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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s InSight lander to use Robotic Arm to study Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you’ve ever played the claw machine at an arcade, you know how hard it can be to maneuver the metal “hand” to pick up a prize. Imagine trying to play that game when the claw is on Mars, the objects you’re trying to grasp are far more fragile than a stuffed bear and all you have is a stitched-together panorama of the environment you’re working in. Oh, and there might be a dust storm.

NASA’s InSight lander, slated to arrive on Mars November 26th, 2018, will be the first mission to use a robotic arm to grasp instruments from the spacecraft and release them into place on another planet. These instruments will help scientists study the deep interior of Mars for the first time.

NASA's InSight mission tests an engineering version of the spacecraft's robotic arm in a Mars-like environment at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The five-fingered grapple on the end of the robotic arm is lifting up the Wind and Thermal Shield, a protective covering for InSight's seismometer. The test is being conducted under reddish "Mars lighting" to simulate activities on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s InSight mission tests an engineering version of the spacecraft’s robotic arm in a Mars-like environment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The five-fingered grapple on the end of the robotic arm is lifting up the Wind and Thermal Shield, a protective covering for InSight’s seismometer. The test is being conducted under reddish “Mars lighting” to simulate activities on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover’s landing site being debated by Scientists

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Hundreds of scientists and Mars-exploration enthusiasts will convene in a hotel ballroom just north of Los Angeles later this week to present, discuss and deliberate the future landing site for NASA’s next Red Planet rover – Mars 2020.

The three-day workshop is the fourth and final in a series designed to ensure NASA receives the broadest range of data and opinion from the scientific community before the agency chooses where to send the new rover.

The Mars 2020 mission is tasked with not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life.

This artist's rendition depicts NASA's Mars 2020 rover studying a Mars rock outrcrop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendition depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover studying a Mars rock outrcrop. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA research shows Arctic Sea Ice now at thinnest on record

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Arctic Ocean’s blanket of sea ice has changed since 1958 from predominantly older, thicker ice to mostly younger, thinner ice, according to new research published by NASA scientist Ron Kwok of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

With so little thick, old ice left, the rate of decrease in ice thickness has slowed. New ice grows faster but is more vulnerable to weather and wind, so ice thickness is now more variable, rather than dominated by the effect of global warming.

Small remnants of thicker, multiyear ice float with thinner, seasonal ice in the Beaufort Sea on September 30th, 2016. (NASA/GSFC/Alek Petty)

Small remnants of thicker, multiyear ice float with thinner, seasonal ice in the Beaufort Sea on September 30th, 2016. (NASA/GSFC/Alek Petty)

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NASA instruments keep eye on Hurricane Michael from Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Hurricane Michael plowed into the Florida panhandle Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 as a major Category 4 storm — the strongest hurricane ever to hit that region. Many NASA instruments are keeping tabs on Michael from space, including the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR).

The first image, taken by AIRS, shows Hurricane Michael just off the west coast of Florida on October 10th in the early morning hours local time. The large purple area indicates very cold clouds at about -90°F (-68°C) carried high into the atmosphere by deep thunderstorms.

This AIRs image shows the temperature of clouds or the surface in and around Hurricane Michael. Purple represents very cold clouds, the much warmer eye is shown in green, and the red areas are warmer and mostly cloud-free. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This AIRs image shows the temperature of clouds or the surface in and around Hurricane Michael. Purple represents very cold clouds, the much warmer eye is shown in green, and the red areas are warmer and mostly cloud-free. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA paints Mars 2020 Rover Chassis

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  When a friend of NASA’s John Campanella wanted his beloved Ferrari painted, he knew exactly who to call. After all, Campanella had been painting, pinstriping and even airbrushing flames on to cars, motorcycles, airplanes, 18-wheelers and guitars in his spare time for decades.

But that’s not why the Ferrari driver came to Campanella. He turned to him because John Campanella has been painting spacecraft for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for over two decades. And if Campanella’s work is good enough for the final frontier, his friend thought, it would be good enough for his black prancing stallion.

