The Curiosity Rover has been exploring the surface of Mars for four years and is still going strong. The unit is in such good shape that it’s going to keep exploring for another two years.
Curiosity got off to a good start, as Space.com’s Mike Wall writes:
The rover found that the area near its landing site harbored a lake-and-stream system long ago, showing that at least some parts of the Red Planet could have supported microbial life in the ancient past.
The main goal of the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission is to answer that very question.
“It was just an early home run that kind of took the pressure off, and allowed us to expand on that [discovery] for the next few years,” Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told Space.com.”
Back in 2012, it wasn’t clear if Curiosity Rover would survive the “7 minutes of terror” involved in hitting Mars’s atmosphere and landing on the surface of the planet.
Love this tumblr post from the outstanding outreach crew of NASA:
Elon Musk’s commercial space company, SpaceX, has just launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit carrying a Canadian Space Agency satellite, CASSIOPE. Part of the satellite’s payload is Cascade, a prototype for a super-fast space-borne file-transfer system—a kind of digital courier service.
Nasa‘s newest delivery service pulled up at the International Space Station on Sunday after a week’s delay, bringing more than a half-ton of meals and special treats to the astronauts who assisted in the high-flying feat. With the smooth linkup, Orbital Sciences Corporation became only the second company to accomplish such a far-flung shipment. H/T Quartz
The proliferation of debris orbiting the Earth – primarily jettisoned rocket and satellite components – is an increasingly pressing problem for spacecraft, and it can generate huge costs. To combat this scourge, the Swiss Space Center at EPFL is aims to launch CleanSpace One, a project to develop and build the first installment of a family of satellites specially designed to clean up space debris.