Tag Archives: Spacecraft

Most Detailed 3D Atlas of a Billion Stars Released by ESA | VIDEO

Most Detailed 3D Atlas of a Billion Stars Released by ESA

• Satellite is now just over half-way through its five-year mission and the first batch of data has been released

• The one billion stars it has located are still only one per cent of the Milky Way’s estimated stellar population

Abigail Beall
Mailonline
9-14-16

• Gaia’s mapping effort is already unprecedented in scale, but the satellite still has several years left to run

• In the future Gaia will collect data about each star’s temperature, luminosity and chemical composition

Esa has unveiled a stunning 3D map of a billion stars in our galaxy that is 1,000 times more complete than anything that previously existed.

The data for the map was collected by a space-based probe called Gaia, which has been circling the sun nearly a million miles beyond Earth’s orbit since its launch in December 2013.

On its journey, the satellite has been discreetly snapping pictures of the Milky Way.

Now the European Space Agency has released the first batch of data collected by Gaia, which includes information on the brightness and position of over a billion stars. …

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First U.S. Asteroid Sample Return Mission | VIDEO

First U.S. Asteroid Sample Return Mission
OSIRIS-REx will travel to near-Earth asteroid Bennu on a sample return mission.

     NASA is preparing to launch its first mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
By NASA
8-17-16

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and bring a sample back to Earth for intensive study. Launch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“This mission exemplifies our nation’s quest to boldly go and study our solar system and beyond to better understand the universe and our place in it,” said Geoff Yoder, acting associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “NASA science is the greatest engine of scientific discovery on the planet and OSIRIS-REx embodies our directorate’s goal to innovate, explore, discover, and inspire.”

The 4,650-pound (2,110-kilogram) fully-fueled spacecraft will launch aboard an Atlas V 411 rocket during a 34-day launch period that begins Sept. 8, and reach its asteroid target in 2018. After a careful survey of Bennu to characterize the asteroid and locate the most promising sample sites, OSIRIS-REx will collect between 2 and 70 ounces (about 60 to 2,000 grams) of surface material with its robotic arm and return the sample to Earth via a detachable capsule in 2023.

“The launch of OSIRIS-REx is the beginning a seven-year journey to return pristine samples from asteroid Bennu,” said OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson. “The team has built an amazing spacecraft, and we are well-equipped to investigate Bennu and return with our scientific treasure.”

• OSIRIS-REx has five instruments to explore Bennu:

OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) – A system consisting of three cameras provided by the University of Arizona, Tucson, will observe Bennu and provide global imaging, sample site imaging, and will witness the sampling event.

• OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) – A scanning LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) contributed by the Canadian Space Agency will be used to measure the distance between the spacecraft and Bennu’s surface, and will map the shape of the asteroid.

• OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) – An instrument provided by Arizona State University in Tempe that will investigate mineral abundances and provide temperature information with observations in the thermal infrared spectrum.

• OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) – An instrument provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and designed to measure visible and infrared light from Bennu to identify mineral and organic material.

• Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) – A student experiment provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in Cambridge, which will observe the X-ray spectrum to identify chemical elements on Bennu’s surface and their abundances.

Additionally, the spacecraft has two systems that will enable the sample collection and return:

• Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) – An articulated robotic arm with a sampler head, provided by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, to collect a sample of Bennu’s surface.
• OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule (SRC) – A capsule with a heat shield and parachutes in which the spacecraft will return the asteroid sample to Earth, provided by Lockheed Martin.

“Our upcoming launch is the culmination of a tremendous amount of effort from an extremely dedicated team of scientists, engineers, technicians, finance and support personnel,” said OSIRIS-REx Project Manager Mike Donnelly at Goddard. “I’m incredibly proud of this team and look forward to launching the mission’s journey to Bennu and back.”

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the spacecraft. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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JUNO: Earth’s Fastest Spacecraft Arrives at Jupiter | VIDEO

Juno Arriving at Jupiter

     After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 p.m. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4.
PRESS RELASE
By NASA
7-4-16

“Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Littleton, Colorado. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

“This is the one time I don’t mind being stuck in a windowless room on the night of the 4th of July,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission team did great. The spacecraft did great. We are looking great. It’s a great day.”

