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NASA’s Mars 2020 Spacecraft undergoing detailed Vehicle Stacking

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the past few months, the clean room floor in High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been covered in parts, components and test equipment for the Mars 2020 spacecraft, scheduled for launch toward the Red Planet in July of 2020.

But over the past few weeks, some of these components – the spacecraft-rocket-laden landing system and even the stand-in for the rover (christened “surrogate-rover”) – have seemingly disappeared.

In the center of this image is the Mars 2020 spacecraft stack attached to the Spacecraft Assembly Rotation Fixture (SCARF) in the High Bay 1 clean room in JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In the center of this image is the Mars 2020 spacecraft stack attached to the Spacecraft Assembly Rotation Fixture (SCARF) in the High Bay 1 clean room in JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s SOFIA airborne observatory discovers First Type of Molecule that ever formed in the Universe

 

Written by Kassandra Bell and Alison Hawkes
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says the first type of molecule that ever formed in the universe has been detected in space for the first time, after decades of searching. Scientists discovered its signature in our own galaxy using the world’s largest airborne observatory, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, as the aircraft flew high above the Earth’s surface and pointed its sensitive instruments out into the cosmos.

When the universe was still very young, only a few kinds of atoms existed. Scientists believe that around 100,000 years after the big bang, helium and hydrogen combined to make a molecule called helium hydride for the first time.

Illustration of planetary nebula NGC 7027 and helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit/D.Rutter)

Illustration of planetary nebula NGC 7027 and helium hydride molecules. In this planetary nebula, SOFIA detected helium hydride, a combination of helium (red) and hydrogen (blue), which was the first type of molecule to ever form in the early universe. This is the first time helium hydride has been found in the modern universe. (NASA/SOFIA/L. Proudfit/D.Rutter)

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NASA ready to take on Challenges of going back to the Moon

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says space exploration brings humanity some of its greatest challenges and opportunities. We faced this hard fact on April 11th when the Beresheet spacecraft developed by Israel’s SpaceIL failed to successfully land on the Moon’s surface.

While the Beresheet spacecraft can claim many accomplishments, including being the first privately funded lunar spacecraft, we can learn many things from its failures. These are lessons we, too, must consider as NASA tries to conquer similar challenges as we move forward to the Moon with commercial and international partners.

NASA will send landers and robots to the Moon before sending Astronauts to explore. (NASA)

NASA will send landers and robots to the Moon before sending Astronauts to explore. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft data gives new insights into Titan’s Lakes

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On its final flyby of Saturn’s largest moon in 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gathered radar data revealing that the small liquid lakes in Titan’s northern hemisphere are surprisingly deep, perched atop hills and filled with methane.

The new findings, published April 15th in Nature Astronomy, are the first confirmation of just how deep some of Titan’s lakes are (more than 300 feet, or 100 meters) and of their composition. They provide new information about the way liquid methane rains on, evaporates from and seeps into Titan – the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface.

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho)

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NASA moves closer to launching new Technology aboard SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A new kind of atomic clock, non-toxic propellant system and missions to characterize how space weather interferes with satellites and communication transmissions are one step closer to liftoff. With the second-ever SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch complete, these NASA technologies await the powerful rocket’s next flight.

“We are pleased with the success of yesterday’s Falcon Heavy launch and first-stage landings,” said Acting Associate Administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Jim Reuter. “We have important technologies that are ready to fly, and this success helps put us on that path.”

On Thursday, April 11th, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (SpaceX)

On Thursday, April 11th, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launched the Arabsat-6A satellite from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (SpaceX)

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NASA lists 10 Things You Should Know About Planetary Defense

 

NASA Headquarters 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C.1. Why Asteroids Impact Earth: Why do asteroids and meteoroids collide with Earth?

NASA says these objects orbit the Sun just like the planets, as they have been doing for billions of years, but small effects such as gravitational nudges from the planets can jostle the orbits, making them gradually shift over million-year timescales or abruptly reposition if there is a close planetary encounter.

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on Dec. 15-17, by coordinating observations with NASA's 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

These three radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 were obtained on Dec. 15-17, by coordinating observations with NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR/NSF/GBO)

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Two NASA CubeSats demonstrate Laser Communications Capability

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two NASA CubeSats teamed up on an impromptu optical, or laser, communications pointing experiment. The laser beam is seen as a brief flash of light close to the center of the focal plane, to the left of Earth’s horizon.

The light originated from the laser communications system onboard one of two Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) spacecraft. The laser flash was recorded by a short-wavelength infrared camera, one of three cameras comprising the CubeSat Multispectral Observation System (CUMULOS) payload, onboard the Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA) spacecraft.

A brief laser flash at the center of the frame was part of an experiment conducted by two NASA CubeSats. In it, one small satellite used a laser to send information to the ISARA CubeSat, managed by JPL. (The Aerospace Corporation)

A brief laser flash at the center of the frame was part of an experiment conducted by two NASA CubeSats. In it, one small satellite used a laser to send information to the ISARA CubeSat, managed by JPL. (The Aerospace Corporation)

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NASA Curiosity Mars rover drills sample from clay area on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Scientists working with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have been excited to explore a region called “the clay-bearing unit” since before the spacecraft launched. Now, the rover has finally tasted its first sample from this part of Mount Sharp. Curiosity drilled a piece of bedrock nicknamed “Aberlady” on Saturday, April 6th, 2019 (the 2,370th Martian day, or sol, of the mission), and delivered the sample to its internal mineralogy lab on Wednesday, April 10th (Sol 2374).

The rover’s drill chewed easily through the rock, unlike some of the tougher targets it faced nearby on Vera Rubin Ridge.

The Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this set of images before and after it drilled a rock nicknamed "Aberlady," on Saturday, April 6th (the 2,370th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). The rock and others nearby appear to have moved when the drill was retracted. This was the first time Curiosity has drilled in the long-awaited "clay-bearing unit." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this set of images before and after it drilled a rock nicknamed “Aberlady,” on Saturday, April 6th (the 2,370th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). The rock and others nearby appear to have moved when the drill was retracted. This was the first time Curiosity has drilled in the long-awaited “clay-bearing unit.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA says network of Telescopes captures historic Black Hole image

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity.

Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration)

Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration)

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NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) will study plant growth

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says when plants take in too much energy, they don’t get fat – they lighten up. They absorb more sunlight than they need to power photosynthesis, and they get rid of the excess solar energy by emitting it as a very faint glow.

The light is far too dim for us to notice under normal circumstances, but it can be measured with a spectrometer. Called solar-induced fluorescence (SIF), it’s the most accurate signal of photosynthesis that can be observed from space.

That’s important because, as Earth’s climate changes, growing seasons worldwide are also changing in both timing and length.

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

This honeysuckle is glowing in response to a high-energy ultraviolet light rather than to the Sun, but its shine is similar to the solar-induced fluorescence that OCO-3 will measure. (©Craig P. Burrows)

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