The first age of deep space planetary exploration came to an end today as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto at 7:49 am EDT. The nuclear-powered unmanned probe sped past the dwarf planet at a distance of 7,750 miles and a speed of 31,000 mph, making it the final classical planet to be visited by a spacecraft.
NASA has announced the names of the first astronauts to ride into space aboard the first generation of commercial spacecraft that will return manned launch capabilities to American soil. With the selection process complete, the astronauts are set to begin a stringent training program in preparation for the 2017 launch of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft.
NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program has advanced to its second phase, green-lighting a series of futuristic technological concepts for further agency-backed development. The program's chief objective is to foster clever ideas that help shape future aerospace exploration and, with interstellar submarines and swarms of tiny satellites, it offers a mind boggling picture of what future space travel might look like.
Like a racehorse stumbling at the finish line, NASA's New Horizons deep space probe gave mission control a moment of anxiety on July 4 as communications were temporarily lost. The unmanned nuclear-powered spacecraft, which is only nine days from its historic flyby with the dwarf planet Pluto, lost contact with the Deep Space Network at 1:54 pm EDT before coming back online at 3:15 pm.
A new mystery currently has the New Horizon's science team abuzz as the probe plunges ever closer to the Pluto – what's the deal with the series of dark spots near the dwarf planet's equator? The huge, neatly arranged dots were revealed in the latest color images snapped by the NASA probe and the scientists are hopeful of learning more about their origins in the coming weeks.
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.
If a NASA experimental program pans out, the first aircraft on Mars
could be a flying wing. Under development at NASA Armstrong, the
Prandtl–m is a flying wing glider designed to fly piggyback with a
future Mars rover mission to provide low-altitude reconnaissance. It's scheduled to begin test flights later this year.
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.
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.