NASA Selects Astrobotic Rover to Prospect for Water on the Moon’s South Pole

  (News from NASA) NASA has awarded Astrobotic of Pittsburgh $199.5 million to deliver NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023. VIPER will collect data – including the location and concentration of ice – that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the…

June 3, 1965: NASA’s First Spacewalk

Today marks the the anniversary of America’s first spacewalk, performed by NASA astronaut Edward H. White II on the afternoon of June 3, 1965 during the four-day Gemini IV mission. In NASA terminology spacewalks are also referred to as extravehicular activities, or “EVAs” – basically anything performed by a person in space outside a spacecraft. The…

This is the First Picture Taken on the Moon

At 18:45:30 UTC on February 3, 1966 the Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft made the first successful robotic soft landing on the Moon. Seven hours later it began to transmit images from the lunar surface down to Earth. The image above comprise the first two frames of the first of three panoramas captured by Luna 9’s cycloramic…

Watch Ed White Perform the First American Spacewalk, 52 Years Ago Today

Today is the the 52nd anniversary of America’s first spacewalk, performed by NASA astronaut Edward H. White II on the afternoon of June 3, 1965 during the four-day Gemini IV mission. In NASA terminology spacewalks are also referred to as extravehicular activities, or EVAs—basically anything done outside the protection of a spacecraft. The video above shows footage…

On This Day in 1966 We Got the First Picture from the Moon

On Feb. 3, 1966 the Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft made the first successful robotic soft landing on the Moon. Seven hours later it transmitted its first images of the lunar surface back to Earth. The image above is Luna 9 lander’s first view—the first time humans had ever seen a picture from the surface of another world.

Seeds in the Cosmic Wind: Carl Sagan on Space Exploration

Got the Monday back-to-work blues? Upset by bad news headlines? Concerned about a potential future President Trump? Take a couple of minutes and watch this. This video, published by The Royal Institution on YouTube in Dec. 2015 and shared again on Twitter today, features an adorable animation about spaceflight with narration taken from a lecture given by Carl…

Plutonium is Back on the Menu, Future NASA Missions!

While I highly advise against humans making a meal out of it (despite my headline) the radioactive element plutonium has long been a staple energy source for many of NASA’s space missions, from Apollo’s ALSEPs to the twin Voyagers to the Curiosity rover.* But the particular non-weapons-grade flavor that NASA needs — plutonium dioxide, aka Pu-238 — has not been…

Here’s to 50 Years of American Spacewalks

Today we mark the 50th anniversary of American spacewalks, or EVAs (for extra-vehicular activity), the first of which was performed by NASA astronaut Edward H. White II in Earth orbit on June 3, 1965 during the Gemini IV mission. While the United States had been beaten in the spacewalk race by the Soviet Union by almost three months…

Curiosity’s View Into Marias Pass

The image above shows Curiosity’s view southwest into “Marias Pass,” a low valley in Gale Crater where the rover was on May 22, 2015 – mission Sol 992. At the left (east) edge is the western slope of a rise called Akipuni Mountain, and Mount Shields rises off to the right (west). The image is a…