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Topic: Mars

NASA to launch first pair of CubeSats designed for Deep Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Many of NASA’s most iconic spacecraft towered over the engineers who built them: think Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Cassini or Galileo — all large machines that could measure up to a school bus.

But in the past two decades, mini-satellites called CubeSats have made space accessible to a new generation. These briefcase-sized boxes are more focused in their abilities and have a fraction of the mass — and cost — of some past titans of space.

In May, engineers will be watching closely as NASA launches its first pair of CubeSats designed for deep space. The twin spacecraft are called Mars Cube One, or MarCO, and were built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

An artist's rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats -- a kind of modular, mini-satellite -- attempting to fly to another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s rendering of the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft as they fly through deep space. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats — a kind of modular, mini-satellite — attempting to fly to another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to focus on Return to the Moon, Mission to Mars, and Beyond

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use.

This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, worlds beyond.”

President Donald Trump

NASA to refocus exploration efforts on the Moon. (NASA)

NASA to refocus exploration efforts on the Moon. (NASA)

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NASA answers the question, “What is an ‘Exoplanet?”

 

Written by Calla Cofield
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Step outside on a clear night, and you can be sure of something our ancestors could only imagine: Every star you see likely plays host to at least one planet.

The worlds orbiting other stars are called “exoplanets,” and they come in a wide variety of sizes, from gas giants larger than Jupiter to small, rocky planets about as big around as Earth or Mars. They can be hot enough to boil metal or locked in deep freeze. They can orbit their stars so tightly that a “year” lasts only a few days; they can orbit two suns at once. Some exoplanets are sunless rogues, wandering through the galaxy in permanent darkness.

The Milky Way, our own galaxy, stretches across the sky above the La Silla telescope in Chile. Hidden inside our own galaxy are trillions of planets, most waiting to be found. (ESO/S. Brunier)

The Milky Way, our own galaxy, stretches across the sky above the La Silla telescope in Chile. Hidden inside our own galaxy are trillions of planets, most waiting to be found. (ESO/S. Brunier)

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NASA collects Meteorites in Antarctica

 

Written by Bill Steigerwald
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On rare calm days, the most striking thing you notice at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet on an Antarctic glacier is the silence.

“There was just no sound; no air handling equipment, no leaves rustling, no bugs, no planes or cars. So quiet you just heard your heartbeat,” said Barbara Cohen, planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Most of the time, however, there is a steady howl of bitter cold wind flowing down from the East Antarctic ice plateau. With a summer temperature hovering around zero Fahrenheit, “It’s the wind that makes you cold,” Cohen said.

Camp at Mount Raymond in the Transantarctic Mountains. (Barbara Cohen)

Camp at Mount Raymond in the Transantarctic Mountains. (Barbara Cohen)

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NASA’s InSight Spacecraft set to launch May 5th for Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In the early morning hours of May 5th, millions of Californians will have an opportunity to witness a sight they have never seen before – the historic first interplanetary launch from America’s West Coast.

On board the 189-foot-tall (57.3-meter) United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be NASA’s InSight spacecraft, destined for the Elysium Planitia region located in Mars’ northern hemisphere. The May 5th launch window for the InSight mission opens at 4:05am PDT (6:05 CDT, 11:05 UTC) and remains open for two hours.

NASA's InSight to Mars undergoes final preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, ahead of its May 5th launch date. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight to Mars undergoes final preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, ahead of its May 5th launch date. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Insight Lander will give scientists look at Mars below the surface, study Marsquakes

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Starting next year, scientists will get their first look deep below the surface of Mars.

That’s when NASA will send the first robotic lander dedicated to exploring the planet’s subsurface. InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, will study marsquakes to learn about the Martian crust, mantle and core.

Doing so could help answer a big question: how are planets born?

Artist's rendition showing the inner structure of Mars. The topmost layer is known as the crust, underneath it is the mantle, which rests on an inner core. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s rendition showing the inner structure of Mars. The topmost layer is known as the crust, underneath it is the mantle, which rests on an inner core. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 mission rover begins test and launch operations development phase

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars 2020 mission has begun the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase of its development, on track for a July 2020 launch to Mars.

The first planned ATLO activities will involve electrical integration of flight hardware into the mission’s descent stage. The Mars 2020 rover, as well as its cruise stage, aeroshell and descent stage — a rocket-powered “sky crane” that will lower the rover to the planet’s surface — will undergo final assembly at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

A technician works on the descent stage for NASA's Mars 2020 mission inside JPL's Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Mars 2020 is slated to carry NASA's next Mars rover to the Red Planet in July of 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A technician works on the descent stage for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission inside JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility. Mars 2020 is slated to carry NASA’s next Mars rover to the Red Planet in July of 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA plans Exploration Missions to the Moon

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.

As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

Commercial robotic landers and more to be in NASA's new Moon Exploration Campaign. (NASA)

Commercial robotic landers and more to be in NASA’s new Moon Exploration Campaign. (NASA)

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NASA’s InSight Spacecraft delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in final preparation for May Launch

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California to begin final preparations for a launch this May. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space, Denver and arrived at Vandenberg.

The launch period for InSight opens May 5th and continues through June 8th. InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by listening for marsquakes and measuring the planet’s heat output. It will also be the first planetary spacecraft to launch from the West Coast.

Personnel supporting NASA's InSight mission to Mars load the crated InSight spacecraft into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The spacecraft, built in Colorado by Lockheed Martin Space, was shipped February 28, 2018, in preparation for launch from Vandenberg in May 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin Space)

Personnel supporting NASA’s InSight mission to Mars load the crated InSight spacecraft into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The spacecraft, built in Colorado by Lockheed Martin Space, was shipped February 28, 2018, in preparation for launch from Vandenberg in May 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin Space)

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NASA tests new way for Mars Curiosity rover to Drill

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has conducted the first test of a new drilling technique on the Red Planet since its drill stopped working reliably.

This early test produced a hole about a half-inch (1-centimeter) deep at a target called Lake Orcadie — not enough for a full scientific sample, but enough to validate that the new method works mechanically. This was just the first in what will be a series of tests to determine how well the new drill method can collect samples. If this drill had achieved sufficient depth to collect a sample, the team would have begun testing a new sample delivery process, ultimately delivering to instruments inside the rover.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used a new drill method to produce a hole on February 26 in a target named Lake Orcadie. The hole marks the first operation of the rover's drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used a new drill method to produce a hole on February 26 in a target named Lake Orcadie. The hole marks the first operation of the rover’s drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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