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NASA Developing Technology to Land on other Planets with rough Terrain

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Canyons, craters and cracked ice fields on other worlds might be hiding exciting scientific discoveries. But how do we get spacecraft to land on dangerous, uneven terrain?

A new NASA video explains how cutting-edge technologies could help. A system called the CoOperative Blending of Autonomous Landing Technologies (COBALT) is being developed in the Mojave Desert, with participation from several partners, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

A rocket flying several landing technologies was recently flown in the Mojave Desert. These flight tests, coordinated by NASA, are helping to develop technology for precise landings in uneven terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A rocket flying several landing technologies was recently flown in the Mojave Desert. These flight tests, coordinated by NASA, are helping to develop technology for precise landings in uneven terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter views Curiosity Rover going up Mount Sharp

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a view of the Curiosity rover this month amid rocky mountainside terrain.

The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in the enhanced-color image from the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The exaggerated color, showing differences in Mars surface materials, makes Curiosity appear bluer than it really looks.

The feature that appears bright blue at the center of this scene is NASA's Curiosity Mars rover amid tan rocks and dark sand on Mount Sharp, as viewed by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 5, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

The feature that appears bright blue at the center of this scene is NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover amid tan rocks and dark sand on Mount Sharp, as viewed by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 5, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope finds 219 new Planet Candidates

 

Written by Michele Johnson
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA –  NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates that introduces 219 new candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star’s habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler’s first four years of data. It’s also the final catalog from the spacecraft’s view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

NASA's Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft celebrates 1,000 Days in Orbit

 

Written by Nancy Jones
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On June 17th, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) will celebrate 1,000 Earth days in orbit around the Red Planet. Since its launch in November 2013 and its orbit insertion in September 2014, MAVEN has been exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars.

MAVEN is bringing insight to how the sun stripped Mars of most of its atmosphere, turning a planet once possibly habitable to microbial life into a barren desert world.

This artist concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft and the limb of Mars. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

This artist concept shows the MAVEN spacecraft and the limb of Mars. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Engineers begin Summer with Safety System Tests

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Engineers working on NASA’s Orion kicked off summer with a series of important tests for some of the spacecraft’s critical safety systems. In the Utah desert, the skies over Arizona and the water at Johnson Space Center in Houston, the team is making sure Orion is safe from launch to splashdown.

At the Promontory, Utah, facility of Orion subcontractor Orbital ATK, engineers tested the abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system June 15th, firing the 17-foot tall motor for five seconds. The motor was fastened to a vertical test stand with its nozzles pointed toward the sky for the test. It produced enough thrust to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground and helps qualify the system for future missions with astronauts.

The abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system fired for five seconds in a test at the Promontory, Utah facility of manufacturer Orbital ATK. (Orbital ATK)

The abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system fired for five seconds in a test at the Promontory, Utah facility of manufacturer Orbital ATK. (Orbital ATK)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity passes Crater that’s reminder of Apollo 16 mission

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity passed near a young crater this spring during the 45th anniversary of Apollo 16’s trip to Earth’s moon, prompting a connection between two missions.

Opportunity’s science team informally named the Martian feature “Orion Crater.” The name honors the Apollo 16 lunar module, Orion, which carried astronauts John Young and Charles Duke to and from the surface of the moon in April 1972 while crewmate Ken Mattingly piloted the Apollo 16 command module, Casper, in orbit around the moon. Orion is also the name of NASA’s new spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space and sustain them during travel beyond Earth orbit.

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover passed near this small, relatively fresh crater in April 2017, during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. (NASA)

NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover passed near this small, relatively fresh crater in April 2017, during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. (NASA)

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NASA reports International Space Station’s microgravity environment used to Help Fight Cancer

 

Written by Jenny Howard
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – On Earth, research into antibody-drug conjugates to treat cancer has been around a while. The research presents a problem, though, because Earth-based laboratories aren’t able to mimic the shape of the cancer cell within the body, which can sometimes produce incorrect findings.

The International Space Station’s unique microgravity environment allows scientists to approach the research from a new, 3-D angle.

International Space Station (ISS). (NASA)

International Space Station (ISS). (NASA)

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NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy discovers thick dust surrounding active Black Holes

 

SOFIA Science Center
NASA Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio using observations from NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, found that the dust surrounding active, ravenous black holes is much more compact than previously thought.

Most, if not all, large galaxies contain a supermassive black hole at their centers. Many of these black holes are relatively quiet and inactive, like the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. However, some supermassive black holes are currently consuming significant amounts of material that are being drawn into them, resulting in the emission of huge amounts of energy. These active black holes are called active galactic nuclei.

Artist illustration of the thick ring of dust that can obscure the energetic processes that occur near the supermassive black hole of an active galactic nuclei. The SOFIA studies suggest that the dust distribution is about 30 percent smaller than previously thought. (NASA/SOFIA/Lynette Cook)

Artist illustration of the thick ring of dust that can obscure the energetic processes that occur near the supermassive black hole of an active galactic nuclei. The SOFIA studies suggest that the dust distribution is about 30 percent smaller than previously thought. (NASA/SOFIA/Lynette Cook)

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A Look at NASA’s NuSTAR Spacecraft’s first five years

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
Caltech

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Five years ago, on June 13th, 2012, Caltech’s Fiona Harrison, principal investigator of NASA’s NuSTAR mission, watched with her team as their black-hole-spying spacecraft was launched into space aboard a rocket strapped to the belly of an aircraft.

The launch occurred over the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Many members of the team anxiously followed the launch from the mission’s operations center at the University of California, Berkeley, anxious to see what NuSTAR would find.

This artist's concept shows NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft on orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft on orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA research shows Smoke from Wildfires can Impact Climate more than previously thought

 

Written by Joe Atkinson
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – The 2017 wildfire season is well underway in the United States with thousands of acres scorched already in Georgia and Florida alone, according to the National Park Service. New research using data collected during NASA airborne science campaigns shows how smoke from this type of wildfire worldwide could impact the atmosphere and climate much more than previously thought.

The study, led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, found brown carbon particles released into the air from burning trees and other organic matter are much more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can interfere with rays from the sun – sometimes cooling the air and at other times warming it.

Brown carbon particles produced by wildfires such as the ones that have scorched parts of Georgia and Florida this year are more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere and impact climate. (NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC)

Brown carbon particles produced by wildfires such as the ones that have scorched parts of Georgia and Florida this year are more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere and impact climate. (NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC)

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