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Topic: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Mars Odyssey Orbiter has been Mapping the Red Planet for 20 Years

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7th, 2021 making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet.

The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars' south pole in this artist's concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft passes above Mars’ south pole in this artist’s concept. The spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since October 24th, 2001. (Image credit: NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope data reveals three fastest-spinning Brown Dwarfs ever discovered

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have identified the three fastest-spinning brown dwarfs ever found. More massive than most planets but not quite heavy enough to ignite like stars, brown dwarfs are cosmic in-betweeners. And though they aren’t as well known as stars and planets to most people, they are thought to number in the billions in our galaxy.

In a study appearing in the Astronomical Journal, the team that made the new speed measurements argue that these three rapid rotators could be approaching a spin speed limit for all brown dwarfs, beyond which they would break apart.

The faster a brown dwarf spins, the narrower the different-colored atmospheric bands on it likely become, as shown in this illustration. Some brown dwarfs glow in visible light, but they are typically brightest in infrared wavelengths, which are longer than what human eyes can see. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The faster a brown dwarf spins, the narrower the different-colored atmospheric bands on it likely become, as shown in this illustration. Some brown dwarfs glow in visible light, but they are typically brightest in infrared wavelengths, which are longer than what human eyes can see. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter set to take Flight, Sunday

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is two days away from making humanity’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.

If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11th, at 12:30pm local Mars solar time (9:54pm CDT, 7:54pm PDT), hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7th, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7th, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover sends First Weather Report from Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The weather often plays a role in our daily plans. You might put on a light jacket when the forecast calls for a cool breeze or delay your travel plans because of an impending storm. NASA engineers use weather data to inform their plans, too, which is why they’re analyzing the conditions millions of miles away on Mars.

The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover first powered on for 30 minutes on February 19th, approximately one day after the rover touched down on the Red Planet. Around 8:25pm PST that same day, engineers received initial data from MEDA.

Wind sensors that are part of the MEDA instrument suite can be seen deployed from the mast of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this image taken before the rover was launched. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Wind sensors that are part of the MEDA instrument suite can be seen deployed from the mast of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this image taken before the rover was launched. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover takes photo with Ingenuity Helicopter

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (4 meters) away in this image from April 6th, 2021, the 46th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Perseverance captured the image using a camera called WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering), part of the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover. This image was taken by the WASTON camera on the rover’s robotic arm on April 6, 2021, the 46th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover. This image was taken by the WASTON camera on the rover’s robotic arm on April 6, 2021, the 46th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover Team names Mountain after Rafael Navarro-González

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The team of scientists and engineers behind NASA’s Curiosity rover named a hill along the rover’s path on Mars in honor of a recently deceased mission scientist. A craggy hump that stretches 450 feet (120 meters) tall, “Rafael Navarro Mountain” is located on Mount Sharp in northwest Gale Crater.

The inspiration for the name is award-winning scientist Rafael Navarro-González; he died on January 28th, 2021, from complications related to COVID-19 Coronavirus.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mastcam to take an image of this mountain, nicknamed “Rafael Navarro Mountain” after the astrobiologist Rafael Navarro-González, who worked on the mission until he passed away January 26th, 2021. (NASA)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mastcam to take an image of this mountain, nicknamed “Rafael Navarro Mountain” after the astrobiologist Rafael Navarro-González, who worked on the mission until he passed away January 26th, 2021. (NASA)

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter makes it through First Night on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has emerged from its first night on the surface of Mars.

Evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical components and damage the onboard batteries required for flight.

Surviving that first night after being deployed from where it was attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on April 3rd is a major milestone for the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4th, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4th, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft final assembly underway

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A major component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has been delivered to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations is now underway.

Over the next year, the spacecraft will finish assembly and undergo rigorous checkout and testing before it’s shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for an August 2022 launch to the main asteroid belt.

The Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Chassis, crafted by Maxar Technologies’ team in Palo Alto, California, is the size of a van and represents more than 80% (by mass) of the hardware that will ultimately make up the Psyche spacecraft.

In late March of 2021, a main component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was delivered to JPL, where assembly, test, and launch operations are underway. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In late March of 2021, a main component of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was delivered to JPL, where assembly, test, and launch operations are underway. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA collects data on Mars Landing from spacecraft’s heat shield

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – “Tango delta. Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.” For more than six years, the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) team waited to hear these words.

NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on February 18th, 2021, beginning its robotic exploration of the Red Planet. MEDLI2 was one of the crucial technologies on the rover’s protective aeroshell that helped document the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) of the spacecraft. All of the MEDLI2 data was stored on Perseverance for transmission to Earth after a successful landing.

The Mars 2020 spacecraft’s heat shield falls away as the aeroshell descends to Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The orange cabling seen on the shield is part of a suite of sensors and electronics called MEDLI2, which collects data during the descent that will help engineers land future spacecraft on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mars 2020 spacecraft’s heat shield falls away as the aeroshell descends to Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The orange cabling seen on the shield is part of a suite of sensors and electronics called MEDLI2, which collects data during the descent that will help engineers land future spacecraft on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Europa Clipper begins Assembly

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Europa Clipper, NASA’s upcoming flagship mission to the outer solar system, has passed a significant milestone, completing its Critical Design Review. During the review, experts examined the detailed design of the spacecraft to ensure that it is ready to complete construction.

The mission is now able to complete hardware fabrication and testing, and move toward the assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its payload of sophisticated science instruments.

NASA's Europa Clipper, depicted in this illustration that was updated in December 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Europa Clipper, depicted in this illustration that was updated in December 2020. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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