NASA has some good news from Mars two weeks before its newest rover is set to land on the planet — they'll be able to listen to the landing after all. The aging Odyssey orbiter is now properly in place and will relay landing data immediately, as originally planned.
The European Space Agency announced plans today to launch a privately built snub-nosed space bullet, which sort of resembles a wingless, truncated space shuttle, within the next two years. Thales Alenia Space, builder of several International Space Station components and many European satellites, is manufacturing the spacecraft.
Three months after its first mission ended, the military is launching another X-37B space plane on Friday, in a second classified mission for the X-37B program. If the weather holds up, the second X-37B orbiter will launch Friday afternoon on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, according to launch manager United Launch Alliance.
NASA's search for extraterrestrial life could result in missions such as a balloon or boat-like capsule on Titan, or even a complex three-part Mars mission to return a Martian sample to Earth. Until then, scientists have focused attention on both Earth and Mars regions which could hold organic materials or microfossils.
Extraterrestrial life hunters gathered this week near Houston at what amounts to a biennial Woodstock for astrobiologists, and a NASA teleconference today gave a glimpse into the proceedings. Some of the best and the brightest shared their latest findings and discussed future missions to search for signs of life on Mars, Europa and other exotic solar system destinations.