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NASA Discovers 7th Closest Star 137 says "Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body. Astronomers hunted these dark orbs, termed Y dwarfs, for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of six Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years. 'WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects, and was able to spot their feeble light with its highly sensitive infrared vision,' said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'They are 5,000 times brighter at the longer infrared wavelengths WISE observed from space than those observable from the ground.'"

Humanoid Robot Wakes In Space, Tweets 91

DeviceGuru writes to note that "Robonaut 2 (aka R2), the first humanoid robot to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS), was awakened from stasis this week after six months in orbit. R2s first words? 'Those electrons feel GOOD!' The success of R2's activation on the ISS paves the way for putting R2 through its first movements in orbit on Sept. 1, when R2 will be sent commands for moving its arms and hands. Assuming these and other tests proceed without a hitch, R2 will start assisting the ISS crew with simple tasks in 2012. Coffee? Tea? Cigarettes?"

NASA Shoots Down Comet Elenin Doomsday Predictions 144

coondoggie writes "The comet Elenin, which will pass by Earth October 16, has generated such an inordinate amount of doomsday reports from a number of different sources that NASA today issued a release meant to address a variety of them. To address the myriad concerns, NASA said its scientists compiled a list of the most popular questions it has received about Elenin."

Atlantis Lands, Ending the Shuttle Era 256

Early this morning Atlantis landed at KSC in Florida. I've been following the trip intently ever since my trip to Florida to see the launch of the very last Shuttle. This really is the end of an era. Thanks go out to the thousands of NASA employees who made this happen, many of whom have been laid off. A number of them emailed me directly showing me pictures and sharing stories. I wish you all the best. As for America, here's hoping that we return to space soon.

NASA's Hubble Discovers Another Moon Around Pluto 208

thebchuckster writes "Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a fourth moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The tiny, new satellite – temporarily designated P4 — was uncovered in a Hubble survey searching for rings around the dwarf planet. The new moon is the smallest discovered around Pluto. It has an estimated diameter of 8 to 21 miles (13 to 34 km). By comparison, Charon, Pluto's largest moon, is 648 miles (1,043 km) across, and the other moons, Nix and Hydra, are in the range of 20 to 70 miles in diameter (32 to 113 km)."

James Webb Space Telescope Closer To the Axe 226

astroengine writes "This could be considered 'strike two' for the deeply troubled James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee made the recommendation that the advanced infrared space telescope be cancelled. On Wednesday, the full House Science, Space and Technology Committee has approved the subcommittee's plan. The project may not be dead yet — the 2012 budget still has to be voted on my the House and Senate — but it sure is looking grim for 'Hubble's replacement.'"

Last NASA Spacewalk Marks End of Era 80

An anonymous reader writes "Astronauts embarked on the final space walk of the U.S. shuttle era at the International Space Station, where Atlantis is docked on the final mission of the 30-year U.S. program. Atlantis carries a year's worth of supplies — more than 3,600 kilograms — for the International Space Station. It will also bring up a system that will be used by Canada's Dextre robot to test a system for refuelling and repairing spacecraft and satellites in space."

CmdrTaco Watches Atlantis Liftoff Screenshot-sm 130

When someone offers you the once in a lifetime chance to see something as historic as the final Space Shuttle Flight: You go. As a child I assembled a puzzle of the Challenger illuminated by those bright xenon lights, and dreamt of space flight. And last week I went to see the last launch the world will ever see of a Space Shuttle. Atlantis. STS-135. What follows is the story of my brief stay at the Kennedy Space Center.

CmdrTaco at Kennedy Space Center Screenshot-sm 105

Matthew Travis from the Ares Institute Inc helped me get a press pass for the STS-135 Launch. so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for no scrub. I'm tweeting as @cmdrtaco from the launch if you are into that sort of thing. I'll have more later, but for now you'll have to make do with a photo I took, as well as a brief video clip I took of Atlantis on the pad at night.

Big Drop In Solar Activity Could Cool Earth 569

coondoggie writes "Scientists say the Sun, which roils with flares and electromagnetic energy every 11 years or so, could go into virtual hibernation after the current cycle of high activity, reducing temperatures on Earth. As the current sunspot cycle, Cycle 24, begins to ramp up toward maximum, scientists from the National Solar Observatory and the Air Force Research Laboratory independently found that the Sun's interior, visible surface, and corona indicate the next 11-year solar sunspot cycle, Cycle 25, will be greatly reduced or may not happen at all."

War Over Arsenic Based Life 155

Antipater writes "Slashdot readers may remember the announcement and ensuing controversy six months ago over the NASA discovery of microbes that can supposedly incorporate arsenic into their DNA. Now, The Washington Post reports that Science has published a collection of eight scathing critiques of astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, her methods, and her conclusions. Wolfe-Simon is starting to fire back and gather her own allies — one wonders if we're in for another cold-fusion style science war."

Hack Targets NASA's Earth Observation System 45

Gunkerty Jeb writes "A hacker is claiming that a security hole in a server at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has exposed data related to a satellite-based Earth observation system used to aid in disaster relief. The hacker, who uses the handle 'Tinkode,' has published a screen capture from what he claims is an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server at NASA's Goddard Center. The hack comes exactly a month after the same hacker exposed a similar hole in a server operated by the European Space Agency."

Space Shuttle Endeavour Blasts Off On Final Flight 125

Velcroman1 writes "Space shuttle Endeavour rocketed into space Monday morning from Kennedy Space Center, led by mission commander Mark Kelly on the final mission for the youngest vehicle in the space fleet. Over 6 million pounds of thrust from the shuttle's rocket booster carried Endeavour into orbit, at speeds of up to 19,000 miles per hour, for an expected meeting with the International Space Station on Wednesday. 'It's incredible how you can see this machine hurled into space like the fastest fastball ever thrown, going to Mach 25 — 25 times the speed of sound — and it's an incredible race to orbit,' former NASA astronaut Tom Jones said. 'It's one of the greatest physical sensations an human can experience,' he added."

NASA Satellite Snaps First Image of Target Asteroid 57

coondoggie writes "NASA today said that its Dawn spacecraft snapped the first image of the giant asteroid Vesta it hopes to rendezvous with in July. The asteroid is 530 kilometers in diameter, and appears as a small, bright pearl against a background of stars. Vesta is known as a protoplanet, because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet. It's the second most massive object in the asteroid belt, NASA says."

NASA Banned From Working With China 284

astroengine writes "In the wake of the Chinese cyber-threat and claims of espionage, a clause included in the US spending bill approved by Congress to avert a government shutdown a few weeks ago has prohibited NASA from coordinating any joint scientific activity with China. The clause also extends to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy."

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.