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ESA to Launch Comet Interceptor Mission in 2028

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2019

With Comet Interceptor, ESA plans to meet a comet on its first trip into the inner solar system. The mission was selected yesterday after a fast-track proposal process and will be developed on a rapid (for ESA) timeline, with a launch planned for 2028.

OSIRIS-REx Sets Low-Orbit Record, Enters New Orbital B Mission Phase

Emily Lakdawalla • June 19, 2019

Last week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample-return mission announced that they had achieved an orbit above asteroid Bennu with an altitude of only 680 meters. Now they are surveying for landing sites and have invited the public's help.

LightSail 2 Launch Viewing: Tips & Tricks

Justin Foley • June 15, 2019

LightSail 2 is launching on the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is one payload of many on the mission known collectively as STP-2. Space Test Program (STP) is a crucial part of the US Air Force’s development of advanced technologies in space.

Where We Are

Emily Lakdawalla • June 11, 2019

The last quarter has seen few changes in the roster of planetary exploration spacecraft. SpaceIL’s lunar lander Beresheet is now on the lunar surface. Its descent on 11 April seemed to go nearly perfectly. Unfortunately, a cascade of events shortly before its planned landing caused it to hit the ground too fast, and it did not survive.

Treasure Hunting With Hayabusa2

Makoto Yoshikawa and Elizabeth Tasker • June 10, 2019

IN THE EARLY hours of 22 February, light was just beginning to brighten the campus of JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) in Kanagawa, Japan. It should have been a quiet time, but the Hayabusa2 control room was packed with people. We were about to land on an asteroid.

ESA Prepares for ExoMars Rover 2020 Launch at Mars and on Earth

Emily Lakdawalla • May 30, 2019

Preparations for the ExoMars rover mission are in their final stages. ESA made two announcements today: ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter is shifting orbit, and they officially opened a new Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) in Turin, Italy.

LightSail Launch Event

Richard Chute • May 21, 2019

LightSail 2’s launch window opens on June 22, and we are finalizing plans for our launch viewing celebrations. Once we have finished coordinating the details with the Air Force’s STP-2 mission team and the Kennedy Space Center, we will share them with all of our members and backers so that you can join us in person or remotely via the internet.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Images Beresheet Impact Site

Emily Lakdawalla • May 16, 2019

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has successfully imaged the impact site of the Beresheet lander, which made a really good run at performing the first privately funded Moon landing on 11 April, but crashed after the failure of its main engine.

Chang’e-4 may have discovered material from the Moon’s mantle

Andrew Jones • May 15, 2019

The first science results from the unprecedented Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission are in. The mission’s Yutu-2 rover, deployed from the lander shortly after the Chang’e-4 landing on 3 January, has, with the help of the Queqiao relay satellite, returned data which suggests it has discovered material derived from the Moon’s mantle.

China’s SmallSat Lunar Mission Longjiang-2 to Deorbit on 31 July

Emily Lakdawalla • May 14, 2019

According to amateur spacecraft tracker Daniel Estévez, Longjiang-2 will crash into the Moon on 31 July after more than a year in lunar orbit.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: The Final Report

A.J.S. Rayl • April 26, 2019

It’s a fall afternoon at Endeavour Crater. The summer winds finally lost their energy and the dust storm season is over. But there are no more signals coming from Earth. No more comm sessions with the orbiters. Nothing like it used to be.

Curiosity Update, Sols 2313-2387: Two New Drill Holes Despite Memory Problems

Emily Lakdawalla • April 25, 2019

The Curiosity team is touring Glen Torridon, the Valley of Clay, south of Vera Rubin Ridge, happily photographing everything and zapping rocks. It’s clearly a delight for the team to be in a place they’ve been hoping to reach for 7 years.

InSight Detects Some Very Small Marsquakes

Emily Lakdawalla • April 23, 2019

InSight has finally detected its first Marsquakes, but so far, none have been large enough to produce good science. Still, it’s great news that the seismometer is producing sensible data.

First Science Results from Hayabusa2 Mission

Emily Lakdawalla • April 01, 2019

The Hayabusa2 team held a press briefing last week at LPSC to report newly published results on asteroid Ryugu.

What to Expect When Hayabusa2 Blows a Hole in Asteroid Ryugu

Jason Davis • April 01, 2019

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will deploy its Small Carry-on Impactor experiment, SCI, on 5 April.

Beresheet Gears up for Lunar Rendezvous

Jason Davis • March 28, 2019

The Israeli spacecraft is set to enter lunar orbit on 4 April at 17:57 UTC (13:57 EDT).

InSight Update, Sol 92: The Mole Did Hit a Rock

Emily Lakdawalla • March 01, 2019

The HP3 mole started hammering itself today, and almost immediately (after just 5 minutes) appears to have encountered a rock. No matter; they'll try again Saturday.

InSight update, sols 43-83: Instrument placement complete

Emily Lakdawalla • February 20, 2019

InSight has placed its second science instrument on the ground and set it free. Now it's time to bury the heat probe in the soil.

NASA’s Lucy mission gets caught in a fight between rocket companies

Casey Dreier • February 20, 2019

SpaceX says it wants to save NASA money, but its actions could cost taxpayers more in the end.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: NASA Declares Opportunity and MER Mission “Complete”

A.J.S. Rayl • February 14, 2019

At around 8 pm February 12, 2019, Pacific Standard Time (PST), the final commands were transmitted to Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover that defied all odds.

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