Why Europe is Naming Their Next Mars Rover After Biologist Rosalind Franklin

The European Space Agency announced they are naming their new Mars rover in honor of pioneering biologist Rosalind Franklin. The spacecraft is due for launch in July 2020, and should touch down on Mars in March 2021. The robotic explorer will investigate beneath the Martian crust, looking for evidence of life, past or present, on Mars. Franklin developed groundbreaking research into the study of DNA, work which was used, without credit, by other researchers.

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A Eulogy for the (Likely) Lost Opportunity Rover

After nearly 15 years exploring the surface of Mars, the Opportunity rover may be dead. Despite over 600 attempts, communication still has not been restored with the vehicle, following a loss of power caused by a sandstorm which engulfed the spacecraft last spring. Since 2004, Opportunity traveled 45 kilometers, or 28 miles, exploring the geology and climate of the Red Planet. The golf-cart-sized rover found some of the best evidence yet seen that Mars once had seas of liquid water. It survived an earlier sandstorm in 2014, but has been silent since June 10th.

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Is China Leading the Exploration of Space?

The Chinese space program recently landed a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, and has begun growing plants there. Neither of these feats have ever been accomplished by any other nation. Bolstered by their success, the Chinese space agency has announced plans to return sample materials from the Moon and Mars, and to construct a base on the Moon, to be constructed with a 3D printer. These missions have some people asking if China is now leading the way in space exploration, surpassing the United States and Russia. The U.S. has not sent an astronaut past low-Earth orbit since 1972.

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Mars InSight Lander Takes Selfie, Returning First Image from its New Home

The InSight lander on Mars just returned its first pictures from the Red Planet, including a selfie, showing itself on that world’s ruddy surface. The picture was taken using a robotic arm attached to the vehicle. Another photo shows the area immediately around the spacecraft, where the vehicle will place two instruments designed to measure marsquakes and temperatures beneath the surface of that world. The vehicle landed on November 26th, marking the eighth successful landing on Mars for NASA, out of nine attempts.

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InSight Lander Touches Down on Mars to Explore the Red Planet

The InSight Mars lander touched down on the surface of the Red Planet on Monday, November 23rd. This is the eight successful landing on Mars for NASA and the American space program. InSight lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 8th of this year. The lander is designed to study the interior of Mars, in an effort to learn more about all the rocky planets of our solar system, including Earth. Researchers hope the solar-powered spacecraft lasts at least one Martian year, or roughly two Earth years.

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The Plan to Rescue the Opportunity Rover from a Deep Slumber on Mars

The Opportunity rover on Mars fell silent on June 10th following a massive dust storm on the Red Planet. Now, as the storm begins to clear, NASA officials hope to once again hear from the intrepid robotic explorer. The space agency will listen in for 45 days after the storm clears, hoping to receive a signal. The spacecraft landed on Mars in 2004, and has been exploring the alien landscape for nearly 15 years.

Read More The Plan to Rescue the Opportunity Rover from a Deep Slumber on Mars