It's a big day for any space mission: the shipping of the spacecraft from its assembly facility to its launch facility. That happened for the next lunar mission, LADEE, on June 4, 2013.
It was a merry and mighty month of May for the Mars Exploration Rover mission: Opportunity finished a blockbuster study of Matijevic Hill finding the best evidence yet for an ancient, potentially habitable environment, and then embarked on its first real road trip in two years. The robot field geologist had barely gotten underway on its journey when it surpassed the Apollo 17 lunar rover distance record to become the most traveled NASA vehicle on another planetary body.
There was a Curiosity telephone conference this morning to make an exciting announcement: they're (almost) done at Glenelg and are preparing for the drive south to Mount Sharp. Allow me an editorial comment: finally!
Traveling from one alien world to another, Dawn is reliably powering its way through the main asteroid belt with its ion propulsion system. Vesta falls farther and farther behind as the spacecraft gently and patiently reshapes its orbit around the sun, aiming for a 2015 rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres.
Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity left Cape York on May 14th and embarked on a 2-kilometer journey south along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover is heading now to Solander Point, where it will spend the coming Martian winter.
A couple of articles on India's Mars Orbiter Mission were published on the news website The Week yesterday, and they're much more in-depth and insightful than the norm.
For most of April, while Mars scuttled behind the Sun as seen from Earth, both Mars rovers were pretty inactive. Now that conjunction has ended, both are doing what rovers should be doing: roving and exploring. As of sol 3312 Opportunity had moved more than 300 meters southward toward Solander Point, while on her sol 279 Curiosity drilled at a second site, Cumberland.
Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.
As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) team waited out solar conjunction, Opportunity spent most of April atop the western rim of Endeavour Crater, conducting a chemical analysis of an ancient waterborne vein on Matijevic Hill. It was by the book until the last week of the month when the robot field geologist suffered an electronic "hiccup" known as a warm re-boot, and went into auto mode, a kind of safe mode when something doesn't go right.
Check out this absolutely wonderful infographic, produced by Olaf Frohn, that summarizes the entire history of solar system exploration.
All cylinders are firing here in the Society as we rev up a big response for the White House's NASA budget that proposes another $200 million cut to Planetary Science.
As the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission trekked further into its tenth year of exploring the Red Planet, Opportunity spent the month of March finishing up its science investigations on Matijevic Hill.
India's Mars Orbiter Mission has been much in the news in Asian media over the last week as a result of the release of ISRO's Annual Report 2012-2013. Also, ISRO and NASA issued a joint statement from Washington a week ago endorsing interagency cooperation in the space sciences