Friday, May 27, 2011

Mission to Mars one step closer as Nasa unveil four-man craft that will take astronauts on 49million-mile journey - 26th May 2011

Nasa has unveiled a design for a spaceship that could propel four astronauts on a six-month voyage to Mars.

Engineers are already assembling of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or MPCV, which is based on the Orion crew capsule developed to return men and women to the moon.

They hope to have the shuttle ready to orbit the Earth within five years and eventually make the 47million-mile trip to Mars.

The Constellation Project that was building Orion had initially been scrapped by President Barack Obama. But he relaunched it in April last year after changing the object of the mission.

Instead of going back to the moon, Mr Obama announced that Nasa would aim to reach an asteroid by 2020 and after that send astronauts to Mars. Read More

$1BN MISSION FOR 5LB SPACE DUST

A Nasa spacecraft will reach out and touch an asteroid and send pieces back to Earth, it was revealed today.

The unmanned probe won't land on the rocky body.

But it will get close enough to kiss the surface and extend a robotic arm to grab up to 5lb of dust and organic material, shown below in an artist's impression.

The samples will be sealed in a capsule for the trip home.

Asteroids are considered leftovers from the formation of the solar system some 4.5billion years ago.

Studying them could shed light on the conditions of the infant solar system and how life emerged. These giant speeding rocks fly by Earth harmlessly most of the time, but have occasionally smacked the planet with disastrous results.