Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – Data from each of the two rovers active on Mars reached Earth last week in the successful first relay test of a NASA radio aboard Europe’s new Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).
The transmissions from NASA rovers Opportunity and Curiosity, received by one of the twin Electra radios on the orbiter on November 22nd, mark a strengthening of the international telecommunications network supporting Mars exploration. The orbiter’s main radio for communications with Earth subsequently relayed onward to Earth the data received by Electra.
Written by Cheryl Warner
Washington, D.C. – The Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed a Progress cargo resupply spacecraft bound for the International Space Station has been lost. The spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday on a Soyuz rocket, but experienced an anomaly around six and a half minutes into its flight.
Six crew members living aboard the space station are safe and have been informed of the mission’s status. Both the Russian and U.S. segments of the station continue to operate normally with onboard supplies at good levels.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – If you think operating a robot in space is hard, try doing it in the ocean.
Saltwater can corrode your robot and block its radio signals.
Kelp forests can tangle it up, and you might not get it back.
Sharks will even try to take bites out of its wings.
The ocean is basically a big obstacle course of robot death. Despite this, robotic submersibles have become critical tools for ocean research. While satellites can study the ocean surface, their signals can’t penetrate the water. A better way to study what’s below is to look beneath yourself — or send a robot in your place.
Written by Andrew Good
Pasadena, CA – Throw a baseball, and you might say it’s all in the wrist.
For robots, it’s all in the gears.
Gears are essential for precision robotics. They allow limbs to turn smoothly and stop on command; low-quality gears cause limbs to jerk or shake. If you’re designing a robot to scoop samples or grip a ledge, the kind of gears you’ll need won’t come from a hardware store.
At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, technologist Douglas Hofmann and his collaborators are building a better gear.
Written by Carol Rasmussen
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat) Earth science instrument has ended operations following a successful two-year mission aboard the space station. The mission launched September 21st, 2014, and had recently passed its original decommissioning date.
ISS-RapidScat used the unique vantage point of the space station to provide near-real-time monitoring of ocean winds, which are critical in determining regional weather patterns. Its measurements of wind speed and direction over the ocean surface have been used by agencies worldwide for weather and marine forecasting and tropical cyclone monitoring.
Washington, D.C. – When astronauts in the Orion spacecraft travel beyond the moon to explore deep space destinations, they’ll need a robust diet to keep them healthy and sharp.
While crew members aboard the International Space Station can choose from approximately 200 items for their meals and have the space to stow an array of options, feeding the crew on deep space missions presents several unique challenges that NASA scientists are working to tackle.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Launch is targeted for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new multi-institutional study of the temporary slowdown in the global average surface temperature warming trend observed between 1998 and 2013 concludes the phenomenon represented a redistribution of energy within the Earth system, with Earth’s ocean absorbing the extra heat.
The phenomenon was referred to by some as the “global warming hiatus.” Global average surface temperature, measured by satellites and direct observations, is considered a key indicator of climate change.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – A thrilling ride is about to begin for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Engineers have been pumping up the spacecraft’s orbit around Saturn this year to increase its tilt with respect to the planet’s equator and rings. And on November 30th, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission’s dramatic endgame.
Launched in 1997, Cassini has been touring the Saturn system since arriving there in 2004 for an up-close study of the planet, its rings and moons. During its journey, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean within Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Titan.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data reveals Ice Deposit on Mars has more water than Lake Superior
Written by Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Washington, D.C. – Frozen beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars lies about as much water as what’s in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes, researchers using NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have determined.
Scientists examined part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia region, in the mid-northern latitudes, with the orbiter’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument.
Analyses of data from more than 600 overhead passes with the onboard radar instrument reveal a deposit more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico.
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