Aerospace

Aircraft propelled by beams of light rather than fuel? Laser-propulsion just got a step closer thanks to a new method for improving the thrust systems developed by physicists Yuri Rezunkov of the Institute of Optoelectronic Instrument Engineering and Alexander Schmidt of the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in Saint Petersburg. 

Currently, the maximum speed of a spacecraft is limited by the amount of solid or liquid fuel that it can carry. Achieving higher speeds means that more fuel must be burned—fuel that, inconveniently, has to be carried by the craft and hefted into space. These burdensome loads can be reduced, however, if a laser—one located at a remote location, and not actually on the spacecraft—were used to provide additional propulsive force.


Though it has been in the works since 1996 and long passed both its original 2011 completion date and even the most aggressive budget estimate, the James Webb Space Telescope has a milestone that may get people excited: after 116 days of extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.


No one is going into deep space any time soon, the modern political climate is such that it will now be common for one president to cancel his predecessor's program. As President Obama did to Bush, someone in 2017 is likely to do to President Obama.

Yet officially, the NASA that the president said could not even go back to the moon on time and on budget is hoping it will go to Mars, and in preparation for that people are trying to understand and characterize the radiation hazards astronauts could face., concludes a new paper by University of New Hampshire scientists.


The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects that the New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after doing a fly-by of Pluto in July 2015.

The Kuiper Belt is a vast rim of primordial debris encircling our solar system. KBOs belong to a unique class of solar system objects that has never been visited by spacecraft and which contain clues to the origin of our solar system.

The Kuiper Belt objects are each about 10 times larger than typical comets, 1 to 2 percent of the size of Pluto. Unlike asteroids, Kuiper Belt objects have not been heated by the sun and are thought to represent a pristine, well preserved deep-freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4.6 billion years ago. 

The Dutch have always been bold. Not just any culture would make wooden shoes a thing and turn tulip bulbs into a luxury investment. And if you like New York City, you can thank New Amsterdam.

Now Holland wants to be a colonial power again, this time on Mars. The "Mars One" project, announced in 2012, wants to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. It's a one-way trip but there is no shortage of people willing to be one of the four that will build the first human settlement in space. 


Gravitational waves are phenomena predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity but no one has ever observed them and their discovery would have profound implications for the study of the Universe.

Last March, the team behind the BICEP2 project made a ground-breaking announcement: the Antarctic observatory had detected a signal referable to gravitational waves. The study said they excluded possible contaminants - other sources that could have generated the same signal - and that the observation was valid.