Archive for the ‘Unmanned Exploration’ Category

Mars crater shows evidence for climate evolution

Friday, June 8th, 2012

ESA’s Mars Express has provided images of a remarkable crater on Mars that may show evidence that the planet underwent significant periodic fluctuations in its climate due to changes in its rotation axis.

100 Days and Counting to NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Landing

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

At 10:31 p.m. PDT today, April 27, (1:31 p.m. EDT), NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, carrying the one-ton Curiosity rover, will be within 100 days from its appointment with the Martian surface. At that moment, the mission has about 119 million miles (191 million kilometers) to go and is closing at a speed of 13,000 mph (21,000 kilometers per hour).

NASA’s Twin Grail Spacecraft Reunite in Lunar Orbit

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

The second of NASA’s two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft has successfully completed its planned main engine burn and is now in lunar orbit. Working together, GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will study the moon as never before.

NASA’s Cassini Delivers Holiday Treats from Saturn

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

No team of reindeer, but radio signals flying clear across the solar system from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have delivered a holiday package of glorious images. The pictures, from Cassini’s imaging team, show Saturn’s largest, most colorful ornament, Titan, and other icy baubles in orbit around this splendid planet.

Battered Tharsis Tholus volcano on Mars

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The latest image released from Mars Express reveals a large extinct volcano that has been battered and deformed over the aeons.

Cassini Flyby Focuses on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Saturn’s moon Enceladus shows its icy face and famous plumes in raw, unprocessed images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during its successful flyby on Nov. 6, 2011.

Planetary probe hall of fame

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

We now have more than half a century of space exploration behind us. The technology and design of spacecraft has advanced massively since we first managed to send an object out of the Earth’s gravitational pull in 1959. Space Probes: 50 years of exploration from Luna 1 to New Horizons, a new book by Philippe Séguéla, tours through images taken of – or by – the robotic pioneers that have taught us so much about our neighbouring planets.

Phobos sample return launches tomorrow

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

If all goes well tomorrow (November 9 Moscow time) a Zenit-2 rocket will send the first Russian mission out of Earth orbit since the fall of the Soviet Union. In addition to it being a first for post-Communist Russia, it carries other first hopes: the first Chinese mission to Mars and the first deliberate sending of life from Earth into the solar system

Voyager 2 to Switch to Backup Thruster Set

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

NASA’s Deep Space Network personnel sent commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft Nov. 4 to switch to the backup set of thrusters that controls the roll of the spacecraft. Confirmation was received today that the spacecraft accepted the commands. The change will allow the 34-year-old spacecraft to reduce the amount of power it requires to operate and use previously unused thrusters as it continues its journey toward interstellar space, beyond our solar system.

Cassini Presents Saturn Moon Quintet

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

With the artistry of a magazine cover shoot, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft captured this portrait of five of Saturn’s moons poised along the planet’s rings.

Satellite may fall Sept. 24

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

A large, decommissioned NASA climate satellite is expected to make an uncontrolled re-entry through the atmosphere on Sept. 24, give or take a day, NASA said.

NASA Spacecraft To Enter Large Asteroid’s Orbit On July 15

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

On July 15, NASA’s ion-propelled Dawn probe will become the first spacecraft to enter orbit around a main-belt asteroid. Dawn will orbit Vesta for one Earth-year, studying the giant space rock at close range to help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system’s history.

Spirit’s last dispatches from Mars

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Although NASA didn’t give up on the Spirit rover until last month, scientists last heard from the robot explorer in March 2010, when it went silent at the onset of the cold and dark Martian winter.

An Epitaph for Rover Spirit (2004-2010)

Friday, May 27th, 2011

It is with a bittersweet sense of both sadness and pride that NASA announced this week the official end of the mission for the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.

JPL scientists bid final adieu to Mars rover Spirit

Friday, May 27th, 2011

NASA project managers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent a final set of commands Wednesday to the Mars rover Spirit, then said goodbye to the vehicle, which has been stuck in sand for about two years.

Kepler’s Exoplanets: A Progress Report

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Facing a standing-room-only crowd of reporters and astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston, members of NASA’s Kepler science team described on Monday their cornucopia of findings that have been flooding across the field of extrasolar-planet science.

A gathering of glorious galaxies

Friday, May 27th, 2011

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is best-known for making an all-sky survey in search of asteroids, brown dwarfs and perhaps even planets on the edge of our solar system and beyond.

NASA Mission Will Bring Home Pieces of Asteroid

Friday, May 27th, 2011

NASA announced plans on Wednesday to send a robotic explorer to bring a piece of asteroid back to Earth.
The mission, called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx, will cost about $1.8 billion, the space agency said.

NASA’s Spirit Rover Completes Mission on Mars

Friday, May 27th, 2011

NASA has ended operational planning activities for the Mars rover Spirit and transitioned the Mars Exploration Rover Project to a single-rover operation focused on Spirit’s still-active twin, Opportunity.


Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Could NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting space telescope stumble upon E.T.’s attempt at interstellar communication via a giant orbiting billboard?
SETI veteran scientist Jill Tarter pointed me to this imaginative prospect after reading my recent posting about Kepler’s potential to detect rings around extrasolar planets.