NASA is calling the test flight of its new heat shield made from high-tech balloons an "unqualified success." The small capsule, called the Inflatable Re-Entry Vehicle Experiment 3 (IRVE-3), deployed its inflatable heat shield and re-entered Earth's atmosphere from suborbital space at a screaming hypersonic speed of Mach 10.
NASA-led scientists are busily prepping a menu that future explorers of Mars will be able to take advantage of. Whereas space nosh for orbit is whipped up following tight constraints and is typically bland, NASA research-chefs are able to boldly explore new territory in the realm of interstellar eats.
It's a lofty task ahead of you — attempting to land the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. This after a journey even hardened NASA engineers are calling "seven minutes of terror." Lucky for you, you can get in on the mission virtually, without having to risk billions of space bucks.
Want to take a trip to Mars? Well, this post won't help you get there (like this one could), but NASA's tenacious Opportunity rover is keen to offer you a glimpse. The space agency has released a massive panorama of the red planet's surface as the robotic explorer sees it.
Would you sign up for a trip to the Red Planet? That may be a very real option sometime soon: the Mars One Project wants to ship out a crew of four by 2023. How? By securing funds after "creating the biggest media event ever" surrounding the mission, and by sending waves of settlers to go live on Mars.
Mars Science Laboratory hasn't even managed to get to Mars yet, much less make a successful skycrane landing, but already NASA is hard at work on the next Mars-bound spacecraft: MAVEN, the the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolutio N orbiter, winner of this year's award for most strained space-related acronym.
New analysis of an experiment performed by the Viking landers suggests that evidence of microbial life in the Martian soil may have been detected 36 years ago. As one of the authors of this new paper puts it: "on the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99 percent sure there's life there." Whoa.
NASA's Opportunity rover has been on Mars for nearly 3,000 days out of its originally scheduled 90-day mission. It's currently on its fifth Martian winter, and its solar panels are getting so dusty that the reduced daylight and low sun angle are threatening to starve the rover for power. Since a helpful rain shower seems like a long shot, Oppy is hoping to instead get hit by a tornado.
Within the next five years or so, you'll be able to buy a ticket to suborbital space for about $200,000. And that'll be fun, we're looking forward to it. SpaceX, a major player in the suborbital industry, is thinking about where else the company will be able to take people within the next few decades, and founder Elon Musk says Mars is a real possibility. And it'll be damn cheap.
Mars500, a 520-day simulation conducted by the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos, wrapped up late last year. Mars500 took place here on Earth; NASA, looking to conduct a similar test, is thinking of taking the project onto the International Space Station for more accurate conditions.