Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center are developing the Extreme Access Flyer system, an airborne robotic vehicle similar to quad-copters. It’s mission would be to retrieve samples that might otherwise be inaccessible and to map terrain.
The alien planet, called HD 219134b, is about 4.5 times more massive than Earth, making it a so-called "super Earth." HD 219134b lies extremely close to its host star, completing one orbit every three days, so its surface is too hot to harbor life.
Despite its tranquil-sounding name, new imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals a dusty nebula shaped by "intense winds from hot stars, churning funnels of gas, and energetic star formation.” It is located in the Sagittarius constellation.
The structure, composition and evolutionary history of comets are starting to come into focus, thanks to observations beamed home by the European Space Agency's Philae lander, the first probe ever to touch down on one of these icy objects.
Philae has been incommunicado on the surface of Comet 67P for three weeks. The lander team would love to get Philae up and running again soon, so they can get an up-close look at how the comet is affected by its Aug. 13 closest solar approach.