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Hydrogen atoms through a magnetic field.

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Hydrogen atoms.
Hydrogen atoms through a magnetic field to create a beam of plasma.

Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes: Book Review.

People usually associate squads of bespectacled engineers and scientists as being the sole guardians of space. Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes by Michael Benson is the type of book that rationalizes and moreover encourages the inclusion of other specialists, especially those in the arts. Containing 295 photographs chosen both for their artistic, awe inspiring impact as well as their voluminous scientific content, the reader will want to quickly put aside numerical calculations about orbital mechanics and let their eyes float across the vistas of other planets.

An Advocate for Gusev Crater.

Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, a planetary geologist with the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center, has been working for more than a decade to explore the mysteries of Gusev Crater - the spot where the Spirit rover landed earlier this month. Dr. Cabrol, and her husband Dr. Edmond Grin initially proposed the landing spot to NASA because the area seems to once have held an ancient lakebed.

Researchers Create a New Plasma Thruster.

Researchers from the Australian National University have created a prototype thruster that could offer a new form of propulsion for spacecraft. The thruster is called the Helicon Double Layer Thruster (HDLT), and it works by passing Hydrogen atoms through a magnetic field to create a beam of plasma. Like an ion engine, it's electrically powered and very efficient - solar arrays could provide the energy to power the thruster. Other agencies, including NASA, are working on plasma thrusters, but this is the first to be proven to work with hydrogen.

Opportunity Rover Begins Standing Up.

NASA controllers gave Opportunity the commands on Wednesday that would begin the process of getting the rover to stand up from its compact landing configuration. The rover has untucked its front wheels and latched its suspension system in place. Controllers are going to try and tilt the landing platform forward 5-degrees to make it easier for Opportunity to roll of the platform next week - possibly as early as Sunday or Monday. Repairs are continuing on Spirit, but operators don't have full control of the lander yet.

Scientific Equipment Headed to the International Space Station.

A Russian-built Progress spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome today atop a Soyuz booster. Mission 13P is carrying a full load of supplies and scientific equipment and will reach the International Space Station within two days. The spaceship will deliver two dummies designed to measure the long-term effects of space radiation on the human body; one will be attached to the outside of the station to get a direct exposure. The station's previous Progress ship was detached on Wednesday to make room.

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