NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — NASA has delayed by at least several days the first flight of its mini-helicopter on Mars after a possible tech issue emerged while testing its rotors, the US space agency said Saturday. Ingenuity’s trip, which is to be the first-ever powered, controlled flight on another planet, was set for Sunday but is now on hold until at least April 14. A high-speed test of the four-pound (1.8 kilogram) helicopter’s […]

Comet ‘most pristine’ object from outer space seen in Solar System

    by Marlowe HOOD / Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse A newly observed interstellar comet is the most pristine visitor from outer space ever seen in our Solar System, according to a pair of studies released Tuesday detailing its unique characteristics. Pristine, in astronomical terms, describes a comet that has never passed close enough to a star to be transformed by its searing heat. 2I/Borisov was discovered in 2019 by Ukrainian astrophysicist Gennady Borisov […]

A ‘starter kit’ for supermassive black holes?

by Marlowe HOOD PARIS, France (AFP) — Scientists have reported the discovery of a rare, medium-sized black hole that may help answer one of the more tantalising questions in astronomy: how do their supermassive counterparts come into being? There are two well-known sizes of black hole — at one end, so-called stellar-class ones which are typically three to ten times the mass of our Sun — and at the other, supermassive ones, found at the […]

Russia puts 38 foreign satellites into orbit

  MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Russia on Monday put 38 foreign satellites into orbit after a succesful launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan following delays due to technical issues. Video published by the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed its Soyuz rocket launching against grey and cloudy skies at 0607 GMT. “The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Fregat upper stage and 38 spacecraft from 18 countries took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome,” Roscosmos said on […]

No threat to Earth as huge asteroid zooms past

  by Qasim Nauman Agence France Presse SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — The largest asteroid to pass by Earth this year has made its closest approach, posing no threat of a cataclysmic collision but giving astronomers a rare chance to study a rock formed during the beginning of our solar system. The asteroid was two million kilometers (1.25 million miles) away at its nearest, according to NASA — more than five times the distance between […]

Successful test for NASA’s giant Moon rocket

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — NASA successfully carried out a key static test of its troubled Space Launch System rocket on Thursday, a win for the agency as it prepares to return to the Moon. The second “hot fire” test saw all four of the rocket’s RS-25 engines fire simultaneously at 4:40 pm Eastern time (1940 GMT) for the full duration of eight minutes, producing a maximum of 1.6 million pounds of thrust (7.1 million […]

Large asteroid to pass by Earth on March 21: NASA

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The largest asteroid to pass by Earth this year will approach within some 1.25 million miles (two million kilometers) of our planet on March 21, NASA said Thursday. The US space agency said it will allow astronomers to get a rare close look at an asteroid. The asteroid, 2001 FO32, is estimated to be about 3,000 feet in diameter and was discovered 20 years ago, NASA said. “We know the […]

Planetary pact: China and Russia to launch lunar space station

  by Anastasia CLARK Agence France Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) – Russia and China unveiled plans Tuesday for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions. Though Moscow was once at the forefront of space travel — it sent the first man into space — its cosmic ambitions have dimmed thanks to poor financing and […]

Israeli 5-minute battery charge aims to fire up electric cars

by Alexandra Vardi HERZLIYA, Israel (AFP) — From flat battery to full charge in just five minutes — an Israeli start-up has developed technology it says could eliminate the “range anxiety” associated with electric cars. Ultra-fast recharge specialists StoreDot have developed a first-generation lithium-ion battery that can rival the filling time of a standard car at the pump. “We are changing the entire experience of the driver, the problem of ‘range anxiety’… that you might […]

Mars rover Perseverance holds its first test drive on ‘Red Planet’

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The Mars rover Perseverance has successfully conducted its first test drive on the Red Planet, the US space agency NASA said Friday. The six-wheeled rover travelled about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in 33 minutes on Thursday, NASA said. It drove four meters forward, turned in place 150 degrees to the left, and then backed up 2.5 meters, leaving tire tracks in the Martian dust. “This was our first chance […]

Fly me to the Moon: Japan billionaire offers space seats

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — It’s the sort of chance that comes along just once in a blue Moon: a Japanese billionaire is throwing open a private lunar expedition to eight people from around the world. Yusaku Maezawa, an online fashion tycoon, was announced in 2018 as the first man to book a spot aboard the lunar spaceship being developed by SpaceX. Maezawa, who paid an undisclosed sum for the trip expected to launch around 2023, […]

Hi, Robot: Japan’s android pets ease virus isolation

by Harumi OZAWA TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming in the pandemic. Smart home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. “I felt my […]