The design process is being headed by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The goal is to use a refrigerator-sized object to smash into and deflect an asteroid from Earth. Of course, there’s no way such a mission could stop an asteroid that’s poised to smack into the planet in the near future. However, a little nudge early enough might alter an object’s orbit and cause it to miss an impact with Earth.
As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option: small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.
Today, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council, an executive agency that will be tasked with guiding US space policy during the administration. The council, typically chaired by the vice president, is one that the US has seen before; it was first in operation during the ‘60s and ‘70s and then again under the George H.W. Bush administration, before being dissolved in 1993. Now, it’s back again, and this time with Vice President Mike Pence at the helm.
For the last year, the Curiosity rover has been studying the surface of Mars with more independence than ever before, saving human time and energy. The partly autonomous exploration is also helping people sidestep the constraints of working across vast distances in space. This new capability is powered by software called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS.
NASA is aiming to have humans on Mars in the next few decades, even if that comes with more risk than we originally thought. Just getting there is only the first challenge. Humans have to be able to survive and explore the red planet, and the agency just unveiled a vehicle that could help with the latter. The new six-wheeled rover looks like it just rolled out of a sci-fi movie.
You'd think NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has seen everything there is to see on the Martian surface in the 11 years it's orbited our nearest neighbour, but a snapshot taken over the planet's South Pole has revealed something we can't explain.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived in orbit of Jupiter last summer, and it began its death-defying dives into Jupiter’s magnetic field earlier this year. It’s on a longer 53-day orbit than originally planned due to engine trouble, but NASA is still gathering lots of information.
The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, which funds the U.S. government for the remainder of the fiscal year. NASA received $19.65 billion -- its best budget since 2010 -- and the Planetary Science Division saw its budget increase to $1.846 billion -- its best budget in more than ten years.
The final chapter in a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery, Cassini's Grand Finale is in many ways like a brand new mission. Twenty-two times, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will dive through the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings. What we learn from these ultra-close passes over the planet could be some of the most exciting revelations ever returned by the long-lived spacecraft. This animated video tells the story of Cassini's final, daring assignment and looks back at what the mission has accomplished.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been observing Saturn since 2004, but mission control has been careful not to get close to the ringed planet for fear of damaging the probe. Now, Cassini is nearly out of fuel, and it’s time to take some risks. Cassini began altering its trajectory early this week for the “Grand Finale,” a series of orbits that will take the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before.