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Topic: Mars

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft makes history as it begins orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000 kilometers) from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity at about 4:39am PST (7:39am EST) Friday.

Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California received a signal from the spacecraft at 5:36am PST (8:36am EST) that Dawn was healthy and thrusting with its ion engine, the indicator Dawn had entered orbit as planned.

The slim crescent of Ceres smiles back as the dwarf planet awaits the arrival of an emissary from Earth. (NASA)

The slim crescent of Ceres smiles back as the dwarf planet awaits the arrival of an emissary from Earth. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity examines blocky rocks on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity climbed last month to an overlook for surveying “Marathon Valley,” a science destination chosen because spectrometer observations from orbit indicate exposures of clay minerals.

Near the overlook, it found blocky rocks so unlike any previously examined on Mars that the rover team has delayed other activities to provide time for a thorough investigation.

This map updates progress that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is making toward reaching a driving distance equivalent to a marathon footrace. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This map updates progress that NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is making toward reaching a driving distance equivalent to a marathon footrace. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to enter orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres on March 6th

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around Ceres on Friday, March 6th.

“Dawn is about to make history,” said Robert Mase, project manager for the Dawn mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Our team is ready and eager to find out what Ceres has in store for us.”

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft’s latest photo reveals bright spot on dwarf planet Ceres has second bright area nearby

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover takes powder sample from rock at Telegraph Peak

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its drill on Tuesday, February 24th to collect sample powder from inside a rock target called “Telegraph Peak.” The target sits in the upper portion of “Pahrump Hills,” an outcrop the mission has been investigating for five months.

The Pahrump Hills campaign previously drilled at two other sites. The outcrop is an exposure of bedrock that forms the basal layer of Mount Sharp. Curiosity’s extended mission, which began last year after a two-year prime mission, is examining layers of this mountain that are expected to hold records of how ancient wet environments on Mars evolved into drier environments.

This hole, with a diameter slightly smaller than a U.S. dime, was drilled by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover into a rock target called "Telegraph Peak." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This hole, with a diameter slightly smaller than a U.S. dime, was drilled by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover into a rock target called “Telegraph Peak.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA Astronauts to conduct Spacewalks to ready International Space Station for Commercial Transport Ships

 

Written by Anna Seils
NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Change is on the horizon for the International Space Station as three upcoming spacewalks prepare the orbiting laboratory for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft.

The spacewalks are designed to lay cables along the forward end of the U.S. segment to bring power and communication to two International Docking Adapters slated to arrive later this year. The new docking ports will welcome U.S. commercial spacecraft launching from Florida beginning in 2017, permitting the standard station crew size to grow from six to seven and potentially double the amount of crew time devoted to research.

Spacewalkers Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts. (NASA TV)

Spacewalkers Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts. (NASA TV)

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft test flight data used to prepare for future missions

 

NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Orion spacecraft continues on the agency’s journey to Mars as engineers analyze data from the spacecraft’s December flight test and make progress developing and building the spacecraft for its first mission atop NASA Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. On future missions, Orion will send astronauts to an asteroid and onward toward the Red Planet.

At machine houses across the country, elements of the primary structure for the next Orion to fly in space are coming together. Avionics components are being built and simulators for the ESA (European Space Agency)-built service module that will house the spacecraft’s propulsion and solar arrays are being delivered.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Orion spacecraft mounted atop, lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37 at at 7:05am EST, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Florida. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Orion spacecraft mounted atop, lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 at at 7:05am EST, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Florida. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Voyager 1 Spacecraft took famous images of Earth 25 years ago Valentine’s Day

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Valentine’s Day is special for NASA’s Voyager mission. It was on February 14th, 1990, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune.

This “family portrait” captures Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Earth and Venus from Voyager 1’s unique vantage point. A few key members did not make it in: Mars had little sunlight, Mercury was too close to the sun, and dwarf planet Pluto turned out too dim.

These six narrow-angle color images were made from the first ever "portrait" of the solar system taken by Voyager 1, which was more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

These six narrow-angle color images were made from the first ever “portrait” of the solar system taken by Voyager 1, which was more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity’s distance traveled on Mars nears that of a Marathon Race

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is nearing a location on Mars at which its driving distance will surpass the length of a marathon race.

A drive on February 8th, 2015, put the rover within 220 yards (200 meters) of this marathon accomplishment. An Olympic marathon is 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers).

Opportunity is headed for a portion of the western rim of Endeavour Crater where observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have detected multiple types of clay minerals. These minerals are indicative of an ancient wet environment where water was more neutral rather than harshly acidic.

In February 2015, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is approaching a cumulative driving distance on Mars equal to the length of a marathon race. This map shows the rover's position relative to where it could surpass that distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

In February 2015, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is approaching a cumulative driving distance on Mars equal to the length of a marathon race. This map shows the rover’s position relative to where it could surpass that distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has made 40,000 trips around Mars since 2006

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed a mission milestone of 40,000 orbits on February 7th, 2015, in its ninth year of returning information about the atmosphere, surface and subsurface of Mars, from equatorial to polar latitudes.

The mission’s potent science instruments and extended lifespan have revealed that Mars is a world more dynamic and diverse than was previously realized. Now in its fourth mission extension after a two-year prime mission, the orbiter is investigating seasonal and longer-term changes, including some warm-season flows that are the strongest evidence so far for liquid water on Mars today.

This view of Martian surface features shaped by effects of winds was captured by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Jan. 4, 2015. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since March 2006. On Feb. 7, 2015, it completed its 40,000th orbit around Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This view of Martian surface features shaped by effects of winds was captured by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Jan. 4, 2015. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since March 2006. On Feb. 7, 2015, it completed its 40,000th orbit around Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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