Space

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015.
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft suggest that a syrupy ocean filled with ammonia could dwell beneath Pluto's icy shell. 

There is no direct evidence for an ocean on Pluto, but scientists argue it's very likely, given that a subsurface ocean would explain the planet's particular rotation and tectonics. In a recent paper published in the journal Nature, researchers mused that an ocean at extremely low temperatures could be maintained if it contained ammonia. Ammonia has also been detected by the New Horizons probe on two of Pluto's moons. 

"It expands our ideas on what oceans can be," said Bill McKinnon, a Washington University professor and co-principal investigator of the New Horizons Mission. "We'll probably find, ultimately in our exploration, that things are even stranger than we think."

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi
Florida Institute of Technology

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi is an astrophysicist with so many credentials it would take a page and a half to list them all. Here’s a sample: He has a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University, was a 2012 TED Global Fellow, was a visiting scholar at MIT, was a U.S. State Department speaker and specialist to Algeria in 2012 and he co-hosts television shows on the Science Channel, National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel.

Provided by Henric Krawczynski

A giant balloon will soon provide scientists at Washington University in St. Louis a view of black holes in the Milky Way galaxy.

Researchers will launch the 40 million cubic foot unmanned balloon, carrying an X-Ray telescope named X-Calibur, this month from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, N.M. The payload will ascend 126,000 feet into the stratosphere, which is about four times the cruising altitude of commercial airplanes.

A view of the Earth from the International Space Station
A Beautiful Planet | IMAX

The idiom “you can’t see the forest for the trees,” takes on a more grandiose meaning in the new Omnimax film, “A Beautiful Planet,” opening today at the Saint Louis Science Center.

The film takes viewers to the International Space Station, with cameras operated by astronauts themselves, to see what Earth looks like from outer space.

Ronel Reyes | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1MOICtA

This weekend, leading researchers in the field of astrobiology will convene on UMSL’s campus to share research and analysis of recent findings. That begs the question: what in the world is astrobiology, anyway?

Funny you should ask. Astrobiology is a branch of biology which is concerned with the study of life on earth and in space. This weekend’s conference will focus on exactly how life originated on Earth and if that is being echoed elsewhere in the universe.

The Starliner will be assembled in Florida, with parts built at Boeing plants throughout the U.S.
Boeing

Boeing's St. Louis-based Defense, Space & Security division is providing more details about a project with NASA that's designed to help resume U.S.-based human spaceflight.

The capsule that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other low-orbit destinations has been named "Starliner."

Julius Montgomery
Florida Institute of Technology Office of Alumni Affairs

When most people recall monumental moments of the civil rights era, what events often come to mind? The Montgomery Bus Boycott? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech?

What about NASA?

This vista from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows "Wdowiak Ridge." Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) recorded the component images for this mosaic on Sept. 17, 2014
(Courtesy: NASA)

The world is sitting at the intersection of science fiction and science fact, in large part because of sci-fi devotees.

“People who are actively aware of what could be possible are psychologically more flexible than people who aren’t,” psychologist Michael Mahon told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. Mahon was trained as a clinical psychologist but now works as a licensed professional counselor.

Maggie Duckworth
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Maggie Duckworth is an electrical engineer and costume designer. She’s also the only St. Louis-area resident who’s still in the running for a one-way ticket to Mars.

Duckworth is a finalist for the Mars One mission to build a human colony on the Red Planet. Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit organization that plans to send humans to Mars by 2024. It will award 24 one-way tickets and Duckworth has made it through three rounds of cuts.

There are something on the order of 12,000 to 15,000 pieces of space debris larger than a softball in size orbiting the Earth.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Space debris probably isn’t at the top of your list of day-to-day concerns.

The junk we’ve left floating around in space includes everything from spent rocket stages and old satellites, to nuts and bolts ― even tiny flecks of paint.

And it’s constantly colliding with satellites and anything else in what's known as “low Earth orbit,” including the International Space Station.

(via Twitter/Photo by Chris Hadfield)

Here's a view you don't get every day:

It was tweeted in January by the commander of the International Space Station, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. He's been making it his job to not only lead Expedition 35 of the ISS but also amass a dazzling collection of images of the Earth from space.

(Here's a full map of his images taken high above locations all over the world)

The group of scientists working with NASA's Curiosity rover made a big announcement during a press conference today: "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign" if there was water there, "you be able to drink it," John P. Grotzinger, professor of geology at Caltech, said summing up the rover's latest findings.

That is, at one point Mars had the right conditions to support living microbes.

(NASA/Suomi NPP)

The images of this past week's heavy snowfall in Missouri and across the Midwest are familiar and chaotic - cars in ditches, closed airports and overall gridlock of infrastructure.

Today's NASA "Image of the Day" provides a decidedly more peaceful look at the storm's effects, from space.

Here's how NASA describes this image and the technology they used to capture it:

Scientists have discovered a world much fancier than our homely, little Earth.

New research that will published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters details a planet that is eight times heavier than Earth and with twice its radius. But instead of being covered in water and granite, it is encrusted in graphite and diamond.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

"You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan," NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft's 35th anniversary is proving to be unexpectedly exciting, as scientists gathered this week to examine new hints that the spacecraft is on the verge of leaving our solar system.

Voyager 1 is now more than 11 billion miles away from Earth. It blasted off in September 1977, on a mission to Jupiter and Saturn. But it also carried a Golden Record filled with music and the sounds of our planet, in case it encountered intelligent life as it moved out toward the stars.

Before we run through the news of the day, let's pause for something spectactular: a new video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a "massive filament" eruption on the sun that occurred last Friday. As Britain's The Register says, it is "mind-bogglingly gorgeous."

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, known for his words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," has died. The first man ever to walk on the moon was 82.

Update at 5:15 p.m. ET:

Armstrong's family has released a statement, saying he died following cardiovascular procedures. NASA published it here. They say, "Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."

In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. She blasted off aboard Challenger, culminating a long journey that started in 1977 when the Ph.D. candidate answered an ad seeking astronauts for NASA missions.

In a lecture she gave at Berkeley, Ride said she saw the ad on Page 3 of the student newspaper.

"The moment I saw that ad, I knew that's what I wanted to do," she said.