NASA’s New Mars Rover Is Ready for Space Lasers

Visible both in the inset photograph on the upper left and near the center of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this illustration is the palm-size dome called the Laser Retroreflector Array (LaRA). In the distant future, laser-equipped Mars orbiters could use such a reflector for scientific studies. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Perseverance is one of a few Mars spacecraft carrying laser retroreflectors. The devices could provide new science and safer Mars landings in the future.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon, they brought devices with them called retroreflectors, which are essentially small arrays of mirrors. The plan was for scientists on Earth to aim lasers at them and calculate the time it took for the beams to return. This provided exceptionally precise measurements of the Moon’s orbit and shape, including how it changed slightly based on Earth’s gravitational pull.

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Artemis: Back to the Future Past?

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity in 1969. A seismic experiment is in his left hand, and in his right is a laser-reflecting panel. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph. (Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center)

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic today that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would land at the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 18 months NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised to land the next man and the first woman at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

Now, that plan has apparently changed.

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NASA Technology Enables Precision Landing Without a Pilot

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Margo Pierce
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

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Buzz Aldrin & Mike Collins Nominated for Emmy Award

The crew of Apollo 11. (Credit: NASA)

Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins have been nominated for an Emmy Award for work they during the first manned lunar landing 51 years ago.

The two surviving crew members were nominated for outstanding cinematography for a nonfiction program relating to CNN’s Apollo 11 documentary. Commander Neil Armstrong has passed away.

“I never thought our film during #Apollo11 would qualify me as a cinematographer – Thanks @TelevisionAcad for the nomination!” Aldrin tweeted.

The documentary was nominated for five awards, including:

Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Buzz Aldrin, Cinematography by
Michael Collins, Cinematography by

Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Todd Douglas Miller, Directed by

Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Todd Douglas Miller, Editor

Outstanding Sound Editing For A Nonfiction Or Reality Program (Single Or Multi-Camera)
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Eric Milano, Sound Design

Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Nonfiction Or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera)
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Eric Milano, Re-Recording Mixer

Laser Beams Reflected Between Earth and Moon Boost Science

This photograph shows the laser-ranging facility at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory in Greenbelt, Md. The facility helps NASA keep track of orbiting satellites. Both beams shown, coming from two different lasers, are pointed at NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is orbiting the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Dozens of times over the last decade NASA scientists have launched laser beams at a reflector the size of a paperback novel about 240,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away from Earth. They announced today, in collaboration with their French colleagues, that they received signal back for the first time, an encouraging result that could enhance laser experiments used to study the physics of the universe.

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Using Sunlight to Save Satellites from a Fate of ‘Space Junk’

by Kayla Wiles
Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — No satellite stays the same once launched into space. How much it changes can go unnoticed – until something bad happens.

Carolin Frueh is among only a handful of researchers who have persisted in using a complex technique that can diagnose a problem from thousands of miles away based on how the satellite reflects sunlight.

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Space Exploration in a Time of Social Turmoil

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The contrast was jarring. In one browser window, two NASA astronauts were making their way to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first orbital launch of a crew from U.S. soil in nearly 9 years.

In another window, scenes of chaos played out as protests over the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police erupted into violent clashes across the country.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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Buzz Aldrin Named 2019 Space Cowboy

Buzz Aldrin salutes during the 2019 State of the Union address. (Credit: U.S. Senate Photo Studio/John Shinkle)

AUSTIN, Texas (EarthLight Foundation PR) — The EarthLight Foundation is proud to announce the 2019 Space Cowboy Award will be presented to Dr. “Buzz” Aldrin, member of the Apollo mission to the Moon, and longtime activist for the human exploration and settlement of space. The award will be presented to Dr. Aldrin at the Space Cowboy Ball on November 16, 2019 at the prestigious Bullock Texas State History Museum, in Austin, Texas.

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House Science Chairwoman Slams Trump Administration’s Artemis Lunar Plans

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

Opening Statement (Excerpt)

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)

Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics Hearing:
Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA’s SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

….I also want to echo Chairwoman Horn’s comment about the lateness of NASA’s testimony. NASA was provided ample advance notice of this hearing and more than sufficient time to prepare testimony and have it reviewed by OMB and whomever else looks over NASA’s testimony these days. The fact that this testimony is overdue is not only frustrating, it leaves Members little opportunity to consider NASA’s testimony in advance of the hearing. If NASA and the Administration can’t meet simple hearing deadlines, it doesn’t inspire great confidence in their ability to meet the much harder deadline of landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024.

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One Giant Leap for Lunar Landing Navigation Taken in Mojave

This map of the Moon shows the five candidate landing sites chosen by the Apollo Site Selection Board in February 1968. Photographs gathered during earlier uncrewed reconnaissance missions gave NASA information about terrain features. (Credit: NASA)

By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

MOJAVE, Calif., September 13, 2019 (NASA PR) — When Apollo 11’s lunar module, Eagle, landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, it first flew over an area littered with boulders before touching down at the Sea of Tranquility. The site had been selected based on photos collected over two years as part of the Lunar Orbiter program.

But the “sensors” that ensured Eagle was in a safe spot before touching down – those were the eyes of NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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Michael Collins Honored with 2019 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy

Michael Collins

WASHINGTON,DC (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is pleased to announce that Major General Michael Collins has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for … “his lifelong dedication to aerospace and public service in the highest order, both as a pioneering astronaut and inspired director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.”

Established by NAA in 1948 to honor the memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the trophy is awarded annually to a living American for “…significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” One of the most important, historic, and visible aerospace awards in the world, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy reflects a timeline of the most innovative inventors, explorers, industrialists, and public servants in aeronautics and astronautics.

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ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Endorses Lunar Gateway

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Joint Statement

The International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) met on August 6, 2019. Its members[1] acknowledged the recent 50th anniversary of the first human steps on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission, praised the ongoing important work of the ISS, and discussed opportunities for the future of human exploration on and around the Moon and forward to Mars.  

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Michael Collins Answers All Your Questions About Apollo 11

Michael Collins

UPDATED for the 50th Anniversary July 2019
2009 Michael Collins Interviews Michael Collins

Statement from Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

The following is a series of questions and answers prepared by Michael Collins, command module pilot for Apollo 11.

These are questions I am most frequently asked plus a few others I have added. For more information, please consult my book, the 50th anniversary edition of CARRYING THE FIRE, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys. All of the following sections in quotation marks are from that reference.

Q. Circling the lonely moon by yourself, the loneliest person in the universe, weren’t you lonely?

A. No.

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