The Great Asteroid Race is on! – or is it?

Later this year two spacecraft will arrive at separate asteroids to map them, grab some samples and head home. It’s not really a race of course, their respective itineraries have been planned long in advance. If all goes well, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t, JAXA’s Hayabusa 2 will arrive at asteroid Ryugu in…

Everything is awesome

In the world of cinema the sequel is generally never quite up to the original. Something is lost second time around. So what about space missions? Do the same rules apply? We are about to find out. The legendary NASA Dawn spacecraft is closing in on Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, having…

The Lonely Spacecraft: Beagle 2 found

Can a spacecraft be lonely? Probably not. And yet there is something very poignant about the images of Beagle 2 on the surface of Mars that were released on Friday. It seems to have landed in the right place, an amazing feat in itself. The solar panels appear to have partially opened, so it was…

Blind Date – Rosetta closes in

Recently the Rosetta spacecraft sent back some rather disturbing images of its target, the almost impossible to pronounce, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Instead of the nice “potato shape” that was expected, the Open University’s Dr Andrew Morse describes the comet as looking more like a rubber duck. The European Space Agency has released an animation of the…