How to manage a mission to Mars

Bruce Banerdt has the job he’s been dreaming of since he was a child growing up in the California desert, watching Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” on TV. “I always wanted to go to space,” he says. Not that Banerdt is an astronaut. He’s principal investigator for a Mars mission. Astronauts, he realised growing … Continue reading How to manage a mission to Mars

A planet with an atmosphere that vaporises rock?

October is planetary science month. That’s when the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences holds its annual meeting, with hundreds of researchers discussing planetary bodies large and small. Want the latest on the search for Planet 9? Here’s the place to find out. (Hint: nobody’s found it.) Wondering what counts as a planet? Forget … Continue reading A planet with an atmosphere that vaporises rock?

Planets that can vaporise rock (and other stories)

October is planetary science month. That’s when the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences holds its annual meeting, with hundreds of researchers discussing planetary bodies large and small. Want the latest on the search for Planet 9? Here’s the place to find out. (Hint: nobody’s found it.) Wondering what counts as a planet? Forget … Continue reading Planets that can vaporise rock (and other stories)

Rejuvenated Insight ‘hears’ three strong marsquakes

After succeeding in a bold attempt to brush dangerous amounts of dust from its solar panels, NASA’s InSight Mars lander has hit two major milestones: 1,000 sols (Mars days) on the surface, and the detection of the three largest marsquakes ever recorded. Earlier this year, says the mission’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet … Continue reading Rejuvenated Insight ‘hears’ three strong marsquakes

Are we getting stuck at ground level?

Australia needs to commit to a national space program built around its own space missions, the Australian Academy of Science says, as it warns the nation is falling short. A draft report on the next decade in space says there is not enough funding in the fledgling space industry to sustain “the necessary basic research”. … Continue reading Are we getting stuck at ground level?

Operator, get me Voyager on the line …

The interplanetary switchboard is getting jammed, NASA has warned. Its Deep Space Network – a global array of antennae that communicate with spacecraft – is getting overloaded, as space gets busier than ever before. Canberra’s facility and its sisters in California and Spain have had recent upgrades, but DSN manager Brad Arnold says that won’t … Continue reading Operator, get me Voyager on the line …

Pam Melroy named as NASA’s first woman Deputy Administrator

She’s spent about 40 days in space, and covered millions of miles. She helped kickstart the Australian Space Agency, and now she’s been sworn in as the Deputy Administrator at NASA – Meet Colonel Pam Melroy. Melroy sent a message to the NASA workforce this week after taking up the mantle as second in charge … Continue reading Pam Melroy named as NASA’s first woman Deputy Administrator

NASA’s going back to Venus

NASA is on a mission (two missions, actually) to discover what turned Earth’s “sister planet”, Venus, into the hellish inferno it is today. The second planet from the Sun is a similar size to Earth and might have been the first habitable planet in our solar system. It may even have had an ocean. Now, … Continue reading NASA’s going back to Venus

Building a radio telescope on the dark side of the Moon

In the not-too-distant future, a spacecraft touches down on the rim of a massive crater on the far side of the Moon. As stars spin through the sky above, 20 all-terrain robots roll out of the spacecraft and descend into the shadowy crater. Here, they meet a lander the spacecraft deployed earlier and unpack from … Continue reading Building a radio telescope on the dark side of the Moon

Solar Orbiter captures coronal mass ejection

The Solar Orbiter has captured its first coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun, as Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology pushes for better space-weather watching capabilities. NASA and the European Space Agency launched the orbiter to observe the solar winds and solar cycle, and it has just sent back the first grainy images of the CME, … Continue reading Solar Orbiter captures coronal mass ejection

Mitochondria linked to health in space

As we plan to send more people into space for more time, there’s a growing imperative to understand what spacetime does to people. Health problems observed in returning astronauts range from loss of bone and muscle mass to immune dysfunction and heart and liver problems. Now a multi-disciplinary team is suggesting a possible common thread: … Continue reading Mitochondria linked to health in space

Jupiter’s moon Europa may glow in the dark

In news that is sure to delight every kid with stickers of stars and planets on their ceiling, planetary scientists have discovered that the night-side of Jupiter’s moon Europa may glow in the dark. The illuminating lab simulations, performed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), could help future spacecraft peer deep into the moon’s sub-surface … Continue reading Jupiter’s moon Europa may glow in the dark