June 30th marked the
world's first Asteroid Day – a global awareness campaign
designed to promote an understanding of the dangers presented by the
rocky bodies, and how best to protect our planet from a potentially
catastrophic asteroid impact. Significantly, the
campaign was held on the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska asteroid
strike – an impact that devastated eight hundred square miles of
Siberian forest, and served as a powerful indicator of the damage
that could be wrought by just one of the 600,000 plus known asteroids
whizzing around our solar system.
When the unmanned CRS-7 flight blew up in midair yesterday en route to the International Space Station (ISS), it destroyed a lot more than a shipment of freeze dried shrimp cocktail. It also meant the loss of dozens of experiments. One of more exotic of these was Sidekick; a project by NASA and Microsoft that uses the latter's HoloLens technology to provide astronauts with their own holographic augmented reality.
Another resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) ended in failure today as SpaceX's CRS-7 mission exploded in midair shortly after liftoff. The unmanned Dragon cargo ship atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:21 am EDT. SpaceX launch control indicated no problems prior to launch and weather was good, but approximately 2 min 18 sec into the flight, the Falcon 9 experienced an anomaly and broke up over the Atlantic Ocean.
Could the first private lunar rover be an Audi? The car maker has announced a partnership with one of the teams competing for the Google-sponsored Lunar XPrize – the Part-Time Scientists. Audi will provide technical expertise in building an unmanned rover that aims to set down in the vicinity of the Apollo 17 landing site in 2017.
ESA's Venus Express spacecraft has found the best evidence yet of active lava flows on Venus. Earlier missions to Venus have shown that the surface bears the unmistakable scarring of fierce, ancient volcanic activity. However, prior to Venus express, no mission had been successful in directly imaging clues to contemporary volcanism. This quirk has baffled scientists for years, as it has long been assumed that Venus hosts an internal heat source, and that heat has to escape somehow.
ESA has announced that its Rosetta comet orbiter mission will be extended by nine months. The unmanned spacecraft that rendezvoused with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last year will carry out further observations until September 2016, by which time it will be too far from the Sun to power itself and will land on the comet.
Fresh images snapped by NASA's Dawn spacecraft have provided a clearer look at the enigmatic white spots that mark the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. The spots have baffled scientists who are unable to discern their nature or composition. To add to the intrigue the probe has spotted a solitary, unusual pyramid-like mountain jutting out of the otherwise relatively smooth surface.
NASA's longest serving Martian orbiter, the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, has just achieved a historic milestone by completing its 60,000th orbit of the Red Planet since arriving on October 24, 2001.
A team of scientists from MIT has put forward a theory that would explain the presence of enormous polar cyclones present on the gas giant Saturn. The cyclones, first discovered by the Cassini spacecraft in 2008, are so massive that they could swallow the Earth in their expanse. The research may even lead to better characterization of the atmosphere of distant exoplanets.