JPL mechanical technician Eduardo (Eddie) Castro uses a paint meter to measure the paint thickness on the Mars 2020 rover chassis. The reading on the meter indicates a thickness of 5.4 thousandths of an inch. The paint team wanted to achieve between four and six thousandths of an inch of paint after the application of three coats. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

JPL mechanical technician Eduardo (Eddie) Castro uses a paint meter to measure the paint thickness on the Mars 2020 rover chassis. The reading on the meter indicates a thickness of 5.4 thousandths of an inch. The paint team wanted to achieve between four and six thousandths of an inch of paint after the application of three coats. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover switches to Secondary Computer

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, this week commanded the agency’s Curiosity rover to switch to its second computer. The switch will enable engineers to do a detailed diagnosis of a technical issue that has prevented the rover’s active computer from storing science and some key engineering data since September 15th.

Like many NASA spacecraft, Curiosity was designed with two, redundant computers — in this case, referred to as a Side-A and a Side-B computer — so that it can continue operations if one experiences a glitch. After reviewing several options, JPL engineers recommended that the rover switch from Side B to Side A, the computer the rover used initially after landing.

A self-portrait taken by NASA's Curiosity rover taken on Sol 2082 (June 15, 2018). A Martian dust storm has reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover's location in Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A self-portrait taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover taken on Sol 2082 (June 15, 2018). A Martian dust storm has reduced sunlight and visibility at the rover’s location in Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA studies role ocean water has on Greenland’s Melting Glaciers

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – “Three, two, one … drop!” Researchers in NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign heard that phrase 239 times this fall. Each time, it triggered a team member to release a scientific probe from an airplane into the seawater along the coast of Greenland. The probes are part of a five-year effort to improve our understanding of the ocean’s role in Greenland’s rapid ice loss.

Since 2016, OMG has been collecting measurements around the huge island on three separate trips a year. Each spring, a research aircraft measures the height of the ice sheet after the winter snows.

Oceans Melting Greenland Principal Investigator Josh Willis drops a probe during OMG's fall 2018 airborne campaign, then he and flight engineer Glenn Warren watch its descent from the plane windows. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Oceans Melting Greenland Principal Investigator Josh Willis drops a probe during OMG’s fall 2018 airborne campaign, then he and flight engineer Glenn Warren watch its descent from the plane windows. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA to start searching Universe for signs of Technological Life

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Since the beginning of civilization, humanity has wondered whether we are alone in the universe. As NASA has explored our solar system and beyond, it has developed increasingly sophisticated tools to address this fundamental question.

Within our solar system, NASA’s missions have searched for signs of both ancient and current life, especially on Mars and soon, Jupiter’s moon Europa. Beyond our solar system, missions, such as Kepler and TESS, are revealing thousands of planets orbiting other stars. 

A zoom into the Hubble Space Telescope photograph of an enormous, balloon-like bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. Astronomers trained the iconic telescope on this colorful feature, called the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, and L. Frattare (Viz 3D Team, STScI))

A zoom into the Hubble Space Telescope photograph of an enormous, balloon-like bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. Astronomers trained the iconic telescope on this colorful feature, called the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, and L. Frattare (Viz 3D Team, STScI))

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NASA to begin Five New Earth Science Missions in 2020

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Five new NASA Earth science campaigns, including one from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will take to the field starting in 2020 to investigate a range of pressing research questions, from what drives intense East Coast snowfall events to the impact of small-scale ocean currents on global climate.

These studies will explore important, but not-well-understood, aspects of Earth system processes. They were competitively selected as part of NASA’s Earth Venture-class program.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Delta-X mission will study the natural processes that maintain and build river deltas like the Wax Lake Delta in Louisiana, shown here. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Delta-X mission will study the natural processes that maintain and build river deltas like the Wax Lake Delta in Louisiana, shown here. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s RainCube CubeSat satellite measures storms

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – How many times have you stepped outside into a surprise rainstorm without an umbrella and wished that weather forecasts were more accurate?

A satellite no bigger than a shoebox may one day help. Small enough to fit inside a backpack, the aptly named RainCube (Radar in a CubeSat) uses experimental technology to see storms by detecting rain and snow with very small instruments. The people behind the miniature mission celebrated after RainCube sent back its first images of a storm over Mexico in a technology demonstration in August. Its second wave of images in September caught the first rainfall of Hurricane Florence.

RainCube is a mini weather satellite, no bigger than a shoebox, that will measure storms. It's part of several new NASA experiments to track storms from space with many small satellites, instead of individual, large ones. (UCAR)

RainCube is a mini weather satellite, no bigger than a shoebox, that will measure storms. It’s part of several new NASA experiments to track storms from space with many small satellites, instead of individual, large ones. (UCAR)

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