NASA’s spacecraft that landed on Mars Monday has beamed back its first clear photo of the desolate Red Planet. “There’s a quiet beauty here. Looking forward to exploring my new home,” NASA tweeted late Monday, hours after its new InSight lander touched down.
After a 300 million-mile, six-month interplanetary cruise, NASA’s Mars InSight robotic lander is heading for a plain-vanilla arrival at the Red Planet on Monday — and the team behind the mission couldn’t be more pleased.
NASA’s planetary science program has enjoyed significant support over the last several years. After post-sequestration cuts trimmed the program’s budget to less than $1.3 billion in 2013, it’s grown significantly in subsequent years, exceeding $2.2 billion in 2018. The House version of a fiscal year 2019 spending bill, approved by appropriators in May but yet to be considered by the full House, proposed nearly $2.76 billion for the program.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket does not have a spotless record. In the last few years, SpaceX has lost one vehicle on the launchpad and another broke apart en route to the International Space Station (ISS). Yet, SpaceX is on a roll as it nears three dozen successful Falcon 9 launches in a row. The company is also cruising toward certification to ferry astronauts to the ISS.
The Democratic party will assume majority control of the House of Representatives next January. As a result, the management of all committees in the House will belong to Democrats, who can pursue issues and topics of their choosing. Republicans, consigned to the minority for the first time in 8 years, will have little influence over committee leadership.
David Strauss, an analyst and oddsmaker at MyBookie, says NASA is the underdog and Musk is the favorite. “Bezos may have the discipline, but Musk has the infrastructure and just the right amount of craziness to make a successful mission happen,” he said today in a news release. “The days of government organizations staging trips to another planet are behind us. I would be surprised if NASA truly makes it back to the moon.”
Hubble went into safe mode when one of its three working gyroscopes failed, leaving mission managers with a weighty challenge: They could try getting a glitchy gyro working again, bringing the telescope’s pointing system back to its normal three-gyro mode. Otherwise, they would have to go to a one-gyro procedure for pointing at observational targets, and keep the second gyro in reserve.
NASA is following up on its plan to purchase rides on commercial lunar landers by soliciting ideas for the scientific and technological payloads to put on them.
After 3 days of intense debate, a nonbinding vote by planetary scientists meeting in Glendale, California, resulted in a virtual tie between several candidate landing sites for NASA’s next $2.5 billion Mars rover, due for launch in 2020. The straw poll is the culmination of years of scientific and engineering analysis of three NASA-approved sites...
An American rivalry with China could stoke a new space race in the years ahead, prominent members of the space community said at a session marking the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo missions. But it may not play out the way the U.S.-Soviet space race did, said Scott Pace, executive secretary for the White House’s National Space Council. Billionaire-backed space efforts such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin could play a leading role, he said.