Landers / Rovers

The InSight lander in its protective aeroshell during the test stage (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

NASA invited people around the world to participate in an initiative to send your name to Mars. You just need to record some data on the page prepared by the Agency on its website to get a virtual boarding pass. All names will be recorded on a microchip that will be transported on the InSight lander, which is scheduled to be launched in March 2016 to land on Mars in September 2016.

Photo of the surface of the area of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko known as Agilkia taken by the Philae lander from a 9 m height (Photo ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR)

A special issue of the journal “Science” describes an early analysis of data collected by the lander Philae in its descent to the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Its mission was short and ESA engineers can’t get a stable contact after those of recent weeks but the data collected were very helpful. Another very interesting study just appeared about the interaction of the comet with the solar wind.

The silica-rich rock fragment called Lamoose analyzed by the Mars Rover Curiosity (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

In recent days, the Mars Rover Curiosity deviated from its programmed route to examine a rock particularly rich in silica. It’s a material composed of silicon and oxygen common in terrestrial rocks in the form of quartz. On Mount Sharp, where Curiosity is working, on its way it took a sample near the area called “Marias Pass”. The results of the analysis were so interesting that the mission team decided to turn it back.

The area of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko where Philae landed (Ellipse: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CONSERT; Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

During the weekend the lander Philae resumed communications from the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It’s been almost exactly seven months since Philae ran out of battery power and, because its position didn’t allow it to recharge them using its solar panels, had gone into hibernation. Now ESA is preparing new plans to try to make the most of the period in which the comet will be close enough to the Sun to provide the energy needed for Philae to work.

The Mars Rover Opportunity complete path on Mars (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/NMMNHS)

NASA has confirmed that the Mars Rover Opportunity’s flash memory has been successfully reformatted so that it doesn’t use a corrupted memory bank. The agency also announced that yesterday Opportunity completed the marathon traveling for 42.195 kilometers (26.219 miles) on Mars. Sure, it took a bit since about two months it celebrated 11 Earth’s years on the red planet but it’s another record for this extraordinary rover.