The spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has reveled a wealth of new information about Bennu, a large, ancient asteroid. On March 19th, researchers released a wide range of scientific papers, providing a new look at this diamond-shaped body. New data shows Bennu is covered in massive boulders, which could hinder the spacecraft from gathering materials from the surface. Researchers have also spotted evidence water once existed on the body from which Bennu broke free. Gravity on the asteroid was also found to act in a strange manner, causing anything just outside its equator to be pulled toward the center of the asteroid, and shot into space.Read More OSIRIS-REx Reveals Secrets of Bennu — The Doomed Asteroid
The Opportunity rover on Mars has now been declared dead, the victim of a massive sandstorm which covered the planet in June 2018. The final image ever taken by the Opportunity rover on the Red Planet highlights the moment the spacecraft fell silent. The top of the image shows a darkened sky from the massive sand storm last June, and the bottom becomes completely dark, as the vehicle lost power forever. NASA officials tried for months to revive the rover, without success.Read More Saying Goodbye to Opportunity — Here’s the Last Image
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.Read More Voyager 2 Heads Out of the Solar System – What’s Next for this Intrepid Robotic Explorer?
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.Read More Parker Solar Probe Flies Faster and Closer to the Sun than Any Previous Mission
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.Read More Did an American Astronaut Sabotage the International Space Station?
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
A wall of hydrogen gas in the distant solar system has been spotted by astronomers. The object was seen in ultraviolet light by the New Horizons spacecraft, which visited Pluto in 2015. This wall is formed when hydrogen from the sun meets gas floating between the stars, and is compacted as our family of planets travels through the galaxy.Read More New Horizons Views Hydrogen Wall Near Edge of Solar System
The InSight spacecraft is ready for launch to Mars. Scheduled to liftoff on May 5th, this lander will be the first spacecraft designed to explore the interior of Mars, including Mars quakes.Read More InSight Mission Ready for Launch to Mars