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Topic: Orbit

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft one year away from reaching the dwarf planet, Pluto

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In July 2015, NASA will discover a new world. No one knows what to expect when the alien landscape comes into focus. There could be icy geysers, towering mountains, deep valleys, even planetary rings.

At this point, only one thing is certain: Its name is Pluto.

On July 14th, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will make a close flyby of that distant world.

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NASA’s prepares for Next Giant Leap, Mars and Beyond

 

NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The first humans who will step foot on Mars are walking the Earth today. It was 45 years ago that Neil Armstrong took the small step onto the surface of the moon that changed the course of history. The years that followed saw a Space Age of scientific, technological and human research, on which we have built the modern era.

We stand on a new horizon, poised to take the next giant leap—deeper into the solar system. The Apollo missions blazed a path for human exploration to the moon and today we are extending that path to near-Earth asteroids, Mars and beyond.

Artist's concept image of a boot print on the moon and on Mars. (NASA)

Artist’s concept image of a boot print on the moon and on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover drives out of area mapped as safe for it’s 2012 Landing

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA Mars rover Curiosity has driven out of the ellipse, approximately 4 miles wide and 12 miles long (7 kilometers by 20 kilometers), that was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the rover on June 27th at the end of a drive that put Curiosity right on the ellipse boundary.

This June 27, 2014, image from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on the rover's landing-ellipse boundary, which is superimposed on the image. The 12-mile-wide ellipse was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This June 27, 2014, image from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on the rover’s landing-ellipse boundary, which is superimposed on the image. The 12-mile-wide ellipse was mapped as safe terrain for its 2012 landing inside Gale Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA to send Fruit Fly Lab to International Space Station

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Fruit flies are bug eyed and spindly, they love rotten bananas, and, following orders from their pin-sized brains, they can lay hundreds of eggs every day.

We have a lot in common.

Genetically speaking, people and fruit flies are surprisingly alike, explains biologist Sharmila Bhattacharya of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “About 77% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, and 50% of fly protein sequences have mammalian analogues.”

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NASA reports discovery of Icy Planet in Binary Star System

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A newly discovered planet in a binary, or twin, star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers’ notions of where Earth-like — and even potentially habitable — planets can form, and how to find them.

At twice the mass of Earth, the planet orbits one of the stars in the binary system at almost exactly the same distance at which Earth orbits the sun. However, because the planet’s host star is much dimmer than the sun, the planet is much colder than Earth — a little colder, in fact, than Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

This artist's rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers' notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

This artist’s rendering shows a newly discovered planet (far right) orbiting one star (right) of a binary star system. The discovery, made by a collaboration of international research teams and led by researchers at The Ohio State University, expands astronomers’ notions of where to look for planets in our galaxy. The research was funded in part by NASA. (Cheongho Han, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea)

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NASA successfully launches Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT) Wednesday.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket’s second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit.

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NASA reports Rosetta spacecraft detects water vapor coming from target Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is releasing the Earthly equivalent of two glasses of water into space every second. The observations were made by the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter (MIRO), aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft on June 6th, 2014.

The detection of water vapor has implications not only for cometary science, but also for mission planning, as the Rosetta team prepares the spacecraft to become the first ever to orbit a comet (planned for August), and the first to deploy a lander to its surface (planned for November 11th).

This artist's impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

This artist’s impression shows the Rosetta orbiter at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The image is not to scale. (ESA/ATG Medialab)

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NASA set to launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 this morning July 1st, 2014

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California tomorrow, July 1st, at 2:56am PDT (6:56am CDT).

OCO-2 — the first dedicated NASA mission to monitor atmospheric carbon dioxide on global scales — has only a 30-second launch window each day. The launch window is short because the spacecraft needs to be precisely aligned within a series of Earth-observing satellites known as the “A-Train.”

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 gets ready for launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. The spacecraft is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, which will boost it to an orbit around Earth. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA study reveals the moon Titan may have formed earlier than it’s host, Saturn

 

Written by Preston Dyches and Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A combined NASA and European Space Agency (ESA)-funded study has found firm evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan originated in conditions similar to the cold birthplace of the most ancient comets from the Oort cloud.

The finding rules out the possibility that Titan’s building blocks formed within the warm disk of material thought to have surrounded the infant planet Saturn during its formation.

New research on the nitrogen in Titan's atmosphere indicates that the moon's raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn began its formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

New research on the nitrogen in Titan’s atmosphere indicates that the moon’s raw materials might have been locked up in ices that condensed before Saturn began its formation. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

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NASA’s Johnson Space Center has Astronauts Test Tools Underwater for Asteroid Mission

 

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHouston, TX – NASA is planning to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s, and preparations are already being made.

Stan Love and Steve Bowen have between them spent more than 62 hours in the vacuum of space on nine shuttle mission spacewalks, and they’re putting that experience to use here on Earth by helping engineers determine what astronauts will need on NASA’s next step toward Deep Space.

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

Steve Bowen is lowered into the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to test spacewalk suits and tools for a mission to an asteroid. (NASA)

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