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Topic: Journey to Mars

NASA looks back at 60 Years of Space Science

 

Written by Samson Reiny
​NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On the evening of Friday, January 31st, 1958, Americans eagerly waited for news as the rocket carrying the Explorer 1 satellite was prepped for launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The stakes were high.

Just months earlier, the Soviet Union successfully launched two Sputnik satellites, in October and November 1957. That December, news media were invited to witness the launch of a U.S. satellite on a Navy Vanguard rocket, but it exploded seconds after liftoff. The pressure was on the Army Ballistic Missile Agency’s Jupiter-C rocket, the satellite built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the science instruments developed at the University of Iowa to succeed.

After two days of weather delays, on Jan. 31st, 1958, at 9:48pm CST, the Jupiter-C rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, successfully into orbit. University of Iowa physicist James Van Allen’s instrument for measuring cosmic rays, a Geiger counter, helped make the first major scientific find of the Space Age: a belt of radiation around Earth that would later be named in his honor. (NASA)

After two days of weather delays, on Jan. 31st, 1958, at 9:48pm CST, the Jupiter-C rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, successfully into orbit. University of Iowa physicist James Van Allen’s instrument for measuring cosmic rays, a Geiger counter, helped make the first major scientific find of the Space Age: a belt of radiation around Earth that would later be named in his honor. (NASA)

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NASA takes first steps to Journey to Mars with study of Human Body in Space

 

Written by Laurie Abadie / Amanda vonDeak
NASA Human Research Strategic Communications

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPalmdale, CA – Before we can run or jump, we walk. Before sending humans to Mars, NASA must understand how the human body is affected by living and working in space. Typical missions to the International Space Station last six months. A round-trip mission to Mars could last three years.  

Do the effects of being in space change over time? NASA is asking the scientific community to propose research that will help bridge the gap in our knowledge regarding long-term experiences in space.

NASA is taking the first steps on its Journey to Mars. Artist’s concept, looking toward Mars. (NASA)

NASA is taking the first steps on its Journey to Mars. Artist’s concept, looking toward Mars. (NASA)

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NASA to do feasibility study on manning Orion Spacecraft’s first flight

 

Written by Cheryl Warner
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is assessing the feasibility of adding a crew to the first integrated flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). NASA is building new deep space capabilities to take humans farther into the solar system than we have ever traveled, and ultimately to Mars.

Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced February 15th that he had asked William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, to conduct the study, and it is now underway. NASA expects it to be completed in early spring.

NASA Continues Progress to Send Humans to Deep Space. Pictured is NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (NASA)

NASA Continues Progress to Send Humans to Deep Space. Pictured is NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity’s latest data adds to puzzle of liquid water on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mars scientists are wrestling with a problem. Ample evidence says ancient Mars was sometimes wet, with water flowing and pooling on the planet’s surface. Yet, the ancient sun was about one-third less warm and climate modelers struggle to produce scenarios that get the surface of Mars warm enough for keeping water unfrozen.

A leading theory is to have a thicker carbon-dioxide atmosphere forming a greenhouse-gas blanket, helping to warm the surface of ancient Mars. However, according to a new analysis of data from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, Mars had far too little carbon dioxide about 3.5 billion years ago to provide enough greenhouse-effect warming to thaw water ice.

Bedrock at this site added to a puzzle about ancient Mars by indicating that a lake was present, but that little carbon dioxide was in the air to help keep a lake unfrozen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Bedrock at this site added to a puzzle about ancient Mars by indicating that a lake was present, but that little carbon dioxide was in the air to help keep a lake unfrozen. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA to test Space Launch System’s Largest Fuel Tank

 

Written by Tracy McMahan
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – Major construction is complete on NASA’s largest new Space Launch System structural test stand, and engineers are now installing equipment needed to test the rocket’s biggest fuel tank.

The stand is critical for ensuring SLS’s liquid hydrogen tank can withstand the extreme forces of launch and ascent on its first flight, and later on the second flight, which will carry up to four astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on a journey around the moon, into the deep-space proving ground for the technology needed for the journey to Mars.

Robert Bobo, left, and Mike Nichols talk beneath the 221-foot-tall Test Stand 4693, the largest of two new Space Launch System test stands at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Bobo manages SLS structural strength testing, and Nichols is lead test engineer for the SLS liquid hydrogen tank, which the stand will subject to the forces it must endure during launch and flight. (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

Robert Bobo, left, and Mike Nichols talk beneath the 221-foot-tall Test Stand 4693, the largest of two new Space Launch System test stands at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Bobo manages SLS structural strength testing, and Nichols is lead test engineer for the SLS liquid hydrogen tank, which the stand will subject to the forces it must endure during launch and flight. (NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given)

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NASA advances Exploration Objectives in 2016

 

Written by Bob Jacobs / Allard Beutel
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2016, NASA drove advances in technology, science, aeronautics and space exploration that enhanced the world’s knowledge, innovation, and stewardship of Earth.

