When SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon, it was a bitter-sweet moment for Israel’s space exploration aspirations. The privately-built spacecraft was punching above its weight class by proceeding on its journey to the Moon. Unfortunately, it crashed, ending the dream.
But Beresheet carried some unusual passengers, as part of an unusual, yet visionary, sub-mission: tardigrades.
Continue reading “Hardy Tardigrades on Board Israel’s Beresheet Lander Probably Survived the Crash”
A new video shows Japan’s Hayabusa 2 sample return spacecraft collecting samples from asteroid Ryugu. The spacecraft has been at Ryugu for months now, and it’s all been leading up to this. In the video, you can clearly see airborne asteroid dust and particles swirling around in the low gravity.
Continue reading “Watch this Amazing Video of Hayabusa 2 Picking Up a Sample from the Surface of Ryugu”
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has successfully launched their Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon. The mission, which includes an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched into space on a GSLV Mk III rocket on July 22nd, after a week-long delay. On September 7th it will perform a soft-landing on the Moon.
Continue reading “India’s Chandrayaan-2 is Heading to the Moon”
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is now the first spacecraft to retrieve a subsurface sample from an asteroid. On July 11th, the spacecraft touched down for a second time on asteroid 162173 Ryugu. This time, the probe retrieved a sample from a crater it excavated with its impactor.
Continue reading “Hayabusa 2 is the First Spacecraft to Sample the Inside of an Asteroid”
On March 26th, 2019, during the fifth meeting of the reestablished National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to land astronauts on the Moon within the next five years. This represented an order to expedite Space Policy Directive-1 signed by President Trump on December 11th, 2017, which directed NASA to take all the necessary steps to send astronauts back to the Moon.
This announcement suggested that some shake-up might be taking place within the agency to make things happen. However, it appears that this now involves the demotion of two longtime NASA heads who have dedicated much of their lives to the advancement of human space exploration. Whether or not this decision came from the White House is unclear, but it is in keeping with the direction recently issued by VP Pence.
Continue reading “Two NASA Heads Demoted, Possibly as Part of a Shake-Up to Get Back to the Moon.”
Voyagers 1 and 2 have the distinction of being in space for 42 years and still operating. And even though they’re 18 billion km (11 billion miles) from the Sun, they’re still valuable scientifically. But they’re running out of energy, and if NASA wants them to continue on much longer, they have some decisions to make.
Continue reading “NASA has Figured Out How to Extend the Lives of the Voyagers Even Longer”
The InSight lander has been on Mars for 213 Sols on its mission to understand the interior of the red planet. It’s armed with a seismometer, a temperature and wind sensor, and other instruments. But it’s primary instrument, arguably, is the Mole, or the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3.) And the Mole has been stuck for a while now.
Continue reading “NASA’s Still Trying to Get InSight’s Mole Working Again. Progress is Slow.”
The ESA has announced a new mission to explore a comet. The Comet Interceptor mission will have a spacecraft wait in space until a pristine comet approaches the inner Solar System. Then it will make a bee line for it, and do some ground-breaking science.
Continue reading “Meet the Comet Interceptor. It’ll Wait Patiently In Space for a Comet, Then Pounce On It”
The official announcement has been made. NASA is sending the Dragonfly, its rotary-winged flying robot, to Titan. We’ll have to control our excitement for a while, though. The launch date isn’t until 2026.
Continue reading “NASA is Going Back to Saturn’s Moon Titan, this Time With a Nuclear Battery-Powered Quadcopter”
Mystery. Secrecy. A Need-To-Know Basis. These are the hallmarks of science. Wait a minute: no they’re not. So what’s with all the mysterious secret objective talk from SpaceIL about Beresheet2?
Continue reading “SpaceIL Scraps its Plans to go Back to the Moon. Instead, it’s Got a New Secret “Significant Objective” for Beresheet 2″