Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Rover

The Polaris lunar water prospecting robot prototyple

Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists.  Read More

TALISE is a proposed aquatic probe intended to sail across a lake on Saturn's largest moon...

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and it’s said to be one of the most Earth-like celestial bodies in the Solar System. It has a thick atmosphere, and is covered with a network of seas, lakes and rivers – albeit ones made up of liquid hydrocarbons instead of water. Now, a team of scientists are proposing sending a boat-like probe to Titan, that would travel across its largest lake.  Read More

First color image from Curiosity showing the  north wall and rim of Gale Crater (Image: NA...

After a successful landing on Sunday, the NASA rover Curiosity has begun sending back images of the planet including the first color pictures and 3D stereographs. In addition to images from the surface of the red planet, the lander has also sent back images captured by onboard cameras during the craft’s dramatic descent through the Martian atmosphere and landing. Meanwhile, an orbiter from an earlier NASA mission sent back images of Curiosity’s descent.  Read More

Artwork of Curiosity entering the Martian atmosphere (Image: NASA)

This Sunday will see one of the most dramatic events in the history of space exploration. On August 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM PDT (August 6, 05:31 GMT), the nuclear-powered science rover Curiosity will reach Mars It will involve one of the most complex, most daring landings ever attempted. Ironically, it may end in one of two ways - a triumph for the men and women of NASA as the Curiosity lander sends back its first signals from the red planet or utter silence. And the key to this is a heat shield that is so new to the field of planetary exploration that it is an experiment in itself.  Read More

Sinus Iridum as seen from NASA's Clementine probe, where China plans to land a lunar rover...

The Chinese news agency Xinhua announced on July 31 that China will be sending its first unmanned lander to the Moon in the second half of 2013. Chang’e-3 will be the third lunar probe launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the first attempt at a landing. The lander/rover combination will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province as part of China’s continuing Lunar Exploration program.  Read More

An artist's impression of the Mars Science Laboratory moments before touching the Martian ...

A month from now, the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) rover is set to touch down on the surface of the Red Planet and begin its mission to learn more about the possible existence of life - past or present. Curiosity will attempt to touch down using a complex and unusual landing sequence unlike any other used for previous Mars rovers ... here's how the plan will unfold.  Read More

The ESA's Seeker rover being put through its paces in Chile's Atacama Desert (Photo: ESA)

With remote control of rovers on Mars out of the question due to radio signals taking up to 40 minutes to make the round trip to and from the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a vehicle that is able to carry out instructions fully autonomously. The ESA team recently tested their Seeker full-scale rover in Chile where the rover was able to chart its own course through the Mars-like Atacama Desert.  Read More

Astrobotic Technology has received a NASA contract to determine if its Polaris rover robot...

While the Moon may or may not contain life forms, precious metals or even green cheese, recent satellite missions have indicated that it does nonetheless contain something that could prove quite valuable – water ice. NASA has estimated that at least 650 million tons (600 million tonnes) of the stuff could be deposited in craters near the Moon’s north pole alone. If mined, it could conceivably serve as a source of life support for future lunar bases, or it could be used to produce fuel for spacecraft stopping at a “lunar gas station.” Before any mining can happen, however, we need to learn more about the ice. That’s why NASA has contracted Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology to determine if its Polaris rover robot could be used for ice prospecting.  Read More

The Remote Mars Yard project would allow internet users to control a physical Mars rover r...

It’s fairly safe to say that almost no one reading this article has ever or will ever operate a Mars rover. If a project being spearheaded by two Polish space enthusiasts gets the funding it needs, however, a lot of people may get to do the next-best thing ... they could remotely operate an actual physical replica rover – via the internet – located in a large room that’s been made up to look like the surface of Mars. That’s the idea behind the Remote Mars Yard project, or ReMY.  Read More

Front view of Curiosity Mars rover  (Image: NASA)

We've had our sights on NASA's Curiosity Rover (also known as the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL) for quite some time now. Well, it's finally ready and in a few short weeks, this amazingly advanced one-ton (900 kg) explorer will find itself atop a massive Atlas V rocket for the eight-month, 354 million-mile (570 million-km) trip to our red neighbor – the culmination of over seven years of development and US$2.5 billion in funding.  Read More

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