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NASA’s ASTERIA CubeSat to be used for Astronomy Research

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Tiny satellites called CubeSats have attracted a lot of attention in recent years. Besides allowing researchers to test new technologies, their relative simplicity also offers hands-on training to early-career engineers.

A CubeSat recently deployed from the International Space Station is a key example of their potential, experimenting with CubeSats applied to astronomy.

For the next few months, a technology demonstration called ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) will test whether a CubeSat can perform precise measurements of change in a star’s light.

A JPL CubeSat named ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 21. It will test the use of CubeSats for astronomy research. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A JPL CubeSat named ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station on November 21. It will test the use of CubeSats for astronomy research. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA designs new Rover for 2020 Mission to Mars

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In just a few years, NASA’s next Mars rover mission will be flying to the Red Planet.

At a glance, it looks a lot like its predecessor, the Curiosity Mars rover. But there’s no doubt it’s a souped-up science machine: It has seven new instruments, redesigned wheels and more autonomy. A drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples.

Then, they’ll be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission.

This artist's rendition depicts NASA's Mars 2020 rover studying a Mars rock outrcrop. The mission will not only seek out and study an area likely to have been habitable in the distant past, but it will take the next, bold step in robotic exploration of the Red Planet by seeking signs of past microbial life itself. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendition depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover studying a Mars rock outrcrop. The mission will not only seek out and study an area likely to have been habitable in the distant past, but it will take the next, bold step in robotic exploration of the Red Planet by seeking signs of past microbial life itself. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA InSight mission to carry 2.4 Million Names to Mars

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Last month, NASA invited members of the public to send their names to Mars. And the public responded loud and clear.

More than 1.6 million people signed up to have their names etched on a microchip that will be carried on NASA’s upcoming InSight mission, which launches in May of 2018.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, reopened the opportunity after it proved successful in 2015. During that open call, nearly 827,000 names were collected for a microchip that now sits on top of the robotic InSight lander.

A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being tested, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015. A second microchip will be added in 2018. (NASA/JPL Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being tested, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015. A second microchip will be added in 2018. (NASA/JPL Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover to have 23 Cameras on board

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on NASA’s first rover, Sojourner.

Since then, camera technology has taken a quantum leap. Photo sensors that were improved by the space program have become commercially ubiquitous. Cameras have shrunk in size, increased in quality and are now carried in every cellphone and laptop.

A selection of the 23 cameras on NASA's 2020 Mars rover. Many are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover, with a few new additions as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech UPDATED AT 4:15 p.m. PDT to correct the number of EDL cameras shown in the image)

A selection of the 23 cameras on NASA’s 2020 Mars rover. Many are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover, with a few new additions as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech UPDATED AT 4:15 p.m. PDT to correct the number of EDL cameras shown in the image)

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NASA’s FINDER Technology used to search for Victims of Mexico Earthquake

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Disaster relief workers on the ground in Mexico City were responding to this week’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake by using a suitcase-sized radar instrument capable of detecting human heartbeats under rubble.

This technology was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate in Washington. FINDER, which stands for Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, was developed as a collaboration between the two agencies.

An emergency responder in Mexico City carries an orange case holding a radar instrument called FINDER. This technology can detect the heartbeats of earthquake survivors buried under rubble. It was developed in a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, then licensed to private companies like SpecOps Group, Inc. (SpecOps Group, Inc)

An emergency responder in Mexico City carries an orange case holding a radar instrument called FINDER. This technology can detect the heartbeats of earthquake survivors buried under rubble. It was developed in a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, then licensed to private companies like SpecOps Group, Inc. (SpecOps Group, Inc)

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Origami inspires NASA Engineers to unique spacecraft designs

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An ancient art form has taken on new shape at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Origami, the Japanese tradition of paper-folding, has inspired a number of unique spacecraft designs here. It’s little wonder that it fascinates NASA engineers: origami can seem deceptively simple, hiding complex math within its creases.

Besides aesthetic beauty, it addresses a persistent problem faced by JPL engineers: how do you pack the greatest amount of spacecraft into the smallest volume possible?

Some examples of origami designs at JPL. Engineers are exploring this ancient art form to create folding spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Some examples of origami designs at JPL. Engineers are exploring this ancient art form to create folding spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s InSight Lander to explore interior of Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster / Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Preparation of NASA’s next spacecraft to Mars, InSight, has ramped up this summer, on course for launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California — the first interplanetary launch in history from America’s West Coast.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is assembling and testing the InSight spacecraft in a clean room facility near Denver. “Our team resumed system-level integration and test activities last month,” said Stu Spath, spacecraft program manager at Lockheed Martin. “The lander is completed and instruments have been integrated onto it so that we can complete the final spacecraft testing including acoustics, instrument deployments and thermal balance tests.”

This artist's concept from August 2015 depicts NASA's InSight Mars lander fully deployed for studying the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept from August 2015 depicts NASA’s InSight Mars lander fully deployed for studying the deep interior of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA explores concept for Venus Rover

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A good watch can take a beating and keep on ticking. With the right parts, can a rover do the same on a planet like Venus?

A concept inspired by clockwork computers and World War I tanks could one day help us find out. The design is being explored at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) is funded for study by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The program offers small grants to develop early stage technology, allowing engineers to work out their ideas.

AREE is a clockwork rover inspired by mechanical computers. A JPL team is studying how this kind of rover could explore extreme environments, like the surface of Venus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

AREE is a clockwork rover inspired by mechanical computers. A JPL team is studying how this kind of rover could explore extreme environments, like the surface of Venus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA tells you What to Expect When Viewing the Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What does a partial eclipse look like, anyway?

A new web-based tool from NASA lets anyone preview the event from any location, making it easy to see the difference between the total eclipse traversing a narrow band of the country on August 21st, 2017,  and the partial event most Americans will experience.

The Eyes on the Eclipse application allows users to simulate a view of the eclipse from any point on the planet, and can be used with any web browser:

https://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/eyes-on-eclipse.html

This illustration depicts a rare alignment of the Sun and Moon casting a shadow on Earth. (NASA)

This illustration depicts a rare alignment of the Sun and Moon casting a shadow on Earth. (NASA)

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NASA explains What Happens During a Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – It might be the hottest event of the summer: On Monday, the U.S. will see the first solar eclipse visible across both coasts in nearly a century.

The path of totality — where the view of the Sun will be totally blocked by the Moon’s shadow — will cross from Oregon to South Carolina. The event has turned small towns like Twin Falls, Idaho, and Madras, Oregon, into prime vacation destinations. NASA is hosting events in a number of these locations, as well as encouraging teachers to share science with their students.

Jim Lux, a telecommunications specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has traveled far and wide to view total eclipses in the past.

Below, he describes what makes them unique experiences.

A total solar eclipse gives scientists a rare opportunity to study the lower regions of the Sun's corona. These observations can help us understand solar activity, as well as the unexpectedly high temperatures in the corona. (S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol)

A total solar eclipse gives scientists a rare opportunity to study the lower regions of the Sun’s corona. These observations can help us understand solar activity, as well as the unexpectedly high temperatures in the corona. (S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol)

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