Image Source: BBC.
There are several new space-related headlines. First, a partial eclipse of the sun will take place over Europe and Northeast Asia and North Africa today. Wiki: "Greatest eclipse occurs at 08:50 UT in northern Sweden where the eclipse in the horizon will have a magnitude of 0.858. At that time, the axis of the Moon's shadow will pass a mere 510 km above Earth's surface." The related BBC report is here.
Space.com reports that today marks the 7th anniversary of the landing of the rover Spirit on the Martian surface. Opportunity landed later that month: "The golf-cart-size rover Spirit landed on Mars on Jan. 4, 2004. Its twin, Opportunity, hit the planet's red dirt three weeks later, on Jan. 25. The rovers were originally supposed to tool around the Martian surface for a mere 90 days, looking for evidence of the planet's past water activity, but both have far outlasted their warranties. In 2009, however, Spirit got trapped in soft sand and in March 2010, the rover stopped communicating with Earth. Still, mission scientists think the intrepid rover may wake up in the next few months. Meanwhile, Opportunity is still going strong."
According to RedOrbit, China and Russia plan to launch a craft carrying a Mars rover during 2011:
The Space Review reports on three interconnected matters: first, the space shuttles are being retired this year, leaving NASA incapable of launching humans into space:"China, working jointly with Russia, plans to launch its first Mars probe in October after a two-year delay, state media reported on Sunday. Yinghuo-1 was due to blast off in October 2009 along with Russia’s 'Phobos Explorer' from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but the launch was postponed, Xinhua news agency said. The media report, quoting an anonymous expert at China Academy of Space Technology, said the launch was pushed back to October 2011. It also reported that China plans to launch a Mars probe on its own in 2013. ... China, which aims to become competitive with the United States and Russian space programs, already has begun probing the Moon. The Chang’e-2 is in lunar orbit carrying out various tests in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang’e-3, which China hopes will be its first unmanned lunar landing. China also became the third nation to put a man in space independently. Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003. The United States and Russia are the only other two nations to put a man into space independently."
Second, and third, because of this, NASA has been considering initiatives which involve them cooperating with commercial spaceflight operators and/or with China for future missions."However, entering 2011 it’s now clear that, barring major delays that push out the final three flights on the manifest (including the one mission added last year in the NASA authorization act), this will be the final year of the shuttle program. The anger and bargaining has, in some quarters, turned to depression over the end of vaunted program and the concomitant loss of jobs, and a gap of several years before the NASA is able to launch humans into orbit again."
Finally, NASA has posted videos from the Mars rovers, including one with a Martian eclipse of the sun. The images were captured in November 2010 by the rover Opportunity.