With winter still freezing the southern hemisphere of Mars, June might have been an uneventful month for your average working robot, but not the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs). In fact, from the sounds of silence to a major discovery to an injury scare, the rovers' latest trials, tribulations and achievements, have turned the last four weeks into something of an emotional roller-coaster for some members of the MER team.
Mars Exploration Rover Spirit continued to hibernate this month, parked in place near an old volcanic formation called Home Plate. At the same time though she managed to rove back into the planetary exploration spotlight when a group of the mission scientists announced they had found -- in data from an outcrop the rover visited more than four years ago -- evidence for a past watery environment more suitable for life than any other either Spirit or Opportunity have found, a place where near-pure water existed. 1
When I wrote a post about Jupiter's missing South Equatorial Belt in May, I had three main questions: how long did it take for the belt to go away, has this happened before, and how can a planet as big as Jupiter change its appearance so quickly?
We've already seen IKAROS' view of its deployed sails from cameras attached to the spacecraft, but, in a brilliant idea, the Japanese built IKAROS with two deployable cameras that could view the thing from a distance.
Covering the events of Hayabusa's return involved a lot of watching and waiting. Rather than go blind staring at my computer and cause carpal tunnel syndrome by excessively clicking the refresh button, I decided to...go blind and develop carpal tunnel syndrome by doing some crocheting.
Here are a few photos from a Flickr gallery from the Australian Science Media Centre documenting the Hayabusa sample capsule's first step in its journey from Australia to Sagamihara, Japan, where it will arrive on Friday.