Planets as Old as Time Itself

There has been a lot of planetary news lately, in our own solar system and beyond.  With the DAWN spacecraft approaching Ceres, New Horizons finally reaching Pluto in a few months, and the Kepler Space Telescope giving results from it’s new observing run.  Not to mention comet Lovejoy, Mars Rover anniversary, and the Venus Metal Frost […]

Rings around this Exoplanet put Saturn to Shame

Move over Saturn, J1407b has rings that are far more spectacular than anyone would have imagined.  This distant ‘planet’ (It may not actually be a planet) orbits an orange star 117 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus, and has a ring system consisting of 30 separate rings, each of which could be tens of Millions […]

Today’s the Day for BL86 Flying Past Earth! And you can See it!

Today was the flyby of the big Asteroid 2004 BL86.  It can be seen tonight in the sky but you will need a darn good pair of binoculars or a telescope.   Here’s where to find it: Scientists have also revealed some new information about it, including updating its size from 550m down to a […]

A Sunny Cold Sunday is a Good Day to Find Sun Dogs

When the temperature is just right, and the sky is clear, you can see some amazing phenomenon from the Sun.  It isn’t your eyes playing a trick on you, it just means you’re seeing the right conditions for a really amazing experience. Sun Dogs, known scientifically as Parhelia, typically appear as two bright patches on […]

Opportunity Mars Panorama Marks 11 Years

The Opportunity rover has just about reached it’s 11 year anniversary of it’s 90 day mission puttering around Mars.  The actual day is tomorrow since the rover landed on January 25th, 2004. To mark its incredible accomplishment, the imaging team produced a lovely panorama of what the rover would see from its current position on […]

Space News: Photos of the Week

This week there were just too many fantastic photo releases to pick just one and stick with it, so here are some of the great stories popping up with fantastic images to accompany them: Fine Detail From Rosetta on 67P This amazing shot from the Rosetta orbiter shows such incredible detail as comet 67P catches […]

From One distant World to Another: How the Ocean Floor is Giving New Insight into Supernovae

I always like to bring up the crazy ways in which two areas of science that seem completely disconnected can relate to each other, occasionally giving incredible insights. By looking at the ocean floor, a world human beings can’t reach without special pressurized equipment, we are learning about space, a world human beings can’t reach […]

Dawn is Approaching Ceres

…and not the ‘dawn’ we refer to when watching a sunrise.  Dawn is a NASA spacecraft that was launched in 2007 with the goal of exploring the asteroid belt by observing its largest and most interesting objects up close.  The two largest asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, have been the largest mission goals of Dawn as […]

Video of SpaceX Falcon 9 crashing and burning in the ocean is what progress looks like

I realize this might not be your first thought when watching the video clip, but it really is.

Those seven seconds of carnage were a great sign of success. That Falcon 9, about 10 minutes earlier on January 10th, was sitting on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The pad is 320km to the west of the barge. The barge is 100×300 feet, floating in the ocean.

The Falcon 9 launched, released the upper stage on it’s way to the International Space Station (which arrived flawlessly), and then the first stage managed to navigate itself to that barge.

That feat alone is pretty amazing.

The barge – all 30,000 sq feet of it – is TINY. Getting the Falcon 9 anywhere near it is impressive.

(Consider for comparison something with a landing envelope of say, 5 square kilometers (aka about 43,000,000 sq feet). In spaceflight terms, 5 sq km is an incredibly precise landing. 30,000 feet is 0.07% of 43,000,000 – or about 1500 times more precise.)

And then they almost landed it. If it hadn’t run out of that pesky hydraulic fluid used to control the aerodynamic fins – causing them to lock up – it probably would have made it, or at least come closer.

SpaceX will try again, and that’s what all this is about.

Progress to make launching rockets more cost effective. Progress to find new ways to control rockets in flight. Progress to make them more efficient.

And one day, progress towards being able to fly a rocket to another world, land it, and then come back home with it — because remember, that is Elon Musk’s goal.

Video of that hard barge landing is exactly what progress looks like.

Read more here / watch a video clip of Jesse, Jerry, and yours truly chatting about it (and more!) on Sun News Network on Friday afternoon:

Three New Earth Sized Planets Found Orbiting Distant Star

As the Kepler Space Telescope continues work on its second mission, the slow trickle of new exoplanet discoveries has begun.  In the past few weeks scientists working with Kepler data have been able to identify new planets, and of course the variation continues to surprise us all. Most Recently, Kepler discovered a system of three planets […]