Future Explorers Powered By Fission? NASA Investigates

Mars Curiosity gets sharper eyes, ChemCam fixed

Mars Curiosity just went through a major software repair. After the nod of NASA , Los Alamos National Laboratory Scientists have successfully uploaded a 40 kilobytes new software to fix its CheCam instrument. 

Back in last November a glitch was detected in rangefinder of Mars Curosity rover's Chemistry & Camera or ChemCam. This rangefinder in fact is a tiny gun of laser which is used to focus the ChemCam telescope on its targets. 

“Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind. The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus.”  said Roger Wiens, instrument lead at Los Alamos.

Now when this glitch have been fixed , scientists are excited and they think now they will be receiving better quality images  “We think we will actually have better quality images and analyses with this new software than the original,”

Mars Curiosity rover arrived on Red Planet almost 3 years ago and have already covered distance of almost 10 km, it has got some big discoveries on its name including Identifying the water contained in Mars soil and Locating oxidized manganese precipitated from ancient groundwater, indicating a strong role for oxygen in groundwater and possibly in the ancient Mars atmosphere. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

image credit : NASA

Roscosmos misused $1.8bn, Failures blamed on Corruption

There's not much good news coming for already troubled Russian Space Agency ' ROSCOSMOS'. First a series of launch vehicles failures, then huge loss of cargo ship Progress-M and now an audit  chamber set up by Russian government has found blatant violations and misconducts in spending of its budget funds.

That's another big blow to Russian industry. Earlier on Tuesday, speaking in State Duma, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin blamed corruption in the space industry for the recent high accident rate of Russian spacecrafts. 

"We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority, document forgery, with such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate."

Biggest cases of violations and frauds were found particularly in new Vostochny (Eastern) Cosmodrome, its construction saw an overspending of about 13 billion rubles ($260 million) and its now under scanner of Russian investigation agencies. For more details visit RT. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
image credit : Roscosmos

10 Strangest Planets In Space by Thoughty2 (Artist's conception)

China eyeing the dark side of the Moon , Lander by 2020

China is planning to send a lander- rover duo to far side of the Moon no later than 2020. If successful , China would become the first country in the world to drop a lander on and to explore the surface of the dark side of the Moon. So far this area which stays hidden from Earth due to 'tidal locking' has been photographed only from orbit , no country have ever attempted to land a probe over there. It should be noted , China has already got a lander "Chang'e 3" and rover "Yutu" working on moon , and will send an ambitious sample return mission to Moon by 2017. 

This gets Western security experts nervous , they fear that the ultimate reason behind this sudden Chinese Moon rush could be the Helium- 3 , a clean and highly efficient fuel source that could potentially offer an alternative to nuclear power, and is thought to be in abundance on Moon, China wants to mine Helium-3 in its long term plans. 

For Beginners : What is a 'Tidal Locking' ?

Tidal locking is a situation when an astronomical object’s orbital period matches its rotational period. Best example of this is our own Moon which 28 days to go around the Earth and 28 days to rotate once around it’s axis. This results in the same side of the Moon always facing the Earth. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

image credit : cctv 

ESA's Earth from Space: A flooded landscape in Cambodia taken from Japan's ALOS satellite

Super secret Space plane X-37B successfully rocketed into Space

Fourth flight and we are still largely clueless about the real mission of US air force's secret space Plane X-37B. Launched on 20th of May vertically atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, this secret reusable unmanned plane looks like a mini-version of NASA's space shuttles. Just like a shuttle, this plane is also capable of maneuvering in orbit then re-enter and glide back to Earth and land on a runway like an airplane.

“It’s really for cool things. For instance, it goes up to space but, unlike other satellites, it actually comes back. Anything that we put in the payload bay that we take up to space, we can now bring back, and we can learn from that,” - Gen. John Hyten, the head of Space Command

We can only make a guess about what exactly those " cool things" are. While the real mission of this plane in outer space is highly classified, there are plenty of conspiracy theories floating into cyber space.

 Some so-called experts have described this X-37B as a surveillance plane to monitor activities of Chinese and Iranian armed forces, some went one step further calling it a " Space Bomber" or other say its a spy plane to spy on the military satellites of rival countries in space. 

Anyway all these theories are so far, mere speculations , USAF has dismissed all the theories as baseless. Well, one thing is apparent , this Boeing-built  29ft-long secret plane is going to stay under the shroud of mystery for a long time. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

image credit : wikicommons
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