NASA’s Messenger probe is currently orbiting close around the Sun in preparation for its mission to Mercury. While making its lonely orbit, Messenger snapped this amazing photo that shows all the planets (plus our Moon) in one big family photo.
The i09 article below has links to bigger better photos, and more details.
ISRO finds cave in moon, can be used as base station for astronauts
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization have discovered a giant underground chamber on the moon, which they feel could be used as a base by astronauts on future manned missions to moon.
An analysis by an instrument on Chandrayaan-1 revealed a 1.7-km long and 120-metre wide cave near the moon’s equator that is in the Oceanus Procellarum area of the moon that could be a suitable ‘base station’ for future human missions.
Scientists of the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad said in a research paper published in the latest issue of Current Science that the cave provides “a safe environment from hazardous radiations, micro-meteoritic impacts, extreme temperatures and dust storms.”
Scientists said identifying sites for permanent base for human settlements on the moon is important for further exploration.
"Lava tubes provide a natural environmental control with a nearly constant temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius, unlike that of the lunar surface showing extreme variation, maximum of 130 degrees Celsius to a minimum of minus 180 degrees Celsius in its diurnal (day-night) cycle," they said.
According to them, the lava tubes offer a dust-free environment and adapting them for human use requires minimal construction.
The countdown is on for the European Space Agency’s next rocket launch and New Zealand is playing its part in the international space programme.
Top scientists from the European Space Agency are in New Zealand to monitor tracking of the Johannes Kepler unmanned spacecraft from Awarua Station, near Invercargill, when it launches tomorrow.
The new spacecraft, known as an automated transfer vehicle, will carry essential supplies to the International Space Station and will launch from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana in South America.
200th Ariane mission stands ready to launch ATV-2 to Space Station
Representing the third of five back-to-back launches to the International Space Station in a 2-month period, the European Space Agency stands ready to the launch the ATV-2 (Automated Transfer Vehicle 2) spacecraft on a multi-month mission to deliver thousands of pounds of supplies to the leading orbital outpost. The mission will also hold the distinction of being flown to orbit on the 200th Ariane rocket launch, the 56th launch for the workhorse Ariane 5 variant.
Targeting launch at 2208 GMT (1708 EST), the ATV-2, named after famous German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, will be launched on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) veteran workhorse Ariane 5 rocket.
Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) have devised a new way for an old space exploration instrument to suck down large volumes of vaporized particles and analyze rocks for their compositions using an ion funnel, a process that could speed analysis, lighten instrument loads, and improve the odds of finding signs of life.