Sixty years after NASA was formed, countries around the world have joined the space race, with an eye to putting a person on Mars. But experts say the future of space activity may rest with private corporations that are building their own products, launching commercial satellites and even exploring small missions. In spite of interplanetary probes like New Horizons, which have reached past Pluto, and successful robotic explorations of Mars, some scientists say progress isn't coming quickly enough.
NASA hasn't sent a robot designed to identify traces of life on Mars since the Viking missions in the 1970s. But with the soonest possible human Mars mission still a decade and a half away, is there any hope that robots could pinpoint ancient Martian life before humans get there?
Future human exploration and habitation on the moon rely on the presence of water hiding out in shadowy craters on the lunar surface. Past missions have provided good evidence that there’s water ice in there, but now we have absolute confirmation that ice exists on the surface thanks to India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Technically, we had the evidence almost a decade ago and no one noticed until now.
Daisies who pursue the Space Science Explorer badge will observe the sun, moon and sky, while Brownies tackling the Space Science Adventurer badge will delve into the planets, moon phases and constellations. Juniors, aka Space Science Investigators, will explore the celestial motion, the dimensions of constellations, and the size and scale of the solar system.
NASA’s Opportunity rover has been rolling around the surface of the red planet for an amazing 14 years. The rover’s expected operational life was a mere 90 sols (about three Earth months), but it just kept on going. It’s looking increasingly likely that the planet’s global dust storm has ended the improbable run of Opportunity. As the storm begins to clear, there’s still no signal from the rover.
The midterm assessment of the 2011 planetary science decadal survey, prepared by a National Academies committee and published Aug. 7, found that NASA was able to make progress on both flagship and smaller missions recommended by the survey even with funding cuts in the early years of the decade.
It was a crazy idea on the face of it -- sending a $2.5 billion robot to another planet with a complex rocket sled contraption to get it safely to the surface. It worked, though, and Curiosity began its exploration of the red planet six years ago. As the rover begins its seventh year on Mars, let’s look at how it got there and where it’s going.
NASA has announced the nine astronauts that will crew the test flights and first missions of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Crew for the Starliner test flight are NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu-Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been selected to take part in the Crew Dragon test flight.
NASA’s MUREP Innovations in Space Technology Curriculum (MISTC) awards totaling $1.4 million will help the MSI community colleges develop “crosscutting, pioneering new technologies and capabilities” to sustain the space agency’s work, according to officials. The schools receiving MISTC awards are Bronx Community College, College of the Desert, Los Angeles Pierce College, Passaic County Community College and Prince George’s Community College.
Mars has long been seen as a potential second home for humanity, but it won’t be a comfortable place to hang your hat until we’ve addressed the lack of breathable air. According to NASA, fantasies about terraforming the red planet are premature. A new analysis of Mars and its composition shows that we’re nowhere near being able to terraform the planet with current technology.