Jezero Crater Announced as Landing Site for NASA's Mars 2020 Rover

Enhanced color image of a portion of Jezero Crater, the landing site chosen for the Mars 2020 mission. The mineral-rich river delta is in the center of the image. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/Brown University

And the winner is… Jezero Crater! NASA has chosen this location as the landing site on Mars for its next big rover mission – Mars 2020. The announcement is the result of a fiver-year-long search, during which more than 60 potential locations were considered for the mission, which will search for evidence of past life.

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'A Vote For Our Future': 20 Years Since Zarya Launched the International Space Station (Part 2)

The Russian-built Zarya module (lower) and U.S.-built Unity node (upper), pictured during assembly operations on STS-88 in December 1998. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, on 20 November 1998, Russia’s Zarya (“Dawn”) module—the first component of the International Space Station (ISS)—was launched from Site 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, atop a mighty Proton-K booster. Less than nine minutes later, the 41-foot-long (12.5-meter) cylindrical module had separated from the final stage of its launch vehicle and settled perfectly into low-Earth orbit. Its function in those early days of the ISS program would to be to provide power, storage, propulsion and guidance for an infant space station which, in time, would grow to become the largest artificial satellite ever launched from Earth and the grandest and most complex engineering accomplishment in human history.

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'Eighth Launch' for John Young, Northrop Launches Cygnus NG-10 With Fresh Haul for ISS

Liftoff-off of Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with about 7,400 pounds of cargo after launching at 4:01 a.m. EST Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Photo: Cole Ippoliti / AmericaSpace

Susy Young was always convinced that her husband, legendary astronaut John Young, actually logged seven launches into space in his career. It was a sentiment echoed by veteran shuttle flyer Jerry Ross, who in April 2002 became “the first” human to record seven space missions. In his memoir, Spacewalker, Ross noted that Young had already launched into space six times from Earth and—via his Apollo 16 mission in April 1972—also once from the surface of the Moon. “Most people forget John launched from the surface of the Moon to return home,” Ross wrote, adding “I’d never argue with Susy!”

At 4:01 a.m. EST today (Saturday, 17 November), an unpiloted Cygnus cargo freighter, laden with 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) of experiments, equipment, supplies and spare parts for the incumbent Expedition 57 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), rocketed to orbit, bearing Young’s name. As the “Spaceship (SS) John Young”, it represents the ninth time that a Cygnus has been named in honor of a deceased former astronaut, coming only months after Young’s death, aged 87, in January. And it also gives Young—in spirit, at least—an eighth space launch to add to his tally of six launches from Earth and his single launch from the Moon.

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SpaceX Ties Personal Best, Launches 18th Mission of 2018 With Qatari ComSat

Liftoff of the Es’hail 2 satellite from KSC pad 39A in Florida. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace.com

Less than four months since it successfully lofted the Telstar 19V communications satellite to orbit, a Block 5 Upgraded Falcon 9 first stage roared skyward from historic Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Aboard the booster—designated “B1047”, which is the third Block 5 to be reused in less than six months—was Qatar’s Es’hail-2 communications satellite, which includes the first amateur radio payload to voyage to geostationary orbit.

Liftoff occurred at 3:46 p.m. EST Thursday, right on the opening of a 103-minute “window”, and its success enabled SpaceX to tie its own “personal best” of 18 launches in a single calendar year. With today’s launch success, attention turns to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where another Block 5 is being readied to fly on a never-before-attempted third mission on 19 November.

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'Follow Our Dreams': 20 Years Since Zarya Launched the International Space Station Era (Part 1)

Twenty years ago, this month, the grandest engineering endeavor in human history got underway with the dawn of the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, this month, a new era began. On 20 November 1998, a Russian Proton-K rocket—descendent of a family of heavylift boosters which had already launched a half-dozen Soviet space stations and numerous scientific and technological research modules into low-Earth orbit—blasted off from Site 81 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, laden with the first component of the International Space Station (ISS). Measuring 41 feet (12.5 meters) in length and 13.5 feet (4.1 meters) wide, the Zarya (“Dawn”) module would provide power, storage, propulsion and guidance for an infant station which, in time, would grow to become the largest artificial satellite ever launched into space and the grandest and most complex engineering accomplishment in human history.

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NASA's Lucy Mission to the Trojans Is a GO!

Artist’s concept of the Lucy mission at the Trojans near Jupiter. Image Credit: NASA/SwRI

NASA’s proposed mission to a group of primitive and still-unexplored asteroids has been given approval for further development – the Lucy mission will travel to the Trojans, a group of asteroids that share the same orbit as Jupiter. This region has never been visited before, so the mission will give scientists a chance to see some very ancient rocky bodies left over from the formation of the Solar System.

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Pegasus-XL Booster Primed to Launch ICON Ionospheric Research Mission, NET Wednesday

The Pegasus-XL booster sits beneath the fuselage of the L-1011 Stargazer on the Skid Strip, ahead of the ICON mission. Photo Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

Five months later than intended, a Pegasus-XL winged booster—flying, for the first time, under the auspices of Northrop Grumman Corp., following the latter’s recent acquisition of Orbital ATK—will deliver NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) into low-Earth orbit on Wednesday, 7 November. From a vantage point of 360 miles (575 km), ICON will spend two years examining the complex interactions between Earth’s ionosphere and the onslaught of the solar wind. Launch of the mission was originally scheduled to occur from Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in early June, but was repeatedly delayed due to technical difficulties. This also prompted a realignment of the launch site and ICON will now depart from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

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'Zero-G, And I Feel Fine': 20 Years Since John Glenn's Return to Space

STS-95 launches on 29 October 1998. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years have now passed since John Glenn—who had found fame as the first American to orbit the Earth—became the oldest human being ever to break the shackles of the Home Planet and venture into space. Aged 77 at the time of his flight in October 1998, Glenn was more than a decade older than the next-oldest astronaut on the list and, even today, his record remains unbroken. The reason for flying a septuagenarian was ostensibly to assess the effect of spaceflight upon the aging process, although Glenn’s mission had met with great criticism and was seen in many quarters as little more than a political stunt. Yet, science and politics aside, he demonstrated to elderly people worldwide that life experiences were no longer off-limits, purely on the basis of age. And that, surely, is the true legacy of STS-95.

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NASA: Attempts to Contact Opportunity Rover 'Will Continue For Foreseeable Future'

One of the last views seen by Opportunity before it went into hibernation mode last June, looking down into Endeavour crater. This image is part of a larger panorama. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

It has now been close to five months since we last heard from NASA’s rover Opportunity on Mars. It went into hibernation mode due to an intense global dust storm, and has been silent ever since June 10, 2018. Needless to say, there has been growing concern as to whether the rover would be able to survive the storm; Opportunity has made it through dust storms and other hazards before, but this dust storm was particularly fierce.

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'Nothing But the Highest': 25 Years Since Shuttle Columbia's Third-Time-Lucky Launch to Orbit

Glorious view of the Home Planet from STS-58, with the SLS-2 Spacelab module clearly visible in Columbia’s payload bay. Photo Credit: NASA

It took three tries to get STS-58 off the ground, 25 years ago, this month.

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