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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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3 Apr 2014 Scientists Favor Four ExoMars Landing Sites
Some 60 scientists and engineers came together March 26-28, 2014, for the first ExoMars 2018 Landing Site Selection Workshop, held at ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre near Madrid. Their task was to begin the process of drawing up a shortlist of the most suitable landing locations for ESA's first Mars rover. The workshop attendees favored four candidate sites - all of which are located relatively near the equator - that were considered to be the most likely to achieve the mission's objectives. They are: Mawrth Vallis (for which 2, very similar, proposals were received), Oxia Planum, Hypanis Vallis and Oxia Palus.
3 Apr 2014 NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Scoping Out Next Study Area
On Wednesday, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drove the last 98 feet feet (30 meters) needed to arrive at a site planned since early 2013 as a destination for studying rock clues about ancient environments that may have been favorable for life. The rover reached a vantage point for its cameras to survey four different types of rock intersecting in an area called "the Kimberley," after a region of western Australia.
27 Mar 2014 Cleaner NASA Rover Sees Its Shadow in Martian Spring
Late afternoon lighting produced a dramatic shadow of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity photographed by the rover's rear hazard-avoidance camera on March 20, 2014. The shadow falls across a slope called the McClure-Beverlin Escarpment on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, where Opportunity is investigating rock layers for evidence about ancient environments. The scene includes a glimpse into the distance across the 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater.
24 Mar 2014 NASA Mars Rover's Next Stop Has Sandstone Variations
Variations in the stuff that cements grains together in sandstone have shaped the landscape surrounding NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and could be a study topic at the mission's next science waypoint. On a journey with many months yet to go toward prime destinations on the lower slope of Mount Sharp, Curiosity is approaching a site called "the Kimberley." Scientists on the team picked this location last year as a likely place to pause for investigation. Its informal name comes from a northwestern Australia region known as the Kimberley. The Martian site's geological appeal, based on images taken from orbit, is that four types of terrain with different rock textures intersect there.
11 Mar 2014 NASA Orbiter Safe After Unplanned Computer Swap
NASA's long-lived Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter put itself into a precautionary safe standby mode March 9 after an unscheduled swap from one main computer to another. The mission's ground team has begun restoring the spacecraft to full operations.
27 Feb 2014 New Horizons Reaches the Final 4 (AU)
New Horizons sailed past another milepost today when the NASA spacecraft moved to within four astronomical units (AU) of Pluto - which is less than four times the distance between the Earth and the sun, or about 371 million miles (598 million kilometers).
19 Feb 2014 Curiosity Adds Reverse Driving for Wheel Protection
Terrain that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is now crossing is as smooth as team members had anticipated based on earlier images from orbit. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the rover covered 329 feet (100.3 meters), the mission's first long trek that used reverse driving and its farthest one-day advance of any kind in more than three months. The reverse drive validated feasibility of a technique developed with testing on Earth to lessen damage to Curiosity's wheels when driving over terrain studded with sharp rocks.
19 Feb 2014 NASA Mars Orbiter Views Opportunity Rover on Ridge
A new image from a telescopic camera orbiting Mars shows NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at work on "Murray Ridge," without any new impact craters nearby. Rover tracks from Opportunity, as well as the rover itself, are visible. A rock, dubbed "Pinnacle Island," appeared in January 2014 next to Opportunity where it had been absent a few days earlier. After that, researchers using HiRISE planned this observation to check the remote possibility that a fresh impact by an object from space might have excavated a crater near Opportunity and thrown this rock to its new location. No fresh impact site is seen in the image.
14 Feb 2014 Mars Rover Heads Uphill After Solving 'Doughnut' Riddle
Researchers have determined the now-infamous Martian rock resembling a jelly doughnut, dubbed Pinnacle Island, is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the wheel of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity in early January. Only about 1.5 inches wide (4 centimeters), the white-rimmed, red-centered rock caused a stir last month when it appeared in an image the rover took Jan. 8 at a location where it was not present four days earlier. More recent images show the original piece of rock struck by the rover's wheel, slightly uphill from where Pinnacle Island came to rest.
11 Feb 2014 NASA Moves Longest-Serving Mars Spacecraft for New Observations
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has tweaked its orbit to help scientists make the first systematic observations of how morning fogs, clouds and surface frost develop in different seasons on the Red Planet. The maneuver took place Tuesday, Feb. 11. Odyssey team engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver, designed the gentle move to accelerate Odyssey's drift toward a morning-daylight orbit. The desired change will occur gradually until the intended orbit geometry is reached in November 2015 and another maneuver halts the drift.
6 Feb 2014 NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Sees 'Evening Star' Earth
New images from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover show Earth shining brighter than any star in the Martian night sky. The rover's view of its original home planet even includes our moon, just below Earth. The distance between Earth and Mars when Curiosity took the photo was about 99 million miles (160 million kilometers).
6 Feb 2014 Thanks America, New Horizons Ahead
New Horizons completed a quick, two-week maintenance wake-up on Jan. 17 and is back in hibernation. We'll wake the craft again in mid-June for our last active checkout, lasting about 10 weeks, on the journey to Pluto. We'll hibernate again from late August through early December, and then wake our baby up for the encounter we built her for.
5 Feb 2014 MAVEN on Track to Carry Out its Science Mission
The MAVEN spacecraft and all of its science instruments have completed their initial checkout, and all of them are working as expected. This means that MAVEN is on track to carry out its full science mission as originally planned.
31 Jan 2014 NASA Extends Moon Exploring Satellite Mission
NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, observatory has been approved for a 28-day mission extension. The spacecraft is now expected to impact the lunar surface on or around April 21, 2014, depending on the final trajectory. The extension provides an opportunity for the satellite to gather an additional full lunar cycle worth of very low-altitude data to help scientists unravel the mysteries of the moon's atmosphere.
29 Jan 2014 NASA's LRO Snaps a Picture of NASA's LADEE Spacecraft
With precise timing, the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was able to take a picture of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft as it orbited our nearest celestial neighbor. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) operations team worked with its LADEE and LRO operations counterparts to make the imaging possible.
29 Jan 2014 Curiosity Mars Rover Checking Possible Smoother Route
The team operating NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is considering a path across a small sand dune to reach a favorable route to science destinations. A favorable route would skirt some terrain with sharp rocks considered more likely to poke holes in the rover's aluminum wheels.
27 Jan 2014 Countdown to Pluto
Are we there yet? One of the fastest spacecraft ever built -- NASA's New Horizons -- is hurtling through the void at nearly one million miles per day. Launched in 2006, it has been in flight longer than some missions last, and it is nearing its destination: Pluto.
27 Jan 2014 NASA Instruments on European Comet Spacecraft Begin Activation Countdown
Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.
27 Jan 2014 NASA Receives Mars 2020 Rover Instrument Proposals for Evaluation
NASA has received 58 proposals for science and exploration technology instruments to fly aboard the agency's next Mars rover in 2020, twice the usual number submitted for instrument competitions in the recent past, and an indicator of the extraordinary interest in exploration of the Red Planet.
23 Jan 2014 NASA's Opportunity at 10: New Findings from Old Rover
New findings from rock samples collected and examined by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity have confirmed an ancient wet environment that was milder and older than the acidic and oxidizing conditions told by rocks the rover examined previously. Opportunity's original mission was to last only three months. On the day of its 10th anniversary on the Red Planet, Opportunity is examining the rim of the Endeavour Crater.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014