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NASA successfully tests RS-25 engines that will power Space Launch System rockets

 

NASA Stennis Space Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBay St. Louis, MS – NASA is a step closer to returning astronauts to the Moon in the next five years following a successful engine test on Thursday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The latest “hot fire” was the culmination of four-plus years of testing for the RS-25 engines that will send the first four Space Launch System (SLS) rockets into space.

“This completes four years of focused work by an exceptional Stennis test team,” Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said. “It represents yet another chapter in Stennis’ long history of testing leadership and excellence in support of this nation’s space exploration efforts. Everyone involved should feel proud of their work and contributions.”

NASA conducts a test of RS-25 flight engine No. 2062 on April 4th on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, MS. The test marked a major milestone in NASA’s march forward to Moon missions. All 16 RS-25 engines that will help power the first four flights of NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket now have been tested. (NASA/SSC)

NASA conducts a test of RS-25 flight engine No. 2062 on April 4th on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, MS. The test marked a major milestone in NASA’s march forward to Moon missions. All 16 RS-25 engines that will help power the first four flights of NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket now have been tested. (NASA/SSC)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft discovers plumes erupting on asteroid Bennu

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. 

Bennu is the target of NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31st. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system.

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19 was created by combining two images taken on board NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Other image processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each image. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

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NASA Insight Lander sets up Weather Station on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – No matter how cold your winter has been, it’s probably not as chilly as Mars. Check for yourself: Starting today, the public can get a daily weather report from NASA’s InSight lander.

This public tool includes stats on temperature, wind and air pressure recorded by InSight. Sunday’s weather was typical for the lander’s location during late northern winter: a high of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius) and low of -138 degrees Fahrenheit (-95 degrees Celsius), with a top wind speed of 37.8 mph (16.9 m/s) in a southwest direction.

The white east- and west-facing booms - called Temperature and Wind for InSight, or TWINS - on the deck of NASA's InSight lander belong to its suite of weather sensors. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The white east- and west-facing booms – called Temperature and Wind for InSight, or TWINS – on the deck of NASA’s InSight lander belong to its suite of weather sensors. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s InSight Lander places Second Instrument on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander has placed its second instrument on the Martian surface. New images confirm that the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3, was successfully deployed on February 12th about 3 feet (1 meter) from InSight’s seismometer, which the lander recently covered with a protective shield.

HP3 measures heat moving through Mars’ subsurface and can help scientists figure out how much energy it takes to build a rocky world.

Equipped with a self-hammering spike, mole, the instrument will burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface, deeper than any previous mission to the Red Planet.

InSight's heat probe, called the Heat and Physical Properties Package (HP3). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/DLR)

InSight’s heat probe, called the Heat and Physical Properties Package (HP3). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/DLR)

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NASA’s Insight Lander places Dome over Seismometer on Mars

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  For the past several weeks, NASA’s InSight lander has been making adjustments to the seismometer it set on the Martian surface on December 19th. Now it’s reached another milestone by placing a domed shield over the seismometer to help the instrument collect accurate data.

The seismometer will give scientists their first look at the deep interior of the Red Planet, helping them understand how it and other rocky planets are formed.

The Wind and Thermal Shield helps protect the supersensitive instrument from being shaken by passing winds, which can add “noise” to its data.

NASA's InSight lander deployed its Wind and Thermal Shield on Feb. 2 (Sol 66). The shield covers InSight's seismometer, which was set down onto the Martian surface on December 19th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight lander deployed its Wind and Thermal Shield on Feb. 2 (Sol 66). The shield covers InSight’s seismometer, which was set down onto the Martian surface on December 19th. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft takes detailed photos of Ultima Thule

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission released the first detailed images of the most distant object ever explored — the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Its remarkable appearance, unlike anything we’ve seen before, illuminates the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.

“This flyby is a historic achievement,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation.”

This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 459 feet (140 meters) per pixel. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

This image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is the most detailed of Ultima Thule returned so far by the New Horizons spacecraft. It was taken at 5:01 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, just 30 minutes before closest approach from a range of 18,000 miles (28,000 kilometers), with an original scale of 459 feet (140 meters) per pixel. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Reaches Most Distant Target in History, Ultima Thule

 

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule in the early hours of New Year’s Day, ushering in the era of exploration from the enigmatic Kuiper Belt, a region of primordial objects that holds keys to understanding the origins of the solar system.

“Congratulations to NASA’s New Horizons team, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute for making history yet again,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

At left is a composite of two images taken by New Horizons' high-resolution Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), which provides the best indication of Ultima Thule's size and shape so far. Preliminary measurements of this Kuiper Belt object suggest it is approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide (32 kilometers by 16 kilometers). An artist's impression at right illustrates one possible appearance of Ultima Thule, based on the actual image at left. The direction of Ultima's spin axis is indicated by the arrows. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI; sketch courtesy of James Tuttle Keane)

At left is a composite of two images taken by New Horizons’ high-resolution Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), which provides the best indication of Ultima Thule’s size and shape so far. Preliminary measurements of this Kuiper Belt object suggest it is approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide (32 kilometers by 16 kilometers). An artist’s impression at right illustrates one possible appearance of Ultima Thule, based on the actual image at left. The direction of Ultima’s spin axis is indicated by the arrows. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI; sketch courtesy of James Tuttle Keane)

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NASA Engineers setup area to mimic terrain around Mars Insight Lander

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander is due to set its first science instrument on Mars in the coming days. But engineers here on Earth already saw it happen – last week.

Like NASA’s Curiosity rover, InSight has a full-scale working model at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This sister lander, aptly named ForeSight, lets the team test all operations before they happen on Mars.

To practice how InSight will place its instruments, JPL engineers built a Martian rock garden modeled on images from the spacecraft’s cameras.

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander's instruments here on Earth before it's done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

Engineers in Pasadena, California, sculpt a gravel-like material to mimic the terrain in front of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars. Recreating the exact conditions will allow them to practice setting down the lander’s instruments here on Earth before it’s done on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/IPGP)

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NASA establishes groundwork for exploration of the Moon, Mars in 2018

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars. 

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking. We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation,” Bridenstine said. “This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, right, join with representatives of nine U.S. companies that are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services contracts Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes pictures of InSight Lander from Space

 

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On November 26th, 2018 NASA’s InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight’s exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The InSight lander, its heat shield and parachute were spotted by HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), which is onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in one set of images last week on December 6th, and again on Tuesday, December 11th.

NASA's InSight lander on the surface of Mars imaged by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

NASA’s InSight lander on the surface of Mars imaged by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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