NASA is giving its VIPER lunar rover a pair of car-like floodlights that resemble the kind you may mount on your truck or Jeep for off-roading at night. The floodlights will be used to illuminate the darkest parts of the Moon, enabling the VIPER rover to hunt for water in places it would otherwise struggle to see. NASA has shown off one of its floodlight prototypes ahead of the mission.
The term rogue planet is applied to planets that do not orbit a star. These planets fly unaccompanied through the galaxy, and astronomers have announced that they have spotted the smallest rogue planet candidate yet. The belief that the planet could be smaller than the Earth, with a mass somewhere between that of our world and Mars.
After a few days of effort, NASA has confirmed that its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has secured its Bennu asteroid sample payload, meaning that scientists will eventually get their hands on a pure few ounces of asteroid regolith. The news follows NASA's statement that though the Bennu touchdown and sampling event had been a success, some of the sampled material was leaking from a gap in the collection vessel.
NASA has launched another challenge targeted at the public, this one seeking concepts for unloading payloads from lunar landers. The winning concept(s) may be put to use under NASA's Artemis mission, which aims to return humans to the Moon amid a number of other missions. Among other things, NASA wants to create a 'base camp' on the Moon that will require regular payload deliveries.
NASA scientists have discovered an extraordinary molecule in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. The molecule has never been detected in any other atmosphere in the solar system. The rare molecule is called cyclopropenyliden. It's a simple carbon-based molecule that could be a precursor to more complex compounds that could form and feed possible life on Titan.
The Hubble Space Telescope discovered an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter called 16 Psyche. The asteroid is approximately 230 million miles from Earth and is 140 miles across. Those dimensions make the asteroid roughly the size of West Virginia.
NASA is back with new sounds from various parts of space, giving the public the opportunity to hear new -- and somewhat creepy -- noises from around the galaxy. The tracks are part of the space agency's fun Halloween offerings, which also include newly published horror-themed space posters as part of its Galaxy of Horrors artwork series. This year's audio playlist includes space whistles, moans, and more.
NASA occasionally releases travel posters featuring fictional, often retro representations of real-life places, ones located so far from our own planet that we'll likely never explore them during this lifetime. The space agency is back with a new set of posters, these ones designed specifically for the upcoming Halloween holiday -- and they were clearly inspired by classic horror comics.
NASA and the ESA have announced that they have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. NASA says the agreement is an important part of its effort to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate future technologies needed for a mission to Mars. The agreement was signed on Tuesday, marking NASA's first formal commitment to launching an international crew to the lunar vicinity as part of the Artemis missions.
NASA's Perseverance rover launched for Mars in late July, carrying with it a small helicopter and a suite of instruments to increase exploration of the Red Planet. The mission has logged more than 146 million miles since then, putting it exactly halfway to its Martian destination, according to the space agency. Assuming everything goes according to plan, Perseverance will arrive at Mars in mid-February.
Mixing artificial soil samples never seemed so exciting. University of Georgia geologists are currently preparing for the farming of crops on the red planet by simulating solid conditions here on Earth. A study on the process was published today with data from surface samples from Mars itself. "We want to simulate certain characteristics of materials you could easily get on Mars' surface," said the study's lead author Laura Fackrell.