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Bridget spent six 'Martian' days in the desert (Image: ESA)

ESA’s Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER) has completed six “Martian days” of tests roaming Chile’s Atacama Desert. Nicknamed "Bridget," the prototype of the space agency’s ExoMars rover is part of a program to gain experience in building and operating planetary rovers in anticipation of the 2018 ESA Mars mission.  Read More

SAFER field test rover (Image: ESA, Michel van Winnendael)

The Atacama desert in Chile is so dry that parts of it are utterly devoid of life down to bacteria. That and its sandy, rock-strewn terrain makes it so similar to Mars that it's a perfect spot for ESA to trial its Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER), which will this week carry out tests related to navigation, remote control and the use of scientific instruments. The agency’s goal is the latest in a series of tests to develop technologies and gain practical experience in anticipation of ESA’s launch of the ExoMars rover to the Red Planet in 2018.  Read More

The tick rover drags an insecticide-laced cloth behind it (Photo: VMI Photos by John Rober...

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means the bugs are out – specifically, ticks. In light of the ensuing infestation, otherwise known as the annual repopulation, three professors at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) have crossed the business of pest control with the world of robotics by last month testing their robotic "tick rover" to determine its efficiency at removing the blood suckers from the yard.  Read More

Artist's concept of the 2020 Mars rover (Image: NASA)

While the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity continue to set new records, NASA is looking at its next mission to the surface of the Red Planet. On Tuesday, the space agency released a 154-page report by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, which sets out the objectives and preliminary design of the probe scheduled to be sent to Mars in 2020. It's main task will be to seek out areas where life might exist and return samples to Earth.  Read More

The first-place winner of the 2013 NASA Great Moonbuggy Race (high school division) was an...

It was Puerto Rico's day at the 20th NASA Great Moonbuggy Race. Teams from that country won first place in both the high school and college division races. More than 90 teams competed in the race, in which lightweight human-powered buggies race over a simulated lunar surface built at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The winning times for this grueling three-quarter mile course were 3:24 for the high school division and 3:32 for the college division.  Read More

China's Polar Rover harnesses the wind for power courtesy of a top-mounted HoYi! vertical ...

While the Mars rover Curiosity may have attracted much of the world's attention of late, there are some equally impressive Earth-bound robot rovers deserving of some column inches. One such vehicle is China's Polar Rover, which harnesses the wind for power courtesy of a top-mounted HoYi! turbine from New York's Urban Green Energy (UGE) as it explores the Antarctic vastness, documenting effects that global warming is having on the continent.  Read More

Artist's concept of Opportunity leaving its lander (Image: JPL/NASA)

NASA’s Opportunity rover begins its tenth year on Mars this week. On January 25, 2004 at 05:05 GMT, the unmanned craft landed in Eagle Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of the Red Planet. Though scheduled for only a 93 day mission, it continues to explore the Martian surface almost a decade later.  Read More

Artist's rendition of the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (NCPS), a nuclear engine inte...

Nuclear-powered rocket engines are not new. In the 1960s, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed and tested thermal nuclear rockets fitted with flight-worthy components. However, Project Rover and NERVA (Nuclear Engine for Nuclear Rocket Application) programs were defunded in the early 1970s just before test flights were to start. Now, as part of the Advanced Exploration Systems program at NASA, the Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage team is tackling a three-year project to demonstrate the viability of and to evaluate materials for thermal nuclear propulsion systems for use in future deep space missions.  Read More

The new Mars rover will borrow much from the rover Curiosity (Image: NASA)

With Curiosity still rolling across the Red Planet, NASA has revealed it will be sending another rover to Mars in 2020. The announcement, which was made at the 2012 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, also outlined the space agency’s plans for exploring Mars for the remainder of the decade.  Read More

X-ray diffraction image of first Martian soil sample showing presence of crystalline felds...

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has completed its first soil analysis of the Red Planet. The unmanned explorer used an advanced, miniaturized X-ray diffraction instrument that is part of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) of its internal laboratory. The soil, collected at a site designated “Rocknest” in Gale Crater, reveals that Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands.  Read More

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