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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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13 Feb 2013 NASA's MAVEN Mission Completes Assembly
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is assembled and is undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities, near Denver, Colo. MAVEN is the next mission to Mars and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. During the environmental testing phase, the orbiter will undergo a variety of rigorous tests that simulate the extreme temperatures, vacuum and vibration the spacecraft will experience during the course of its mission.
9 Feb 2013 NASA Curiosity Rover Collects First Martian Bedrock Sample
NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars. The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) wide and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth Saturday. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.
7 Feb 2013 Preparatory Drill Test Performed on Mars
The drill on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used both percussion and rotation to bore about 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) into a rock on Mars and generate cuttings for evaluation in advance of the rover's first sample-collection drilling. Completion of this "mini drill" test in preparation for full drilling was confirmed in data from Mars received late Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. If the drill cuttings on the ground around the fresh hole pass visual evaluation as suitable for processing by the rover's sample handling mechanisms, the rover team plans to proceed with commanding the first full drilling in coming days.
6 Feb 2013 State of the Solar System 2013
An update from the ongoing exploration of our cosmic neighborhood.
4 Feb 2013 Weekend Test on Mars Was Preparation to Drill a Rock
The bit of the rock-sampling drill on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity left its mark on a Martian rock this weekend during brief testing of the tool's percussive action. The successful activity, called a "drill-on-rock checkout" by the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, is part of a series of tests to prepare for the first drilling in history to collect a sample of rock material on Mars.
1 Feb 2013 Building a Lunar Base with 3D Printing
Building a base on the moon could theoretically be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to construct it from local materials. The concept was recently endorsed by the European Space Agency (ESA) which is now collaborating with architects to gauge the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.
30 Jan 2013 MSL Curiosity on Sol 157 in Color
The pair of bright white spots in the HiRISE image, taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, show the area immediately below where sky crane's rockets were pointed. HiRISE also captured Curiosity on its 157th Sol as it was exploring Yellowknife Bay and about to drill its first rock. This is the first time that HiRISE has captured the rover tracks in color, and they show up as a pair of dark lines moving across the landscape.
28 Jan 2013 Curiosity Maneuver Prepares for Drilling
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has placed its drill onto a series of four locations on a Martian rock and pressed down on it with the rover's arm, in preparation for using the drill in coming days. The rover carried out this "pre-load" testing on Mars on Jan. 27. The tests enable engineers to check whether the amount of force applied to the hardware matches predictions for what would result from the commanded motions.
23 Jan 2013 The PI's Perspective: The Seven-Year Itch
It's been seven years since New Horizons' launch on 19 Jan. 2006, and our spacecraft remains healthy and on course.
22 Jan 2013 NASA's Veteran Mars Rover Ready to Start 10th Year
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, one of the twin rovers that bounced to airbag-cushioned safe landings on Mars nine years ago this week, is currently examining veined rocks on the rim of an ancient crater. Opportunity has operated on Mars 36 times longer than the three months planned as its prime mission.
17 Jan 2013 NASA Beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the Moon
As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon, scientists with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the spacecraft from Earth. The iconic image traveled nearly 240,000 miles in digital form from the Next Generation Satellite Laser Ranging (NGSLR) station at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., to the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument on the spacecraft. By transmitting the image piggyback on laser pulses that are routinely sent to track LOLA's position, the team achieved simultaneous laser communication and tracking.
15 Jan 2013 NASA Mars Rover Preparing To Drill Into First Martian Rock
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers' approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
10 Jan 2013 New Horizons Gets a New Year's Workout
Like many of us, New Horizons is starting the new year with a workout regimen. After six months of cruising quietly through the outer solar system, NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft came out of hibernation last weekend for three weeks of activity that include system checks, a new flight software upload and science data downloads.
9 Jan 2013 Cassini Top 10 Science Highlights -- 2012
The scientific discoveries made possible by the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn keep coming in at an astounding pace. How many layers does this solar-system-in-miniature have to unveil? As the data arrives, scientists the world over are digging deeper into the mysteries of the Saturnian system. Chosen by scientists on the Cassini mission, these 10 science highlights stood out in 2012.
7 Jan 2013 NASA's Big Mars Rover Makes First Use Of Its Brush
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed first-time use of a brush it carries to sweep dust off rocks. Nearing the end of a series of first-time uses of the rover's tools, the mission has cleared dust away from a targeted patch on a flat Martian rock using the Dust Removal Tool.  The tool is a motorized, wire-bristle brush designed to prepare selected rock surfaces for enhanced inspection by the rover's science instruments.
4 Jan 2013 Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'
After imaging during the holidays, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed driving Jan. 3 and pulled within arm's reach of a sinuous rock feature called "Snake River."  Snake River is a thin curving line of darker rock cutting through flatter rocks and jutting above sand. Curiosity's science team plans to get a closer look at it before proceeding to other nearby rocks.
3 Jan 2013 LADEE Project Manager Update
Engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, recently attached all of the solar panels to NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory, and prepared to transport the observatory to the National Technical Systems mechanical testing facility in Santa Clarita, CA.  LADEE is a robotic mission that will orbit the Moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface, and environmental influences on lunar dust.
19 Dec 2012 Cassini Top 10 Images of 2012
As the Cassini spacecraft roams the Saturnian system, each year it opens new windows on an amazing corner of our solar system. Images of mighty Saturn, its majestic rings, and the dynamic moons continue to stun us, offering ever-changing vistas that are truly inspiring. This collection of 10 best images was selected by the scientists on the mission.
18 Dec 2012 Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'
The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay," providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill.  Using Curiosity's percussive drill to collect a sample from the interior of a rock, a feat never before attempted on Mars, is the mission's priority for early 2013.
17 Dec 2012 NASA GRAIL Lunar Twins Complete Their Last Burn
Ebb and Flow -- the two twin spacecraft of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission -- have begun their final rocket burns. They are scheduled to impact the moon at around 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 EST) on Dec. 17.  The two probes will hit a mountain near the lunar north pole, bringing their successful prime and extended science missions to an end. The two probes are being sent purposely into the moon because they no longer have enough altitude or fuel to continue science operations.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014