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Going a long way to do a quick data collection

Like many a scientist before me, I have spent this week trying to grow a crystal. I wasn’t fussy, it didn’t have to be a single crystal – a smush of something would have done – just as long as it had a…
Not yet, but soon … we’re getting closer to sending people to Mars. Samantha T./Flickr

Near Earth and far away, it’s been an exciting year in space

It was an exciting year in space exploration, with mind-blowing triumphs and heart-breaking failures. On Earth, new rockets and spacecraft were tested by space agencies and commercial ventures. SpaceX…
Artist’s impression of New Horizons as it swings past the dwarf planet Pluto, in July 2015. NASA

Rise and shine! New Horizons awakes ahead of a date with Pluto

While the Mars Rovers and the Rosetta spacecraft will continue to make headlines in 2015, the stage is set for the solar system’s next great mission – the Pluto-bound New Horizons. Discovered in 1930…
Gold rush? jovom

Why we should mine the moon

To date, all human economic activity has depended on the material and energy resources of a single planet; understandably, perhaps. It is conceivable though that future advances in space exploration could…
The author posing with a fully-functional model of the Curiosity rover on Earth, not Mars.

Scientists at work: my other office is on Mars

“All systems go!” I said cautiously with a long sigh of relief. I had approved plans for the first soil analysis that would give humankind clues to the past and future habitability of Mars. One small word…
Boeing’s CST-100 selected as a passenger spacecraft. Boeing

Boeing and SpaceX are building new ‘space taxis’ for NASA

After a four-year competition, NASA has announced it has selected Boeing and SpaceX to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The contract - worth US$6.8 billion - was announced as part…
The origin of today’s burst of energy has astronomers puzzled. AP Photographie /Flickr

Heavens above! What made the cosmic flash that lit Earth today?

A titanic eruption in our neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, has sent shockwaves through the astronomical community here on Earth. NASA’s Swift satellite detected a flood of gamma rays at 21:15 UTC yesterday…
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex has played a major role in exploring space. CSIRO/NASA

Australia’s part in 50 years of space exploration with NASA

Who can forget the hit movie The Dish and Australia’s role in beaming the first live television pictures of man’s first landing on the moon? Well, the filmmakers did play with the truth a bit but it did…
Maybe pink planets have life too. gsfc

Explainer: how do you find exoplanets?

Astronomers didn’t know, 20 years ago, whether planets existed around any stars other than the Sun. All that changed in 1995 with the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting the star 51 Pegasi. And by the beginning…
Lava-flooded craters and large expanses of smooth volcanic plains on Mercury’s surface. NASA

Explosive volcanoes light up Mercury’s deep past

Mercury has long been a mystery to scientists. Until recently, knowledge of the planet was limited to the grey, patchy landscape revealed by the Mariner 10 probe, NASA’s first mission to Mercury in the…
Is China our only hope? Alexander F. Yuan/AP

For our future in space, China must aim further than the Moon

A famous picture in the English edition of Newton’s “Principia” shows cannon balls being fired from the top of a mountain. If they go fast enough, their trajectory curves downward no more steeply than…
NASA has built up a strong network of science enthusiasts who can step in when the agency shuts down. NASA HQ PHOTO

How Twitter fans kept NASA alive during the US shutdown

Now that the US government is back in business, all “non-essential” services will resume. For 15 days we went without NASA’s full operation, US Antarctic research and federally-funded clinical studies…

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