Preplanned events leading up to the orbital insertion engine burn included changing the spacecraft’s attitude to point the main engine in the desired direction and then increasing the spacecraft’s rotation rate from 2 to 5 revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it..

The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began on time at 8:18 p.m. PDT (11:18 p.m. EDT), decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter. Soon after the burn was completed, Juno turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

“The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from JPL. “Jupiter orbit insertion was a big step and the most challenging remaining in our mission plan, but there are others that have to occur before we can give the science team the mission they are looking for.”

Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.

“Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”

Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

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Object Beyond Pluto is Next Target for NASA’s New Horizons Probe | VIDEO

Object Past Beyond Pluto is Next Target for NASA's New Horizons Probe
Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. NASA announced today (Aug. 28, 2015) that it has selected 2014 MU69 as its first choice for the probe’s secondary mission.
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

By Calla Cofield
Space.com
8-28-15

     NASA’s New Horizons probe, which flew past Pluto last month, now has a second target to aim for.

The New Horizons team has selected an object named 2014 MU69, which lies roughly 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, as the next target for up-close study by the spacecraft, NASA announced today (Aug. 28).

[…]

In 2014, Hubble identified five objects that New Horizons could potentially reach after its encounter with Pluto. The list was later narrowed down to two prime candidates, including 2014 MU69.

The Kuiper Belt is a largely unexplored region of the solar system; NASA’s twin Voyager probes passed through it, but did not make close encounters with any objects, including Pluto. […]

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Comet Buzzes Mars in Once-in-a-Lifetime Flyby

Comet Buzzes Mars in Once-in-a-Lifetime Flyby

Germans Flew Flying Saucers in 1944, Claims Engineer | UFO CHRONICLE – 1954

By Mike Wall
www.space.com
10-19-14

      A comet zoomed by Mars today (Oct. 19) in an extremely rare close encounter that scientists billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event that may help researchers better understand the earliest days of our solar system.

Comet Siding Spring came within just 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Martian surface at 2:27 p.m. EDT (1827 GMT) today — about one-third of the distance between Earth and the moon. At the time of closest approach, the comet barreled by at 126,000 mph (203,000 km/h) relative to the Red Planet, NASA officials said.

All seven spacecraft currently operating on or around Mars were scheduled to observe the close shave, with the aim of learning more about comet composition and behavior.

“We cannot plan missions to comets like this — this one was discovered less than two years ago. It is incredible luck that it is saving us the trouble of going to it, as it flies by Mars, which is being explored by seven active robots,” Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, a camera team member for NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity Mars rovers, said in a statement. “So this very much is a once-in-a-lifetime event, for us and our rovers.” . . .

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MARS: Rare Comet Encounter To Be Captured By Spacecraft

MARS: Rare Comet Encounter To Be Captured By Spacecraft

MARS: Rare Comet Encounter To Be Captured By Spacecraft

By ALYSSA NEWCOMB
ABCnews
10-10-14

      A comet will hurtle past Mars next weekend, nearly missing the Red Planet but providing a once-in-a-lifetime show that will be captured by NASA’s fleet of spacecraft.

Comet Siding Spring will pass within 87,000 miles of Mars on Sunday, Oct. 19 — that’s about one-third the distance between the Earth and the moon.

The comet is expected to come closest to Mars at 2:27 p.m. ET that day, moving at about 34 miles per second.

NASA moved its fleet of orbiting vehicles so they won’t be impacted by dust particles from the comet. However, the fleet, including the newly arrived MAVEN, will be in a position to gather information about the size, rotation and gas composition of Siding Spring, agency officials said. . . .

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Mysterious ‘Island’ on Saturn Moon Puzzles Scientists | VIDEO

Mysterious 'Island' on Saturn Moon Puzzles Scientists - July 2013

Mysterious ‘Island’ on Saturn Moon Puzzles Scientists

By Mike Wall
space.com
9-30-14

      Saturn’s huge moon Titan just got a little more mysterious.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted an odd islandlike feature in Ligeia Mare, one of Titan’s largest hydrocarbon seas. Scientists don’t know what to make of the feature, which has apparently doubled in size over the past year or so, from about 30 square miles to 60 square miles (78 to 155 square kilometers).

