Pasadena, CA – NASA has big plans for returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024, a stepping stone on the path to sending humans to Mars. But where should the first people on the Red Planet land?
A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters will help by providing a map of water ice believed to be as little as an inch (2.5 centimeters) below the surface.
Water ice will be a key consideration for any potential landing site. With little room to spare aboard a spacecraft, any human missions to Mars will have to harvest what’s already available for drinking water and making rocket fuel.
Pasadena, CA – Curiosity won’t be NASA’s only active Mars rover for much longer. Next summer, Mars 2020 will be headed for the Red Planet.
While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity’s design, they aren’t twins: Built and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life.
Here’s a closer look at what sets the siblings apart.
Huntsville, AL – Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on Thursday, December 5th, 2019 deliberately pushed the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits to really understand its breaking point.
The test version of the Space Launch System rocket’s liquid hydrogen tank withstood more than 260% of expected flight loads over five hours before engineers detected a buckling point, which then ruptured. Engineers concluded the test at approximately 11:00pm.
Pasadena, CA – NASA says the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flows in a loop around Antarctica, connecting the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. It is one of the most significant ocean currents in our climate system because it facilitates the exchange of heat and other properties among the oceans it links.
But how the current transfers heat, particularly vertically from the top layer of the ocean to the bottom layers and vice versa, is still not fully understood. This current is very turbulent, producing eddies – swirling vortices of water similar to storms in the atmosphere – between 30 to 125 miles (50 to 200 kilometers) in diameter.
Huntsville, AL – Engineers are preparing to push a test article identical to the world’s largest rocket fuel tank beyond its design limits and find its breaking point during upcoming tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Earlier this year, a NASA and Boeing test team subjected a test version of the Space Launch System (SLS) liquid hydrogen tank to a series of 37 tests that simulate liftoff and flight stresses by using large hydraulic pistons to push and pull on the test tank with millions of pounds of force.
SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft launched Thursday heading to International Space Station with NASA Science Equipment
Pasadena, CA – A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 11:29am CST Thursday, (December 5th, 2019. Dragon will deliver more than 5,700 pounds of NASA cargo and science investigations, including studies of malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire, and bone and muscle loss.
The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost on Sunday, December 8th. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at the space station will begin at 3:30am CST on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Pasadena, CA – Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.
The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft’s navigation cameras taken on January 6th, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu.
Greenbelt, MD – In August 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.
On December 4th, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.
Greenbelt, MD – Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.
RiTS is set to launch on December 4th, 2019 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. Its first residents will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect leaks from the station.
Greenbelt, MD – Could the same computer algorithms that teach autonomous cars to drive safely help identify nearby asteroids or discover life in the universe? NASA scientists are trying to figure that out by partnering with pioneers in artificial intelligence (AI) — companies such as Intel, IBM and Google — to apply advanced computer algorithms to problems in space science.
Machine learning is a type of AI. It describes the most widely used algorithms and other tools that allow computers to learn from data in order to make predictions and categorize objects much faster and more accurately than a human being can.
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