Solar System

The Early Solar System Had a Gap Where the Asteroid Belt is Today

Wind the cosmic clock back a few billion years and our Solar System looked much different than it does today. About 4.5 billion years ago, the young Sun shone much like it does now, though it was a little smaller. Instead of being surrounded by planets, it was ensconced in a swirling disk of gas …

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China releases first pictures from Zhurong rover since Mars landing

China’s Zhurong rover sits atop the Tianwen 1 mission’s landing platform on Mars. Credit: CNSA China’s space agency released the first pictures from the Zhurong Mars rover Wednesday, showing the six-wheel robot ready to drive down a ramp from its landing platform to begin exploring the Red Planet. The 529-pound (240-kilogram) Zhurong rover landed Friday, …

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Chinese rover heads for landing on Mars

Artist’s illustration of the Tianwen 1 orbiter and rover at Mars. Credit: CNSA / Chinese Academy of Sciences / Nature Astronomy A Chinese rover outfitted with cameras, a weather station, and a sophisticated laser spectrometer could touch down on Mars as soon as Friday, a feat that would make China the second nation to successfully …

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter aces first longer-range flight on Mars

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter flew farther and faster Sunday than the rotorcraft’s first two test flights in the Martian atmosphere, traveling the length of a football field while exceeding distances and speeds achieved during testing on Earth, officials said. On Sunday’s test flight, the diminutive rotor-driven drone flew a distance of some 164 feet (50 meters) …

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NASA’s Mars helicopter completes second, higher flight

This is the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, 2021. At the time this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the surface and pitching …

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In another first, NASA’s Perseverance rover generates oxygen on Mars

This view from the Perseverance rover’s navigation cameras shows the “Mars 2020” and “Perseverance” name plates on the vehicle’s robotic arm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech In another first, an instrument inside NASA’s Perseverance rover has made oxygen out of carbon dioxide sucked in from the atmosphere of Mars, officials said Wednesday. The technology could help future astronauts …

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SLS core ready for shipment to Florida; NASA still hopes for late 2021 launch

Teams at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi hoist the Space Launch System core stage out of the B-2 test stand April 19 after a hot fire test March 18. Credit: NASA Teams at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi removed the core of NASA’s first Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket from a test stand earlier …

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After successful first flight, NASA wants to push Mars helicopter to its limits

The work isn’t over for NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter. Engineers hope to fly the rotorcraft four more times in the next two weeks before calling it quits on the pioneering technology experiment, which accomplished the first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet Monday. As officials celebrated the helicopter’s historic flight, teams were already …

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NASA celebrates first historic helicopter flight on Mars

A navigation camera on NASA’s Perseverance rover captured this view of the Ingenuity helicopter’s historic flight Monday. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech An automated mini-helicopter driven by two fast-spinning, counter-rotating rotors took off from the surface of Mars, hovered for 30 seconds, then successfully landed Monday to complete the historic first powered flight of a powered aircraft on …

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Mars helicopter needs a software update before attempting first flight

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7. They had been held in place since before launch, and the unlocking is one of several milestones that must be met before the helicopter can attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. This image was captured by the …

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