“Science loves a mystery, and with this enigmatic feature, we have a thrilling example of ongoing change on Titan,” Cassini radar team deputy leader Stephen Wall, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to continue watching the changes unfold and gain insights about what’s going on in that alien sea.” . . .

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NASA Mars Orbiter Arrives at Red Planet Tonight | VIDEO

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Mars orbiter MAVEN will arrive in orbit

NASA Mars Orbiter Arrives at Red Planet Tonight:
Watch It Live

By Elizabeth Howell
Space.com
9-21-14

     A NASA spacecraft built to study the atmosphere of Mars like never before will arrive at the Red Planet tonight (Sept. 21) and you can watch it live online.

After 10 months in deep-space, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Mars and begin a one-year mission studying the planet’s upper atmosphere. The Mars arrival will cap a 442 million-mile (711 million kilometers) trek across the solar system.

You can watch the MAVEN spacecraft arrive at Mars on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, in a live webcast that runs from 9:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. EDT (0130 to 0245 GMT). If all goes well, MAVEN will enter orbit around Mars at 9:50 p.m. EDT (0250 GMT), according to NASA officials.

“So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” David Mitchell, NASA’s MAVEN project manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.” . . .

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Vintage Spacecraft Buzzes the Moon Today After 36 Years in Space | VIDEO

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Vintage Spacecraft Buzzes the Moon Today After 36 Years in Space

By Elizabeth Howell
Space.com
8-10-14

      A 36-year-old NASA spacecraft will begin a new interplanetary science mission today (Aug. 10) when it makes a close pass by the moon.

The privately controlled International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 spacecraft, also called ISEE-3, will fly by the moon at 2:16 p.m. EDT (1816 GMT). You can follow the lunar flyby live in a Google Hangout beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) on the website SpacecraftforAll.com.

The ISEE-3 spacecraft is under the control of ISEE-3 Reboot Project, a private team of engineers took control of the probe earlier this year under an agreement with NASA. The team initially hoped to move the NASA probe into a stable orbit near the Earth. But attempts failed when the team discovered that the spacecraft, which NASA launched in 1978, was out of the nitrogen pressurant needed to get the job done.

Now, ISEE-3 Reboot Project engineers are focusing their efforts on an interplanetary science mission, since at least some of the probe’s 13 instruments are still working. By using a network of individual radio dishes across the world, the team will listen to the ISEE-3 spacecraft for most of its orbit around the sun.

Officials announced this week that they would collaborate with Google to offer live spacecraft data at the site SpacecraftForAll.com. . . .

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NASA Creating Largest Rocket Ever | VIDEO

Space Launch System (SLS)

By Kevin Quinn
abc13.com
7-23-14

     NEW ORLEANS (KTRK)–It has been 45 years since the first man walked on the moon. Now in New Orleans, just a few miles from the French Quarter, NASA is quietly making the largest, most powerful rocket that will have ever left the earth.

“For an engineer, it’s Disneyland every day,” said NASA worker Pat Whipps.

“You work every day, and you’re trying to make it perfect first time out,” said NASA worker Kevin Pierre.

The work is being done in the Michoud Assembly Facility, the very same place where they built the Saturn rocket for those Apollo missions. It was also there that they built the giant fuel tanks which powered the Space Shuttle.

Workers in the facility are now constructing the Space Launch System. The SLS will stand over 320 feet tall and will be able to take a crew of six further into space than anyone has ever been.

Some of the barrels that make up the core stage of the SLS and carry the fuel are welded together piece by piece by over 600 people at NASA’s 42 acre facility.

“Everybody’s excited to have a part in America’s next great adventure,” said Pat Whipps of NASA Michoud.

The top of the rocket will feature the Orion capsule. It may look familiar because NASA says the physics of launch and return haven’t changed much since the Apollo days.

“But the insides are totally different,” said NASA Orion program manager Mark Geyer. . . .

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