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Topic: Orbit

NASA Counts Down to ICON Spacecraft Launch

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In October 2018, NASA is launching the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, to study Earth’s dynamic interface to space.

Its combination of remote and in situ measurements will help scientists better understand this region — and how it changes in response to both space weather from above and terrestrial weather from below, a dynamic mix that can affect our communications, satellites and astronauts.

ICON Spacecraft's orbit. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio)

ICON Spacecraft’s orbit. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA’s Hubble, Kepler Space Telescopes discover possible Moon outside our Solar System

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Using NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, astronomers have uncovered tantalizing evidence of what could be the first discovery of a moon orbiting a planet outside our solar system.

This moon candidate, which is 8,000 light-years from Earth in the Cygnus constellation, orbits a gas-giant planet that, in turn, orbits a star called Kepler-1625. Researchers caution that the moon hypothesis is tentative and must be confirmed by follow-up Hubble observations.

NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes have uncovered what could be the first moon outside our solar system ever found. More observations are needed to confirm this discovery. (NASA/ESA/L. Hustak)

NASA’s Hubble and Kepler space telescopes have uncovered what could be the first moon outside our solar system ever found. More observations are needed to confirm this discovery. (NASA/ESA/L. Hustak)

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NASA releases plan to return to the Moon, travel to Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In December of 2017, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-1, in which the president directed NASA “to lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”

In answer to that bold call, and consistent with the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, NASA recently submitted to Congress a plan to revitalize and add direction to NASA’s enduring purpose.

NASA's Exploration Campaign to land astronauts on the moon and build lunar orbiting platform. (NASA)

NASA’s Exploration Campaign to land astronauts on the moon and build lunar orbiting platform. (NASA)

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NASA’s TEMPEST-D satellite looks inside Hurricane Florence

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new experimental weather satellite no bigger than a cereal box got an inside look at Hurricane Florence in a test of technology that could influence the future of storm monitoring from space. The satellite took its first images of Hurricane Florence on Tuesday, September 11th, just hours after its instrument was turned on.

TEMPEST-D, which deployed into low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station in July, carries a state-of-the-art miniaturized microwave radiometer, an instrument that sees through the thick clouds to reveal the hidden interior of storms, just like a security scanner can see inside luggage at the airport.

This image combines the TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration) data with a visual image of the storm from NOAA's GOES (Geoweather Operational Environmental Satellite) weather satellite. The brightly colored image taken by the small, experimental satellite TEMPEST-D captures Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean. The colors reveal the eye of the storm, surrounded by heavy rain. (NASA/NOAA/Naval Research Laboratory Monterey/JPL-Caltech)

This image combines the TEMPEST-D (Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Demonstration) data with a visual image of the storm from NOAA’s GOES (Geoweather Operational Environmental Satellite) weather satellite. The brightly colored image taken by the small, experimental satellite TEMPEST-D captures Hurricane Florence over the Atlantic Ocean. The colors reveal the eye of the storm, surrounded by heavy rain. (NASA/NOAA/Naval Research Laboratory Monterey/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s AIRS Instrument on Aqua Satellite takes image of Hurricane Florence

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – All eyes were on Hurricane Florence Wednesday as the Category 3 storm barreled toward the U.S. East Coast. NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument was watching, too, and captured new imagery of the storm’s approach.

AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at weather and climate. It acquired infrared and visible light images at 12:30pm CDT Wednesday.

This image shows Hurricane Florence in infrared light, and was taken at 12:35pm CT on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on board NASA's Aqua satellite. Florence underwent rapid intensification from Category 2 to Category 4 yesterday and was a Category 3 storm as of Wednesday evening. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image shows Hurricane Florence in infrared light, and was taken at 12:35pm CT on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite. Florence underwent rapid intensification from Category 2 to Category 4 yesterday and was a Category 3 storm as of Wednesday evening. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft nears Mission’s End

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn mission is drawing to a close after 11 years of breaking new ground in planetary science, gathering breathtaking imagery, and performing unprecedented feats of spacecraft engineering.

