The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts NIAC program has announced 15 phase I winners in its quest to make science fiction science fact. The aim of the program is to encourage the innovation of ideas with the potential to transform future aerospace and exploration operations, but more importantly, it grants us a tantalizing and often fantastical glimpse of what the future may hold.

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NASA's Mars Opportunity rover recently celebrated its 11th anniversary on the Martian surface, marking the milestone with a stunning panorama that doubles as a moving tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. Over the course of its tenure on the Red Planet, the tenacious explorer has broken the record for the longest distance traveled on another world, making countless groundbreaking discoveries along the way. Read More
Carnegie Mellon University has unveiled Andy, a four-wheeled unmanned rover designed to explore the rough terrain and recently discovered pits of the Moon. Developed in cooperation with Pittsburgh's Astrobotic Technology, the solar powered robot is CMU's entry for the US$20 million-plus Google Lunar XPrize, and may one day help pave the way toward permanent outposts on the Moon. Read More
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
NASA has chosen five studies to advance to phase 2 of its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The successful projects were chosen via a system of peer review, and represent the most promising technological concepts with the greatest potential to revolutionize the agency's approach to the building and operating of aerospace systems. Read More
Having traveled a grand total of 25 miles (40 km) over the course of its historic mission of exploration, NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has taken the record for the greatest distance traveled on another planetary body. The rover, only originally designed to travel around 1 km, massively exceeded its creators' most optimistic expectations, and has now covered almost the distance of a full marathon on its mission to unlock the secrets of the Red Planet. Read More
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been trundling around the Red Planet for almost two years now, so the space agency is looking for a trade in. At a press conference in Washington DC, it announced the seven instruments selected to fly on the Mars 2020 rover mission that is scheduled to launch in July or August 2020 with a landing set for February 2021 at a yet to be determined site. The instruments were selected out of 58 proposals from US and international scientists and engineers, and represent a development cost of US$130 million. Read More
The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components. Read More
Aeronautics giant Airbus has completed its project to recreate the surface of Mars in Stevenage, UK. The site, roughly the size of a basketball arena, is designed to test the navigation and locomotion systems of the ESA's ExoMars rover ahead of its launch in 2018. Read More
Following 12 minutes of precise maneuvering which began in lunar orbit, China's Chang'e-3 lunar lander, with the Yu Tu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover onboard, successfully landed on the Moon's surface at 13:11 UT Saturday night. At this point, Chang'e-3's solar panels were opened to begin charging the rover's batteries for its first drive about the lunar surface, which is expected to begin about seven hours after landing. Read More