Persevering through a global pandemic, a last-minute earthquake, and the trials of a rocket launch, NASA’s next Mars rover — named Perseverance — took off from Cape Canaveral Thursday on a nearly seven-month journey to the Red Planet with sophisticated science instruments, technology to collect samples for to Earth, and the first interplanetary helicopter that could produce a “Wright Brothers moment” on another world.
After crystallizing a partnership to retrieve samples from the surface of Mars and return them to Earth, NASA and European Space Agency officials are seeking government funding commitments before the end of this year to carry out a multibillion-dollar robotic mission that could depart Earth with a pair of rocket launches as soon as 2026.
A review of data captured by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft as it orbited Jupiter in the 1990s indicates it likely flew through a plume of water vapor spewing from cracks in the surface of the moon Europa, providing independent evidence water is being released from a vast sub-surface ocean beneath its frozen crust, scientists said Monday.
A NASA post advertising an opening for a new Planetary Protection Officer provided a field day for headline writers who apparently couldn’t resist having a bit of fun at the agency’s expense by suggesting, in large type, that whoever filled the post would be defending Earth from aliens. And making good money to boot.