Planets

Curiosity Rover Team Examining New Drill Hiatus

Mission Status Report NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team diagnoses an issue with a motor that moves the rover’s drill. Curiosity is at a site on lower Mount Sharp selected for what would be the mission’s Read More

Planets

Saturn’s ‘Watercolor’ Swirls

From NASA: Saturn’s north polar region displays its beautiful bands and swirls, which somewhat resemble the brushwork in a watercolor painting. Each latitudinal band represents air flowing at different speeds, and clouds at different heights, compared to neighboring bands. Where they meet and flow past each other, the bands’ interactions produce many eddies and swirls. Read More

Planets

NASA’s Juno Mission Exits Safe Mode, Performs Trim Maneuver

Mission Status Report NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter has left safe mode and has successfully completed a minor burn of its thruster engines in preparation for its next close flyby of Jupiter. Mission controllers commanded Juno to exit safe mode Monday, Oct. 24, with confirmation of safe mode exit received on the ground at 10:05 Read More

Planets

Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks. Curiosity took the images with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sept. Read More

Planets

Cassini Begins Epic Final Year at Saturn

After more than 12 years studying Saturn, its rings and moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered the final year of its epic voyage. The conclusion of the historic scientific odyssey is planned for September 2017, but not before the spacecraft completes a daring two-part endgame. Beginning on November 30, Cassini’s orbit will send the spacecraft Read More

Planets

Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent back the first-ever images of Jupiter’s north pole, taken during the spacecraft’s first flyby of the planet with its instruments switched on. The images show storm systems and weather activity unlike anything previously seen on any of our solar system’s gas-giant planets. Juno successfully executed the first of 36 orbital Read More

Planets

Evening Launch Catapults OSIRIS-REx Toward Asteroid Encounter

An Atlas V rocket traced a blazing arc into the Florida sky Thursday evening to send a small robotic explorer on its way to an asteroid on a mission that scientists anticipate will reveal answers to some of the basic questions about the solar system. “Tonight is a night for celebration, we are on the Read More

Planets

Mars Canyons Study Adds Clues about Possible Water

Puzzles persist about possible water at seasonally dark streaks on Martian slopes, according to a new study of thousands of such features in the Red Planet’s largest canyon system. The study published today investigated thousands of these warm-season features in the Valles Marineris region near Mars’ equator. Some of the sites displaying the seasonal flows Read More

Planets

Vulcan may not be real, but Spock’s home system is

From NASA: The fictional planet Vulcan is set in the real star system 40 Eridani. 40 Eridani is a trinary star system made up of three dwarf stars. The orange and blue X’s in the visualization above indicate the barycenters, or the gravitational centers around which the stars orbit. Click 40 Eridani B or 40 Read More

Planets

NASA Plant Researchers Explore Question of Deep-Space Food Crops

NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler, Ph.D., and fictional astronaut Mark Watney from the movie “The Martian” have something in common — they are both botanists. But that’s where the similarities end. While Watney is a movie character who gets stranded on Mars, Wheeler is the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities in the Exploration Read More