Europe and Japan's BepiColombo spacecraft, which launched in 2018, will fly by Earth on 10 April and use our planet's gravity to swing towards the inner solar system. Learn more about this mission and why we study Mercury.
The Planetary Society is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13, which launched on 11 April 1970. Disaster struck on 13 April, prompting the crew's infamous "Houston, we've had a problem" call for help. Learn what happened, and how NASA got the astronauts home safely on 17 April.
Apollo 13 was the 3rd attempt to land humans on the Moon and the 1st to fail. Fifty-six hours into the mission, an explosion forced the crew to abort their Moon landing and take shelter in the Lunar Module. The crew ultimately returned to Earth safely.
This month we'll finally see JunoCam's first high-resolution images of Jupiter. We'll also see OSIRIS-REx making progress toward its September 8 launch. Both rovers are road-tripping at Mars, while ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has completed a major mid-course correction ahead of its October arrival.
Japan's Akatsuki Venus orbiter is well into its science mission, and has already produced surprising science results. The mission, originally planned to last two years, could last as many as five, monitoring Venus' atmosphere over the long term.
May 2016 will be yet another month of fairly routine operations across the solar system -- if you can ever use the word "routine" to describe autonomous robots exploring other planets. ExoMars' cruise to Mars has started smoothly, and Juno is only two months away from Jupiter orbit insertion. Earthlings will witness a Mercury transit of the Sun on May 9.
This month (actually, today), Cassini had a relatively close flyby of Titan, and New Horizons will observe a very distant Kuiper belt object named 1994 JR1. Akatsuki has just fine-tuned its orbit around Venus, and Hayabusa2 has begun an 800-hour ion engine thrusting phase to steer it toward near-Earth asteroid Ryugu.
Welcome to my monthly inventory of the 20-plus spacecraft actively exploring our solar system. Highlights of this month include the impending launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander, currently planned for March 14, and the resumption of regular VMC Mars images by Mars Express.
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