Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Hayabusa2 didn’t quite make it down to its intended 60-meter distance from asteroid Ryugu yesterday. There is nothing wrong with the spacecraft; it’s healthy and returning to its home position. The team will adjust parameters and give it another try in the future.
The dust raising power of the storms that wrapped Mars in a cloud in June and July diminished in August. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reviewed recovery plans, conducted additional simulations, and began wrapping the month with newfound reasons to believe Opportunity can emerge from her hibernation.
Heedless of the (now-dissipating) dust storm, Curiosity has achieved its first successful drill into rocks that form the Vera Rubin ridge, and is hopefully on the way to a second. It took three attempts for Curiosity to find a soft enough spot, with Voyageurs and Ailsa Craig being too tough, but Stoer proved obligingly soft on sol 2136.
Like its human colleagues, Dawn started out on Earth, but now its permanent residence in the solar system, Ceres, is far, far away. Let's bring this cosmic landscape into perspective.
A fantastic story of adventure, exploration and discovery is reaching its denouement. In the final phase of its long and productive deep-space mission, Dawn is operating flawlessly in orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.
Both OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons achieved first light on their still-distant targets this week. Between now and the end of 2018, Bennu and 2014 MU69 will turn from points of light into places.
Two months after arrival, the team has reported some preliminary facts about Ryugu. They also announced the selection of candidate landing sites for the spacecraft sample collection, for the German-built MASCOT hopper, and for the MINERVA-II microrovers
Chandrayaan-2, expected to launch in October, will now be launching no earlier than 3 January 2019, with its lander and rover touching down in February.
This week Hayabusa2 completed its closest approach yet to asteroid Ryugu. In a successful gravity measurement experiment on August 6, the spacecraft dipped to within 1 kilometer of the asteroid.
For the second time, JAXA navigators have zoomed their cameras and other instruments in on asteroid Ryugu. The August 1 operation was quicker than the previous one, requiring only 26 hours for the descent, science, and ascent.
As Opportunity slept in Perseverance Valley under the thick cloud of dust that has blanketed the Red Planet for the last six weeks, scientists who are studying the monster storm that forced the robot field geologist into its hibernation mode are now reporting the tempest has peaked.
Last week, Hayabusa2 approached to within 6000 meters of the surface of Ryugu, taking new photos. The team has developed a set of terminology to describe Hayabusa2's navigational positions around the asteroid.
Rapidly nearing the end of a unique decade-long interplanetary expedition, Dawn is taking phenomenal pictures of dwarf planet Ceres as it swoops closer to the ground than ever before.
As a monster dust storm grew to encircle the Red Planet in June, Opportunity spent most of the month in the dark, presumably sleeping in a hibernation mode as the skies over Endeavour Crater became darker and darker.
Hooray! Curiosity has triumphantly returned to drilling with a successful drill and delivery to its lab instruments at a site named Duluth. It's now studying the dust storm as it drives to new drill sites on Vera Rubin ridge.
On 26 June 2018, Hayabusa2 arrived at its target asteroid, Ryugu. In a very brief status update, I present comparisons of Ryugu to other previously visited asteroids and comets.
Ryugu has continued to grow in Hayabusa2's forward view, resolving into a diamond-shaped body with visible bumps and craters! They've done hazard searches, optical navigation imaging, and measured the rotation rate at 7.6 hours.
Propelled by the perfect combination of xenon ions, hydrazine rocket propellant and adrenaline, Dawn is on the verge of its most ambitious exploits yet.
Entrenched in the west rim of Endeavour Crater, veteran robot field geologist Opportunity is hunkered down in Perseverance Valley in a kind of hibernation mode.
Hayabusa2 is now less than 1000 kilometers away from Ryugu, and the tiny asteroid is beginning to betray its shape.