The month-long launch window for NASA’s new Mars lander, InSight opens this weekend. InSight will be the first spacecraft to use a robotic arm to place its instruments on another planet’s soil—effectively unraveling the innards of the Red Planet. It’s also the first interplanetary mission to launch from the West Coast instead of Cape Canaveral, and it may not be the last. InSight isn’t a rover, like Curiosity or Opportunity, but a stationary lander. Its mission is to peer deep into Mars with two main instruments. One is a probe that’ll hammer 16 feet deep to take the planet’s temperature and determine how much heat it’s losing. (That heat comes from the violent formation of a planet, but also the decay of radioactive elements.) The other is a seismometer for sensing marsquakes. Together, the instruments, which the robot arm will pluck from the deck of the spacecraft, will ideally show what Mars is made of, lending insight (sorry) into not … [Read more...] about Why Is NASA’s InSight Mars Mission Launching from California?
Spacex mars mission
The heat shield for NASA's next Mars spacecraft just cracked open. Luckily, engineers found this out during testing here on Earth, long before the Mars 2020 rover missionleaves for the Red Planet in search of habitable environments there. In preparation for landing, both the rover and the craft's landing gear will be encapsulated in a protective material — a heat shield — to keep them safe during the scalding trip through the Martian atmosphere. Engineers discovered the fracture on April 12, after a week of structural testing at Lockheed Martin. The crack was unexpected, but NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory – which manages the mission development – said the mission should still lift off in 2020, as anticipated. [Interstellar Space Travel: 7 Futuristic Spacecraft to Explore the Cosmos] The damage happened after the heat shield was subjected to forces up to 20 percent greater than what the Mars 2020 rover should encounter when it plows through Mars' … [Read more...] about Heat Shield for NASA’s Next Mars Mission Breaks During Testing
SpaceX has released a tear-jerking new video of the historic first flight of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which launched Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster and a dummy named Starman on a journey into the solar system on Feb. 6. Set to David Bowie's 1971 hit "Life on Mars," the video chronicles Starman's journey into space, starting from SpaceX's Horizontal Integration Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the cherry-red electric car and its passenger were packed inside the rocket's payload fairing. The video shows the enormous rocket rolling out to the launchpad and blasting off into space, where live views of Starman were beamed down to Earth. [In Photos: SpaceX's 1st Falcon Heavy Rocket Launch Success!] The video shows the impressive double-booster landing and the crash of the third booster, which narrowly missed SpaceX's Drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You." This is the first time SpaceX has shown the crash footage (look for it at the 1:12 mark). But the … [Read more...] about Relive the Historic SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch with ‘Starman’ in This Inspiring Video
Elon Musk and his space company recently received a lot of attention for putting a space suit-wearing dummy, dubbed Starman, into a Tesla car and shooting the two into space. While that is exciting, their plans for an internet-beaming satellite network are far more intriguing.Musk isn't a stranger to far-out ideas: He helped make electric cars sexy; he's open-sourced a wild "hyperloop" transit system that could revolutionise the way we get from A to B; his space company, SpaceX, is developing reusable rockets and planning to colonise Mars; and, through an initiative called Starlink, he's trying to blanket the Earth in high-speed internet. Here's what you need to know about it.What is Starlink? Starlink is a SpaceX initiative currently in testing Consists of a network of satellites that beam internet down These will be put into low-Earth orbit by 2020 First two experimental satellites will launch in February 2018 SpaceX's Starlink initiative consists of a huge network - aka a … [Read more...] about Starlink explained: How SpaceX will blanket Earth with superfast internet
Main image: NASA's Space Launch System will be an essential component of missions to Mars. Credit: NASA/MSFCEver since the dawn of science fiction we’ve been fascinated by Mars. Our planetary neighbour has been the subject of some of the greatest space stories in history, from the invasion of Martians in The War of the Worlds to humans going the other way in The Martian. Now, after more than a century of dreaming about the Red Planet, developing scientific breakthroughs, and researching its potential for exploration and sustaining life, we’re ready to go. Well, nearly. Earlier this year, NASA released a progress report on its plans for deep space exploration, including a mission to Mars, while US president Donald Trump pledged $19.1 billion in funding to help NASA get to Mars. And getting there is about more than simply staking a claim on Mars and fulfilling our sci-fi-fuelled dreams. Many experts believe that if we don’t start looking for other … [Read more...] about This is how we’ll get to Mars