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— Space

NASA team pushing towards thermal nuclear propulsion systems

By - January 21, 2013 13 Pictures
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

NASA announces new rover mission for Mars

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
— Space

Curiosity completes first soil analysis, finds volcanic soils

By - October 30, 2012 10 Pictures
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
— Science

Water-prospecting Polaris lunar rover prototype built

By - October 8, 2012 4 Pictures
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
— Space

TALISE aquatic rover may explore a lake on Titan

By - September 27, 2012 2 Pictures
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
— Aircraft

Curiosity sends images of Mars back to Earth

By - August 7, 2012 13 Pictures
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
— Space

Mars lander Curiosity protected by largest ever heat shield

By - August 4, 2012 4 Pictures
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
— Space

China announces plans for 2013 Moon landing

By - July 31, 2012 1 Picture
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
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