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Topic: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover gets back to analyzing rock samples

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover is analyzing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year.

“This was no small feat. It represents months and months of work by our team to pull this off,” said Jim Erickson, project manager of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Curiosity rover is part of the MSL mission. “JPL’s engineers had to improvise a new way for the rover to drill rocks on Mars after a mechanical problem took the drill offline in December 2016.”

The rover drilled its last scheduled rock sample in October 2016.

The drill bit of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover over one of the sample inlets on the rover's deck. The inlets lead to Curiosity's onboard laboratories. This image was taken on Sol 2068 by the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The drill bit of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover over one of the sample inlets on the rover’s deck. The inlets lead to Curiosity’s onboard laboratories. This image was taken on Sol 2068 by the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA CubeSats Steer make trajectory correction for Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has achieved a first for the class of tiny spacecraft known as CubeSats, which are opening new access to space.

Over the past week, two CubeSats called MarCO-A and MarCO-B have been firing their propulsion systems to guide themselves toward Mars. This process, called a trajectory correction maneuver, allows a spacecraft to refine its path to Mars following launch.

Both CubeSats successfully completed this maneuver; NASA’s InSight spacecraft just completed the same process on May 22nd.

An artist's concept of one of NASA's MarCO CubeSats. The twin MarCOs are the first CubeSats to complete a trajectory correction maneuver, firing their thrusters to guide themselves toward Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s concept of one of NASA’s MarCO CubeSats. The twin MarCOs are the first CubeSats to complete a trajectory correction maneuver, firing their thrusters to guide themselves toward Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports small Asteroid burns up over Southern Africa, Saturday

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A boulder-sized asteroid designated 2018 LA was discovered Saturday morning, June 2nd, 2018 and was determined to be on a collision course with Earth, with impact just hours away.

Because it was very faint, the asteroid was estimated to be only about 6 feet (2 meters) across, which is small enough that it was expected to safely disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere. Saturday’s asteroid was first discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey, located near Tucson and operated by the University of Arizona.

Artist's concept of a near-Earth object. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of a near-Earth object. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft uses thermal sensors to analyze hundreds of Asteroids

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Nearly all asteroids are so far away and so small that the astronomical community only knows them as moving points of light. The rare exceptions are asteroids that have been visited by spacecraft, a small number of large asteroids resolved by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope or large ground-based telescopes, or those that have come close enough for radar imaging.

When seen by optical telescopes, these individual sources of reflected sunlight can provide some very valuable but also very basic information — for example, the asteroid’s orbit, a ballpark estimate of its size, sometimes an approximation of its shape, and perhaps an idea of its physical makeup.

Analysis of asteroids like Lutetia was used in the Josef Hanuš-led paper on asteroid thermophysical modeling. Lutetia is a large main belt asteroid about 62 miles (100 kilometers) in diameter. Lutetia was visited by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft in 2010. (ESA 2010 MPS)

Analysis of asteroids like Lutetia was used in the Josef Hanuš-led paper on asteroid thermophysical modeling. Lutetia is a large main belt asteroid about 62 miles (100 kilometers) in diameter. Lutetia was visited by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft in 2010. (ESA 2010 MPS)

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NASA using new Technology to observe Carbon in Earth’s Atmosphere

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It’s a scientific conundrum with huge implications for our future: How will our planet react to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

That seemingly simple question is particularly tricky because carbon — an essential building block for life on Earth — does not stay in one place or take only one form. Carbon in its many forms, both from natural and human-caused sources, moves within and among the atmosphere, the ocean and land as our living planet breathes. To track and inventory carbon and unravel the many intricate processes that cause it to morph across the planet is an epic challenge.

And that’s where NASA comes in.

NASA's latest carbon-observing space mission is the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which is making unprecedented global measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

NASA’s latest carbon-observing space mission is the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which is making unprecedented global measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. (NASA-JPL/Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft moves to low orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is maneuvering to its lowest-ever orbit for a close-up examination of the inner solar system’s only dwarf planet.

In early June, Dawn will reach its new, final orbit above Ceres. Soon after, it will begin collecting images and other science data from an unprecedented vantage point. This orbit will be less than 30 miles (50 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres — 10 times closer than the spacecraft has ever been.

This picture is one of the first images returned by Dawn in more than a year, as Dawn moves to its lowest-ever and final orbit around Ceres. Dawn captured this view on May 16, 2018 from an altitude of about 270 miles (440 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This picture is one of the first images returned by Dawn in more than a year, as Dawn moves to its lowest-ever and final orbit around Ceres. Dawn captured this view on May 16, 2018 from an altitude of about 270 miles (440 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Kepler spacecraft begins Campaign 18 observing Clusters of Stars

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSilicon Valley, CA – NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft began the 18th observing campaign of its extended mission, K2, on May 12th, 2018. For the next 82 days, Kepler will stare at clusters of stars, faraway galaxies, and a handful of solar system objects, including comets, objects beyond Neptune, and an asteroid. The Kepler spacecraft is expected to run out of fuel within several months.

Campaign 18 is a familiar patch of space, as it’s approximately the same region of sky that Kepler observed during Campaign 5 in 2015. One of the advantages of observing a field over again is that planets outside the solar system, called exoplanets, may be found orbiting farther from their stars. Astronomers hope to not only discover new exoplanets during this campaign, but also to confirm candidates that were previously identified.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft campaign. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Ann Marie Cody)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover successfully drills rock sample

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers working with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them. This past weekend, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year.

Curiosity tested percussive drilling this past weekend, penetrating about 2 inches (50 millimeters) into a target called “Duluth.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been testing this drilling technique since a mechanical problem took Curiosity’s drill offline in December of 2016.

NASA's Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called "Duluth" on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called “Duluth” on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s GRACE Follow-On Spacecraft launched Tuesday with mission to track Earth’s Water Changes

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. –  A joint U.S./German space mission to track the continuous movement of water and other changes in Earth’s mass on and beneath the planet’s surface successfully launched at 12:47pm PDT (2:47pm CDT) Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 from the California coast.

The twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO), a joint NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) mission, lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sharing their ride into space with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites.

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA to launch three CubeSat satellites on next International Space Station resupply mission

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – This weekend, when the next cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station lifts off from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, it will be carrying among its supplies and experiments three cereal box-sized satellites that will be used to test and demonstrate the next generation of Earth-observing technology.

NASA has been increasing its use of CubeSats — small satellites based on several configurations of approximately 4 x 4 x 4-inch cubes — to put new technologies in orbit where they can be tested in the harsh environment of space before being used as part of larger satellite missions or constellations of spacecraft.

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The RainCube 6U CubeSat with fully-deployed antenna. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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