In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.
How many planetary exploration missions are there, and where are they? These days, it's hard to keep track, because there are so many. I plan to begin the new year by taking stock of active missions, figuring out what each has set out to do and accomplished so far, but first I want to step back to consider the spread of missions across the solar system as a whole.
A look ahead to see what's in store for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard humanity's orbital outpost.
Europe's second mission to Mars has begun its journey from its birthplace in Cannes to its planned arrival at Mars on October 19. Since December 17 we've been able to watch every step of its journey via Twitter.
NASA's Next Mars Mission Delayed for Two Years
One of its main scientific instruments could not maintain a vacuum
A problem with the French space agency's seismometer instrument will delay NASA's InSight Mars lander by two years.
SpaceX returned its Falcon 9 rocket to flight with flair tonight, successfully deploying 11 communications satellites after returning the rocket's first stage to Cape Canaveral for an upright landing.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/21 12:05 CST
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra successfully completed a spacewalk to free a stuck Mobile Transporter cart outside the International Space Station.
The OSIRIS-REx team successfully and safely completed sine vibration (sine vibe) testing on the spacecraft prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The sine vibe tests are designed to verify the system performs as expected after being exposed to flight-like low frequency vibration input.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/11 10:10 CST
Three International Space Station crewmembers are safely back on Earth following a post-sunset Soyuz touchdown in Kazakhstan.
JAXA had a press briefing today to confirm the successful arrival of Akatsuki into Venus orbit. It's been a long time coming: today's announcement came twelve years to the day after Japan had to abandon efforts to put Nozomi into Mars orbit. They released lovely images and discussed future plans.
Posted by Sanjay Limaye on 2015/12/08 10:29 CST
One day after closest approach, Akatsuki is now speeding away from Venus at 4.09 kilometers per second and is 180,000 kilometers from the planet. In his last report from Sagamihara, Sanjay Limaye gets some updates on the new orbiter's trajectory.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/08 09:23 CST
SpaceX is preparing to return its Falcon rocket to service after the loss of a mission in June 2015. A backlog of payloads, including an ISS-bound Dragon cargo craft, await.
The Akatsuki team achieved something that no mission as done before – put a spacecraft into orbit around a planet using only the attitude control thrusters. An event that one could not even conceive or propose!
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/06 05:28 CST
It took four tries for the weather to cooperate, but on Sunday afternoon, a Cygnus cargo spacecraft loaded with 3.3 metric tons of critical crew supplies launched toward the International Space Station.
Venus researcher Sanjay Limaye reports from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) in Sagamihara on the status of Akatsuki's second Venus orbit insertion attempt.
This is it: Akatsuki's final chance at Venus orbit insertion. The rocket firing should begin on December 7 at 08:51 Japan time (December 6 23:51 UT / 15:51 PST) and last for 20 minutes. It will take two days for JAXA to determine whether the orbit has been changed enough for Akatsuki to stay at Venus.