Space probes

Blogs about space probes

Some ASICs (Image NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng)

NASA has developed a series of microchips designed to be used on space probes. That’s the family of ASICs, consisting of chips designed to be small and at the same time resistant to the radiation present in the space and in particular in certain regions. They were used in the Juno space probe that on July 4 entered the orbit of Jupiter, a planet with a very powerful electromagnetic field.

The winners of the so-called Milestone Prizes have been announced. Those are the intermediate awards for a total of $6 million allocated during the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The ultimate goal is to bring a private automated spacecraft to the Moon and after its landing it must travel at least 500 meters on the surface and send images and data back to Earth. Five teams of participants showed their progress winning the Milestone Prizes while waiting to proceed with the attempts to actually send the spacecraft to the Moon.

The panorama seen by the Mars Rover Opportunity on the top of Cape Tribulation (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

NASA released an image of the Martian landscape seen from the Mars Rover Opportunity on the occasion of the earth’s eleventh anniversary of its arrival on Mars. Opportunity landed at 5:05 UTC on January 25, 2004 and now has traveled for about 41.7 km (25.9 miles) on the red planet. About three weeks ago it reached the top of the segment of the Endeavour Crater called Cape Tribulation and from there it used its Pancam (panoramic camera) instrument to take a series of photographs that were combined together.

A section of the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s smaller lobes seen by the Rosetta space probe (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

A special edition of the journal “Science” shows the results of the research done so far on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using 7 of the 11 instruments of ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft. The various detections conducted between August and December 2014 have mostly confirmed the first impressions but reserved some surprises. Meanwhile, the comet is slowly approaching the Sun and its activity is increasing due to the higher heat that receives and causes more and more ice sublimation.

In the summer 2014 the problems to the flash memory of the Mars Rover Opportunity’s computer became serious, convincing NASA mission manager to format it to try to solve them. Unfortunately, that operation was insufficient despite being carried out again in early December 2014. For this reason, Opportunity is temporarily working in a limited way without using the flash memory and at NASA they’re preparing a more sophisticated solution.