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Spacecraft

Pluto and its moon Charon (Image: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI)

NASA's New Horizons deep space probe to Pluto and beyond has sent back its first images since waking up in December. Taken by the unmanned spacecraft's Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on January 25 and 27, it took until Wednesday to download the image data due to the great distance and bandwidth limitations, and shows the dwarf planet and its moon Charon.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Europa Clipper (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Another celestial body has been added to NASA's bucket list as the space agency officially asks the US Congress for US$30 million for the first mission aimed at exploring Jupiter’s moon Europa. Part of the FY 2015 NASA Planetary Science budget, it would fund further development of an unmanned probe to study place in the Solar System outside of Earth where life may exist.  Read More

Artist's concept of LightSail fully deplyed

Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Read More

Sequence of images taken by Rosetta as Philae descended to the comet surface (Image: ESA/R...

After months of searching, the Euopean Space Agency (ESA) has given up the hunt for the lost Philae comet lander. Despite having narrowed the final resting place of the unmanned probe to a "landing strip" measuring 350 x 30 m (1,150 x 100 ft) on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the space agency has been unable to locate it and has commanded the Rosetta spacecraft to move into a higher orbit as it continues its science mission.  Read More

NASA's SMAP satellite blasts off from the Vandenburg Air Force Base, California (Image: NA...

On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation.  Read More

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz introduces the panel of NASA and commercial representatives (P...

For several years, NASA and its private enterprise partners have been working on the space agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to provide an astronaut ferry service from US soil to the International Space Station. Now a panel from NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX has outlined the latest timetable leading up to the first commercial flights.  Read More

The latest images have 30 percent better resolution than those captured by Hubble (Image: ...

The dwarf planet Ceres has come into sharper focus with NASA's Dawn spacecraft sending back the best images yet of the asteroid. Shot on January 25 from a distance of 147,000 mi (237,000 km) as the unmanned probe closes in for its March rendezvous, the resolution was 30 percent better than the best images obtained by the Hubble space telescope.  Read More

The Mars helicopter is solar powered (Image; NASA)

The next big discovery is always beyond the next hill, but what if you can't see over it? That's the problem facing NASA with its Mars rovers, so the space agency is looking into how robotic helicopters could help scout the land ahead and give engineers back on Earth data to help plot the best route.  Read More

Artist's concept of Dawn approaching Vesta under ion drive (Image: NASA)

The last place you'd expect to find signs of water erosion is in the Asteroid Belt, but researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that data collected during the Dawn spacecraft's visit to Vesta indicates that it not only once had water, but that it formed gullies and other erosion features on its surface.  Read More

Artist's impression of Dawn approaching the dwarf planet Ceres (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is currently in the final stages of its historic mission to place a satellite in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. The primary mission will take 16 months and will see the robotic explorer capture detailed images and measurements of Ceres, greatly improving our knowledge of the solar system.  Read More

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