NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity just celebrated its 12th anniversary on Mars; a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days. Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 4,270 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 144 months, Opportunity has taken more than 200,000 images, and driven a total of 26.50 miles (42.65 kilometers) across Mars; not bad for a mission designed to last only three months.
So, space fans, without further ado, here, for the first time in a format easily accessible to the public, are hundreds and hundreds of science-quality images from the Chinese Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover.
Alexei Leonov did not feel as if he was in motion as he clambered on to the outside of the spacecraft, 500km above the Earth.But in reality, he was hurtling around our planet at speeds that are many times faster than a jet aircraft.The vast, vivid geography of our planet stretched out before him - a giant canvas of contrasting colours and textures.He was the first of his species to see our planet in such glorious aspect.
In the past 40 years, space flight has encountered all sorts of failure modes. Propulsion systems have leaked and exploded. Power systems have short-circuited. Observation instruments have failed to work or have been pointed in wrong directions. But until this year no CFIT had occurred in outer space.Then, on 23 September, through a series of still-baffling errors, flight controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a California Institute of Technology facility under contract to NASA, sent erroneous steering commands to the Mars Climate Observer as it neared the target planet. Obeying blindly like all true robots, the probe, metaphorically speaking, marched off the cliff and was destroyed.
China's manned space program is now entering its second decade, with ambitious plans including a permanent space station, manned lunar missions, and a possible manned mission to Mars in 2040-2060. Two weeks ago, the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft landed safely with a crew of three in inner Mongolia. The mission was the longest yet for China -- 15 days in orbit, including a successful docking with the Tiangong-1 Space Laboratory, the first module in a planned space station. To date, China has successfully put eight astronauts into orbit in five missions. Chinese authorities are vague about announcing future missions, so no specific launch dates have been announced for Shenzou-11 or Tiangong-2 (2nd module of the Tiangong program space station). gathered here are images of the Shenzhou-10 mission, and several other highlights from the past decade of Chinese manned spaceflight.
A clear starry night sky is already beautiful as it is - yet some space enthusiasts still have the imagination to see it in a different way. Minnesota-based artist and writer Ron Miller got curious about what the night sky would look like if the Moon was replaced with any other planet from the Solar system. To grasp the difference better, he replaced the Moon with 7 other planets, keeping them at the same distance as the Moon is from the Earth (which is around 240,000 miles), and did not alter the size proportions of the planets.
Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space. A former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, Hadfield has flown two space shuttle missions, STS-74 in 1995 and STS-100 in 2001, and served as capsule communicator for both Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) expeditions. On 19 December 2012, Hadfield launched in the Soyuz TMA-07M flight for a long duration stay on board the ISS as part of Expedition 35. He arrived at the station on 21 December, as scheduled, and became the first Canadian to command the ISS when the crew of Expedition 34 departed. On 12 May 2013 he turned over command of the ISS, and safely returned home aboard the Soyuz spacecraft on 13 May. He received significant media exposure during his time on the ISS, and ended his time on the station by paying tribute to David Bowie with a rendition of "Space Oddity".
Some things you just count on. Like if we ever meet a space alien, it should have eyes (and maybe a head). Like somewhere out there, there are planets like ours. Like we have an ordinary solar system - "ordinary" because you know what it looks like ... As of this month, we've discovered 884 planets, 692 planetary systems, 132 of them with more than one planet and, strange to tell, almost none of them look like us.
NASA is paying $424 million more to Russia to get U.S. astronauts into space, and the agency's leader is blaming Congress for the extra expense. NASA announced its latest contract with the Russian Space Agency on Tuesday. The $424 million represents flights to and from the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft, as well as training, for six astronauts in 2016 and the first half of 2017. That's $70.6 million per seat -- well above the previous price tag of about $65 million. Russia currently provides the only means of getting people to and from the space station, and its ticket prices have soared with each new contract.
In a year dominated by Martian news, the pioneering Earthling spirit of one Elon Musk and the hunt for a second human home also grabbed some cosmic headlines.