November 4, 2010 |
Hours after the Deep Impact space probe flew within about 435 miles of comet Hartley 2 on Thursday morning, images beamed back to Earth revealed a body shaped rather like a peanut or an overturned bowling pin, with two bulbous, roughened edges and a smooth band in between. The images coming in were "just amazing," team scientist Jessica Sunshine of the University of Maryland said at a news conference. The ice and debris that make up a comet are thought to be leftovers from the solar system's early development, when the planets were still coalescing, said astronomer Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, the mission's principal investigator.
June 13, 2010 |
A Japanese space probe has landed in the Australian outback after a seven-year voyage to an asteroid, safely returning a capsule containing a unique sample of dust, Japanese mission controllers said Monday. The Hayabusa probe blazed a spectacular trail over Australia before slamming into the desert around midnight local time, ending a journey to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa that began in 2003. A spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told Reuters the first image available indicated the capsule carrying the precious cargo had survived.
July 4, 2008 |
Mercury is not just the solar system's shrimpy kid brother, at least since Pluto was kicked out of the planetary club two years ago. It's shrinking. New measurements taken by NASA's Messenger spacecraft this year show that the innermost planet has shrunk by more than a mile in diameter over its history. Scientists attribute that to the gradual cooling of the planet's core. Messenger, which stands for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging, is the first spacecraft to study Mercury up close since Mariner 10 in 1975.
January 14, 2008 |
A NASA spacecraft will fly by the planet Mercury today, the first visit to the sun's closest neighbor since the 1970s. The space probe Messenger will skim 124 miles above the planet's surface, the first of three passes before it settles into orbit three years from now. Scientists are hoping that what they learn will help them begin to answer lingering questions about the planet's origin, magnetic field and atmosphere, and what that means about...
November 29, 2007 |
Venus became the solar system's baking hellhole by making a classic real estate mistake: building in the wrong neighborhood, according to research released Wednesday presenting the first comprehensive findings from Europe's Venus Express spacecraft. Instruments aboard the craft, which has been orbiting the haze-shrouded planet for almost 20 months, show that Venus and Earth are not just sister planets, but are nearly twins in important ways.
June 17, 2006 |
A report released Tuesday blamed a design flaw for the 2004 crash of a NASA space probe carrying solar wind atoms back to Earth and criticized engineers for failing to detect the error. The 231-page document prepared by independent investigators confirmed initial findings released several weeks after the crash. The final report found that gravity switches on the Genesis probe designed to trigger the deployment of its parachutes were installed backward.