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Curiosity’s Tracks As Viewed From Space

One of the coolest aspects about the Curiosity rover’s mission to Mars has to be its close cooperation with one of NASA’s other Mars projects, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. MRO was re-purposed for Curiosity’s landing in order to give a stunning shot of the rover parachuting down to Gale crater, and now it’s giving us even more shots of the Mini-Cooper sized laboratory roving around the surface of the red planet.

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NASA Gives $100,000 To Develop Radical Supersonic Jet Design

You’ve got to appreciate NASA’s willingness to try something new when it comes to aerospace design. Sure, they might have given up on the whole space plane idea altogether but when it comes to regular atmospheric aircraft they’re willing to throw money down on just about anything. As cutting edge as NASA likes to be, the concept of a sideways flying supersonic jet may be their craziest idea yet.

Aerospace engineering professor Ge-Chen Zha of the University of Miami, has partnered with engineers from Florida State University to create what is undoubtedly the wildest supersonic jet design ever conceived. The Supersonic Bi-Directional Flying Wing (SBiDir-FW) looks a lot like a ninja throwing star with two short and stubby spikes and two long ones. The SBiDir-FW takes off using the long spikes as wings with the tips folded upward and the cockpit facing forward on one of the short spikes. See, that’s the interesting part. Normally when you are talking about aircraft you don’t really have to specify that a cockpit is facing forward on the craft, but for this one you do. In order for the craft to go supersonic, the body of the plane rotates around the engines in order to shorten the wingspan for a more stable high speed flight.

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The Planetary Society Gives Students The Chance To Name An Asteroid

The Planetary Society is pretty excited about NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid 1999 RQ36, but they do have some issues with the asteroid itself. It seems they aren’t that happy with the name, so they’ve decided to do something about it with a science outreach contest. They are teaming up with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and the University of Arizona to give students the chance to name the asteroid something that doesn’t sound like a robot’s designation on Star Wars. It’s a cool contest and it may just answer that age old question: What kid doesn’t want to name their own asteroid?

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Cassini Wows With Spectacular Images Of Saturn And Titan

She may not be roving around the red planet or have an incredibly complex skycrane system, but Cassini’s still got it. The NASA mission that made it to Saturn in 2005 and delivered its payload to Titan is still sending back amazing pictures from the ringed gas giant. Seemingly in an effort to remind people that there’s more to space exploration that Mars, NASA has released these stunning new pictures of Saturn and its smog-covered moon, Titan.

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NASA Wants Your Nominations For Its Federal Advisory Committees

NASA has just opened up its annual nominations for people to man its five different federal advisory committees. Does this mean you can quit your job flipping burgers and nominate yourself to help advise the NASA administrator on space policy and projects? Nope. But if there is a famous academic, writer, or Hollywood superstar who you think could make some great contributions to NASA, here’s your chance to get them in Charley Bolden’s Rolodex.

Open to the public once a year, the nominations are for replacement candidates on the NASA Advisory Council, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, ISS Advisory Committee, the ISS National Laboratory Advisory Committee, and the National Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing Advisory Board. These are all advisory boards, so these people will not be making policy, just suggestions that NASA can then ignore at their whim. While you can certainly nominate yourself to a position on the committees, the likelihood of you getting in if you aren’t either an expert in the field being discussed or famous, is pretty much non-existent.

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Dawn Probe Finishes Up At Vesta And Is Off To Study A Dwarf Planet

The Dawn space probe is about to claim a first in solar system exploration. After spending over a year studying the asteroid Vesta, it is about to depart towards the dwarf planet Ceres. This will make it the first space mission to orbit and study two different objects in the asteroid belt and the first mission to ever study a dwarf planet. If Dawn’s time at Ceres reveals as many beautiful pictures as it got from Vesta, we should be in for quite a treat.

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