Exploration

  • Earth’s Childhood Attic
    The moon is sometimes referred to as Earth's childhood attic, a rich repository of what the early terrestrial geology might have promised prior to the advent of life. Europe's Chief Scientist, Bernard Foing, looks at what the moon can tell us about our past.
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  • The Smart One
    Bernard Foing, Chief Scientist for the European Space Agency, kicks off a regular essay series exclusive to Astrobiology Magazine. In this part, he takes a tour of the novel ion propulsion employed by the current lunar orbiter, SMART-1.
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  • Something Bigger Than Life
    The next decade offers unique chances to do what might be called, comparative planetology. How is the Earth different from its neighbors and why? NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Directorate indicates that to do this hard work, the motivation follows from something bigger than
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  • Moved by Science in Motion
    Al Diaz is the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate of NASA - meaning the highest official solely focused on science at NASA. On the day after the successful landing of the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan, Diaz talked about astrobiology's central role
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  • Safe on Mars: Part II
    What challenges might arise beyond the logistics of getting to Mars? Weather and biology might face astronauts working within an extended stay mission.
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  • Safe on Mars: Part I
    Every 2 years from 2001 to 2011, with the dates dictated by launch windows, another spacecraft, launched by NASA and/or NASA's international partners, is intended to visit Mars. How best to cope with the dangers to human space travel so far from home?
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  • Science Year in Review
    The 2004 list of NASA science milestones highlight the search for water on Mars and the first lander to reach the moon on another planet. The successes of robotic explorers returned stunning images from the surface of distant worlds.
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  • Social Robots Without Leaders
    How a flock of birds or school of fish may go in a single direction without having a permanent leader is a mystery of social organization. But adding a mechanized component to the question raises the possibility of robotic swarms which may lack much in
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  • Spiral to the Moon
    SMART-1, the European demonstrator for highly efficient ion engines, captured its first close-range images of the Moon this January, during a sequence of test lunar observations from an altitude between 1000 and 5000 kilometers above the lunar surface.
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  • Going Up, Next Floor
    Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously predicted that we'd see space elevators 50 years after people stopped laughing at the idea. Jerome Pearson has been thinking about space elevators since the early 1970s.
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  • Riding in Magnetic Bubbles
    It's the year 2027 and NASA's Vision for Space Exploration is progressing right on schedule. The first interplanetary spacecraft with humans aboard is on course for Mars. However, halfway into the trip, a gigantic solar flare erupts, spewing lethal radioactive protons directly at the spacecraft.
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  • Build Your Own Borg: Sort of
    The dream of many planetary geologists is to have a robot on another world making decisions about where it wants to go and what it wants to look closer at. One step towards that dream is a cybernetics experiment venturing into the Spanish cliffs.
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  • Smart Way to the Moon
    The SMART-1 probe has reached lunar orbit. To get there, the moon mapper relied on solar electric propulsion and the tiny push from an ultra-efficient ion engine.
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  • Winging It: Black Sky
    On October 4, the first privately-owned, manned craft reached space. In the next four years, a spaceline called Virgin Galactic hopes thousands of astronauts will follow suit. Burt Rutan, the winner of this X-Prize competition to launch humans to the boundary of space, told an
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  • Peak of Eternal Light
    Europe's first mission to the moon passes a key milestone on November 15, when the SMART-1 mapping probe achieves lunar capture. In addition to identifying detailed compositions for our satellite, data will amplify theories of how the Earth-Moon system first formed billions of years ago.
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