August 17, 2002 |
A NASA spacecraft on a four-year mission to probe the heart of two comets has apparently broken into two pieces, according to astronomers who believe they captured an image of the wounded spacecraft. The $159-million Contour spacecraft had been incommunicado since early Thursday when its solid-propellant rocket motor was scheduled to fire and boost the space probe out of Earth's orbit.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 15, 1989 |
One key scientist has died and several others have retired while waiting for the often-delayed Galileo spacecraft to blast off for Jupiter, but success moved a little closer Tuesday when a probe that will dash through the Jovian atmosphere was packaged for a trip across town. It was a small step perhaps. But for the men and women who have grown gray and weary while waiting for their mission to get off the ground, any progress is to be cherished.
November 18, 1996 |
Russia's most ambitious space probe landed with an ignominious 6.7-ton splash in the South Pacific on Sunday, along with a chunk of the country's battered scientific prestige, after a booster rocket under the Mars-bound craft misfired. Pieces of the plutonium-laden probe crashed into the Pacific "in a broad ocean area west of Chile," according to calculations by the U.S. Space Command's Space Control Center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colo.
July 4, 1997 |
The Pathfinder spacecraft, poised for its historic descent to the Martian surface today, got close enough to the Red Planet to begin to feel its gravitational attraction at 4 a.m. Thursday. "I think it's safe to say we're all [feeling the pull of Mars]," flight system manager Brian Muirhead said. At 11 a.m. Thursday, the heaters turned on to inflate the air bags that will protect the craft when it hits the surface. By 7:45 p.m., the spacecraft was as close to Mars as the moon is to Earth.
March 30, 2011 |
The Messenger spacecraft, which entered orbit around Mercury on March 17, sent its first images of the hot planet's surface back to Earth early Tuesday. The first image, received by the Messenger mission team at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., at 5:20 a.m. Eastern time, captures areas near the planet's southern pole that have never been seen before — areas that could host water in the form of ice. It was soon followed by 363 more images over the next six hours.
October 10, 1992 |
When Pioneer-Venus was launched in 1978, it was designed to orbit our closest planetary neighbor for eight months. The most optimistic predictions for its life span were two to three years. Now, 14 years and 400 billion bits of information later, the spacecraft has finally entered its death throes, providing--even in its final months--surprises and mysteries about Venus.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 10, 2012 |
Engineers said Friday that the Curiosity rover happened to catch a picture of its own ride crash-landing on Mars - a wink-of-an-eye serendipity that some dismissed as a statistical impossibility, but appears to have been confirmed by a thorough review of landing data. The final seconds of Curiosity's eight-month-plus journey to Mars called for a spacecraft to lower the rover to the surface using a "sky crane" - three ropes. The ropes were then cut, and the last of the spacecraft, known as the "descent stage," cast itself toward the horizon.
August 6, 2007 |
When NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander rocketed into space Saturday, it went, like all missions, with the assurance that as few Earth microbes as possible tagged along for the ride. Hitchhiking microbes could impair the experiments, or worse -- an errant microbe could contaminate the planet. Keeping the spacecraft sterile was the job of an obscure but crucial part of NASA known as the Planetary Protection unit.
November 11, 2008 |
After hearing nothing from the Phoenix spacecraft in more than a week, NASA officials on Monday declared an end to the nearly six-month mission at Mars' north pole, the first to touch and taste the water on an alien planet. Phoenix sent its last message on Nov. 2 before a lack of power caused it to go to sleep -- permanently, it now appears.
May 16, 2003 |
Max Faget, one of the nation's most important spacecraft designers, says the space shuttle -- which he helped pioneer -- should be retired and the human space program suspended until the nation can build a better vehicle for putting astronauts into orbit.