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Topic: NASA’s Johnson Space Center

NASA tests VIPER Moon Rover Instruments for Lunar Flight

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When NASA’s new Moon rover, VIPER, lands on the lunar surface to begin its hunt for water ice at the poles, it will be equipped for the job with instruments that have already been battle-tested in this harsh environment.

Prior to the launch of VIPER, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, versions of these instruments will have flown as payloads on two earlier deliveries to the Moon by commercial providers under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley assemble the Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System in preparation for its 2021 flight to the Moon. While assembling the instrument inside the NIRVSS clean room, integration engineer Amanda Cook uses ultraviolet light to inspect the four infrared detectors on the NIRVSS Longwave Calibration Sensor for cleanliness, before fastening the board into its enclosure. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Dominic Hart)

Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley assemble the Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System in preparation for its 2021 flight to the Moon. While assembling the instrument inside the NIRVSS clean room, integration engineer Amanda Cook uses ultraviolet light to inspect the four infrared detectors on the NIRVSS Longwave Calibration Sensor for cleanliness, before fastening the board into its enclosure. (NASA / Ames Research Center / Dominic Hart)

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NASA’s Landing, Recovery team tasked with Orion Spacecraft recovery

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationFlorida – For Artemis missions, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will be traveling at 25,000 mph as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere, which will slow it down to 325 mph. Parachutes will then bring it down to about 20 mph.

During the parachute deploy sequence, hardware will be jettisoned and fall into the Pacific Ocean below while the recovery ship awaits near the landing site. Keeping the ship and recovery team safe is critical to mission success.

During Underway Recovery Test-8 in March, NASA's Landing and Recovery team from Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center performs its first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I aboard the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Kenny Allen)

During Underway Recovery Test-8 in March, NASA’s Landing and Recovery team from Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center performs its first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I aboard the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean. (NASA/Kenny Allen)

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NASA’s VIPER Lunar Rover prepared to handle Moon Dust

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – NASA says that Moon dust is a formidable adversary – the grains are as fine as powder and as sharp as tiny shards of glass.

During the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon, the astronauts lamented how the dust found its way into everything, coating their spacesuits and jamming the shoulder joints, getting inside their lunar habitat and even causing symptoms of a temporary “lunar dust hay fever” in astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Those symptoms fortunately went away quickly – but the problem of Moon dust remains for future missions.

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

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NASA selects SpaceX for Gateway Logistics Services Artemis Contract

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency’s Gateway in lunar orbit. The award is a significant step forward for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human lunar presence.

At the Moon, NASA and its partners will gain the experience necessary to mount a historic human mission to Mars.

Illustration of the SpaceX Dragon XL as it is deployed from the Falcon Heavy's second stage in high Earth orbit on its way to the Gateway in lunar orbit. (SpaceX)

Illustration of the SpaceX Dragon XL as it is deployed from the Falcon Heavy’s second stage in high Earth orbit on its way to the Gateway in lunar orbit. (SpaceX)

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NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft uses parts from other aircrafts

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A time-honored tradition employed by the aerospace community for decades is continuing with the assembly of NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in California.

Perfectly acceptable components from other aircraft – some major, some minor – are finding new life as parts installed on the X-59, an experimental airplane whose mission is to help open a new era of commercial supersonic air travel over land.

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft being assembled at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in Palmdale, California. (Lockheed Martin)

NASA’s X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology aircraft being assembled at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® factory in Palmdale, California. (Lockheed Martin)

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NASA tests New Moon Rover in Lunar Operations Lab

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationCleveland, OH – An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested in the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

About the size of a golf cart, VIPER is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s South Pole looking for water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program.

NASA model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. (NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services)

NASA model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. (NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services)

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NASA dates Australian Meteor Crater, Oldest Crater Known

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says the Earth is pocked with roughly 190 major meteor craters, yet scientists only know the age of just a few. Recently, A NASA scientist analyzed the age of the Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia and found it to be 2.229 billion years old, making it now the oldest crater currently known.

“It’s 200 million years older than the previously oldest known crater, which was the over 200-kilometer Vredefort Dome crater in South Africa,” said Timmons Erickson, a research scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, or ARES, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia. (NASA)

Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia. (NASA)

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NASA’s Artemis Lunar Program moves full speed ahead

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2019, NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the agency’s Apollo 11 Moon landing, the most historic moment in space exploration, while also making significant progress toward putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis program.

Through America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, Artemis gained bipartisan support this year among members of Congress, the U.S aerospace industry, as well as with international partners, including Canada, Australia, and Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency.

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NASA’s Cold Atom Lab arrives at International Space Station

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA Astronaut Christina Koch recently gave a warm welcome to a very cool arrival to the International Space Station: a new piece of hardware for the Cold Atom Lab, an experimental physics facility that chills atoms to almost absolute zero, or minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 273 degrees Celsius). That’s colder than any known place in the universe.

The Cold Atom Lab has been up and running in the space station’s science module since July 2018 and is operated remotely from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Five groups of scientists on Earth are using the Cold Atom Lab to conduct a variety of experiments to help answer questions about how our world works at the smallest scales.

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch unloads new hardware for the Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station the week of December 9th, 2020.  (NASA)

NASA Astronaut Christina Koch unloads new hardware for the Cold Atom Lab aboard the International Space Station the week of December 9th, 2020. (NASA)

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Unopened Apollo Sample opened by NASA Ahead of Artemis Missions

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample of rock and regolith from the Apollo era has been opened. It sets the stage for scientists to practice techniques to study future samples collected on Artemis missions.

The sample, opened November 5th, in the Lunar Curation Laboratory at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, was collected on the Moon by Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt, who drove a 4-centimeter-wide tube into the surface of the Moon to collect it and another sample scheduled to be opened in January.

Pictured from left: Apollo sample processors Andrea Mosie, Charis Krysher and Juliane Gross open lunar sample 73002 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Moon rocks inside this tube have remained untouched since they were collected on the surface and brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts nearly 50 years ago. (NASA/James Blair)

Pictured from left: Apollo sample processors Andrea Mosie, Charis Krysher and Juliane Gross open lunar sample 73002 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Moon rocks inside this tube have remained untouched since they were collected on the surface and brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts nearly 50 years ago. (NASA/James Blair)

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