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Stories by John Matson

More Belt-Tightening in Store for NASA as STEM Education Programs Face Consolidation

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has just released President Obama’s budget request for 2014. It will take some time for the budget’s full impacts on science to be dissected and debated, but here is a quick look at how one closely watched agency—NASA—fared.The president’s budget, which is subject to Congressional negotiation and approval, would provide $17.7 billion for NASA, down a bit from the previous year...

April 10, 2013 — John Matson

NASA Getting into the Asteroid-Moving Business

Dissatisfied with the current state of the solar system, NASA is looking to do a little remodeling.The space agency is angling to capture a small asteroid and drag it closer to Earth for human exploration, the Associated Press reported April 6...

April 9, 2013 — John Matson

Cosmos Study Dashes Hope for New Neutrino

First particle physicists discovered “a boring old Standard Model Higgs boson,” as my colleague Michael Moyer put it, meaning that the particle hewed closely to theoretical predictions and offered little in the way of guidance to new and exciting physics...

March 22, 2013 — John Matson

Astronomer Locates Previously Unseen Neighbor to the Sun

When NASA launched the WISE satellite in 2009, astronomers hoped it would be able to spot loads of cool, dim objects known as brown dwarfs. Bigger than a planet, a brown dwarf is not quite a star, either—it is too small to sustain the nuclear fusion reactions that turn hydrogen to helium...

March 11, 2013 — John Matson

Naked-Eye Comet Pan-STARRS Climbing into Northern Skies

This year is shaping up to be a great one for amateur sky-watchers. Toward the end of 2013, astronomers expect the recently discovered Comet ISON (officially designated C/2012 S1) to shine mightily as it approaches the sun—possibly glowing as bright as the full moon...

March 7, 2013 — John Matson

Commercial Spaceflight Industry Drifts Back to Earth

As the brash, stylish new kid on the block, SpaceX was sure to win its share of admirers. But last week’s launch hiccup showed that the private space operator, helmed by Elon Musk, has a few issues to work out, just like stodgy old NASA.Don’t get me wrong: SpaceX has done unbelievably impressive things...

March 6, 2013 — John Matson

Could Another Chelyabinsk-Scale Meteor Sneak Up on Us?

When a 17-meter asteroid barreled into Earth’s atmosphere over central Russia on February 15, releasing a powerful shock wave that injured more than 1,000 people, many observers wondered how such a momentous event could arrive unheralded...

February 20, 2013 — John Matson

Hundreds Reported Injured in Blast from Meteor Strike over Russia [Video]

A meteor fireball lit up the morning sky over Chelyabinsk in central Russia, producing a shock wave that shattered windows and injured an estimated 500 1,000 people.** Although much of the parent object likely burned up in the atmosphere, Russian authorities say that several meteorite fragments have already been recovered, according to the Interfax news agency.A preliminary analysis posted to the Web site of the Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that the object that struck Earth's atmosphere was a few meters in diameter, "the weight of the order of ten tons [and] the energy of a few kilotons," according to a Google translation.* That would make the Chelyabinsk event a fairly common occurrence, although such strikes usually occur over less-populated regions, not cities of more than a million people...

February 15, 2013 — John Matson
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