Topic: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s LRO and MESSENGER spacecraft data reveals Earth’s Moon and Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, may contain significantly more water ice than previously thought.
The potential ice deposits are found in craters near the poles of both worlds. On the Moon, “We found shallow craters tend to be located in areas where surface ice was previously detected near the south pole of the Moon, and inferred this shallowing is most likely due to the presence of buried thick ice deposits,” said lead author Lior Rubanenko of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s first mission to demonstrate a planetary defense technique, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will get one chance to hit its target, the small moonlet in the binary asteroid system Didymos.
The asteroid poses no threat to Earth and is an ideal test target: measuring the change in how the smaller asteroid orbits about the larger asteroid in a binary system is much easier than observing the change in a single asteroid’s orbit around the Sun.
Washington, D.C. – An evocative new image sequence from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft offers a departing view of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) nicknamed Ultima Thule – the target of its New Year’s 2019 flyby and the most distant world ever explored.
These aren’t the last Ultima Thule images New Horizons will send back to Earth – in fact, many more are to come — but they are the final views New Horizons captured of the KBO (officially named 2014 MU69) as it raced away at over 31,000 miles per hour (50,000 kilometers per hour) on January 1st. The images were taken nearly 10 minutes after New Horizons crossed its closest approach point.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL – Scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission released the first detailed images of the most distant object ever explored — the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule. Its remarkable appearance, unlike anything we’ve seen before, illuminates the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.
“This flyby is a historic achievement,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Never before has any spacecraft team tracked down such a small body at such high speed so far away in the abyss of space. New Horizons has set a new bar for state-of-the-art spacecraft navigation.”
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Ultima Thule in the early hours of New Year’s Day, ushering in the era of exploration from the enigmatic Kuiper Belt, a region of primordial objects that holds keys to understanding the origins of the solar system.
“Congratulations to NASA’s New Horizons team, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute for making history yet again,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – The NASA Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the Sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft passed the current record of 26.55 million miles from the Sun’s surface on October 29th, 2018, at about 12:04pm CEDT, as calculated by the Parker Solar Probe team.
The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976. As the NASA Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles from the Sun’s surface expected in 2024.
NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft captured photos of Saturn’s moon Titan’s Northern Lakes and Seas before missions end
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – During NASA’s Cassini mission’s final distant encounter with Saturn’s giant moon Titan, the spacecraft captured the enigmatic moon’s north polar landscape of lakes and seas, which are filled with liquid methane and ethane.
They were captured on September 11th, 2017. Four days later, Cassini was deliberately plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.
Punga Mare (240 miles, or 390 kilometers, across) is seen just above the center of the mosaic, with Ligeia Mare (300 miles, or 500 kilometers, wide) below center and the vast Kraken Mare stretching off 730 miles (1,200 kilometers) to the left of the mosaic.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – The navigation for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which also has a role in two of the spacecraft’s four onboard instrument suites. Parker Solar Probe will fly closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft and through the solar corona itself.
One instrument, called the Energetic Particle Instrument-Hi (EPI-Hi), will investigate the mysteries of high-speed solar particles that hurtle toward Earth at close to the speed of light. Observations by the Parker Solar Probe will lead to better predictions of space weather and address fundamental mysteries about the Sun’s dynamic corona. EPI-Hi is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun, led by Principal Investigator David McComas of Princeton University in New Jersey.
Written by Susannah Darling
Washington, D.C. – One key to understanding what keeps the spacecraft and its instruments safe, is understanding the concept of heat versus temperature. Counterintuitively, high temperatures do not always translate to actually heating another object.
In space, the temperature can be thousands of degrees without providing significant heat to a given object or feeling hot. Why? Temperature measures how fast particles are moving, whereas heat measures the total amount of energy that they transfer. Particles may be moving fast (high temperature), but if there are very few of them, they won’t transfer much energy (low heat).
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Sun, scheduled for July 31st, 2018.
In the middle of the night on April 2nd, the spacecraft was driven from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to nearby Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. From there, it was flown by the United States Air Force’s 436th Airlift Wing to Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida, where it arrived at 9:40am CDT. It was then transported a short distance to Astrotech Space Operations, also in Titusville, where it will continue testing, and eventually undergo final assembly and mating to the third stage of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.
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