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Japanese probe lands on asteroid to capture sample

24 February 2019 Stephen Clark

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft briefly landed on an asteroid Thursday more than 200 million miles from Earth and fired a bullet to scoop up a rocky sample, successfully accomplishing one of the mission’s most challenging manoeuvres before returning the asteroid specimen to scientists on the ground in December 2020.

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New Horizons scientists elated as Ultima Thule’s shape comes into view

1 January 2019 Stephen Clark

A fresh image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft released Tuesday showed the mission’s distant flyby target a billion miles beyond Pluto — nicknamed Ultima Thule — has an elongated shape like that of a peanut shell or a bowling pin, and the prospect of higher-resolution pictures arriving on Earth later in the day had scientists salivating for more.

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Live coverage: New Horizons returns first close-up image

30 December 2018 Stephen Clark

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made a historic New Year’s encounter with an object nicknamed Ultima Thule in the Kuiper Belt a billion miles beyond Pluto. The probe passed around 3,500 kilometres from the mysterious object at 0533 GMT on New Year’s Day, making it the most distant Solar System body ever explored up close.

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Live coverage: InSight probe lands on Mars

26 November 2018 Stephen Clark

NASA’s robotic InSight spacecraft, carrying a pair of European-built science instruments, successfully landed Monday on a broad, flat equatorial Martian plain named Elysium Planitia. Touchdown was confirmed at 1954 GMT to begin a science mission focused on studying the deep interior of Mars.

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NASA’s new planet hunter starts work

30 July 2018 Stephen Clark

NASA’s newest observatory in space has started its search for planets around other stars as astronomers zero in on worlds that are ripe for research by follow-up missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.