Science news

It was a routine launch for the Atlas V booster, which was carrying a Mexican satellite into orbit as it lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Friday morning. But the rocket's expanding exhaust plume was anything but ordinary.

Scientists have caught Mars crying salty tears.

Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. The streaks appear in sunny spots or when the weather is warm, and they fade when the temperature drops.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has announced he’s bringing his rocket company Blue Origin to Cape Canaveral, Florida, near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It will not only launch rockets there, but the private space company plans to manufacture them nearby. Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Pat Duggins of Alabama Public Radio.

NASA photo

The state’s aerospace authority is pressing ahead with plans for a commercial spaceport inside the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at a site called Shiloh.

Space Florida is undeterred by Sen. Bill Nelson’s recent comments that the Shiloh spaceport won’t happen.

Frank DiBello, president and chief executive officer of Space Florida, says space companies are calling for a commercial spaceport free of government bureaucracy.

He says the Central Florida Democrat’s comments don’t complicate the agency’s position.

AP Photo

NASA is offering up wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia for public view after hiding it from the world for decades.

A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center features two pieces of debris, one from each lost shuttle, as well as poignant, personal reminders of the 14 astronauts killed in flight.

It is an unprecedented collection of artifacts – the first time, in fact, that any Challenger or Columbia remains have been openly displayed.


The Twitterverse is blowing up with claims that Florida has a "flesh-eating" bacteria but state health officials are trying to tamp down what they say is wrong information.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

The University of South Florida announced late Friday afternoon that the USF Forensic Anthropology Laboratory will find an alternate location to train students and law enforcement to process human remains in outdoor crime scenes.

The Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training (FORT) program was proposed on Hillsborough County Sheriffs property in Lithia, but an outcry from residents about possible smells, groundwater contamination and property values prompted a change in plans.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

USF's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory is best known for its work at the Dozier School for Boys. Now, they're asking for approval to use a parcel of land in Lithia as a training ground for identifying real bodies in different stages of decomposition. 

Currently, students are using plastic skeletons to train on. USF Anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle, however, said that real bones aren't pure white like fake ones are. 

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft by a day, after fast-approaching storm clouds moved into Cape Canaveral, Fla., according to the AP. In a tweet, SpaceX said the next opportunity for a launch will be Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Our original post continues:

Taisha Henry

NASA says it’s on schedule to fly astronauts to the International Space Station on private spacecraft beginning in 2017.

It will cost about $58 million a seat to get to low earth orbit.

It was NASA’s first update on its Commercial Crew Program since a legal complaint about the bidding process was resolved earlier this month.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden says if the space agency is going to focus on Mars, it must rely on private companies to take astronauts to the space station.


A shipment of much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents finally arrived Monday morning at the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company's supply ship, Dragon, pulled up at the orbiting lab two days after its liftoff. Station commander Butch Wilmore used a robot arm to grab the capsule and its 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, as the craft soared more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean.

AP Photo

SpaceX called off its planned flight to the International Space Station early Tuesday because of rocket trouble.

The unmanned Falcon rocket was supposed to blast off before sunrise. But the countdown was halted with just over a minute remaining. The soonest SpaceX can try again is Friday morning.

Officials said the problem was with the motors needed for second-stage rocket thrust steering. If controllers had not aborted the launch, computers would have done so closer to flight time, NASA launch commentator George Diller said.

2015 Spending Bill Includes $18 Billion for NASA

Dec 11, 2014

That's $364 million more than the space agency got for the current fiscal year -- which ends on Sept. 30 -- and some $500 million more than it requested. Most of that increase is due to lawmakers increasing funding for the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle designed to eventually take astronauts to Mars, a key congressional priority. The spending bill includes $3.25 billion for human exploration, up from the $2.78 billion the Obama administration had sought.

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

NASA's new Orion spacecraft returned to dry land in Southern California after a test flight that ended with a plunge into the Pacific Ocean.

Navy ship, the USS Anchorage, delivered the capsule to Naval Base San Diego and unloaded the 11-foot-tall cone around 10 p.m. PST Monday.

Orion made an unmanned flight Friday that carried it 3,600 miles above Earth to test the spacecraft's systems before it carries astronauts on deep space missions. During re-entry into the atmosphere, the spacecraft endured speeds of 20,000 mph and temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Space Florida is Riding on Orion

Dec 4, 2014

Orion, NASA's deep-space exploration spacecraft, remained on the launch pad Thursday as a series of delays pushed its scheduled maiden flight to Friday.

But the vessel sitting atop the massive Delta 4 rocket is expected to one day push man to the Moon, asteroids and Mars, and Florida's aerospace leaders believe the state will remain at the forefront of those efforts.

Update at 9:35 a.m. ET

NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day send astronauts to Mars, is stuck on terra firma for at least another day after the space agency's mission control was unable to satisfactorily resolve a number of issues before a 9:45 a.m. ET launch window closed.

Radislav Sinyak NASA/Rad Sinyak

At 7:05 a.m. Thursday, the unmanned Orion test vehicle is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket to begin a two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission called Exploration Flight Test-1.

Even with all the drama — and now the prolonged silence, possibly permanent — the European Space Agency's (ESA) mission to land a fridge-sized probe on a comet zipping at about 80,000 miles per hour, some 300 million miles from Earth, was a resounding success. This first ever comet landing has captivated the world as very few events in the history — certainly the recent history — of space exploration have.

M. S. Butler

Plenty of kids play in dirt and collect bugs. Maybe you used to bring home bugs in a jar. Maybe you still do.  Deby Cassill does. But, she’s the Associate Professor of biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

So, she spends her days getting a microscopic look at something many of us consider a pest and even something to step on.

She says there was a time when it was considered strange for her to play with bugs.