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NASA OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft prepares for Touch-And-Go mission to asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A historic moment is on the horizon for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. In just a few weeks, the robotic OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will descend to asteroid Bennu’s boulder-strewn surface, touch down for a few seconds and collect a sample of the asteroid’s rocks and dust – marking the first time NASA has grabbed pieces of an asteroid, which will be returned to Earth for study.

On October 20th, 2020 the mission will perform the first attempt of its Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event. This series of maneuvers will bring the spacecraft down to site Nightingale, a rocky area 52 ft (16 m) in diameter in Bennu’s northern hemisphere, where the spacecraft’s robotic sampling arm will attempt to collect a sample.

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA says Small Sized Asteroid will safely fly past Earth

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, 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.

This illustration shows a near-Earth asteroid like asteroid 2020 SW traveling through space. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows a near-Earth asteroid like asteroid 2020 SW traveling through space. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Study shows Emissions Could Add 15 Inches to 2100 Sea Level Rise

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100.

If greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate.

Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen here, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. (Jeremy Harbeck/NASA)

Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen here, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. (Jeremy Harbeck/NASA)

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NASA may have discovered a Planet orbiting a White Dwarf

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – An international team of astronomers using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope has reported what may be the first intact planet found closely orbiting a white dwarf, the dense leftover of a Sun-like star, only 40% larger than Earth.

The Jupiter-size object, called WD 1856 b, is about seven times larger than the white dwarf, named WD 1856+534. It circles this stellar cinder every 34 hours, more than 60 times faster than Mercury orbits our Sun.

WD 1856 b, a potential planet the size of Jupiter, orbits its dim white dwarf star every 36 hours and is about seven times larger. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

WD 1856 b, a potential planet the size of Jupiter, orbits its dim white dwarf star every 36 hours and is about seven times larger. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA brings out Mars Perseverance Rover’s Twin on Earth to simulate Mission Operations

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance hurtles through space toward the Red Planet, the six-wheeler’s twin is ready to roll here on Earth.

A full-scale engineering version of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover – outfitted with wheels, cameras, and powerful computers to help it drive autonomously – has just moved into its garage home at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Technicians move an engineering version of the Perseverance Mars rover into to its new home in the Mars Yard, part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Technicians move an engineering version of the Perseverance Mars rover into to its new home in the Mars Yard, part of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA says Sea Level Mission to collect data on Earth’s Oceans, Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When a satellite by the name of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launches this November, its primary focus will be to monitor sea level rise with extreme precision. But an instrument aboard the spacecraft will also provide atmospheric data that will improve weather forecasts, track hurricanes, and bolster climate models.

“Our fundamental goal with Sentinel-6 is to measure the oceans, but the more value we can add, the better,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “It’s not every day that we get to launch a satellite, so collecting more useful data about our oceans and atmosphere is a bonus.”

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft undergoes tests at its manufacturer Airbus in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in 2019. The white GNSS-RO instrument can be seen attached to the upper left portion of the front of the spacecraft. (Airbus)

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft undergoes tests at its manufacturer Airbus in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in 2019. The white GNSS-RO instrument can be seen attached to the upper left portion of the front of the spacecraft. (Airbus)

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NASA projects examine COVID-19 and it’s effects on the Environment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – While scientists around the world are confined to their homes during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Earth observing satellites continue to orbit and send back images that reveal connections between the pandemic and the environment. “Satellites collect data all the time and don’t require us to go out anywhere,” Hannah Kerner, an assistant research professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, said.

Kerner is among eight researchers recently awarded a rapid-turnaround project grant, which supports investigators as they explore how COVID-19 Coronavirus lockdown measures are impacting the environment and how the environment can affect how the virus is spread.

Small, blocky shapes of towns, fields, and pastures surround the meandering Mississippi River, the largest river system in North America in this Landsat image. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/USGS)

Small, blocky shapes of towns, fields, and pastures surround the meandering Mississippi River, the largest river system in North America in this Landsat image. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/USGS)

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NASA reports Small Asteroid makes closest flyby of Earth on Record

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, August 15th at 11:08pm CT (Saturday, August 15th at 9:08pm PDT).

At roughly 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) across, asteroid 2020 QG is very small by asteroid standards: If it had actually been on an impact trajectory, it would likely have become a fireball as it broke up in Earth’s atmosphere, which happens several times a year.

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG's trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft completes Second Rehearsal, Ready to make Sample Collection

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Yesterday, the NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed its final practice run of the sampling sequence, reaching an approximate altitude of 131 feet (40 meters) over sample site Nightingale before executing a back-away burn. Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site, is located within a crater in Bennu’s northern hemisphere.

The approximately four-hour “Matchpoint” rehearsal took the spacecraft through the first three of the sampling sequence’s four maneuvers: the orbit departure burn, the “Checkpoint” burn and the Matchpoint burn.

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NASA reflects Laser Beams to Moon and Back

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Dozens of times over the last decade NASA scientists have launched laser beams at a reflector the size of a paperback novel about 240,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away from Earth. They announced today, in collaboration with their French colleagues, that they received signal back for the first time, an encouraging result that could enhance laser experiments used to study the physics of the universe.

The reflector NASA scientists aimed for is mounted on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a spacecraft that has been studying the Moon from its orbit since 2009.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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