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Latest NASA spacecraft news and updates

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NASA spacecraft

NASA's comet hunting 'Deep Impact' comes to an end

A Boeing Delta II rocket carries NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft as it lifts off in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 13, 2005. In a first-of-its-kind mission, the spacecraft was sent to gather information about the comet Temple 1. NASA declared the mission complete on Friday, September 20.

US scientists discover tectonic activity on Mars

For years, it was believed that plate tectonics is unique to Earth. All other bodies in the solar system are uniplate planets!!

NASA's Messenger spacecraft unveils Mercury's secrets

Mercury, the dry and blistering planet closest to the sun, appears to have more ice at its poles than does Earth's moon, say scientists after analyzing data gathered from a NASA spacecraft currently orbiting the planet.

Comet watchers waiting for show

Washingtown -- A comet rapidly approaching Earth should put on a good light show when it nears our planet and the sun in late October, U.S. astronomers say.it

But a NASA spacecraft will get the best view of all when it flies within 430 miles of the icy solar system wanderer on Nov. 4, ScienceNews.org reported.

Comet Hartley 2 orbits the sun ever 6.46 years and will come within 11 million miles of Earth, about 45 times as far away as the moon, on Oct. 20 when it will be visible to the naked eye in the Northern Hemisphere as a fuzzy object in the constellation Auriga.

Sky watchers in the Southern Hemisphere will get their best chance to glimpse it as it moves away from the sun in November.

High-res camera snaps water ice on Mars

Tucson -- A NASA spacecraft with a high-resolution camera has photographed a young Mars crater and found frozen water in it, scientists say.

A recent image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE camera shows water ice at the bottom of a 20-foot-wide crater on the planet's surface, SPACE.com reported Friday.

Researchers suspect the crater in the northern hemisphere formed recently, no earlier than April 2004, Nathan Bridges, a HiRISE science team member at the University of Arizona, said.

The crater appeared in photos taken between June 6 and July 7.

"It's showing we're getting ice pretty far south," Bridges said. "As we continue to look at these things it's a good way to determine where shallow ice is on Mars."

Spacecraft captures photos of sun activity

Washington -- Cameras on a NASA spacecraft captured activity on the sun as powerful, glowing magnetic loops erupted from a solar hot spot, U.S. officials said.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the events in the extreme ultraviolet range of the light spectrum over several days beginning July 6, Space.com reported Monday.

The arcing loops are the routes taken by solar particles following ever-changing magnetic field lines on the surface of the sun, Space.com said. The arcing solar material appears blazing-white at the sun's surface, fading to a more dull orange near the top of the arcs.