In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Happy New Year! Much transpired over the U.S. Christmas/New Year’s holiday, though parts of the federal government, including NASA and NOAA, were shut down because of a White House/congressional budget impasse. NASA’s first ever asteroid sample return mission spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, broke records when it entered orbit around its target destination, Bennu, on New Year’s Eve, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit such a small object. Soon after, NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft carried out a close flyby of Ultima Thule, a Kuiper Belt Object 4.1 billion miles from the sun and the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft. Meanwhile, China is preparing to set its Chang’e 4 lander/rover down on the Moon’s far side, marking another first.
Human Space Exploration
Reigniting the spirit of Earthrise
The Hill (12/26): The holidays brought a return of “Earthrise”, the powerful image from Apollo 8, the first human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit that took three NASA astronauts around the Moon on Christmas Eve of 1968. Ahead in the first seven months of 2019 are the 50th anniversaries of Apollo’s 9, 10 and in July, Apollo 11, the first human mission to the surface of another planetary body, ...