Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Spacecraft need power to reach the dark, dusty, distant locales of our solar system. Safe, non-weapons-grade plutonium-238 provides that power when solar energy can't cut it.
IN THE EARLY hours of 22 February, light was just beginning to brighten the campus of JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) in Kanagawa, Japan. It should have been a quiet time, but the Hayabusa2 control room was packed with people. We were about to land on an asteroid.
Rosetta is a European Space Agency mission with contributions from its member states and NASA. Operating such a complex mission with its 11 instruments and Philae lander is a success story in itself, but Rosetta’s greatest success is the science it delivered.
The next Martian explorer, Mars 2020, currently exists as a robotic skeleton at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Teams across the world are working diligently to construct the instruments that will adorn the rover, inside and out, and thereby give it the tools it needs to explore.
InSight has placed its second science instrument on the ground and set it free. Now it's time to bury the heat probe in the soil.
Look up at space at night from a dark location and you can see innumerable stars. Why, then, do photos of so many things in space show black space, devoid of stars?
Engineers have leveled the seismometer and made progress on adjusting the position of the tether so that it doesn't interfere for the experiment. Most significantly for the mission, they have balanced the Very Broad Band sensors -- 3 of SEIS’ 6 seismic sensors -- and confirmed that they are generating good data.
If all goes well, anxious space fans on Earth will learn of a successful InSight landing on Mars on Monday, 26 November 2018, at 19:53 UTC. Here's a preview of all the landing day events.
Mastcam-Z will help the Mars 2020 rover explore the surface of Mars. Dozens of amazing scientists and engineers from across the globe contribute to the development of Mastcam-Z. This year, the team photo was taken with our very own Mastcam-Z testbed unit.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a fabled history of planetary rovers. But how do you start such a program?
Right after the last Mastcam-Z team meeting a year ago (link here to last two blog posts), our team finalized the design of the cameras, and then the fantastic voyage of creating Martian panoramic zoom cameras began.
Readers, colleagues, friends: it's finally happened. My first book is finally out in the world. Here's an excerpt that explains the design and operation of Curiosity's MMRTG, (it also applies to the future Mars 2020 rover power supply).
MarCO or Mars Cube One is an experimental mission that is sending two tiny spacecraft along with InSight to Mars. If successful, they will relay real-time telemetry from InSight to Earth during the landing.
Excitement is building within the SuperCam team as the instrument enters the final stages of assembly and testing toward an anticipated launch aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
Take a look at how electronics of spacecraft are built to survive the harshness of space environments.
Since 2016, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has had the ability to choose its own science targets using an onboard intelligent targeting system called AEGIS.
NASA has announced changes to how engineers are operating Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in order to prolong its life as long as possible, long enough to support the Mars 2020 rover mission.
Just this past week, assembly of the Mastcam-Z EQM was completed, and we saw for the first time what one of our Mars zoom cameras would really look like.
Viking enthusiast Tom Dahl has created an animation demonstrating the operation of the Viking lander's Surface Sampler Acquisition Assembly, or
It takes hundreds of scientists and engineers many years to design and build just one instrument for a Mars mission. In the first Mastcam-Z team blog post, we'll talk about the special challenges we expect for Mars 2020 operations, and how we're planning to overcome them.