June 27, 2017

Earlier launch of NASA’s Psyche mission touted as cost-saving measure

May 26, 2017

A NASA spacecraft set to explore a metallic asteroid for the first time will launch in 2022, a year earlier than originally planned, and reach its destination in 2026, four years ahead of schedule, giving ground teams a shorter wait for the mission’s scientific payoff and shaving $100 million off the project’s total cost, officials said Wednesday.

Gravitational wave testbed repurposed as comet dust detector

April 26, 2017

In the final months of Europe’s LISA Pathfinder mission, scientists have found an unexpected use for the trailblazing testbed for a future gravitational wave observatory by tracking the tiny dings made by microscopic particles that strike the spacecraft in deep space, exploiting the impacts to learn about the population of dust grains cast off by comets and asteroids across the solar system.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe moonlights as asteroid sleuth

February 1, 2017

On course to collect specimens from asteroid Bennu after its launch last year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will search this month for objects locked in orbits near Earth, a bonus science opportunity to locate possible fragments of the primordial building blocks that formed our home planet.

Future of asteroid deflection mission to be decided soon

January 19, 2017

Decisions on the future of a joint robotic mission between NASA and the European Space Agency to demonstrate the ability to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth have been put off until later this year after European governments declined to fully fund their part of the project in December.

Two asteroid missions get nod from NASA

January 11, 2017

NASA has selected two robotic missions to visit asteroids in the early 2020s from a field of proposed interplanetary probes, approving projects to explore a metallic relic from the early solar system and a half-dozen so-called Trojan objects left over from the formation of the outer planets.

Hunt for water at Ceres goes underground

December 23, 2016

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has continued its survey of the dwarf planet Ceres this year, discovering rock-bound ice hidden just beneath the airless world’s rugged surface and a handful of icy outcrops inside craters in the northern hemisphere, raising hopes that Ceres could have once held a buried habitable ocean of liquid water.

OSIRIS-REx reaches launch pad with money to spare

September 7, 2016

The scientist in charge of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission hopes to apply more than $30 million in leftover funding toward reducing the risk of the probe’s touch-and-go maneuver to snag a piece of asteroid Bennu, then eventually hire more experts to analyze the primordial specimens when they return to Earth in 2023.

Video: Walk around NASA’s new asteroid sample probe

August 23, 2016

Take a walk around NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft less than three weeks before its Sept. 8 launch on top of an Atlas 5 rocket. Rich Kuhns, the mission’s program manager from Lockheed Martin, points out some of the major features on the probe.

Photos: OSIRIS-REx prepped for encapsulation

August 23, 2016

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is about to be sealed inside the nose fairing of its Atlas 5 rocket booster for a seven-year voyage to asteroid Bennu and back to Earth on a mission to seek out clues to the origin of life and the chaotic early solar system.

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