NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope sheds light on Moon-like exoplanet

Artist's concept of the exoplanet LHS 3844b, which is 1.3 times the mass of Earth and ...

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has provided new insights into a rocky exoplanet that may be very similar to the planet Mercury or Earth's Moon. Orbiting an M-type dwarf star 48.6 light years from Earth in the constellation of Indus, LHS 3844b is 1.3 times the mass of our planet, probably airless, and covered with lava plains resembling the lunar maria.

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NASA completes tool tests for orbital refueling project

Robotic Refueling Mission 3’s Multi-Function Tool 2, operated by Dextre, demonstrates robotic refueling operations on the ...

NASA has completed the first round of tool tests aboard the International Space Station (ISS) aimed at determining the feasibility of in-orbit refueling of satellites and deep-space missions. The space agency's Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) used three tools designed by the Satellite Servicing Projects Division to carry out operations simulating the transfer of cryogenic fuels like liquid methane, hydrogen, or oxygen from one tank to another.

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NASA confirms Europa Clipper mission to study Jupiter's icy moon

Artist's impression of the Europa Clipper

NASA has given the official go-ahead for the Europa Clipper deep-space mission to make a detailed survey of one of Jupiter's largest moons. Scheduled to launch in about 2025, the unmanned mission can now proceed to its final design phase ahead of the building and testing of the spacecraft and its instruments.

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NASA installs robotic toolkit in Mars 2020 rover

The bit carousel, which lies at the heart of Sample Caching System of NASA's Mars 2020 ...

NASA's Mars 2020 rover has received a key piece of equipment for the collection, containment, and eventual return to Earth of samples of the Red Planet. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. California, engineers have installed the bit carousel of the Sample Caching System that will be used to store and sort out the tools and containers for core samples as well as move them about inside the rover for processing.

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Robots compete in DARPA's Subterranean Challenge to prep for alien life hunt

One of team CoSTAR's cave-exploring robots, which will be participating in the DARPA Subterranean Challenge this ...

This week DARPA kicks off a competition called the Subterranean Challenge, where hordes of robots are unleashed into caves and tunnels to test how well they can autonomously navigate these environments. One team, headed up by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), is entering a crew of bots that could inform future designs of spacefaring robots that explore caves and lava tubes on other planets and moons.

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Mars 2020 spacecraft gets new landing sensor package for greater safety

MEDLI2 undergoing vibration testing

With an eye to making future unmanned and manned planetary landing missions safer, NASA has installed the first components of an advanced instrument package aboard the Mars 2020 entry vehicle. Parts of the Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) sensor suite were attached to the spacecraft's heat shield and aeroshell, where they will monitor pressure and temperature during atmospheric entry.

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Asteroid Bennu to be covered in mythical birds

Artist's concept of OSIRIS-REx

If you plan to visit asteroid (101955) Bennu, you'll need a new map. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) and NASA have decided that features of the asteroid currently being orbited by the space agency's unmanned OSRIS-REx deep-space probe will be named after "birds and bird-like creatures in mythology."

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NASA's steam-propelled CubeSats control one another in space

NASA's OCSD CubeSats use water/steam for propulsion

CubeSats are tiny spacecraft with huge potential, but their small stature doesn't lend itself to typical propulsion methods. This has led scientists to get creative in working out ways of shifting them through space, including harnessing photons from the Sun and using regular ol' H20 as a propellant. NASA's OCSD mission has now leaned on the latter to pull off a first-of-a-kind maneuver between two of its CubeSats in low-Earth orbit.

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