In this March 7, 2012 photo, David Coppedge, left, is shown outside Los Angeles Superior Court with his attorney, William Becker. Coppedge, a mission specialist who claims he was demoted - and then let go - by Jet Propulsion Laboratory for his workplace comments promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory denies allegations that David Coppedge's employment as a lab specialist was terminated because of his belief in intelligent design. Closing arguments in the wrongful termination case are set to begin in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
The computer specialist — who worked for 15 years on the Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its moons — was let go last year.
He says he was discriminated against for engaging co-workers in conversations about intelligent design, and for handing out related DVDs at work.
Intelligent design is a type of creationism that rejects evolution as the sole basis for life's origins believing instead that nature is too complex to have evolved without a higher-power based plan.
NASA/Paul E. Alers
A model of the Curiosity, NASA's mobile robotic laboratory
Forced into a less scenic route by budgetary constraints, NASA announced that it will be redrawing its map to Mars to cut down on mission costs.
With the intention of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s -- and a quicker goal of returning Martian soil and rock samples to Earth -- the space agency issued a call to arms of brains, asking scientists and engineers on this planet to come forward with robotic mission ideas.
A collaboration with European collegues to bring back the far out samples was aborted by NASA earlier this year due to budget cuts.
Hoping for a determination by summer, a new team is being formed to assess idea proposals, mission priorities, and options.
NASA recently hit another rough turn when it issued a startling report in March detailing a universe of trouble in the agency's security department.
GRAIL Mission Comes Together: NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft are lowered onto the second stage of their Delta II launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida (8/18/2011). At the top of the image is the spacecraft adapter ring which holds the two lunar probes in their side-by-side launch configuration. The adapater ring and the probes are wrapped in plastic to prevent contamination outside the clean room in the Astrotech Space Operation's payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. The spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field. GRAIL's primary science objectives are to determine the structure of the lunar interior, from crust to core, and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC)
GRAIL Twins are Covered: At Space Launch Complex 17B on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, spacecraft technicians monitor the movement of a section of the clamshell-shaped Delta payload fairing as it encloses NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft. The fairing will protect the spacecraft from the impact of aerodynamic pressure and heating during ascent and will be jettisoned once the spacecraft is outside the Earth's atmosphere. The image was taken on Aug. 23, 2011. (Courtesy NASA/KSC)
GRAIL Flying in Formation (Artist's Concept): Using a precision formation-flying technique, the twin GRAIL spacecraft will map the moon's gravity field. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, including the size of a possible inner core, and it should provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. GRAIL is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Testing the GRAIL Twins: In this photo, taken April 29, 2011, technicians install lifting brackets prior to hoisting the 200-kilogram (440-pound) GRAIL-A spacecraft out of vacuum chamber after testing. Along with its twin GRAIL-B, the GRAIL-A spacecraft underwent an 11-day-long test at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver that simulated many of the flight activities they will perform during the mission, all while being exposed to the vacuum and extreme hot and cold that simulate space. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
GRAIL's Twin Spacecraft fly in Tandem Around the Moon (Artist's Concept): The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission utilizes the technique of twin spacecraft flying in formation with a known altitude above the lunar surface and known separation distance to investigate the gravity field of the moon in unprecedented detail. The technique utilizes radio links between the two spacecraft as well as radio links to stations on Earth. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, including a possible inner core, and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. GRAIL is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. (Courtesy NASA/JPL)
GRAIL's Twin Spacecraft -- Crust to Core (Artist's Concept): The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission utilizes the technique of twin spacecraft flying in formation with a known altitude above the lunar surface and known separation distance to investigate the gravity field of the moon in unprecedented detail. The technique utilizes radio links between the two spacecraft as well as radio links to stations on Earth. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, including a possible inner core, and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. GRAIL is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. (Courtesy NASA/JPL)
Twin NASA probes began studying the moon's gravity late Tuesday night in effort to determine why the moon, Earth's only natural satellite, is shaped the way it is.
Managed locally at NASA's Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the three-month GRAIL mission (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory), will begin analyzing data in one month.
Scientists want to know why the Pink Floyd side of the moon appears to be more mountainous than the side that always faces Earth. Despite numerous missions, they still don't have that answer.
Additionally, by mapping the lunar gravity field, investigators hope to support or discredit a theory that Earth at one time had two moons.
Researchers hope the $496 million mission -- which includes spacecraft development, science instruments, launch services, mission operations, science processing and relay support -- will net significant intel about what lies below the surface.
NASA/Paul E. Alers
A model of the Curiosity, NASA's most advanced mobile robotic laboratory, which will examine one of the most intriguing areas on Mars, is seen prior to a news briefing, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.
In space, no one can hear you hack.
NASA issued a report this week detailing startling breaches that suggest a universe of trouble in the agency's security department.
Last year, NASA's Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory was attacked by hackers with an IP addresses originating from China. Intruders had full control of the networks, the report revealed, accessing NASA employee credentials, and opening sensitive files with the ability to alter, copy and delete.
The report went on to disclose that NASA was the target of 47 such cyberattacks -- sophisticated, well organized, and well funded -- in 2011. But this is just the tip of the meteoroid.
In total, the space agency suffered 5,408 information security incidents "that resulted in the installation of malicious software on or unauthorized access to its systems" over the course of two years, CNN reports.
Screenshot via YouTube
Xombie rocket test.
The privately built "Xombie" rocket made its first free-flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port about 90 miles north of Los Angeles earlier this month.
The Masten Space Systems rocket is part of a NASA program that's testing vertical landing systems for solar system exploration.
Unmanned, the Xombie rocket lifted off the ground, flew horizontally and landed at a pad 164 feet away. The entire demonstration took 67 seconds.
Masten won a $1 million prize using the Xombie rocket in 2009 as part of a NASA-backed simulated lunar landing contest. In 2010, Masten and Armadillo Aerospace were awarded $475,000 from NASA to test vehicles capable of carrying small payloads to near-space.
XOMBIE TESTING 2012:
XOMBIE TESTING 2010: