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Nasa's IceSat space laser makes height maps of Earth

Nasa's IceSat space laser makes height maps of Earth

Science
One of the most powerful Earth observation tools ever put in orbit is now gathering data about the planet.IceSat-2 was launched just under three months ago to measure the shape of the ice sheets to a precision of 2cm.But the Nasa spacecraft's laser instrument is also now returning a whole raft of other information.It is mapping the height of the land, of rivers, lakes, forests; and in a remarkable demonstration of capability - even the depth of the seafloor."We can see down to 30m in really clear waters," said Lori Magruder, the science team leader on the IceSat mission. "We saw one IceSat track just recently that covers 300km in the Caribbean and you see the ocean floor the entire way," the University of Texas researcher told BB...
Nasa's Voyager 2 probe 'leaves the Solar System'

Nasa's Voyager 2 probe 'leaves the Solar System'

Science
The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has become the second human-made object to leave our Solar System. It was launched 16 days before its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe's faster trajectory meant that it was in "the space between the stars" six years before Voyager 2.The news was revealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in Washington. And chief scientist on the mission, Prof Edward Stone, confirmed it. He said both probes had now "made it into interstellar space" and that Voyager 2's date of departure from the Solar System was 5 November 2018.On that date, the steady stream of particles emitted from the Sun that were being detected by th...
NASA's InSight lander touches down on Mars

NASA's InSight lander touches down on Mars

Technology
NASA's InSight spacecraft landed on Mars Monday afternoon, finishing one journey -- through space -- and now launching on another: to go deeper into Mars. The mechanical three-legged, one-armed mining spacecraft landed as planned just before 3 p.m. ET. InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) will be the first mission to drill into the deep interior of Mars as well as investigate if there are "Marsquakes." "It was tense, you could feel the emotion. It was celebratory with every new information we received," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on a NASA livestream. He said he received a call on his cellphone from a number that was "all zeroes" seconds after the landing. It was Vice President Mike Pence. "He watched the whole thing. H...
NASA's InSight sends back stunning images as it settles into life on Mars

NASA's InSight sends back stunning images as it settles into life on Mars

Technology
NASA's latest spacecraft is settling into life on Mars by catching some rays, recharging its batteries and taking stunning photos. InSight, the robotic mining device that will eventually dig into the surface of the red planet, opened its solar panels on schedule Monday night, about five hours after a "flawless" landing, NASA officials said in a press release. "The InSight team can rest a little easier tonight now that we know the spacecraft solar arrays are deployed and recharging the batteries," said Tom Hoffman, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. On Tuesday, InSight is scheduled to begin operations on the Martian surface and start deploying instruments. Over the next few days, InSight's mechanical arm will continue to take pic...
Nasa's Mars InSight mission heads for '7 minutes of terror'

Nasa's Mars InSight mission heads for '7 minutes of terror'

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device The American space agency Nasa will attempt to put another robotic probe on Mars later. The InSight lander is being targeted at a flat plain just north of the planet's equator called Elysium Planitia. It carries a suite of instruments - many of them from Europe - to try to determine the rocky world's internal structure. Signals from the probe confirming its safe touchdown should be received at 19:53 GMT, give or take a minute. As with previous surface missions, InSight must survive the "seven minutes of terror" - the time it takes for a probe entering Mars' thin atmosphere at hypersonic speed to slow to walking pace and gently put itself on the ground. Many have tried; most have failed. "As hum...