The Orbital ATK spacecraft Cygnus during its Orb-1 mission and the SpaceX spacecraft Dragon during its CRS-5 mission (Photo NASA)

A NASA spokesman announced that the agency decided to extend the CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract with SpaceX and Orbital ATK for transporting cargo to the International Space Station. The additional missions are planned for 2017 and are intended to cover NASA’s needs until the new contract, called CRS 2, will be awarded. This extension provides three more missions for SpaceX spacecraft Dragon and another mission for the Orbital ATK spacecraft Cygnus.

NASA confirmed that its space probe Dawn regularly entered the dwarf planet Ceres’ orbit. It was at an altitude of about 61,000 kilometers (about 38,000 miles) when it was captured by the Ceres’ gravity. This happened yesterday but Dawn was on the hidden side of the dwarf planet when it entered its orbit. The consequence is that it took a bit before the probe reached a position where it could transmit data to Earth.

Picture taken by the Mars Rover Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) during a drill at Telegraph Peak (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The Mars Rover Curiosity’s activity was temporarily stopped due to an electrical anomaly that happened on February 27, 2015. During the transfer of dust samples just taken from a drill using the robotic arm, the fault protection system was triggered. The telemetry data sent by Curiosity indicated that there was a short circuit and for this reason its activity was stopped.

Picture of the dwarf planet Ceres taken by the Dawn space probe (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

NASA’s space probe Dawn continues its approach to the dwarf planet Ceres. This allows to send on Earth better and better photographs with greater details of its surface. The previous images were clear enough to make it possible to see some light-colored areas and in particular a really bright one, which had puzzled scientists. A photo taken on February 19 at a distance of about 46,000 km (about 29,000 miles) shows a second bright area close to the one already identified.

Image of the SOHO space probe showing the comet C/2015 D1 (SOHO) near the Sun (Image ESA/NASA/SOHO/Hill)

The SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) space probe has the primary purpose of keeping an eye on the Sun but when a comet passes close to our star is also useful to track its trajectory. Last week, SOHO identified a new comet because passing near the Sun it’s become bright enough to be detected.

This comet was originally called SOHO-2875 because in the course of over 19 years of mission in a collaboration between ESA and NASA this is the 2875th comet identified by the SOHO space probe. Subsequently officially named C/2015 D1 (SOHO), it survived a flyby with the Sun and may also be visible from Earth in the coming weeks.