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Video: A Closer Look at the China’s Chang’e-4 Lunar Mission

Video Caption: China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission was launched by a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 7 December 2018, at 18:23 UTC (8 December at 02:23 local time). The Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lunar mission (lander and rover) is scheduled to land in the Aitken crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon.

Planetary Defense: The Bennu Experiment

This artist’s concept shows the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft contacting the asteroid Bennu with the Touch-And-Go Sample Arm Mechanism or TAGSAM. The mission aims to return a sample of Bennu’s surface coating to Earth for study as well as return detailed information about the asteroid and it’s trajectory. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Dec. 3, after traveling billions of kilometers from Earth, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft reached its target, Bennu, and kicked off a nearly two-year, up-close investigation of the asteroid. It will inspect nearly every square inch of this ancient clump of rubble left over from the formation of our solar system. Ultimately, the spacecraft will pick up a sample of pebbles and dust from Bennu’s surface and deliver it to Earth in 2023.

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Greenland Ice Loss Quickening

The temperature of Earth is rising owing to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And, one of the most dramatic signs of climate change is the rate at which Earth’s ice is melting. Satellites orbiting high above our heads are used to measure changes in the height of the ice and also to track how fast glaciers flow. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Using a 25-year record of ESA satellite data, recent research shows that the pace at which Greenland is losing ice is getting faster.

The research, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, uses radar altimetry data gathered by the ERS, Envisat and CryoSat missions between 1992 and 2016.

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Record Setting Course Correction Puts New Horizons on Track to Kuiper Belt Flyby

Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits the Sun 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

LAUREL, Md. (JHUAPL PR) — With just 29 days to go before making space exploration history, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft performed a short but record-setting course-correction maneuver on Dec. 2 that refined its path toward Ultima Thule, the Kuiper Belt object it will fly by on Jan. 1.

Just as the exploration of Ultima Thule will be the farthest-ever flyby of a planetary body, Sunday’s maneuver was the most distant trajectory correction ever made. At 8:55 a.m. EST, New Horizons fired its small thrusters for 105 seconds, adjusting its velocity by just over 1 meter per second, or about 2.2 miles per hour. Data from the spacecraft confirming the successful maneuver reached the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, through NASA’s Deep Space Network, at 5:15 p.m. EST.

The maneuver was designed to keep New Horizons on track toward its ideal arrival time and closest distance to Ultima, just 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1.

At the time of the burn New Horizons was 4.03 billon miles (6.48 billion kilometers) from Earth and just 40 million miles (64 million kilometers) from Ultima – less than half the distance between Earth and the Sun. From that far away, the radio signals carrying data from the spacecraft needed six hours, at light speed, to reach home.

The team is analyzing whether to conduct up to three other course-correction maneuvers to home in on Ultima Thule. Follow New Horizons to Ultima at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/Where-is-New-Horizons.php.

Ariane 6 Moving Forward

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This has been an intense year for Ariane 6 development, with progress boosted across Europe: plants are manufacturing new parts using novel methods, all engines have been tested, and the construction of launch facilities is well underway.

ESA has worked with an industrial network led by prime contractor ArianeGroup, of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including 350 small- and medium-sized enterprises, to fine-tune the design and start production. Meanwhile, France’s CNES space agency has been preparing its launch facilities at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

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Planetary Resources’ New Owner Seems a Bit Flaky

Forbes takes a critical look at cryptocurrency/block chain guru Joe Lubin, whose ConsenSys company purchased asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. (Although given the headline, critical seems polite: Cryptopia In Crisis: Joe Lubin’s Ethereum Experiment Is A Mess. How Long Will He Prop It Up?)

So, how does asteroid mining fit into Lubin’s master plan?

Lubin insists ConsenSys is getting more selective in picking projects. But old habits die hard. In October it bought a nine-year-old asteroid-mining company called Planetary Resources. “We see it as a group of amazingly capable people who are interested in exploring how blockchain could ramify on space operations,” Lubin says abstrusely.

Ramify? Huh…

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SpaceX Dragon Arrives at Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at 1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft, on its 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carries more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies. (Credits: NASA Television)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 10:36 a.m. EST.

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Galileo Satellites Prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to Highest Accuracy Yet

Galileos measure Einsteinian time dilation. (Credit: ESA-P. Carril/Wikimedia Commons/G. Porter)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system – already serving users globally – has now provided a historic service to the physics community worldwide, enabling the most accurate measurement ever made of how shifts in gravity alter the passing of time, a key element of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

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China Launches Chang’e 4 Lander & Rover to Far Side of Moon

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

China has successfully launched its Chang’e-4 lunar lander and rover, which are set to become the first spacecraft to explore the far side of the moon.

