More than just a scientific mission, Mars rover Curiosity's final, frightening descent stirred up plenty of emotions, from both the engineers who piloted it and from spectators around the world. We all held our breath as the rover went through the "seven minutes of terror" that was the landing--and then celebrated when news came of a successful finale. It was beautiful, and we've collected some of the best reactions to its descent, as well as some of the early pictures Curiosity sent back to Earth.
Scientists are on the hunt for exo-Earths, distant cousins of our planet that are just the right distance from their stars to harbor liquid water and other ingredients for life. But even with plenty of data and some educated guesses, no one will ever see what these faraway worlds look like, so we're left with the creative concepts of NASA artists.
The Deep Impact probe, part of NASA's EPOXI mission, has successfully returned never-before-seen images of the comet Hartley 2 as it flew near Earth this morning, only the fifth comet nucleus ever visited by a spacecraft.
Less than half an hour after the probe reached its closest distance from the comet, about 435 miles away, a series of images completed the 23-million-mile trip from EPOXI’s spacecraft to computer screens in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It may not look like much, but NASA's next candidate to touch down on Mars has taken its first steps toward its larger ambition of exploring the Martian landscape in 2012.
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had a big week last week, mounting the Remote Sensing Mast and an array of navigation and sensing cameras on their latest Mars rover. Then on Friday Curiosity took its first drive, traveling about three feet back and forth on its brand new 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Left: A Chinese Long-March 4-B rocket blasts off on Nov. 6, 2004. Right: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Qian Xuesen on August 2, 2008.
One can only imagine how history might have played out if the United States had not deported a Chinese-born Caltech rocket scientist on suspicion of being a Communist in 1955. Qian Xuesen first fought his deportation, but later accepted his fate and went on to become the founder of China's missile and space programs. His death this past Sunday comes as China broadens its space exploration efforts to become a potential challenger to a troubled U.S. space program, or perhaps a partner.
Ready for an intergalactic adventure? Take this virtual flight over Mariner Valley, Mars's version of the Grand Canyon, a geological feature as deep as Mt. Everest and as wide as the distance from New York to Los Angeles. Kind of makes Earth's biggest dry river bed seem a bit less "Grand," doesn't it?
The agile lemur inspires a four-legged NASA automaton that will roam Martian terrain too extreme for wheeled rovers
By Jonathon KeatsPosted 02.04.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Exploring the intricacies of Martian geology requires a steady climber, nimble enough to scale cliffs and dexterous enough to sample the strata. A climbing primate would be a good candidate, if only there were air to breathe and the temperature were warmer than -140
By Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaPosted 05.24.2005 at 4:00 pm 0 Comments
This short animation is made up from a sequence of images taken by the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR) instrument on board ESA's Huygens probe, during its successful descent to Titan on Jan. 14, 2005.
In a year when the heroes of space were robotic explorers and plucky capitalists, the future of NASAâ€™s manned program seemed shakier than ever
By Preston LernerPosted 01.01.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
The year opened with a presidential commitment to space unrivaled since John F. Kennedy's vow to put a man on the moon: In January, George W. Bush promised not only to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 but also to use it as a testing ground for possible "human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond." His directive came less than a year after the Columbia disaster grounded NASA's human-spaceflight program.