Private rocket explodes on launch to space station

Private rocket explodes on launch to space station

An Orbital Sciences Antares rocket exploded seconds after its 6:22 p.m. lift-off from Wallops Island, Virginia, Tuesday on a mission to resupply the International Space Station. No one was hurt but the rocket was apparently destroyed and there was “significant property damage,” according to mission control commentators on NASA television.  Read more

Arctic archaeologists find Franklin expedition ship

Arctic archaeologists find Franklin expedition ship

Canadian archaeologists have found one of the Franklin Expedition’s ships — lost since the Arctic explorers famously disappeared in 1846 — off of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic. The ship is either the HMS Erebus or the HMS Terror, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on 9 September.  Read more

NASA extends Mars rover and Moon orbiter missions

A false-colour image of the Mars Opportunity rover, taken in March 2014.

NASA is on the verge of releasing its long-awaited prioritization of planetary missions, meant to guide the agency if tight budgets force it to switch off an operating spacecraft. But two missions that had been considered on the verge of closure — the Mars Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) — have each received a reprieve of another two years of operations, scientists close to the projects have confirmed.  Read more

NASA announces instruments for 2020 Mars rover

NASA's 2020 Mars rover will carry seven instruments.

The rover that NASA is sending to Mars in 2020 will carry seven instruments geared to choosing just the right rocks to collect and store for future return to Earth. They include several firsts for Mars, including a zoomable camera, a machine to generate oxygen from carbon dioxide, and radar to explore geology up to half a kilometre deep.  Read more

NASA finds asteroids to visit but may lose an important tool for studying them

An artist's representation of asteroid 2011 MD suggest that it could be a pile of small rocks (left) or a single rock surrounded by dust particles (right).

NASA’s controversial plan to capture an asteroid and study it is facing a challenge beyond the obvious technical feat: the potential shuttering of the Spitzer Space Telescope, whose observations can help calculate an asteroid’s size.  Read more