“This past year marked record-breaking progress in our exploration objectives,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We advanced the capabilities we’ll need to travel farther into the solar system while increasing observations of our home and the universe, learning more about how to continuously live and work in space, and, of course, inspiring the next generation of leaders to take up our Journey to Mars and make their own discoveries.”

This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This illustration depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter, with its solar arrays and main antenna pointed toward the distant sun and Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Journey to Mars builds ground work for missions beyond our Solar System

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Humanity’s great leap into the space between the stars has, in a sense, already begun. NASA’s Voyager 1 probe broke through the sun’s magnetic bubble to touch the interstellar wind. Voyager 2 isn’t far behind. New Horizons shot past Pluto on its way to encounters with more distant dwarf worlds, the rubble at the solar system’s edge.

Closer to home, we’re working on techniques to help us cross greater distances. Astronauts feast on romaine lettuce grown aboard the International Space Station, perhaps a preview of future banquets en route to Mars, or to deep space.

A selfie taken by Curiosity the Mars rover in the Murray Buttes area. NASA’s Journey to Mars, a plan aimed at building on robotic missions to send humans to the red planet, could be helping lay the groundwork. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A selfie taken by Curiosity the Mars rover in the Murray Buttes area. NASA’s Journey to Mars, a plan aimed at building on robotic missions to send humans to the red planet, could be helping lay the groundwork. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Space Launch System rocket’s upper stage engine packs a punch

 

Written by Kim Henry
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – The thundering roar of a rocket leaving the launch pad is a familiar sight. Much less familiar is the job of the smaller upper stage engines that do their job mostly beyond eye and camera range, but give spacecraft the big, in-space push they need to venture into deep space.

NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will rely on a proven upper stage engine – the RL10 – for its first mission with the agency’s Orion spacecraft in late 2018. The SLS Block 1 rocket will use one RL10B-2 engine, the same engine currently used by the Delta IV rocket, as a part of the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS).

An expanded view of the Block IB configuration of NASA's Space Launch System rocket, including the four RL10 engines. (NASA)

An expanded view of the Block IB configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, including the four RL10 engines. (NASA)

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NASA’s Opportunity Rover to examine Gully on Mars that may have been created by Water

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover will drive down a gully carved long ago by a fluid that might have been water, according to the latest plans for the 12-year-old mission. No Mars rover has done that before.

The longest-active rover on Mars also will, for the first time, visit the interior of the crater it has worked beside for the last five years. These activities are part of a two-year extended mission that began October 1st, the newest in a series of extensions going back to the end of Opportunity’s prime mission in April 2004.

Opportunity launched on July 7th, 2003 and landed on Mars on January 24th, 2004 (PST), on a planned mission of 90 Martian days, which is equivalent to 92.4 Earth days.

This scene from NASA's Mars rover Opportunity shows "Wharton Ridge," which forms part of the southern wall of "Marathon Valley" on the rim of Endeavour Crater. The ridge's name honors the memory of astrobiologist Robert A. Wharton (1951-2012). The scene is presented in approximately true color. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

This scene from NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity shows “Wharton Ridge,” which forms part of the southern wall of “Marathon Valley” on the rim of Endeavour Crater. The ridge’s name honors the memory of astrobiologist Robert A. Wharton (1951-2012). The scene is presented in approximately true color. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover starts Two Year Mission Extension

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After collecting drilled rock powder in arguably the most scenic landscape yet visited by a Mars rover, NASA’s Curiosity mobile laboratory is driving toward uphill destinations as part of its two-year mission extension that commenced October 1st.

The destinations include a ridge capped with material rich in the iron-oxide mineral hematite, about a mile-and-a-half (two-and-a-half kilometers) ahead, and an exposure of clay-rich bedrock beyond that.

This September 2016 self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Quela" drilling location in the scenic "Murray Buttes" area on lower Mount Sharp. The panorama was stitched together from multiple images taken by the MAHLI camera at the end of the rover's arm. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This September 2016 self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the “Quela” drilling location in the scenic “Murray Buttes” area on lower Mount Sharp. The panorama was stitched together from multiple images taken by the MAHLI camera at the end of the rover’s arm. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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