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Topic: Orbit

Rocket Lab gets NASA Contract to Launch CubeSat to Moon from Virginia

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, California, to provide launch services for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat.

Rocket Lab, a commercial launch provider licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, will launch the 55-pound CubeSat aboard an Electron rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After launch, the company’s Photon platform will deliver CAPSTONE to a trans-lunar injection.

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft data reveals Critical Information about Planetary Formation

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Data from NASA’s New Horizons mission are providing new insights into how planets and planetesimals – the building blocks of the planets – were formed. 

The New Horizons spacecraft flew past the ancient Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth (2014 MU69) on January 1st, 2019, providing humankind’s first close-up look at one of the icy remnants of solar system formation in the vast region beyond the orbit of Neptune.

The uniform color and composition of Arrokoth’s surface shows the Kuiper Belt object formed from a small, uniform, cloud of material in the solar nebula, rather than a mishmash of matter from more separated parts of the nebula. The former supports the idea that Arrokoth formed in a local collapse of a cloud in the solar nebula. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

The uniform color and composition of Arrokoth’s surface shows the Kuiper Belt object formed from a small, uniform, cloud of material in the solar nebula, rather than a mishmash of matter from more separated parts of the nebula. The former supports the idea that Arrokoth formed in a local collapse of a cloud in the solar nebula. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Roman Tkachenko)

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NASA explains how Solar Orbiter withstands Heat from the Sun

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDWhen Solar Orbiter launches on its journey to the Sun, there’s one key piece of engineering making this ESA-NASA mission possible: the heat shield.

Seeking a view of the Sun’s north and south poles, Solar Orbiter will journey out of the ecliptic plane — the belt of space, roughly in line with the Sun’s equator, through which the planets orbit. Slinging repeatedly past Venus in order to draw near the Sun and climb higher above the ecliptic, the spacecraft bounds from the Sun and back toward the orbit of Earth throughout its mission.

An image of Solar Orbiter peering at the Sun through peepholes in its heat shield. (ESA/ATG medialab)

An image of Solar Orbiter peering at the Sun through peepholes in its heat shield. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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NASA, ESA Solar Orbiter to examine the Sun’s Poles

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says a new spacecraft is journeying to the Sun to snap the first pictures of the Sun’s north and south poles.

Solar Orbiter, a collaboration between the European Space Agency, or ESA, and NASA, will have its first opportunity to launch from Cape Canaveral on February 7th, 2020, at 10:15pm CST.

Launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft will use Venus’s and Earth’s gravity to swing itself out of the ecliptic plane — the swath of space, roughly aligned with the Sun’s equator, where all planets orbit.

An image of Solar Orbiter peering at the Sun through peepholes in its heat shield. (ESA/ATG medialab)

An image of Solar Orbiter peering at the Sun through peepholes in its heat shield. (ESA/ATG medialab)

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft makes closest flyover of landing site Nightingale on asteroid Bennu

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Preliminary results indicate that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully executed a 0.4-mile (620-m) flyover of site Nightingale yesterday as part of the mission’s Reconnaissance B phase activities. Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx’s primary sample collection site, is located within a crater high in asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere.

To perform the pass, the spacecraft left its 0.75-mile (1.2-km) safe home orbit and flew an almost 11-hour transit over the asteroid, aiming its science instruments toward the 52-ft (16-m) wide sample site before returning to orbit.

During the OSIRIS-REx Reconnaissance B flyover of primary sample collection site Nightingale, the spacecraft left its safe-home orbit to pass over the sample site at an altitude of 0.4 miles (620 m). The pass, which took 11 hours, gave the spacecraft’s onboard instruments the opportunity to take the closest-ever science observations of the sample site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

During the OSIRIS-REx Reconnaissance B flyover of primary sample collection site Nightingale, the spacecraft left its safe-home orbit to pass over the sample site at an altitude of 0.4 miles (620 m). The pass, which took 11 hours, gave the spacecraft’s onboard instruments the opportunity to take the closest-ever science observations of the sample site. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s Lucy Mission discovers asteroid Eurybates has a Satellite

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Lucy mission team is seeing double after discovering that Eurybates, the asteroid the spacecraft has targeted for flyby in 2027, has a small satellite. This “bonus” science exploration opportunity for the project was discovered using images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 in September 2018, December 2019, and January 2020.

Launching in October 2021, Lucy will be the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids, a population of small bodies orbiting the Sun “leading” and “trailing” Jupiter, at the same distance from the Sun as the gas giant.

Artist rendition of NASA's Lucy spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Eurybates. (NASA)

Artist rendition of NASA’s Lucy spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Eurybates. (NASA)

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NASA, SpaceX have successful Final Test Flight of Crew Dragon Spacecraft

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On Sunday, January 19th, 2020 NASA and SpaceX completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The launch escape test began at 9:30am CT with liftoff from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to show the spacecraft’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an inflight emergency.

NASA and SpaceX completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 19, 2020. The test began at 9:30am CT with liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to show the spacecraft’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an inflight emergency. (NASA Television)

NASA and SpaceX completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 19, 2020. The test began at 9:30am CT with liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to show the spacecraft’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an inflight emergency. (NASA Television)

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NASA’s TESS Satellite discovers Planet with Two Stars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In 2019, when Wolf Cukier finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York, he joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern. His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.

“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier said.

In this illustration, TOI 1338 b is silhouetted by its host stars. TESS only detects transits from the larger star. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

In this illustration, TOI 1338 b is silhouetted by its host stars. TESS only detects transits from the larger star. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith)

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NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovers Earth size planet within Habitable Zone

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDNASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

TOI 700 d is one of only a few Earth-size planets discovered in a star’s habitable zone so far. Others include several planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system and other worlds discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

TOI 700, a planetary system 100 light-years away in the constellation Dorado, is home to TOI 700 d, the first Earth-size habitable-zone planet discovered by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

TOI 700, a planetary system 100 light-years away in the constellation Dorado, is home to TOI 700 d, the first Earth-size habitable-zone planet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s small ASTERIA CubeSat goes silent

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Mission operators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have lost contact with the ASTERIA satellite, a briefcase-sized spacecraft designed to study planets outside our solar system.

The last successful communication with ASTERIA, short for Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics, was on December 5th; attempts to contact it are expected to continue into March 2020.

ASTERIA belongs to a category of satellites called CubeSats, which vary in size but are typically smaller than a suitcase.

Left to right: Electrical Test Engineer Esha Murty and Integration and Test Lead Cody Colley prepare the ASTERIA spacecraft for mass-properties measurements in April 2017 prior to spacecraft delivery ahead of launch. ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station in November 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Left to right: Electrical Test Engineer Esha Murty and Integration and Test Lead Cody Colley prepare the ASTERIA spacecraft for mass-properties measurements in April 2017 prior to spacecraft delivery ahead of launch. ASTERIA was deployed from the International Space Station in November 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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