Three billion years ago, in a third of a second, two black holes crashed into each other and merged into a single entity, converting two solar masses into energy that shook the fabric of spacetime, sending gravitational ripples across the universe that were detected on Earth last January, researchers announced Thursday.
A NASA spacecraft being readied for launch in 2018 will make repeated trips through the sun’s outer atmosphere, passing within 4 million miles of the star’s blazing surface at more than 430,000 mph to shed light on what powers the sun’s high-temperature corona, the origins of the solar wind and the causes of potentially catastrophic solar storms.
The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request includes $19.1 billion for NASA, a $561 million decrease over previously enacted levels that would reduce the number of Earth science missions, eliminate the agency’s education office and do away with the Obama administration’s plans to robotically retrieve a piece of an asteroid as a precursor to eventual flights to Mars.
President Trump called the International Space Station Monday for a videochat watched by thousands of school kids, congratulating commander Peggy Whitson on becoming America’s most experienced astronaut and jokingly promising to get Americans to Mars “during my first term or, at worst, during my second term.”
Just 10 days after three space station fliers returned to Earth — and two days after launch of a station-bound supply ship — a veteran four-flight cosmonaut and an enthusiastic NASA rookie were cleared for launch Thursday to boost the lab’s crew up to five — one less than usual because of cost cutting by the Russian space agency.