shutdown caused SpaceX to abort launching the private unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Both NASA and SpaceX want Dragon to be able to deliver cargo to the station, bringing food, water and other provisions to the station's crew. The possibility of this launch was regarded as historic for sending private spacecraft into orbit.

What do you think is the future of commercial space travel? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Filed under: Space
Overheard on Enterprise, the space shuttle, brings back memories for readers
“Star Trek” cast members attend the rollout of the space shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, California, on September 17, 1976.
April 27th, 2012
07:01 PM ET

Overheard on Enterprise, the space shuttle, brings back memories for readers

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

We've seen a lot of topics sparking conversation among our readers Friday. Check out some of the best comments we've seen.

Space shuttle Enterprise flies again

The space shuttle Enterprise, mounted atop a 747 jumbo jet, swooped across the New York skyline on Friday before touching down at the city's John F. Kennedy International Airport, bringing an end to its final flight. Earlier in the day, one of our readers compared the flyover of the Enterprise to the recent space shuttle Discovery flyover to Virginia. They were fairly optimistic about New York.

USInDecline: "New Yorkers are mature. They've seen things. They won't let this disrupt traffic like the Disney-minded residents of D.C. and Virginia. I swear - people abandoned their cars on a bridge and disobeyed traffic laws to stake out a place from which to view this thing 20-30 minutes ahead of its fly-by."

In regards to the Enterprise's Star Trek legacy, many readers were proudly talking about their fandom.

markmark1: "I remember running home from a friend's house to watch the Enterprise launched off the 747 and glide in for a landing. I was 5 years old and I remember that I felt like the Flash because it seemed like I was running so fast to get home."

Houston, we have a problem. Some of our readers want the shuttle to go to Texas instead. FULL POST

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Filed under: Overheard on • Science • Shuttle • Space • Sports
April 26th, 2012
07:19 AM ET

Rush on to find fragments of California meteor

There's a new rush on in California's gold rush country. This time, they're prospecting for meteorites.

A minivan-sized meteor blew up over northern California on Sunday morning, and now everyone from NASA scientists to schoolkids is looking for fragments of the fireball - called meteorites once they hit the ground - in the Sierra Nevada towns of Coloma and Lotus.

“People used to pull the gold out of the ground. Now, things fall out of the sky,” NASA research astrophysicist Scott Sandford told CNN affiliate KTXL in Sacramento. “Lucky place, I guess.”

The site where the first meteorites were found Wednesday is just a mile from where gold was first found at Sutter's Mill in Coloma in 1848, CNN affiliate KXTV reported.

Meteorite hunter Robert Ward rushed from his home in Prescott, Arizona, to northern California after hearing of the explosion on Sunday and found fragments in a park. He told CNN affiliate KOVR that these fragments are the first of their kind to fall to Earth since the 1960s.


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Filed under: California • Space • U.S.
Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids
The asteroid Eros was photographed by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission in 2000.
April 24th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids

Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the business of sending millionaire tourists to space. Now they want to mine asteroids for what they say will be tens of billions of dollars worth of resources annually for use on Earth and beyond.

Seattle-area's Planetary Resources, backed by big-money investors including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, said Tuesday it plans to develop and launch a series of robotic systems and unmanned spacecraft, starting with its Arkyd-100 Earth-orbiting space telescopes that it hopes to launch by the end of 2013 to identify candidate near-Earth asteroids.

The company hopes to dispatch swarms of Arkyd-300 prospecting spacecraft, which would orbit candidate asteroids and finish the process of determining what they hold, within 10 years.

The Bellevue, Washington, company would then unveil a new system of spacecraft for the payoff: mining precious metal, such as platinum, for use on Earth; and extracting water, whose elements the company says can be used for fuel and life-support systems in space.

In short, Planetary Resources hopes it will be in a crucial and lucrative position of not only boosting terrestrial industry, but also setting up a network of fuel depots that humanity will need to better explore the solar system and beyond.

"The Earth is feeling a resource pinch, and ultimately we will have the ability to turn that which is scarce into abundant," Diamandis, who co-founded Planetary Resources with Anderson in 2009 but generally kept mum about the project until this month, said at a press event in Seattle on Tuesday.

