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Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft in orbit, having separated from the Delta IV l...

Progress is continuing apace as NASA readies its next-generation Orion spacecraft for her maiden flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), set to blast off Dec. 4 atop a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle. Once operational, Orion will be the first spacecraft built with the capacity to carry out a manned flight beyond low-Earth orbit since the Apollo era, when man first walked on the moon. NASA boasts that Orion will represent the safest and most advanced spacecraft ever created, allowing man to capture an asteroid and in time, even put a man on Mars.  Read More

Four landing sites have been shortlisted for further analysis for the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMar...

Four potential landing sites have been shortlisted for the 2018 ExoMars mission. ExoMars is a joint venture between the ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, with the ultimate goal of scouring the Red Planet for any signs of life, past or present. The mission will consist of multiple spacecraft in addition to two rovers. The ExoMars rover will be one of the final assets to launch, with an expected arrival date on Mars estimated at January 2019.  Read More

Artist's impression of Sentinel-1A, which is now operational, over Italy (Image: ESA/DLR)

Sentinel-1A, the first of a planned fleet of ESA satellites central to the European Commission's Copernicus environmental monitoring program, has begun its operational life. Following the completion of its commissioning and transfer to the team in charge of its operation, users now have access to data from the satellite, which will provide all-weather, day and night radar imaging for land and ocean services.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

Landing site J (pictured on the right) has been selected as Philae's primary landing site ...

The Rosetta mission's Landing Site Selection Group has selected the primary and back up landing sites for the ESA's Philae probe ahead of an attempted touchdown on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 11. Selecting sites J and C as the primary and back up sites respectively was no easy task, with mission operators weighing up various factors and racing against time since the spacecraft entered orbit around the comet on August 6. Prior to this, the comet had simply been too far away to characterize.  Read More

The Flyeye telescope is designed to detect asteroids that pose a potential hazard to Earth...

One aggravating property of the housefly is that swatting one is harder than it looks. That’s because flies have eyes designed for avoiding such a day-ruining event by detecting motion over a wide field of vision. Since asteroids have the potential to do to Earth what rolled newspapers do to flies, ESA is developing a telescope based on a fly’s eye as a new asteroid-hunting tool that could be the basis for a new asteroid defense network.  Read More

The Rosetta spacecraft has collected enough information to render a map of the various are...

As the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft continues its mission by accompanying comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P, for short) on its journey into the inner solar system, sensing instruments have been studying it prior to an attempted a landing by Rosetta's Philae probe. As a result, the spacecraft has collected enough information to render a map of the various areas on the surface of the comet showing that it is composed of several different regions created by a range of forces acting upon the object.  Read More

Artist's impression of Rosetta and 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (Image: ESA/ATG Medialab)

Comets are often described as "dirty snowballs" of ice and dust, which suggests something that looks like what kids throw at each other in winter. But NASA’s Alice instrument package installed aboard the ESA Rosetta probe currently orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has sent back its first science data, which shows that the comet is about as white and fluffy as a lump of coal.  Read More

Artist's impression of Rosetta having released the Philae lander (Image: ESA-J. Huart, 201...

Rosetta is a mission of firsts. It is the first mission to successfully chase and rendezvous with a comet, and hopefully in November it will be the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on a celestial body that's so unlike anything we have explored before. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with firsts, there are untold risks and complications that are difficult to foresee ahead of time, but here are some of the dangers that we know about.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Philae lander that is set to touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Ger...

After you become the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid, what do you do for an encore? For ESA’s Rosetta comet probe, the answer is to get ready for the first soft landing on a comet nucleus. Only weeks after going into orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the unmanned Rosetta explorer is engaged in a fast-paced reconnaissance of the comet and has identified five candidate sites for putting down the Philae lander in November.  Read More

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