OSIRIS-REx Arrives at the Asteroid Bennu – Tucson and the World Celebrates

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu on December 3rd. This mission will return samples from this body to the Earth for study by researchers. Bennu was discovered in 1999, and this carbon-rich asteroid is believed to be older than the solar system. Researchers hope the mission will help teach us more about the ancient solar system and the formation of life on Earth. The sample material is scheduled to land in the desert of Utah in the year 2023. This is the first U.S. mission to land on an asteroid.

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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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Parker Solar Probe Flies Faster and Closer to the Sun than Any Previous Mission

The Parker Solar Probe became the fastest spacecraft in history on October 29, as it came closer to the Sun than any other vehicle. The spacecraft reached speeds of nearly 247,000 kilometers per hour, or more than 153,000 miles per hour, faster than any other man-made object. Parker also came within 42.7 million kilometers or 26.6 million miles, of our stellar companion. The spacecraft was launched on August 12th 2018.

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Goblin the Dwarf Planet Discovered at the Edge of the Solar System

Astronomers have discovered a previously-unknown dwarf planet, nicknamed Goblin, orbiting beyond the orbit of Neptune. This tiny world takes 40,000 years to travel once around the Sun, and it never comes closer than 65 times the distance between the Earth and our parent star. Computer simulations show the orbit of this world may be influenced by a distant, larger body astronomers are dubbing Planet X.

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JAXA Lands Two Hopping Rovers on Asteroid – See the First Picture

The Japanese space agency JAXA has landed two small hopping rovers on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. These rovers are each seven inches in diameter, and will explore the asteroid by hopping around its surface. Each 50-foot hop will take 15 minutes to complete, due to the extremely weak gravity on the body. These will be followed by two other landers, and the orbiter itself will collect samples of Ryugu to return to Earth in 2020.

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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.

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Is Planet Nine Hiding at the Edge of the Solar System?

Planet Nine could exist at the most distant reaches of our solar system, according to observations of the orbits of far-flung objects. This theoretical world would be 10 times as massive as Earth, and take between 10 and 20,000 years to orbit the Sun. However, such a planet would be so dark and distant that some astronomers speculate it may be 1,000 years before we discover it.

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Water Ice Confirmed on the Moon – What does this mean for the Future of Space Travel?

Water ice has been confirmed on The Moon for the first time ever. This discovery, made by the Indian Space Research Organization, was announced by NASA. Ice was seen collecting in areas near the northern and southern poles of the Moon, which are always in shadow. This finding could make it easier for humans to colonize the Solar System.

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Asteroid 2015 BZ509 may have joined Our Family of Planets from an Alien Solar System

An asteroid orbiting backwards around the Sun may have come from another solar system, according to astronomers in France.
Asteroid 2015 BZ509 is roughly two miles across, and orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as Jupiter. Computer simulations suggest the object may have joined our planetary family four-and-a-half billion years ago, just as the Earth and other planets were being formed.

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