The  vehicles are heading for a landing in the Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Officials have not announced a landing date, but informed speculation has focused on the first week in January.

The lander includes the following payloads:

  • landing and terrain cameras;
  • a low-frequency spectrometer;
  • a lunar lander neutrons and dosimetry (LND) dosimeter supplied by Kiel University in Germany;
  • a container with silkworm eggs and seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana; and,
  • a miniature camera to record the growth of the eggs and seeds.

The rover’s payloads include:

  • a panoramic camera;
  • a lunar penetrating radar system;
  • a visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer; and,
  • and an advanced small analyzer for neutrals (ASAN) analyzer provided by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) to measure the interaction of the solar winds with the lunar surface.

The lander and rover will communicate with the Chang’e 4 relay satellite, which was launched earlier this year.

Axelspace Completes $22.8 Million Series B Round

TOKYO (Axelspace PR) — Axelspace Corporation (HQ: Tokyo, Japan; CEO : Yuya Nakamura) has completed its Series B funding round raising approximately 2.58B JPY (22.8M USD).

The round sees the allocation of new shares to the lead investor 31VENTURES – Global Brain – Growth I Joint Venture (managed by Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. and Global Brain Corporation) and to several other venture capital and corporate investors.

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Rocket Lab Prepares to Launch CubeSat Mission for NASA

Electron It’s Business Time lift-off (Credits: Kieran Fanning & Sam Toms)

Huntington Beach, California (Rocket Lab PR) – US small satellite launch company Rocket Lab is gearing up for the company’s third orbital launch of the year, the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa)-19 mission for NASA. The launch is a significant moment for the small satellite industry, as it’s the first time NASA CubeSats will enjoy a dedicated ride to orbit on a commercial launch vehicle, thanks to NASA’s forward-leaning Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) initiative.  VCLS is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program headquartered at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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NASA Sends New Research, Hardware to Space Station on SpaceX Mission

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launches to the International Space Station at 1:16 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2018, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft, on its 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, carries more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies. (Credits: NASA Television)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — Experiments in forest observation, protein crystal growth and in-space fuel transfer demonstration are heading to the International Space Station following the launch Wednesday of SpaceX’s 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

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NASA’s Mars InSight Flexes Its Arm

This image from InSight’s robotic-arm mounted Instrument Deployment Camera shows the instruments on the spacecraft’s deck, with the Martian surface of Elysium Planitia in the background. The image was received on Dec. 4, 2018 (Sol 8). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — New images from NASA’s Mars InSight lander show its robotic arm is ready to do some lifting.

With a reach of nearly 6 feet (2 meters), the arm will be used to pick up science instruments from the lander’s deck, gently setting them on the Martian surface at Elysium Planitia, the lava plain where InSight touched down on Nov. 26.

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NASA to Highlight Asteroid Bennu, Earth’s Polar Ice at AGU Meeting

Asteroid Bennu (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA researchers will present new findings on a wide range of Earth and space science topics at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Dec. 10-14 in Washington. NASA-related briefings will stream live on the agency’s website.

Briefing topics include: the latest findings from the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-Rex) mission to asteroid Bennu and the new Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Earth-observing mission; the lingering impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico; and an update on Voyager 2 at the edge of the solar system.

Agency scientists, and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities, also will present noteworthy findings during scientific sessions that are open to registered media.

Details on NASA presentations will be updated online throughout the week. For a complete and up-to-date schedule of briefings and media participation information, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/agu

For more information about NASA missions and programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

Northrop Grumman Plans Second Orion Launch Abort Motor Test

First Orion launch abort motor test on June 15, 2017. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Second Ground Test of Launch Abort Motor for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

Northrop Grumman will conduct its second qualification test of its launch abort motor December 13 in Promontory, Utah. The abort motor is a major part of NASA’s Launch Abort System, which provides an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts. The completion of this milestone brings NASA’s Orion spacecraft one step closer to its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System and to enabling humans to explore the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.

What: Ground test firing of launch abort motor

When: Thursday, December 13, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (weather dependent)

Where: Northrop Grumman facility in Promontory, Utah

A public viewing area is available along State Road 83 North approximately 20 miles west of Corinne, Utah (see map – follow directions to Promontory). Please note: We recommend you arrive at the viewing site an hour prior to the test.

Please Note: Drones are NOT allowed to fly over Northrop Grumman property.