Archive for the ‘Unmanned Exploration’ Category

Small ExoPlanet Satellite Chosen for Launch

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

NASA recently selected 20 small satellites to fly as auxiliary cargo aboard rockets that are planned to launch in 2011 and 2012.
These small “CubeSats” are nanosatellites, measuring approximately four inches long, with a volume of about one quart, and weighing 2.2 pounds or less.

NASA’s Next Goal: Mars, Titan or Comet?

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

You can think of NASA’s Discovery program as a sort of outer-space American Idol: every few years the agency invites scientists to propose unmanned planetary missions. The projects have to address some sort of fundamental science question, and (this is the tough part) they have to be relatively cheap to pull off — say, half a billion dollars or so.

NASA Dawn Spacecraft Reaches Milestone Approaching Asteroid

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has reached its official approach phase to the asteroid Vesta and will begin using cameras for the first time to aid navigation for an expected July 16 orbital encounter. The large asteroid is known as a protoplanet – a celestial body that almost formed into a planet.

Five Things About NASA’s Voyager Mission

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Here are five facts about NASA’s twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, the longest continuously-operating spacecraft in deep space. The Voyagers were built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft.

Big changes in Mars’ atmosphere

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

A massive reservoir of buried frozen carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) detected by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is intimately related to the mass of the red planet’s atmosphere as the planet tilts on its axis, which in turn could affect the stability of liquid water and the frequency and severity of dust storms.

Astronomers mull merger of missions

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

NASA’s constrained budget is encouraging some creative pairings. This week, scientists eager to find other habitable worlds explored the possibility that a future space telescope for probing the origins of stars and galaxies could serve their needs as well.

Difficult decisions ahead on Mars

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The joint Mars exploration envisioned by the US and Europe is set for an overhaul, following an announcement by the Americans that their part of the budget is critically short of funds.
Nasa and Esa had agreed to send two rovers to the Red Planet in 2018.

Extraordinary close-up reveals sponge-like surface of Saturn moon

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

For all the world, it looks like a sponge in extreme close-up in a darkened room.
But this astonishing image taken by Nasa’s Cassini probe actually shows one of Saturn’s moons.
One of 62 confirmed moons circling the ringed planet, Hyperion is dotted with huge, deep craters that have astronomers buzzing.

NASA Solar Sail Visible Over Parts of U.S. and Canada

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

NASA’s first solar sail to circle Earth in low orbit is making regular evening passes over much of the United States and Canada over the next week, and may be visible to skywatchers if conditions are clear.


Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

What could be worse a meteorite hitting you? Two meteorites hitting you, at the same time!
As shown in the above HiRISE image, this is exactly what happened on Mars. These two impact craters were formed simultaneously, but how do we know that?

NASA Spacecraft Closes in on Comet Tempel 1

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

NASA is about to discover how solar heat devours a comet. “For the first time, we’ll see the same comet before and after its closest approach to the sun,” explains Joe Veverka, principal investigator for NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission.

Stardust Celebrates Twelve Years With Rocket Burn

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft marked its 12th anniversary in space on Monday, Feb. 7, with a rocket burn to further refine its path toward a Feb. 14 date with a comet.

Tool makes search for Martian life easier

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Finding life on Mars could get easier with a creative adaption to a common analytical tool that can be installed directly on the robotic arm of a space rover.

How the winds of change have shifted the sands of time on Mars

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The vast polar sand dunes of Mars have long been thought to be frozen in time. Now scientists have found they are one of the most active and tumultuous landscapes on the planet.

Making waves: Nasa deploys first solar sail spacecraft in orbit around Earth

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

It sounds like something from the pages of science-fiction – a spacecraft that deploys a sail to generate solar power from the sun.
Now Nasa has successfully launched the first solar sail spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.

NASA’s Overbudget Mars Rover in Need of Another Cash Infusion

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission needs an $82 million cash infusion to maintain its late November launch date after development of the $2.47 billion rover exhausted program funding reserves last year, according to agency officials.

Groove to cool views from Mars

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter consistently beams down mesmerizing high-resolution images of the Red Planet. Now, the scientists who study the images have stitched together the latest public release into this cool video set to a groovy “Sanskrit” tune they grabbed from Apple’s GarageBand. Let’s take a virtual tour …

NASA Mars Rover Will Check for Ingredients of Life

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Paul Mahaffy, the scientist in charge of the largest instrument on NASA’s next Mars rover, watched through glass as clean-room workers installed it into the rover.

New Photos of Saturn Moon Show a Pockmarked Place

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The battered and pockmarked surface of Saturn’s moon Rhea was revealed by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which made its closest flyby of the moon this week.

So, you want to be a rocket scientist?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

It pays to be a rocket scientist.
The typical aerospace worker’s salary in Virginia in 2009 was $99,385, according to a report issued by the state Department of Aviation.