OSIRIS-REx Wants to Lasso an Asteroid to Explain Life on Earth

NASA has a plan to better explore how our own local star system, and life within it, got started. It wants to intercept, study, and sample a passing asteroid. The only thing more impressive than this mission's astronomical level of precision is how the space agency somehow shoehorned "Origins Spectral Interpretation… » 4/15/14 11:40am 4/15/14 11:40am

Buying Pieces of the Space Race at Bonhams' Space History Auction

This week, Bonhams hosted an auction of historical space items in Manhattan. The Space History Sale featured troves of objects and documents, both American and Soviet, dating back to the heyday of the space race. And Gizmodo got the chance to take a peek. » 4/10/14 4:00pm 4/10/14 4:00pm

The craziest NASA test ever is this giant supersonic Goldberg machine

NASA is sending new and bigger spaceships to Mars, which means they need bigger supersonic parachutes. So big, in fact, that they don't fit in any wind tunnel anymore, so their engineers had to find new ways to test them. New crazy ways. Really crazy. In fact, it's the craziest test they got so far. » 4/10/14 9:44am 4/10/14 9:44am

Hey look a weird bright light was spotted on Mars

Do you see it? There's a little beacon of light in the photograph of Mars above. It's on the left side of the photo and it's pretty darn bright. What could it be? More importantly, what do we want it to be? A Martian signal keeping track of the Curiosity rover? An alien laser beam? A key to a secret portal in the… » 4/09/14 12:03am 4/09/14 12:03am

NASA Has One More Chance to Explain Bizarre Glow on Moon's Horizon

Later this month, a NASA spacecraft will get one last chance to solve the mystery of the strange "horizon glow" seen on the moon. Scientists think the glow is caused by tiny particles of moon dust catching the sun's ultraviolet rays, becoming electrically charged, and then shooting upwards. But they don't know for sure. » 4/07/14 4:56pm 4/07/14 4:56pm

NASA's About To Release a Mother Lode of Free Software

If you've been thinking about getting started on the rocket project that's been on your mind for ages, now is a good time to get serious. Next week, NASA will release a massive software catalog with over 1,000 projects. It's not the first time the space agency's released code, but it is the first time they've made it… » 4/04/14 6:40pm 4/04/14 6:40pm

NASA Cuts All Non-ISS Ties with Russia Over Ukraine (Updated)

In an internal memo, NASA has stated that it will suspend all interaction with the Russian government, in response to Russia's violations of Ukraine's territorial independence (Update: official statement below). Fortunately for U.S. astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson, both currently orbiting on the… » 4/02/14 2:25pm 4/02/14 2:25pm

The Human Heart May Not Be Able to Handle the Trip to Mars

Anyone dreaming of casting off the shackles of Earth for the microgravity wasteland of Mars is in for some (more) bad news. In addition to a host of other problems, the necessary 18-month spaceflight would, apparently, lead to one very unhealthy (and spherical) astronaut heart. » 3/31/14 6:20pm 3/31/14 6:20pm

The US Grows the Most Productive Plants in the World, Says NASA

Remember learning about America's "amber waves of grain?" Well, it turns out that the United States' bread basket—a.k.a., the Corn Belt—is even more productive than previously thought. In fact, during its growing season, it's the most productive land on Earth, according to new NASA data. » 3/31/14 4:20pm 3/31/14 4:20pm

The Inside Story of the Crazy Rocket Research at Jet Propulsion Labs

Everybody knows the cowboy reputation associated with early astronauts, the test-pilot swagger immortalized by Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff. But the rockets that took those astronauts to space were built by a group with an equally cinematic image: the nearly-unhinged, completely unfettered mad scientists at Jet… » 3/29/14 8:00pm 3/29/14 8:00pm

Facebook's Drone-and-Laser Plan to Give Internet to Everyone

In its quest to get the whole world online, Facebook's Internet.org project has included partnerships with companies like Samsung and Nokia, as well as with NASA. Now it seems that rumors about Mark Zuckerberg's drone dreams are true, and the social network giant is planning on internet-delivering drones, satellites,… » 3/27/14 5:47pm 3/27/14 5:47pm