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Filed under: Energy • Space • Washington state
Overheard on It's a bird ... it's a plane ... it's ... Venus!
An Air Canada 767 like this one was involved in a sudden altitude shift that injured passengers.
April 17th, 2012
08:07 PM ET

Overheard on It's a bird ... it's a plane ... it's ... Venus!

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

A report released Monday about an incident that sent several passengers flying out of their seats on an Air Canada flight on January 14, 2011, has got many of our readers testing out their commenting wits. The report says the first officer woke up from a nap - the rules allow for a brief "controlled rest" period at cruising altitude - and suddenly mistook the planet Venus to be another plane overhead. He panicked and the plane went into a dive before the crew corrected its position so an actual approaching C-17 plane could pass underneath.

Pilot sends plane into dive after mistaking Venus for oncoming plane

How does something like this happen?

HitomiAdrien: "This doesn't make sense to me. Why would he make such a brash move? Even if it were another plane, at the size of a dot there has to be other protocol (trying to locate that other plane on their GPS?) and a significant amount of time to get out of the way considering how big Venus isn't from the Earth. Therefore; why take a nose dive on a dot of light before taking other precautions that you were trained to do in school and through experience?"

WithReason7: "Venus on a clear night at 35,000 feet is brighter than airplane lights. Had it been plane on a collision course, they probably would have had about five seconds to avoid collision, not enough time to check GPS and have a nice chat ..."

This person gave an actual piloting perspective.

jsnight: "It happens more than you think. A pilot almost turned an airplane upside down when he mistook stars for yard lights and thought they were upside down. I have over 20,000 flight hours and although I've never taken any evasive action, I have been startled. You can look down at a chart, look up and think you're in an unusual attitude."

All kinds of people can relate. FULL POST

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Canada • Overheard on • Space • Transportation • Travel • World
Overheard on 'This was my space shuttle moment,' reader says of Discovery
iReporter Danny Mills went to the beach to see the shuttle pass by. "I will look forward to visiting her new home one day soon."
April 17th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Overheard on 'This was my space shuttle moment,' reader says of Discovery

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Star-struck space lovers gazed skyward Tuesday to watch space shuttle Discovery's journey to Washington after a series of nostalgic fly-bys on the back of a NASA Boeing 747. The flight departed from Florida's Kennedy Space Center en route to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. It will spend its retirement at a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum facility in Chantilly, Virginia.

Space shuttle Discovery arrives in Washington

The photo at the top was shot by rocket technician Danny Mills of Cape Canaveral, Florida, who joined several other iReporters in documenting the shuttle's journey from point A to point B. Mills went over to Cocoa Beach to see the shuttle. He used an often-mentioned word to describe his feelings.

"There's a lot of life left in the shuttles, and everyone I talked to this morning feels the same," he said. "We're really sad to see them stop flying. It was really bittersweet." FULL POST

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Florida • Overheard on • Science • Shuttle • Space • U.S. • Virginia
April 12th, 2012
01:22 AM ET

No sign of North Korean rocket launch on 1st day of window

The first opportunity for North Korea to launch its controversial rocket passed uneventfully Thursday, keeping the region on tenterhooks for at least another day.

As the launch window opened Thursday morning, the reclusive, nuclear-armed regime's neighbors were nervously watching for developments from the launch site, which is in a remote area in the northwest of the country.

Japanese missile defense systems scanned the skies above Tokyo and Okinawa. Japan has threatened to shoot down the North Korean rocket if it is seen threatening its territory.

International journalists in Pyongyang were taken on an official visit to a conference that had no connection to the launch. North Korean state television made no mention of the rocket, which the country says is necessary to put a weather satellite in orbit.

North Korea has said that it plans to carry out the launch sometime between Thursday and Monday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and noon (6 p.m.-11 p.m. ET Wednesday-Sunday).

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Filed under: Japan • Kim Jong Il • Kim Jong Un • North Korea • South Korea • Space
Overheard on Space, science invoke some of life's thorniest questions
An artist's rendering of sunset on Gliese 667 Cc, a previously-discovered super-Earth.
March 29th, 2012
07:18 PM ET

Overheard on Space, science invoke some of life's thorniest questions

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN's Light Years blog always seems to be addressing some of life's biggest, most perplexing and indeed thorniest questions. Our readers often go there to debate grand themes and ponder the meaning of the universe.

1. Are we alone?

Astronomers have estimated that in our galaxy, there are tens of billions of rocky planets not so much bigger than Earth that could be candidates for harboring life.

