Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” is an unmanned lunar rover that was part of the Chinese Chang’e 3 Moon mission. It reached the lunar surface in mid-December 2013. It was the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976, and the first rover to operate there since the Soviet Lunokhod 2 mission ended in May 1973.
Yutu encountered operational difficulties after about a month on the Moon, and was unable to move after the end of the second lunar night. It continued to gather useful information for some months afterward. In October 2015, Yutu set the record for the longest operational period for a rover on the Moon.
The Hubble Space Telescope got off to a rocky start after its April, 1990 deployment, when operators found that its high-gain antenna was mysteriously stuck. Then in 1994, it went on the fritz with Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on a beeline for Jupiter. Engineers have had to dig deep into their tool kits to confront a series of potentially fatal technical obstacles.
Asteroids racing through the solar system have smashed into Earth before. What are the chances we’ll get hit again? Armed with new defensive technologies, scientists are getting ready for the day, a decade, century from now: the Day of the Asteroid.
Astronomers are probing the high-energy cosmic frontier with a series of key missions: Fermi, Swift, Chandra, NuSTAR, and Hubble. This video was inspired by a NASA event at the National Air and Space Museum, called “Our Violent Universe.”
Planet hunters have detected nearly 5000 confirmed and candidate planets beyond our solar system. Most sun-like stars, it seems, are ringed with giant planets that crowd their parent stars and leave no room for planets like ours. The old theories about planetary formation are giving way to a new one defined by fierce gravitational battles and titanic collisions. How did Earth manage to survive?
The Juno spacecraft will for the first time peer below Jupiter’s dense cover of clouds to answer questions about the gas giant and the origins of our solar system.
Juno’s primary goal is to reveal the story of Jupiter’s formation and evolution. Using long-proven technologies on a spinning spacecraft placed in an elliptical polar orbit, Juno will observe Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields, atmospheric dynamics and composition, and evolution.
The Pale Red Dot campaign was launched to find a planet orbiting our nearest stellar neighbour, Proxima Centauri. Incredibly, the quest succeeded and astronomers detected a planet. The planet, Proxima b, falls within the habitable zone of its host star. It is by far the closest potential abode for alien life.