On closer inspection, it seems that the Romulans haven't hijacked Voyager 2 after all. NASA has identified the problem that caused the space probe -- which is currently coasting somewhere 8 to 10 billion miles from Earth -- to start returning distorted patterns of data last month. Evidently a single memory bit in the memory of an onboard computer flipped from a zero to a one, a problem the space agency intends to fix tomorrow.
A probe to the solar system's most hellish planet is set for launch later today in Japan. If all goes well, the Japanese Akatsuki probe, about the size of a small car, should reach the second planet by December, where it will study the sulfuric acid clouds of the Venusian atmosphere.
Launch time is set for 6:15 a.m. Tuesday in Japan -- about 5:15 p.m. Eastern time Monday. Akatsuki means "dawn" in Japanese, a nod to Venus' status as the morning star in that part of the world. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, which developed the probe, is calling it the first meteorological satellite on another world.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is prepped for its final launch on Friday, when it will embark on a 12-day mission delivering supplies to the ISS, installing a new Russian space station module, and replacing some aging battery packs on one of the station's solar arrays.
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.
NASA's new direction includes developing the technology to launch ambitious missions to the moon, Mars and even asteroids. Now NASA administrator Charles Bolden has come up with marching orders and specific costs for the U.S. space agency's different centers, according to the New York Times.
As we've been hearing for months, 2010 is going to be a year of belt-tightening for NASA. But now, with the release of the new NASA budget, we can see that even with substantially less money, NASA still has some cool technologies on the way.
It's a sight captured by many a late-night stargazer: a shuttle streaking through the dark sky on its way to orbit. Last night, a gorgeous predawn launch of the space shuttle Endeavour marked the last scheduled night launch ever for the retiring NASA vehicle, even as NASA looks forward to a new age of commercial spaceflight. All four of the remaining shuttle flights are slated for the daytime, SPACE.com reports.
The bustling private-space industry is full of big-dreaming, thrifty innovators. Here we've ranked 15 of the most serious contenders in order of their progress toward the goal of bringing cargo and human passengers to space.
Fans of the intrepid Mars rovers got some bittersweet news today.
The good news: Starting Monday, NASA will try to drive the Spirit rover out of a sandy spot where it has been mired since April.
The bad: It will not be easy, and in announcing their plans today, NASA scientists sounded like they were preparing to say goodbye.
When humans eventually travel to Mars and beyond, they'll have plenty to worry about along with the discomforts of eating freeze-dried food and drinking their own urine. A new report says they will probably be really sick, to boot -- from flare-ups of E. coli, chicken pox or staph infections.
A host of microscopic stowaways could make interplanetary voyagers sick, especially because human immune systems are compromised in space, and because bacteria seem to thrive in micro- or zero-gravity environments.