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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Voyager 2 Heads Out of the Solar System – What’s Next for this Intrepid Robotic Explorer?

The Voyager 2 spacecraft reached the heliopause at the edge of the solar system on December 5th. As it passed this border where particles and magnetic fields from the Sun give way to material existing between the stars, the spacecraft became the second object made by humans to enter interstellar space. Voyager 1, its twin robotic explorer, reached the heliopause in 2012. Both craft were launched in 1977. Voyager 2 still has a long way to go before it reaches the edge of the solar system, which it is expected to exit in around 30,000 years.

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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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Hubble Space Telescope Shut Down Following Equipment Failure

The Hubble Space Telescope has been shut down temporarily following the failure of one gyroscope and unexpected behavior from a backup system. These units are used to properly orient the orbiting observatory to its desired target. NASA officials hope to get the system back online soon, restoring full capability to the 28-year-old telescope. If this proves impossible, the HST can operate in a limited capacity using only one of the remaining gyroscopes.

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Did an American Astronaut Sabotage the International Space Station?

A small hole was discovered on a Soyuz space capsule docked to the International Space Station on August 30th. Preliminary investigation revealed the hole, roughly 1/12th of an inch in length, was caused by a drill being operated from inside the craft. Russian media outlet Kommersant published a theory that American astronauts purposely sabotaged the spacecraft in order to return a sick crew member to Earth early while avoiding having to pay for a new Soyuz. Occupants of the space station and the Russian government deny the story.

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