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Mars

Technicians at Lockheed Martin prepare the InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and le...

At some point in every project, you stop unpacking the parts and start putting them together. What's true for flat-pack furniture is also true for spacecraft, so Lockheed Martin has begun the Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of NASA's INterior exploration using Seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport (InSight) Mars lander project. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the unmanned InSight probe will be the first deep-drilling mission sent to the Red Planet.  Read More

NASA's MAVEN has acted as a data relay for the Curiosity rover (Image: NASA)

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is the latest link in the space agency's Martian communications network for keeping in touch with its surface rovers. Last week, the unmanned orbiter carried out a test using a special radio apparatus that allowed it to relay 550 megabits of data from the Curiosity rover to NASA’s Deep Space Network back on Earth.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) on NASA's MAVEN spacecr...

"Dodging a bullet" is a well-worn cliche, but it looks as if the small armada of space probes orbiting Mars dodged a shrapnel blast last month. According to observations made by NASA and ESA orbiters, the extremely close flyby of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring was accompanied by a meteor shower larger than any seen on Earth.  Read More

Scientists at Berkeley Lab believe that synthetic biology techniques could produce a signi...

The secret to pulling off long-term manned space missions is biomanufacturing – at least, that's the argument presented by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have used synthetic biology to produce sustainable alternatives to fuel and anti-malaria drugs. Their theory rests on the idea that biological production processes and harnessing of materials at the mission destination could dramatically reduce mass (and hence cost) requirements.  Read More

The proposals are designed to support NASA's deep space missions, such as that which Orion...

NASA is preparing to launch its Orion spacecraft in December and its Space Launch System (SLS) is scheduled to fly by 2018. However, impressive as this is, more is needed if buyer's regret isn't to set in. To avoid this, the space agency is asking for proposals to develop new technologies to send astronauts to the asteroids and Mars using "sustainable, evolvable, multi-use space capabilities."  Read More

During the upcoming ISS resupply mission, SpaceX will attempt to propulsively land the boo...

Yesterday at MIT's AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said his company will make a first attempt to land the booster stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform during the upcoming ISS resupply mission. If the attempt is successful, the company plans to refurbish and reuse the booster stage, making spaceflight history and paving the way for a significant reduction in the cost of access to space.  Read More

The powered landing capability of SpaceX's Falcon 9 makes it a good test bed for studying ...

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has made it no secret that he plans to go to Mars, and it looks like he’s giving NASA’s ambitions about the Red Planet a bit of a boost along the way. During a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in September, the space agency sent a pair of chase planes up to take high-resolution images of the booster as it made a powered test landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean as a way of gather critical engineering information for future Mars missions.  Read More

All three of NASA's orbiters were moved to the far side of Mars to protect them from comet...

After a dramatic, one-in-a-million-years close encounter between Mars and comet Siding Spring on Sunday, all five functioning US Mars probes survived and are reportedly healthy. NASA confirms that the Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter, along with the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity came through without a scratch and are returning valuable data on the comet.  Read More

Artist's concept of MAVEN in Mars orbit (Image: NASA/GSFC)

After completing its 10 month-long voyage, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is taking its first look at the Martian atmosphere. Part of the unmanned orbiter’s commissioning phase, it limbered up its sensors by observing the effect of a massive solar event and returned its first images of the fountain-like coronas that are slowly peeling away the Red Planet's atmosphere.  Read More

The MIT assessment indicates that the Mars One mission needs revisiting if it's to succeed...

A team of MIT researchers has completed an analysis of the Mars One mission to colonize the Red Planet that throws the feasibility of the non-profit project into question. By analyzing the mission’s details, the team found that as the plan stands, there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome if the colonists aren't to end up dead within 10 weeks of landing.  Read More

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