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Spacecraft

Self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity taken on February 3 (Image: NASA)

In another hopeful sign that Mars was once habitable, NASA's Curiosity rover has detected nitrogen in the soil of the Red Planet for the first time. While NASA doesn't think that the compounds are biological in origin, they are still significant to Mars having been more favorable to life in the ancient past.  Read More

The 6.5 m James Webb Space Telescope could herald a new age for astronomy (Image: NASA/Nor...

Hubble has been a boon to deep space exploration, gifting us iconic pictures of the skies and revealing new insights into the history of the early universe. For the next big step in space astronomy, NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency are raising the stakes even higher with one of their most ambitious projects in decades: building the largest space telescope ever ... the James Webb Space Telescope.  Read More

Ed White during the first-ever American spacewalk (Photo: NASA James McDivitt)

March 23 marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of Gemini III - the first manned mission of the now legendary Gemini program. Following hot on the heels of the Mercury missions, and only a short time after President Kennedy's famous speech in which he announced his intent to put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, Gemini was tasked with testing the technologies and techniques that would lead America to victory in the space race.  Read More

Artist's impression of MAVEN capturing the aurora (Image: University of Colorado)

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has detected two unexpected phenomena in the short time since making orbit around the red planet – an aurora occurring deep in the Martian atmosphere, and an as of yet unexplained high altitude dust cloud. MAVEN is currently four months into a primary mission lasting one Earth year, during which time it is attempting to shed light on the characteristics of the Martian upper atmosphere and ionosphere, studying how they interact with our Sun.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has temporarily suspended its attempt to reestablish contact with its Philae lander on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For eight days, the agency’s Rosetta probe unsuccessfully beamed a wake up signal to the hibernating lander, which has been silent since its batteries were exhausted in November.  Read More

Artist's impression of the unmanned Dream Chaser in orbit (Image: SNC)

Though the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spaceplane was kicked out of the running to ferry crew to the ISS, a variation on the craft may still end up visiting the station. As part of its bid to win NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract, SNC has unveiled an unmanned autonomous version of Dream Chaser to carry cargo into orbit.  Read More

The first spacewalk 50 years ago by Alexei Leonov lasted only 12 minutes but was filled wi...

"A sailor must be able to swim in the sea. Likewise, a cosmonaut must be able to swim in outer space." With those words, the head of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, initiated the crew of the first spacewalk mission. On March 18, 1965, cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Pavel Belyayev lifted off in Voskhod (Sunrise) 2, from which Leonov would exit to become the first person in history to step into the vacuum of space.  Read More

Artist's concept of Jupiter/Exoliner docking with the ISS

Lockheed Martin has provided a glimpse at the next generation of commercial spacecraft by revealing its proposal for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program. The new cargo ships, which Lockheed compares to the US transcontinental railroads of the 19th century, are designed to not only resupply the International Space Station, but also support manned deep space missions, such as the first expedition to Mars.  Read More

Soyuz TMA-14M in the final stages of its descent (Photo: NASA, Bill Ingalis)

NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore and Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova have safely touched down in Kazakhstan on Mar. 11, with the landing heralding the end of a 167-day mission to the International Space Station. During their time in low-Earth orbit, the crew's activities were planned to the minute by mission controllers on the ground. Over the course of Expedition 42, hundreds of experiments were undertaken relating to the effects of the microgravity environment aboard the station, the potential benefits of which will aid future astronauts, as well as the people back on Earth.  Read More

Artist's view of the interior of Enceladus (Image: NASA/JPL)

In science, it's often the case that solving one mystery just raises more questions. Take Saturn's moon Enceladus. For almost a decade, scientists have been puzzled by the gossamer plumes that waft up from its surface. Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft now indicates that these may might be due to present-day hydrothermal activity in the vast ocean beneath the crust of the frozen moon, raising the possibility that Enceladus may harbor life.  Read More

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