Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/19 05:51 CST
Akatsuki is finally approaching its second attempt to enter Venus orbit, on December 7; let's all wish JAXA the best of luck! And PROCYON, whose ion engines have failed, is still an otherwise perfectly functional spacecraft that is taking photos of Earth and the Moon as it approaches for a flyby.
Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.
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.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/06 11:53 CST
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.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/04 07:15 CST
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.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/04 11:47 CST
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.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/11/04 07:00 CST
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.
Orbital ATK is a month-and-a-half away from resuming cargo runs to the International Space Station.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/16 03:03 CDT
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.
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.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/09/03 08:04 CDT
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.