August 8, 2012 |
Did Curiosity capture the galactic equivalent of the Zapruder film when it landed on Mars? Seconds after the NASA robot's landing Sunday night, Curiosity managed to squeeze off a handful of fuzzy, black-and-white photographs. One, taken with a device on its rear known as a Hazcam, captured the pebble-strewn ground beneath the rover and one of its wheels - and a blotch, faint but distinctive, on the horizon. The images were relayed by a passing satellite. Two hours later, the satellite passed overhead again.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 6, 2012 |
Curiosity, the largest and most advanced spacecraft ever sent to another planet, stuck its extraordinary landing Sunday night in triumphant and flawless fashion, and is poised to begin its pioneering, two-year hunt for the building blocks of life - signs that Earth's creatures may not be not alone in the universe. NASA's $2.5-billion mission involved the work of more than 5,000 people from 37 states, some of whom had labored for 10 years to hear the two words that Al Chen, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer, said inside mission control at 10:32 p.m.: “Touchdown confirmed.” Chen reported that Curiosity was in a “nice flat place,” and as icing on the cake, the spacecraft sent home thumbnail photographs of itself.
August 5, 2012 |
Curiosity, the largest and most advanced spacecraft ever sent to another planet, appears to have landed on Mars to begin its pioneering, two-year hunt for the building blocks of life - signs that Earth's creatures may not be alone in the universe. The craft was scheduled to land at 10:31 p.m. Pacific time in an ancient geological feature known as Gale Crater. The landing site was 154 million miles from home, enough distance that the spacecraft's elaborate landing sequence had to be automated.
August 4, 2012 |
On a cloudless morning, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stood at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. — where the U.S. dominated human spaceflight for half a century — and revealed plans for the space agency's next chapter. On Friday, NASA handed out $1.1 billion in contracts to three companies to privately develop a new generation of spacecraft that could one day ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Now that the space shuttle fleet has been retired, NASA has no way to travel to the space station other than shelling out $63 million each time one of its astronauts rides on a Russian Soyuz rocket.
July 18, 2012 |
A Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher has solved the so-called Pioneer anomaly -- the unexpected slowing of the two Pioneer spacecraft -- and shown that it is not due to unknown physics, as some theoreticians had speculated. Instead, it is the result of heat radiated by the spacecraft. Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 were launched in 1972 and 1973, respectively, on a trajectory toward the edge of the solar system. In the early 1980s, controllers at NASA's JPL detected a slight deceleration in the crafts' speeds.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 14, 2012 |
Three weeks from tonight, an amiable, whip-smart engineer named Ray Baker will be staring into his computer screen at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, hopeful and helpless - or, as he puts it, "sweating blood. " The night will have been 10 years and $2.5 billion in the making, incorporating the work of 5,000 people in 37 states. And then, 154 million miles from home, the fate of the most ambitious machine humans have sent to another planet will rest on a seven-minute landing sequence so far-fetched it looks like something Wile E. Coyote devised to catch the Road Runner.
June 15, 2012 |
Thirty-five years after NASA's Voyager 1 was launched, the spacecraft is on the edge of the solar system and verging on entering interstellar space, the agency said Friday. The craft is now 11.1 billion miles from Earth, a distance that means radio signals from the craft require 16 hours and 38 minutes to reach the antennas of NASA's Deep Space Network. "It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at Caltech. Three instruments onboard are providing key data about the craft's passage into interstellar space.
June 14, 2012 |
Infrared imaging by JPL's Cassini spacecraft has shown the existence of large methane lakes near the equator of Saturn's moon Titan. One of them is about the size of Utah's Great Salt Lake at its lowest recorded level and is at least three feet deep. The spacecraft also discovered smaller, shallower "ponds" nearby similar to marshes on Earth, with knee- to ankle-level depths. Astronomers have previously observed large methane lakes near Titan's poles, but the discovery of the "tropical" lakes is a surprise because it was generally assumed that this region was too warm to allow such lakes to exist for any length of time.
June 1, 2012 |
About 563 miles west of Baja California, SpaceX's Dragon space capsule successfully splashed down after spending nine days in outer space. When the unmanned cone-shaped capsule hit the water at 8:42 a.m. Pacific time Thursday, it marked the end of a historic mission carried out by the Hawthorne company officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. It was the first privately built and operated spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station. "Welcome home, baby," said Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, in a news briefing from company headquarters.
May 10, 2012 |
NASA'sfirst hard look at the protoplanet Vesta has given scientists an unprecedented view of its makeup, terrain and history - and revealed that major activity on this ancient rock occurred far more recently than researchers had expected. Images sent back from NASA's trailblazing Dawn spacecraft reveal the full size of a massive crater in the southern hemisphere and indicate that it may have been made just 1 billion years ago, well after Vesta formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, according to one of half a dozen studies published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.