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Spacecraft

— Space

Dawn zooms in on white spots, finds pyramid-like mountain on Ceres

By - June 24, 2015 4 Pictures

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.

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— Space

Scientists look at communicating with hypersonic vehicles using plasma resonance

By - June 18, 2015 1 Picture

Returning spacecraft hit the atmosphere at over five times the speed of sound, generating a sheath of superheated ionized plasma that blocks radio communications during the critical minutes of reentry. It's a problem that's vexed space agencies for decades, but researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology are developing a new method of piercing the plasma and maintaining communications.

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— Space

LightSail successfully deploys solar sail

By - June 10, 2015 1 Picture

The Planetary Society today confirmed that its LightSail satellite successfully deployed its Mylar solar sail, achieving the main objective of the mission after 19 days in low-Earth orbit. The CubeSat, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, completed transmission of its first image to a ground station at Poly San Luis Obispo in California, showing the sail open and partly spread out.

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— Space

Huge release of Rosetta images paints a spooky picture of comet's rugged landscape

By - June 2, 2015 52 Pictures

Around seven months after the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe made history by deploying its Philae lander onto the surface 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an expansive catalogue of images has been released providing an up-close look at the comet's rugged landscape. The photos were snapped by Rosetta's NavCam between September and November last year, as the spacecraft came as close as 8 km from the surface.

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— Space

NASA settles on its toolkit for mission to explore Europa

By - May 26, 2015 3 Pictures

Even though it is around the same size as our own Moon and a whole lot farther from the Sun, Jupiter's moon Europa is considered one of our solar system's most likely candidates for harboring extraterrestrial life. A deep and mysterious ocean is thought to exist below its icy crust and has beckoned scientists for more than a decade. NASA is in the process of conceptualizing a future mission to explore Europa, and has now confirmed which scientific instruments it will send along to do the job.

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— Space

Could NASA take CubeSats interplanetary?

By - May 25, 2015 1 Picture

CubeSats, tiny satellites about the size of a loaf of bread or smaller, hold the promise of opening space up to low-budget space missions, but currently they're largely restricted to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). To broaden the scope of these pint-sized spacecraft, NASA is developing its CubeSat Application for Planetary Entry Missions (CAPE) concept, which would see the development of miniature space probes that can be sent in fleets on interplanetary missions for multi-point sampling, as opposed to the bus-sized, do-it-all probes that are currently in service.

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