In the coming decades, new rovers will roam the sands of Mars. An orbiter will sample the seas of Jupiter's moon Europa. A drone will grace the skies of Saturn's moon Titan. Mission planners dream of equipping these mechanical scouts with instruments capable of scouring the unknown environments for signs of life, but the technology required to do so is deceptively complex.
Most stars are pretty set in their ways. They are what they are, and they act like it – even if what they are is something really odd. But an object called Terzan 5 CX1 acts like one thing, and then something else entirely.
NASA is sending a new laser-toting robot to Mars. But unlike the lasers of science fiction, this one is used for studying mineralogy and chemistry from up to about 20 feet (seven meters) away. It might help scientists find signs of fossilized microbial life on the Red Planet, too.
Boeing safely landed its crew capsule in the New Mexico Desert after an aborted flight to the International Space Station (ISS) that threatened to derail the company’s effort to launch astronauts on behalf of NASA next year.
Space engineers are racing against time to fix major faults in the robot probe they plan to send to Mars next year. The complex parachute system that should slow ExoMars — Europe’s largest ever planetary mission — as it plunges into the Martian atmosphere failed catastrophically during recent tests.