Astronomers: Billions of 'super-Earths' in habitable zone of red dwarf stars

It follows that many would ask whether there is life on other planets. Readers have varied views on this.

Etheras: "Life as-we-know-it is unlikely to be plentiful. ... If you keep adding-on all the vital elements to the evolution of life as-we-know-it (the only life we can say for sure exists) it becomes increasingly plausible that life (at least 'complex life') in the universe is very rare. Its just a numbers game. So why do scientists constantly talk about life on other planets? Money. They want headlines because headlines means publicity which means grants. They're telling people what those people want to hear, because if they didn't people wouldn't give them money. Now ... I'm not saying life doesn't exist on other planets. I am saying that, its more likely than not, humankind will never find another intelligent civilization, even if we could colonize half the galaxy. Sorry chums, we're alone."

Brandon T: "As an astronomer studying exoplanets, there are still too many unknowns to even consider evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Viewed statistically, however, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that the only planet known to harbor life would ultimately involve life intelligent enough to ask this question. Therefore, it's likely that there are many planets out there with non-intelligent life, at the very least."

2. Can religion and science coexist?

Stories about research into human origins often give rise to debates over evolution, creation, science and religion. FULL POST

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Filed under: Overheard on • Religion • Science • Space
March 7th, 2012
05:50 PM ET

Solar storm heads for Earth

U.S. politics had its "Super Tuesday" yesterday, and so did the sun, says Joseph Kunches from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

That's because the sun had two solar flares associated with two coronal mass ejections. Coronal mass ejections involve massive amounts of energy and charged particles shooting out of the sun, and can cause problems if directed at Earth, as was the case over the last couple of days.

This event may stir up a geomagnetic storm, and lead to disruptions to high-frequency radio communications, global positioning systems and power grids, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said Wednesday. The peak of the storm is expected to hit Thursday morning; it may gradually diminish by Friday morning.

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Filed under: Science • Space
Overheard on Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?
A NASA photograph released this month shows the moon and the international space station.
January 30th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Overheard on Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

You might have noticed some slight changes to our comments system on today. (Blogs aren't affected.) That's because we just made some much-needed tweaks under the hood. Thanks for bearing with us as we get this new system working.

Imagine a colony on the moon. Two stories Monday revisited the idea, as mentioned by Newt Gingrich during Thursday's GOP debate in Florida. Many of our readers seem to be in favor of eventually doing this, regardless of their feelings about the candidate. But there was a bit of skepticism in the air.

A moon colony is a waste of money

David Frum's opinion piece blasting Gingrich's idea for a moon colony got a fairly heated response from our readers.

SteveOBoston: "Mr. Frum, while I understand your argument, with all due respect you would not be typing an article on the internet had there never been NASA. Science for pragmatic purposes exists to be sure, but science for the sake of the research itself can often have greater affect on humanity. In science, you cannot begin with the answer and work your way back to the question. You'd like to know what value the research has. It's impossible to answer that without knowing what we'll find."

Some said Frum was being shortsighted.

ndk415: "This is the type of article that future generations will dig up and giggle at, since the benefits, discoveries, and advancements (that weren't so apparent today) from what was learned by having humans live on another world will seem so obvious then."

Some readers were opposed to colonization, saying we do not have the resources at this time. FULL POST

January 27th, 2012
06:01 AM ET

Asteroid to pass close to Earth today

An asteroid about the size of a school bus will pass close to Earth today, but it poses no danger to the planet, NASA astronomers say.

The huge rock, called Asteroid 2012 BX34, will close to within about 36,750 miles of Earth, or about .17 times the distance between the Earth and the moon, according to a Twitter post from Asteroid Watch, which is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near Earth Object Office.

"It wouldn't get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try," an Asteroid Watch tweet says of the 37-foot diameter rock.

The asteroid makes its closest approach about 10:25 a.m. ET, according to NASA.

Check out NASA's orbit diagram of the asteroid and info on when it will again pass close to Earth.

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Filed under: Solar System • Space
Kepler team confirms 26 more planets
The relative sizes of Kepler-discovered planets (pre-January in red, January in green, unverified in purple) and our solar system's planets (blue).
January 26th, 2012
07:44 PM ET

Kepler team confirms 26 more planets

Scientists' list of verified planets is now more than two dozen planets longer, thanks to NASA's Kepler space telescope team.

The Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 verified planets in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, NASA said Thursday.

This nearly triples the number of verified multiple-planet stars that the Kepler mission has discovered, now standing at 17. And it nearly doubles the number of verified planets it has discovered, which now is 61.

Before the Kepler satellite was launched in 2009, scientists knew about perhaps 500 planets outside our solar system "across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA.

"Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates," Hudgins said in a news release. "This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."

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Filed under: Space
Earth hit with largest solar radiation storm since 2003
This January 23 image, captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows an M9-class solar flare erupting on the sun.
January 25th, 2012
12:10 AM ET

Earth hit with largest solar radiation storm since 2003

Material from a Sunday solar eruption hit the Earth on Tuesday, helping to create the planet's strongest solar radiation storm in more than eight years, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said.

The eruption also has caused a minor geomagnetic storm, expected to continue at least through Tuesday. Together, the storms could affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and radio communications near the poles, the SWPC and NASA said.

The storms prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at  "a higher than normal radiation risk," the SWPC said.

Failed space probe to fall to Earth in days, Russia says
The Phobos-Grunt probe, pictured here on October 18, failed to leave Earth orbit after its November 9 launch.
January 11th, 2012
06:24 PM ET

Failed space probe to fall to Earth in days, Russia says

A Russian probe that was supposed to reach one of Mars' moons but failed to escape Earth orbit is expected to fall to Earth between Saturday and Monday, Russia's space agency said.

It's too early to say where pieces of the unmanned Phobos-Grunt probe could fall. But on Sunday afternoon - the middle of the re-entry window - the nearly 15-ton probe is projected to be over the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles southwest of Indonesia, the Roscosmos space agency said Wednesday.

Twenty to 30 fragments, weighing a total of up to 440 pounds, could survive the heat of re-entry, Roscosmos said, according to the state-run Ria Novosti news agency.

The craft is carrying 7.5 tons of toxic fuel. That fuel is expected to burn up on re-entry, Ria Novosti reported, citing Roscosmos.


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Filed under: Mars • Russia • Space
Mysterious metal ball from space falls in Namibia
This large metal ball was found in Namibian grasslands in November.
December 22nd, 2011
09:53 PM ET

Mysterious metal ball from space falls in Namibia

A large metal ball that fell from space into the Namibian grasslands last month is not alien, officials say, but that's about all they know for certain about the object.

According to a report on The Namibian website, the 13-pound metal sphere with two bumps on its poles was found by a farmer near Onamatunga in the Omunsati region between November 15 and November 20. Explosions were heard in the area before the discovery, but no evidence of an explosion was seen around the area where the object was found.

Paul Ludik, director of the country's National Forensic Science Institute, told The Namibian the sphere, with a circumference of 3.6 feet, is made of a "sophisticated" metal alloy that is known to man, but he said it has no markings that would identify it. No international space agency has claimed ownership, he said.

“A number of tests have been performed on the object, and it appears to be hollow. We are still busy with a detailed examination of the object,” The Namibian quotes him as saying.

Ludik told The Namibian that the object poses no cause for alarm, and that such reports of metallic spheres falling from space are common in the Southern Hemisphere.

So should we expect a run on helmets at sporting goods stores south of the equator?

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Filed under: Namibia • Space
Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'
December 15th, 2011
02:43 PM ET

Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'

Far, far away in an isolated part of the Milky Way lies a star nursery housing a celestial spectacle so beautiful that the Space Telescope Science Institute has taken to calling it a “Holiday Snow Angel."

Spectacular images and video released by the NASA-built observatory Thursday show a star-forming region in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) nearly 2,000 light years from Earth.

In official terms, Sharpless 2-106 (doesn’t have the same ring, does it?) gets its looks from an extreme confluence of heat and motion and features a ring of particles that “acts like a belt,” according to a press release. The hourglass-like shape in the middle is created by gaseous particles orbiting the star.

Don't be fooled by the cute name, Hubble spokesman Ray Villard told CNN Thursday in an email.

"Though we nickname this a ‘Snow Angel’ there is nothing angelic about what's happening in the picture," Villard said. "A super-hot star much larger than our sun has twin blowtorches of hot gas shooting out into space. The star is destined for a short life and will then explode as a supernova, disintegrating everything around it."


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Filed under: NASA • Science • Space
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