Washington, D.C. – Successful space and suborbital technology developments require ingenuity, understanding of mission and science needs, and testing. For many technologies matured with support from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, the ability to undergo testing multiple times – and often on different types of commercial flight vehicles – adds the necessary rigor and refinement to advance these innovations.
Evolved versions of two NASA-supported technologies that have flown previously through Flight Opportunities will be put to the test on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility data confirms 2020 SO to Be Upper Centaur Rocket Booster from 1960’s
Washington, D.C. – Using data collected at NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) and orbit analysis from the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, scientists have confirmed that Near-Earth Object (NEO) 2020 SO is, in fact, a 1960’s-Era Centaur rocket booster.
The object, discovered in September by astronomers searching for near-Earth asteroids from the NASA-funded Pan-STARRS1 survey telescope on Maui, garnered interest in the planetary science community due to its size and unusual orbit and was studied by observatories around the world.
Pasadena, CA – A small near-Earth asteroid (or NEA) will briefly visit Earth’s neighborhood on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 zooming past at a distance of about 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above our planet’s surface. The asteroid will make its close approach below the ring of geostationary satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) away from Earth.
Based on its brightness, scientists estimate that 2020 SW is roughly 15 to 30 feet (5 to 10 meters) wide – or about the size of a small school bus.
Pasadena, CA – NASA says a comet visiting from the most distant parts of our solar system is putting on a spectacular nighttime display. Named Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, the comet made its once-in-our-lifetimes close approach to the Sun on July 3rd, 2020, and will cross outside Earth’s orbit on its way back to the outer parts of the solar system by mid-August.
The comet cruised just inside Mercury’s orbit on July 3rd. This very close passage by the Sun is cooking the comet’s outermost layers, causing gas and dust to erupt off the icy surface and creating a large tail of debris. And yet the comet has managed to survive this intense roasting.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover occasionally stops to stargaze. Recently, it captured a shot of Earth and Venus in the Red Planet’s night sky.
Curiosity aimed its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, at the heavens about 75 minutes after sunset on June 5th, 2020, the 2,784th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. A two-image twilight panorama reveals Earth in one frame and Venus in the other.
Both planets appear as mere pinpoints of light, owing to a combination of distance and dust in the air; they would normally look like very bright stars.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures image of California Nebula Stars just before being Decommissioned
Pasadena, CA – Five days before NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope ended its mission on January 30th, 2020, scientists used the spacecraft’s infrared camera to take multiple images of a region known as the California Nebula – a fitting target considering the mission’s management and science operations were both based in Southern California at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech.
This mosaic is made from those images. It is the final mosaic image taken by Spitzer and one of hundreds the spacecraft captured throughout its lifetime.
Washington, D.C. – Across NASA’s many missions, thousands of scientists, engineers, and other experts and professionals all over the country are doing what they do best, but now from home offices and via video conferencing.
With most personnel supporting missions remotely to keep onsite staff at a minimal level in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Agency is moving ahead strongly with everything from space exploration to using our technology and innovation to help inform policy makers.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope’s mission has come to an end after more than 16 years studying the universe in infrared light, revealing new wonders in our solar system, our galaxy and beyond.
Mission engineers confirmed at about 2:30pm PT (4:30pm CT) Thursday the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all science operations. After the decommissioning was confirmed, Spitzer Project Manager Joseph Hunt declared the mission had officially ended.
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.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by ESA (the European Space Agency) that included NASA contributions, successfully demonstrated technologies needed to build a future space-based gravitational wave observatory, a tool for detecting ripples in space-time produced by, among other things, merging black holes.
A team of NASA scientists leveraged LISA Pathfinder’s record-setting sensitivity for a different purpose much closer to home — mapping microscopic dust shed by comets and asteroids.
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