A good time to visit a relative

Venus is often viewed as Earth’s sister planet, or perhaps more accurately its ugly sister. This familial comparison stems from their approximately equal mass and physical size. But compared to the relatively benign and hospitable surface conditions that prevail on Earth, Venus is the stuff of nightmares. The planet has a surface temperature of 464…

Is this the smartest space mission in the Solar System?

Let’s face it no one has a clue how Phobos formed. One theory says it’s a captured primitive asteroid. Well, it does look like one. Another theory claims it formed after a giant asteroid slammed into Mars. Really, it’s all very confusing. Anyway, JAXA is going to send a mission to clear up the mystery.…

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…