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Topic: NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover set to launch in One Year

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One year from today, the NASA’s Mars 2020 rover launch period begins July 17th, 2020, and extends through August 5th, 2020. The mission will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18th, 2021.

“Back when we started this project in 2013, we came up with a timeline to chart mission progress,” said John McNamee, Mars 2020 project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Engineers at JPL install a sensor-filled turret on the end of the rover's seven-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) robotic arm. The image was taken on July 11, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Engineers at JPL install a sensor-filled turret on the end of the rover’s seven-foot-long (2.1-meter-long) robotic arm. The image was taken on July 11, 2019. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA engineers make new Plan to keep Voyager 1, Voyager 2 going

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA engineers have been able to keep Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts flying for nearly 42 years, with careful planning and dashes of creativity, far longer than any other spacecraft in history.

To ensure that these vintage robots continue to return the best science data possible from the frontiers of space, mission engineers are implementing a new plan to manage them. And that involves making difficult choices, particularly about instruments and thrusters.

This artist's concept depicts one of NASA's Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Both Voyagers launched with operating CRS instruments. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept depicts one of NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, including the location of the cosmic ray subsystem (CRS) instrument. Both Voyagers launched with operating CRS instruments. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Engineers install SuperCam Mast Unit on Mars 2020 Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers have installed the SuperCam Mast Unit onto the Mars 2020 rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The instrument’s camera, laser and spectrometers can identify the chemical and mineral makeup of targets as small as a pencil point from a distance of more than 20 feet (6 meters).

SuperCam is a next-generation version of the ChemCam instrument operating on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. It has been developed jointly in the U.S., France and Spain.

In this image taken June 25th, 2019, engineers install the SuperCam instrument on Mars 2020's rover. This image was taken in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this image taken June 25th, 2019, engineers install the SuperCam instrument on Mars 2020’s rover. This image was taken in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer Space Telescopes identify Planet’s Atmosphere

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – For the first time, two NASA space telescopes have worked together to identify the detailed chemical “fingerprint” of a planet between the sizes of Earth and Neptune. No planets like this can be found in our own solar system, but they are common around other stars.

The planet, Gliese 3470 b (also known as GJ 3470 b), may be a cross between Earth and Neptune, with a large rocky core buried under a deep, crushing hydrogen-and-helium atmosphere. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses, the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune (which is more than 17 Earth masses).

This artist's illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI))

This artist’s illustration shows the theoretical internal structure of the exoplanet GJ 3470 b. It is unlike any planet found in the Solar System. Weighing in at 12.6 Earth masses the planet is more massive than Earth but less massive than Neptune. (NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI))

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NASA’s Mars 2020 mission to use autopilot to maneuver around hazards during landing

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – During the first astronaut landing on the Moon, the view of the Sea of Tranquility rising up to meet Neil Armstrong was not what Apollo 11 mission planners had intended.

They had hoped to send the lunar module Eagle toward a relatively flat landing zone with few craters, rocks and boulders. Instead, peering through his small, triangular commander’s window, Armstrong saw a boulder field – very unfriendly for a lunar module.

So the Apollo 11 commander took control of the descent from the onboard computer, piloting Eagle well beyond the boulder field, to a landing site that will forever be known as Tranquility Base.

NASA's Mars 2020 mission will have an autopilot that helps guide it to safer landings on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will have an autopilot that helps guide it to safer landings on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s InSight Lander’s heat sensing spike revealed

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s InSight lander’s heat-sensing spike deployed on the Martian surface is now visible. Last week, the spacecraft’s robotic arm successfully removed the support structure of the mole, which has been unable to dig, and placed it to the side. Getting the structure out of the way gives the mission team a view of the mole – and maybe a way to help it dig.

“We’ve completed the first step in our plan to save the mole,” said Troy Hudson of a scientist and engineer with the InSight mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

On June 28, 2019, NASA's InSight lander used its robotic arm to move the support structure for its digging instrument, informally called the "mole." This view was captured by the fisheye Instrument Context Camera under the lander's deck. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On June 28, 2019, NASA’s InSight lander used its robotic arm to move the support structure for its digging instrument, informally called the “mole.” This view was captured by the fisheye Instrument Context Camera under the lander’s deck. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA installs Long Robotic Arm on Mars 2020 Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA engineers install the main robotic arm on the Mars 2020 rover on June 21st, 2019, (A smaller arm to handle Mars samples will be installed inside the rover as well) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The main arm includes five electrical motors and five joints (known as the shoulder azimuth joint, shoulder elevation joint, elbow joint, wrist joint and turret joint). Measuring 7 feet (2.1 meters) long, the arm will allow the rover to work as a human geologist would: by holding and using science tools with its turret, which is essentially its “hand.”

On June 21st, 2019, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory install the main robotic arm on the Mars 2020 rover. Measuring 7 feet (2.1 meters) long, the arm will allow the rover to work as a human geologist would: by holding and using science tools with its turret. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On June 21st, 2019, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory install the main robotic arm on the Mars 2020 rover. Measuring 7 feet (2.1 meters) long, the arm will allow the rover to work as a human geologist would: by holding and using science tools with its turret. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Tech Missions headed to Space aboard SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA technology demonstrations have launched into space on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket. These missions will look at the space environment around Earth and how it affects us. This could one day could help NASA astronauts to Mars, and science missions, 

The NASA missions – including the Deep Space Atomic Clock and two instruments from NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California – lifted off at 11:30pm PDT (1:30am CDT) Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) launch.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for launch on the pad at Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 24, 2019. SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch two dozen satellites to space, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program-2, managed by the U.S. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for launch on the pad at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 24, 2019. SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch two dozen satellites to space, including four NASA payloads that are part of the Space Test Program-2, managed by the U.S. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)

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NASA Engineers install Legs, Wheels on Mars 2020 Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, install the starboard legs and wheels, otherwise known as the mobility suspension, on the Mars 2020 rover on June 13th, 2019. They installed the port suspension later that day.

“Now that’s a Mars rover,” said David Gruel, the Mars 2020 assembly, test, and launch operations manager at JPL. “With the suspension on, not only does it look like a rover, but we have almost all our big-ticket items for integration in our rearview mirror – if our rover had one.”

In this image, taken on June 13th, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels - otherwise known as the mobility suspension - on the Mars 2020 rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this image, taken on June 13th, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels – otherwise known as the mobility suspension – on the Mars 2020 rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA selects Three Finalists for Future Small Satellites

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Three finalists have been selected by NASA from among a dozen concepts for future small satellites.

The finalists include a 2022 robotic mission to study two asteroid systems, twin spacecraft to study the effects of energetic particles around Mars, and a lunar orbiter managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to study water on the Moon.

One of three finalists selected by NASA for future small satellites, Lunar Trailblazer will detect and map water on the lunar surface to study how its form, abundance and location relate to geology. The principal investigator is Caltech's Bethany Ehlmann. JPL will provide project management. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

One of three finalists selected by NASA for future small satellites, Lunar Trailblazer will detect and map water on the lunar surface to study how its form, abundance and location relate to geology. The principal investigator is Caltech’s Bethany Ehlmann. JPL will provide project management. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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