Dawn’s mission was extended several times, outperforming scientists’ expectations in its exploration of two planet-like bodies, Ceres and Vesta, that make up 45 percent of the mass of the main asteroid belt. Now the spacecraft is about to run out of a key fuel, hydrazine. When that happens, most likely between mid-September and mid-October, Dawn will lose its ability to communicate with Earth. It will remain in a silent orbit around Ceres for decades.

Artist's concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbiting dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbiting dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft sees its next target Ultima Thule

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has made its first detection of its next flyby target, the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, more than four months ahead of its New Year’s 2019 close encounter.

Mission team members were thrilled – if not a little surprised – that New Horizons’ telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was able to see the small, dim object while still more than 100 million miles away, and against a dense background of stars. Taken August 16th, 2018 and transmitted home through NASA’s Deep Space Network over the following days, the set of 48 images marked the team’s first attempt to find Ultima with the spacecraft’s own cameras. 

The figure on the left is a composite image produced by adding 48 different exposures from the News Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), each with an exposure time of 29.967 seconds, taken on Aug. 16, 2018. The predicted position of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule is at the center of the yellow box, and is indicated by the yellow crosshairs, just above and left of a nearby star that is approximately 17 times brighter than Ultima. At right is a magnified view of the region in the yellow box. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

The figure on the left is a composite image produced by adding 48 different exposures from the News Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), each with an exposure time of 29.967 seconds, taken on Aug. 16, 2018. The predicted position of the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule is at the center of the yellow box, and is indicated by the yellow crosshairs, just above and left of a nearby star that is approximately 17 times brighter than Ultima. At right is a magnified view of the region in the yellow box. (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe navigation controlled by Jet Propulsion Laboratory

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The navigation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also has a role in two of the spacecraft’s four onboard instrument suites. Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and through the solar corona itself.

One instrument, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi), will investigate the mysteries of high-speed solar particles that hurtle toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Observations by the Parker Solar Probe will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the Sun’s dynamic corona. EPI-Hi is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, led by Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University in New Jersey.

Illustration of NASA's Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

Illustration of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe approaching the Sun. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft begins study of Asteroid Bennu

 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – After an almost two-year journey, NASA’s asteroid sampling spacecraft, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), caught its first glimpse of asteroid Bennu last week and began the final approach toward its target.

Kicking off the mission’s asteroid operations campaign on August 17th, 2018 the spacecraft’s PolyCam camera obtained the image from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km).

On Aug. 17, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft obtained the first images of its target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km), or almost six times the distance between the Earth and Moon. This cropped set of five images was obtained by the PolyCam camera over the course of an hour for calibration purposes and in order to assist the mission’s navigation team with optical navigation efforts. Bennu is visible as a moving object against the stars in the constellation Serpens. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

On Aug. 17, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft obtained the first images of its target asteroid Bennu from a distance of 1.4 million miles (2.2 million km), or almost six times the distance between the Earth and Moon. This cropped set of five images was obtained by the PolyCam camera over the course of an hour for calibration purposes and in order to assist the mission’s navigation team with optical navigation efforts. Bennu is visible as a moving object against the stars in the constellation Serpens. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA looks to Manage Trash in Space

 

NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Dealing with trash is a challenge wherever people work and live, and space is no exception. Astronauts produce a couple of pounds of trash per crew member per day.

To better manage this, NASA is developing a new trash processing system to demonstrate on the International Space Station. This work is critical for potential future missions traveling farther from Earth, to the Moon and Mars, and for longer periods of time.

A potential trash management system for future, long-duration space missions, the current version of the Heat Melt Compactor, seen here in its ground configuration, has been tested extensively at NASA's Ames Research Center. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

A potential trash management system for future, long-duration space missions, the current version of the Heat Melt Compactor, seen here in its ground configuration, has been tested extensively at NASA’s Ames Research Center. (NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

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