Monday, May 25, 2015

Best Space Stories of the Week – May 24, 2015

The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane launched on another mystery mission, Russia's Proton rocket failed during a satellite launch and astronomers found the most luminous galaxy in the universe. Here's a look at's top stories of the week.

Mysterious X-37B military space plane launches again

 The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B soared into orbit on its fourth mystery mission Wednesday (May 20) in a launch that also lofted the Planetary Society's LightSail solar-sailing craft.

Another Russian rocket failure

 A Russian-built Proton rocket failed during a communications satellite launch over the weekend, dealing another blow to the nation's space program.

Astronomers find the most luminous galaxy in the universe

 A newfound galaxy is the most luminous one known in the universe, blazing more brightly than 300 trillion suns. [Full Story: Brightest Galaxy in Universe Found]

25th anniversary of Hubble's first photo

 NASA's Hubble Space Telescope may have launched 25 years ago last month, but Wednesday (May 20) marked another big anniversary for the famous observatory — a quarter-century since it took its first photo. [Full Story: Hubble Telescope Opened Its Space Eyes 25 Years Ago Today (Photo)]

2013 Chinese rocket launch may have been anti-satellite test

 The U.S. Defense Department is suggesting that the May 2013 launch of a Chinese rocket that it branded at the time as suspicious was a test of a technology designed to counter or destroy satellites in geosynchronous orbit. [Full Story: Pentagon Says 2013 Chinese Launch May Have Tested Antisatellite Technology]

Another 'golden record?'

 NASA's New Horizons Pluto probe may end up with one final mission after its work exploring the outer solar system is done — carrying a message to advanced alien civilizations. [Full Story: NASA Pluto Probe May Carry Crowdsourced Message to Aliens]

Solar-sailing cubesat's orbital trial set to begin

 The nonprofit Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft, which launched Wednesday (May 21), will conduct an orbital test mission that aims to help pave the way for future solar-sailing vessels.

Rosetta sees 'balancing rocks' on comet

 The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft spotted three boulders, each balancing on a small contact area, on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Space weather and alien life

 Earth regularly endures violent ejections of material from the sun, but could similar eruptions in other solar systems make alien planets inhospitable to life?

New insights into supernovas

 Debris blown off a dying star collided with its companion, creating a blast of ultraviolet radiation that is helping scientists to better understand the evolution of one of the key tools to measure the expansion of the universe.

Dragon returns to Earth

 SpaceX's robotic Dragon capsule returned to Earth Thursday (May 21), wrapping up the private spaceflight company's sixth cargo mission to the International Space Station. 

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