Mars Curiosity rover transforms into an official Lego model

The world oohed and ahhed as NASA's Mars rover hurtled through the Red Planet's atmosphere, surviving "seven minutes of terror" and safely touching down on the barren landscape last year. Now, people can replay the death-defying feat with Legos.

The Danish toy company announced Thursday that on January 1 it will debut a new Lego set based on the Mars rover named Curiosity.

Just like the real spacecraft, the 1:20 scale Lego set comes with a 6-wheel rocker-bogie suspension, articulated robotic arm, and multiple camera sets. It also comes with a display plate and Lego … Read more

NASA releases Saturn 'hexagon' images like never seen before

A bizarre, funnel-shaped cloud formation churning around Saturn's north pole was first noticed in the 1980s in Voyager flybys. Eventually, this mass became known as "the hexagon."

Any images of this cloudy mass have been muted and blurry at best -- until now. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured new images of the hexagon that show it off in all of its unearthly glory.

The hexagon is a unique six-sided jet stream with a roiling rotating storm at its center. It spans roughly 20,000 miles and whips up 200 mph winds. According to NASA, no other … Read more

Mars? No, Burning Man: Curosity Rover art car will prowl the playa

If you happen to be wandering around a certain martian-like landscape next week and see the Curiosity Rover drive by, don't worry about your air supply.

Though you might be in a mindset to think you're on Mars, you're really at Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts festival held each summer in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. But your eyes aren't deceiving you: That is the Curiosity Rover. Well, at least an art car built by a group including members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory meant to pay homage to the rover that landed on … Read more

NASA puts Mars rover on a month-long hiatus

For the first time since its descent onto the red planet, the Mars rover Curiosity is getting a little alone time.

The rover and NASA scientists are having a communication breakdown, of sorts. But, not to worry, no hurt feelings are involved. The issue is that the sun has got in the way.

Once every 26 months, as the Earth and Mars rotate around the sun, the two planets end up on opposite sides of the star in an event called the Mars solar conjunction. Because of the sun's massive size, any communication sent between the two planets can … Read more

Curiosity flight director's family lives on 'Mars time'

If you happen to see a family in Southern California with kids ages 8, 10, and 13 at the beach just before midnight or perhaps bowling at 4 a.m., they're not related to Edward Cullen or any other vampires. They're just living on Martian time.

It's all part of NASA engineer David Oh's grand experiment to allow his family to share in an adventure of planetary proportions he's been involved in at work lately. Oh is the flight director for the Curiosity rover, currently wheeling its way along the surface of the Red Planet and occasionally blasting a Martian rock with a laser every now and then.… Read more

Mars Curiosity rover team prefers Macs to PCs

If there was anything Curiosity fans wanted to know about Mars, the rover, and the scientists behind the Martian landing, they were able to ask it today.

Reddit hosted a lengthy "Ask us Anything" Q&A with 12 members of NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover science and engineering team. And, yes, it included the "Mohawk guy."

Dozens of topics were covered, from whether there is life on Mars to how far Curiosity will roam within the Gale Crater to specifications of the equipment on the rover. At the time of this writing, there is a … Read more

Triumphant arrival on Mars? Check. What's next for Curiosity?

After its triumphant touchdown on Mars last night, it would be tempting to think that NASA's Curiosity rover is a complete success.

But while the part of the mission involving sending the one-ton rover on its 352 million journey to Mars ended in worldwide celebration, the real work hasn't even gotten started.

Over the coming weeks and months, NASA scientists have to ensure that everything on Curiosity is in working order, and only then will the rover take its first "baby steps," let alone begin to explore the many square kilometers of Martian terrain it was … Read more

Stars are the stars in 'History of Space Photography'

The Williamson Gallery at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., recently teamed with neighbor and NASA/Caltech affiliate the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create an exhibition of photos that dazzles one with the visual extravagance of the cosmos.

"The History of Space Photography" features 150 images, selected by guest curator Jay Belloli and several consultants at JPL. Most are from the last 50 years or so, but some date back as far as the 19th century.

The exhibition wrapped up its inaugural showing at Art Center earlier in May, but it's scheduled to begin a tour of science museums in India this November, and will touch down at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in New York next year. (Space fanatics should get started on those travel arrangements now.)… Read more

Asteroid to get neighborly with Earth on Sunday

Get ready for another asteroid to zoom past the Earth, closer than the moon. reports that Asteroid 2012 EG5 will get within 143,000 miles of the planet at 8:32 a.m. PT on Sunday -- that's a little more than half the distance to the moon.

About the size of a passenger jet (a mere 150 feet or so wide), this wee space pebble is nothing compared with the aircraft-carrier-size Asteroid 2005 YU55 that screamed by us all back in November.

Besides, the NASA-affiliated Near Earth Object Office assures us via Twitter that the stone … Read more

New array of telescopes could help search for E.T.

A new telescope array could bring us closer to better understanding the universe and perhaps even answer an age-old question: are we alone?

Tapping into the combined power of 13,000 individual antennas, the new Long Wavelength Array will be able to scan our corner of the galaxy using a wide and rarely explored range of frequencies, according to NASA. That power will give it the ability to find new worlds beyond our solar system by scanning for their radio waves.

Led by the University of New Mexico and joined by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which is supplying the digital electronic systems, the project will start off small this summer by powering up 256 antennas in central New Mexico. Once it's completed, though, the Long Wavelength Array will contain 53 stations with the 13,000 antennas taking up a space 248 miles in diameter.

Beyond looking for distant worlds, the telescope array will be able to detect other events among the stars, those that occur naturally and possibly some that don't.… Read more