The Spirit rover shattered a one-day distance record on Mars, rolling nearly 21 metres across the planet’s rocky surface, NASA said today. “The basic goal was to drive as far as they could and see how things went in the time that they had,” Erickson said of the drive, which ended late yesterday without any problems. Spirit drove “blind” about half the distance, following a planned route to a stopping point. For the second half of the short trip, the rover drove to a second stopping point, autonomously executed a turn, and then rolled onward before stopping, Erickson said.
Rover sets distance record The Australian
Opportunity starts roving The Australian
NASA took the rover Opportunity on its first real drive on Mars, a trip across pebbly soil that appears to be unlike anything else seen on the surface of the Red Planet, scientists said Thursday. Opportunity rolled forward about 3m overnight, leaving it halfway to an outcrop of rocks that scientists want to spend days studying, said Guy Webster, a spokesman for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was the first time the rover had moved since leaving its lander Saturday.
ESA and NASA in space race The Australian
Europe intends to go head to head with the US in a race to capture a piece of Mars and bring it back to Earth in the next chapter of the search for life on the Red Planet. A European mission to scoop up half a kilogram of Martian rocks and carry them home for analysis will blast off in 2011, European Space Agency officials have announced. While the two space agencies prefer to be seen as partners, their increasing emphasis on Mars exploration is inevitably lending an edge of rivalry to their efforts.
NZ scientist asks for lift to Mars The Australian
A new Zealand scientist who specialises in space physics launched a publicity campaign Tuesday, urging NASA to let him be the first physicist to land on Mars or the moon. University lecturer Craig Rodger said it was time NASA changed direction and sent scientists into space instead of ex-military personnel. US President George W Bush announced recently a revitalised space exploration programme which aims to send manned missions to the moon from 2015, and eventually to Mars and beyond.
Plans for Mars weather report The Australian
It may be years before anyone sets foot on Mars, but the European Space Agency (ESA) today said it hoped to soon provide a daily forecast for weather on the red planet. Data will be provided by an experiment aboard the Mars Express spacecraft, which is making its final orbital adjustments around Mars after being captured by the red planet’s gravity last month.
Bush expected to announce space plans The Australian
US President George W. Bush is expected to use the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Wright brothers’ first flight to announce America’s latest plans for a manned space flight. Reports have suggested the President could announce a new space flight to the moon, although the White House has said such was “speculation” and “premature”. Talk of renewed efforts to man a space flight surfaced recently, and thoughts immediately turned towards rumours a mission to Mars was being rehearsed for.
Mars closer to the Earth tonight The Australian
MARS will be closer tonight than at any time in the past 60,000 years, but cloud cover could dim the planet’s spectacular red glow in many parts of Australia. At 7.51pm AEST, Mars will be 55.76 million kilometres from Earth – about four times closer than usual.
ET on Mars, claim researchers The Australian
NASA found evidence of life on Mars in 1976, but dismissed the findings as impossible, two British astronomers claim. Now, evidence from missions such as the Mars Global Surveyor suggests that the early observation was correct after all.
Fireys save Mission to Mars The Australian
IF NASA’s latest super-duper space buggy finds life on Mars this time around, humankind should thank the firefighters of the ACT. When the outskirts of Canberra were burning five weeks ago, a legion of NASA scientists in the US feared they would lose one of their prime space tracking stations, the Tidbinbilla plant 35km southwest of the nation’s capital. The loss of Tidbinbilla’s dishes would have been catastrophic, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi told a gathering of firefighters, space scientists and technicians yesterday.
Europe speeds into space The Australian
Europe is to reopen the space race by launching one of the fastest spacecraft so far for a landing on a melting comet. The mission is part of a series to demonstrate Europe’s growing challenge to US domination in space. One will look at the origins of the universe, another seek planets similar to earth. The most ambitious will land on Mars to seek the top prize – confirmation of alien life. One of the most dramatic will be the launch next January of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission to Comet Wirtanen. After its launch, Rosetta will orbit Earth twice and Mars once, using their gravitational pull to match the comet’s speed of up to 134,400k/mh. Once it has caught up with Wirtanen, it will drop a lander on the surface, then follow the comet towards the sun. Scientists hope Rosetta will provide some of the most exciting pictures since the US landed on the moon 33 years ago. The space race will accelerate four months later when ESA and NASA, the US space agency, send missions to Mars within a few days of one another. Three spacecraft – one European and two US – should arrive at Mars about Christmas 2003.