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Dan Vergano

Space Shuttle 747 to Land in Museum

The jumbo jet that first carried a space shuttle coast to coast will land in a museum next month, scheduled to forever bear a copy of its most famous passenger. NASA 905 was the first of two Boeing 747 passenger jets modified by the space agency to wing space shuttles from landing runways back to…

Biggest Yellow “Hypergiant” Star Spotted

A jumbo star 1,300 times wider than the sun has surprised astronomers, who report it is the biggest yellow “hypergiant” star ever spotted. Dubbed HR 5171, the star is also surprising because a companion star was discovered orbiting it. “The two stars are so close that they touch, and the whole system resembles a gigantic…

Spacewalk Mishap Tied to Clogged Helmet Filter

An International Space Station mishap that nearly killed an astronaut last year happened because of a clogged spacesuit filter, a NASA investigation board said on Wednesday. The report also pointed to mission controllers not adequately investigating earlier signs of the problem. On July 16, 2013, during a two-man spacewalk, Italy’s Luca Parmitano reported that water was…

Sun Unleashes Monster Blast—Biggest in a Year

A powerful solar blast uncorked late Monday was the biggest one in a year, report space-weather officials.

Lopsided Supernova Blasts Uncovered

Some jumbo stars commit stellar suicide in surprisingly lumpy explosions, according to a new study in Nature. Scientists led by Caltech’s Brian Grefenstette looked at Cassiopeia A, a supernova that first appeared in nighttime skies around the year 1670. The supernova’s wispy remnants rest some 11,000 light-years away from Earth, stretched across some 59 trillion miles (95 trillion…

Newly Discovered Planet Wobbles as It Spins

A newly discovered planet wobbles as it spins, astronomers say, though it’s in no danger of falling down. The planet, dubbed Kepler-413b, wobbles as it spins around on its north-south axis circling its stars. The wobbles have altered the planet’s tilt by as much as 30 degrees (the angle between the 12 o’clock and the 1…

NASA Reveals Saturn’s View Of Earth

NASA has unveiled a gorgeous Cassini spacecraft look at the Earth, Mars and Venus, as seen from behind Saturn. In orbit around the ringed planet since 2004, Cassini set up the image when it passed into Saturn’s shadow on July 19, 2013. That allowed the spacecraft to capture the arrangement of rings, moons and worlds seen…

Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter Dies

An explorer in space and in the ocean, Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter, died Thursday, of complications related to a recent stroke. He was 88. A U.S. Navy reconnaissance pilot during the Korean War, Carpenter was selected as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, making him an instant celebrity. The astronauts were chosen by…

T. Rex Museum Move Stymied

What’s powerful enough to stop Tyrannosaurus rex in its tracks? The U.S. government shutdown, which halted the start of a trip for the “Wankel” T. rex from a Montana museum to its new home at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,…

NASA: Shutdown Won’t Stop MAVEN Launch

The U.S. government shutdown won’t halt plans to launch NASA’s next Mars mission, scheduled for November 18, space agency officials have decided. The MAVEN (Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft is required as a communications relay for NASA’s Mars rovers and therefore is exempt from the ongoing federal shutdown. The $485 million mission has only a…

Beer Gut: Man’s Belly Brews Own Beer

Exposure to brewer’s yeast allowed a man’s stomach to ferment its own beer, a new study says.

Google Doodle Focuses On Foucault’s Pendulum

Suspended from the dome of the Pantheon in Paris in 1851, the pendulum designed by Léon Foucault was a first demonstration of the Earth’s rotation. Today it is the subject of a Google Doodle honoring the French physicist and his invention. The original Foucault’s Pendulum consisted of a steel ball hung 22 feet (6.7 meters)…

Why Is This Australian Spotted Cat in Trouble?

Bad news for the Tasmanian devil also may mean tough times for another one of Tasmania’s predators, the eastern quoll, scientists say.