Astronaut Eugene Cernan, last man to walk on the moon, has died at 82

"We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." These were the last words Eugene Cernan said upon leaving the surface of our moon, at the end of Apollo 17.

Cernan (shown below at the beginning of EVA 3) was the last man to walk on the moon. He died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.

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It's time to get beyond low earth orbit

Whenever a new presidential administration takes office, there’s a surge of gossip in the space exploration community about what the new president’s ambitions will mean for NASA. More funding to study climate change? Additional robotic exploration of the solar system? Renewed interest in manned spaceflight? A manned trip to Mars? A return trip to the Moon?

Many people speculate that there’s even a “red/blue” dynamic to space exploration — that Republicans tend to like the idea of returning mankind to the Moon, while Democrats prefer pushing on to an asteroid, or perhaps even Mars. Much of this is really a false dichotomy, based almost entirely on very recent history. In 2004 President George W. Bush announced that the United States would retire the space shuttle program in favor of building Apollo-style capsules and launch vehicles that would return human beings to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972, with the idea of setting up a permanent manned colony. President Barack Obama, shortly after taking office, scrapped Bush’s plan to return the Moon in favor of going first to an asteroid and eventually Mars in the 2030s, using the same Apollo-inspired spacecraft.

Space exploration, particularly of the manned variety, has never really been a red/blue thing. It has always been more a mingling of genuine scientific inquiry, national pride and a desire to maintain American dominance in advanced technology and scientific research.

NASA was founded in 1958 under a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the goal of overtaking the Soviets in space technology and establishing a human presence on the Moon. Read the rest

SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples

Another successful SpaceX mission to resupply the ISS ended today with a splashdown in the Pacific, southwest of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Here's an update from NASA.

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'NASA: On the Edge of Forever' explores links between Star Trek and the ISS

NASA released today the first of three videos that will highlight Star Trek and NASA tie-ins, to coincide with the release of Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.

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Smithsonian launches online Apollo 11 high-res 3D spacecraft model for moon landing's 47th anniversary

One great way to commemorate the 47th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place this day in 1969, is to travel to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (highly recommended!), and see in person the "Columbia" spacecraft that carried astronauts to the moon. But for those of us who can't get to DC and are feeling the O.G. space spirit, starting today you can explore a virtual reality simulation of the capsule's interior, painstakingly digitized by Smithsonian staff.

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NASA's Juno is about to reach Jupiter after a 5-year journey. I visited JPL before the big show.

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SpaceX launched 2 satellites into orbit, but its Falcon 9 rocket crashed

SpaceX successfully deployed two satellites on Wednesday, but the Falcon 9 rocket that carried them into orbit then crashed into its drone ship while touching down in the Atlantic Ocean.

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'Jupiter: Into the Unknown', a NASA Juno Mission Trailer

“Get some popcorn. This July 4, we're going to Jupiter.”

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The closest I'll get to Jupiter is this JPL clean room

Hey Jupiter, I hope you're ready for your close-up.

Recently, I was granted the rare privilege of stepping inside one of the largest cleanrooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I was there to learn about this year's blockbuster space mission, Juno, and chat with some super smart science and engineering people who worked on the project.

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SpaceX plans to send unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars by 2018, with humans to follow

By way of tweets and Facebook posts, SpaceX this week announced plans to send its unmanned “Red Dragon” spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018. Sending this privately-funded craft on a bold, brave, risky trip like this could bring SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk closer to his goal of getting humans to Mars.

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Europe and Russia just launched a Mars space mission to sniff out signs of life

A European-Russian spacecraft headed out from our humble little planet to space today, in search for life on Mars.

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Astronomer, NASA advisor, and serial sexual harasser Geoff Marcy to resign from UC Berkeley

Geoff Marcy, a famous and respected American astronomer, has announced his intention to step down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Marcy also works with NASA on the search for extraterrestrial life, via the NASA Kepler Mission.

Buzzfeed first broke today's news of Marcy's plans to step aside. It is the first real fallout he's facing from sexual harassment claims that the reported victims say were ignored for years.

Why would those claims be ignored by UC Berkeley? Because Marcy is kind of a big deal in the field of astronomy, and his name meant money for the struggling California academic institution. Read the rest

NASA rocket launch to be visible along U.S. East Coast Wednesday night

If you're on the East Coast, keep your eyes on the skies this evening--you might see something rare up there.

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Over 8,400 NASA Apollo moon mission photos just landed online, in high-resolution

Space fans, rejoice: today, just about every image captured by Apollo astronauts on lunar missions is now on the Project Apollo Archive Flickr account. There are some 8,400 photographs in all at a resolution of 1800 dpi, and they're sorted by the roll of film they were on. Read the rest

Scale model of the solar system in Nevada's Black Rock Desert

“On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe.” A film by Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh [HT: Mark Day]

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New close-ups from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show off Pluto's mysterious complexity

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The New Horizons spacecraft sent back new close-up images of Pluto, and they are stunning. Read the rest

Marvel at the space-beauty of Cassini's final close-up image of Saturn's moon Dione

Two of the new images show the surface of Dione at the best resolution ever.

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