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Topic: Asteroid

NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission moves forward with Robotic Design and Development

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B, or KDP-B, was conducted in July and formally approved by agency management August 15th. It is one in a series of project lifecycle milestones that every spaceflight mission for the agency passes as it progresses toward launch. At KDP-B, NASA established the content, cost, and schedule commitments for Phase B activities.

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft data used to map Gravity of Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the tens of thousands of photos returned by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the interior of Ceres isn’t visible. But scientists have powerful data to study Ceres’ inner structure: Dawn’s own motion.

Since gravity dominates Dawn’s orbit at Ceres, scientists can measure variations in Ceres’ gravity by tracking subtle changes in the motion of the spacecraft. Using data from Dawn, scientists have mapped the variations in Ceres’ gravity for the first time in a new study in the journal Nature, which provides clues to the dwarf planet’s internal structure.

This artist's concept shows a diagram of how the inside of Ceres could be structured, based on data about the dwarf planet's gravity field from NASA's Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This artist’s concept shows a diagram of how the inside of Ceres could be structured, based on data about the dwarf planet’s gravity field from NASA’s Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft set for September Launch

 

Written by Sarah Schlieder
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will launch September 2016 and travel to a near-Earth asteroid known as Bennu to harvest a sample of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The science team will be looking for something special. Ideally, the sample will come from a region in which the building blocks of life may be found.

To identify these regions on Bennu, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) team equipped the spacecraft with an instrument that will measure the spectral signatures of Bennu’s mineralogical and molecular components.

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to Map the Surface of an Asteroid. (NASA)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to Map the Surface of an Asteroid. (NASA)

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NASA continues to explore our Solar System

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Juno is now poised to shine a spotlight on the origins and interior structure of the largest planet in our solar system.

As we wait for Juno’s first close-up images of Jupiter (to be taken August 27th during the spacecraft’s next pass by the planet), NASA continues to explore our solar system to help answer fundamental questions about how we came to be, where we are going and whether we are alone in the universe.

Montage of planets. (NASA/JPL)

Montage of planets. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft finishes objectives at Dwarf Planet Ceres, completes mission

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On June 30th, just in time for the global celebration known as Asteroid Day, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft completes its primary mission. The mission exceeded all expectations originally set for its exploration of protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

The historic mission is the first to orbit two extraterrestrial solar system targets, and the first to orbit any object in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. On March 6th, 2015, Dawn also became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around a dwarf planet.

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA says Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres may come from Hydrothermal Activity

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The brightest area on Ceres, located in the mysterious Occator Crater, has the highest concentration of carbonate minerals ever seen outside Earth, according to a new study from scientists on NASA’s Dawn mission. The study, published online in the journal Nature, is one of two new papers about the makeup of Ceres.

“This is the first time we see this kind of material elsewhere in the solar system in such a large amount,” said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author and principal investigator of Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. De Sanctis is based at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Rome.

The center of Ceres' mysterious Occator Crater is the brightest area on the dwarf planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

The center of Ceres’ mysterious Occator Crater is the brightest area on the dwarf planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

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NASA discovers Small Asteroid that orbits the Sun and Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come.

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.”

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Asteroid 2016 HO3 has an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to map asteroid Bennu before collecting sample

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On September 8th, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is scheduled to launch for terra incognita: the unknown surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. Like expeditions of old, OSIRIS-REx’s mission includes mapping the exotic terrain it explores.

Bennu is part of the debris left over from the formation of the solar system and is pristine enough to hold clues to that very early history. OSIRIS-REx – which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer – will study Bennu in detail and collect a sample to send to Earth for in-depth analysis. The mission also will investigate how pressure from sunlight influences the path of this traveling asteroid.

The mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu is one of the science goals of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, and an integral part of spacecraft operations. The spacecraft will spend a year surveying Bennu before collecting a sample that will be returned to Earth for analysis. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

The mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu is one of the science goals of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, and an integral part of spacecraft operations. The spacecraft will spend a year surveying Bennu before collecting a sample that will be returned to Earth for analysis. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA reports Two Comets with similar Orbits to safely pass by Earth

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Two comets that will safely fly past Earth later this month may have more in common than their intriguingly similar orbits. They may be twins of a sort.

Comet P/2016 BA14 was discovered on January 22nd, 2016, by the University of Hawaii’s PanSTARRS telescope on Haleakala, on the island of Maui. It was initially thought to be an asteroid, but follow-up observations by a University of Maryland and Lowell Observatory team with the Discovery Channel Telescope showed a faint tail, revealing that the discovery was, in fact, a comet.

Comet 252P/LINEAR will safely fly past Earth on March 21, 2016, at a range of about 3.3 million miles (5.2 million kilometers). The following day, comet P/2016 BA14 will safely fly by our planet at a distance of about 2.2 million miles (3.5 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Comet 252P/LINEAR will safely fly past Earth on March 21, 2016, at a range of about 3.3 million miles (5.2 million kilometers). The following day, comet P/2016 BA14 will safely fly by our planet at a distance of about 2.2 million miles (3.5 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly back on Earth after One Year aboard the International Space Station

 

Written by Stephanie Schierholz
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26pm EST/10:26 CT (10:26am March 2nd Kazakhstan time).

Joining their return trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft was Sergey Volkov, also of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who arrived on the station September 4th, 2015. The crew touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko enjoy the cold fresh air back on Earth after their historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. (NASA TV)

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko enjoy the cold fresh air back on Earth after their historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. (NASA TV)

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