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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Emily Lakdawalla • November 16, 2015

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

OSIRIS-REx Progressing Through Environmental Testing

Dante Lauretta • November 16, 2015

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make steady progress toward launch in September 2016. Environmental testing is now underway to ensure the spacecraft is ready for the many conditions it will experience over its mission.

In Pictures: Orion, SLS Hardware on the Move

Jason Davis • November 06, 2015

November is shaping up to be a busy month for Orion and Space Launch System hardware. A human-rated flight engine is in the test stand at Stennis Space Center, and a version of Orion's service module is getting ready to cross the Atlantic.

ESA mission updates

Emily Lakdawalla • November 04, 2015

There have been several important pieces of news about European missions in the last month: Rosetta's fate has been determined; ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's launch is slightly delayed; and they have selected a landing site for the ExoMars rover.

On Station's 15th Anniversary, A Look at Astronaut Utilization

Jason Davis • November 04, 2015

An analysis by The Planetary Society shows that in the post-space shuttle era, NASA astronauts spend roughly 33 percent less time aboard the International Space Station than their Russian counterparts.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Hits Winter Slopes at Marathon Valley

A.J.S. Rayl • November 04, 2015

Opportunity hit the slopes of her seventh winter haven on the south side of Marathon Valley in October as the mission entered the 130th month of what was initially slated to be a 90-day tour.

Dawn Journal: A Bounty of Data

Marc Rayman • October 30, 2015

Dawn has completed another successful campaign to acquire a wealth of data in its exploration of dwarf planet Ceres, providing our clearest and most complete view ever of this world.

Enhanced Cygnus Arrives at KSC ahead of Atlas V-powered Cargo Run

Jason Davis • October 20, 2015

Orbital ATK is a month-and-a-half away from resuming cargo runs to the International Space Station.

Mars Orbiter Mission update: A year at Mars

Emily Lakdawalla • October 06, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of rumor that ISRO was ready to announce some results from its Mars Orbiter Mission's methane sensor. The Indian space agency held a press event for the one-year-in-orbit anniversary of Mars Orbiter Mission and released a book containing mission photos, but did not unveil any new scientific results.

Hayabusa2's target asteroid has a name!

Emily Lakdawalla • October 05, 2015

JAXA announced today the results of the naming contest for Hayabusa2. The target of the sample-return mission, formerly known as 1999 JU3 and still numbered 162173, is now named 162173 Ryugu.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Rocks on Ancient Water During Walkabout

A.J.S. Rayl • October 02, 2015

Opportunity continued her walkabout around Marathon Valley in September and sent home more evidence of significant water alteration and, perhaps, an ancient environment inviting enough for the emergence of life.

Cargo Craft Completes Six-Hour Schlep to ISS

Jason Davis • October 01, 2015

A Russian cargo craft laden with more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies arrived at the International Space Station today.

NASA announces five Discovery proposals selected for further study

Casey Dreier and Emily Lakdawalla • September 30, 2015

NASA announced the first-round selections for its next Discovery mission today. A total of five planetary mission concepts -- three targeted at asteroids, two at Venus -- will move to the next stage of the competition.

Dawn Journal: 8 Years in Space

Marc Rayman • September 28, 2015

On the 8th anniversary of the launch of the Dawn spacecraft, Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives his annual summary of Dawn’s progress on its interplanetary travels.

Curiosity update, sols 1073-1107: Driving toward dunes, distracted by haloes

Emily Lakdawalla • September 18, 2015

Since I last checked in with Curiosity, the rover has been steadily driving southward, heading directly toward the Bagnold dune field. They are looking for a place to drill into the Stimson sandstone unit, but have been distracted by intriguing pale haloes around frock fractures. Despite a rough road, the wheels are not showing significant increase in damage.

Orion Enters Fabrication Phase, but Possible Launch Slip Looms

Jason Davis • September 16, 2015

NASA's Orion spacecraft has officially moved from preliminary design to fabrication, but the agency says the first crewed flight of the vehicle could slip two years, from 2021 to 2023.

Swapped Soyuz Set for Friday Return

Jason Davis • September 11, 2015

Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov are set to return to Earth Friday after the station's one-year crew received a fresh Soyuz spacecraft.

Chang'e 5 test vehicle maps future sample return site

Emily Lakdawalla • September 03, 2015

This summer the Chinese space agency has been making progress toward its planned 2017 launch of the Chang'e 5 robotic sample return mission, performing low-altitude imaging of the future landing site.

Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Digs Marathon Valley Walkabout

A.J.S. Rayl • September 03, 2015

Opportunity drove farther into Marathon Valley in August, dug into what appears to be a water-altered rock, and took a lot of picture postcards in what is turning out to be a distinctively different site from any that the mission has found since the robot field geologist landed in 2004.

New Horizons extended mission target selected

Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier • September 01, 2015

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

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