Eight months after last hearing from the Opportunity rover, NASA officials announced the end of the craft’s 15-year mission Wednesday, closing out an ambitious chapter of Mars exploration that proved the Red Planet once harbored running water and demonstrated the promise of mobile robotic scouts to survey other worlds.
NASA has selected United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket to dispatch the Lucy spacecraft on a mission from Cape Canaveral in October 2021 to fly by seven unexplored asteroids, including six objects locked in orbits leading and trailing Jupiter, where scientists expect swarms of miniature worlds could hold clues about the formation of the solar system.
NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover landed on Mars 15 years ago this week, but the long-lived robot remains out of action in the wake of a global dust storm last summer that caused it to lose power. Engineers are still trying to contact the spacecraft, sending commands and listening for any sort of response, but hopes are fading, a senior manager said Friday.
The most-used instrument on the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope is back in business after engineers on the ground determined a fault that halted the camera’s science observations earlier this month was caused by erroneous telemetry data, and was not a symptom of a hardware failure as initially suspected.
A new image captured minutes before NASA’s New Horizons probe zipped by a rocky object in the Kuiper Belt on New Year’s Day shows the dual-lobed world — nicknamed Ultima Thule — is covered with intriguing fractures and a large crater-like depression that could provide clues about the early history of the solar system.