NASA Selects First Mode and ASU to Develop Marathon Moon Rover, Intrepid

A preliminary CAD model of Intrepid, a novel Lunar Rover being developed in support of the NASA Planetary Mission Concept Study program. (Credit: First Mode)

SEATTLE (First Mode PR) — First Mode, a system design and engineering firm, has been selected by NASA to develop a pioneering lunar mission concept with Arizona State University (ASU). The effort will be funded through NASA’s Planetary Mission Concept Study program.

(more…)

Vikram Lander Wreckage Found on Lunar Surface

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States).  Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.

The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S,  22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).

Before and after images show the Vikram impact point. Changes to the surface are subtle and are more easily seen in the ratio image presented above. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.

MILO Institute Launches a New Model for Space Exploration

The MILO team after a reception at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. (Credit: Antonio Stark)

PHOENIX (ASU PR) — Space is daunting in its enormity and tantalizing in its mysteries, and missions to explore those mysteries are audacious and ambitious. They are also expensive.

Traditionally, governments lead most space science missions. But due to limited budgets, many good ideas never get off the ground. In fact, for every 10 missions proposed to NASA, only one is selected to proceed. Columns of smoke erupt as a rocket launches into the night sky.

(more…)











Lucy in the Sky with…Asteroids

Conceptual image of the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids. (Credits: NASA/SwRI)

By Tamsyn Brann
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A little over 4 billion years ago, the planets in our solar system coexisted with vast numbers of small rocky or icy objects orbiting the Sun. These were the last remnants of the planetesimals – the primitive building blocks that formed the planets. Most of these leftover objects were then lost, as shifts in the orbits of the giant planets scattered them to the distant outer reaches of the solar system or beyond. But some were captured in two less-distant regions, near points where the gravitational influence of Jupiter and the Sun balance, and have remained trapped there, mostly untouched, for billions of years.

(more…)











Maxar’s SSL Expands Scope of Work for NASA Asteroid Exploration Mission Psyche

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

SSL selected to provide critical flight system component for Psyche Mission, which will reveal the mysteries of the only all-metal body known in our solar system

HERNDON, Va. – August 9, 2018 (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, announced today that it was selected by Zin Technologies to build and test the Psyche Compute Element.

(more…)











NASA Glenn Tests Thruster Bound for Metal World

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — As NASA looks to explore deeper into our solar system, one of the key areas of interest is studying worlds that can help researchers better understand our solar system and the universe around us. One of the next destinations in this knowledge-gathering campaign is a rare world located in the asteroid belt called Psyche.

(more…)











NASA Selects CubeSat & NanoSat Proposals for SBIR & STTR Awards

Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)
Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected at at least 28 proposals involving Cube-, nano- and micro-sats for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I awards.

The total includes 23 SBIR and five STTR projects. Companies are partnered with university researchers for the STTR awards.

(more…)











ASU CubeSat to Explore Moon

An ASU-built CubeSat about the size of a shoebox will be used to produce a map of the water resources on the moon for future space exploration. It is the first ASU-led interplanetary mission. (Credit: Sean Amidan/ASU/SpaceTREx)
An ASU-built CubeSat about the size of a shoebox will be used to produce a map of the water resources on the moon for future space exploration. It is the first ASU-led interplanetary mission. (Credit: Sean Amidan/ASU/SpaceTREx)

ASU PR — A spacecraft the size of a shoebox with Arizona origins will soon be orbiting our nearest neighbor to create a map of water-ice on the moon.

The NASA-selected CubeSat will be designed, built and operated at Arizona State University and is one piece of the agency’s larger mission to fully characterize the water content at the lunar South Pole in preparation for exploration, resource utilization and improved understanding of the moon’s geologic history.

(more…)











Lunar Pits Could Shelter Future Explorers, Settlers

This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO's NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)
This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO’s NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Mary. (NASA PR) — While the moon’s surface is battered by millions of craters, it also has over 200 holes – steep-walled pits that in some cases might lead to caves that future astronauts could explore and use for shelter, according to new observations from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.

The pits range in size from about 5 meters (~5 yards) across to more than 900 meters (~984 yards) in diameter, and three of them were first identified using images from the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft. Hundreds more were found using a new computer algorithm that automatically scanned thousands of high-resolution images of the lunar surface from LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC).

(more…)











Fungi Research Conducted in Space

The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)
The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)

TEMPE, Ariz. (NASA PR) — You may not recognize it by name, but if you have ever had a child with a diaper rash, that child was likely a host to Candida albicans (C. albicans). This unwelcome “guest” can be hard to control, as it can potentially lead to serious illness in humans with weakened immune systems. During an investigation dubbed “Microbe,” using the unique microgravity environment aboard space shuttle Atlantis on an International Space Station mission, researchers at the Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe gained a better understanding of these prevalent fungi. Their tendency to become more aggressive in microgravity helps scientists see what mechanisms control the behavior of these types of organisms, with the potential to develop ways to influence their behavior both in space and on Earth.

(more…)











Scientists Conducting Innovative Disease Research Aboard ISS

Cheryl Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, is using the ISS platform to pursue new research into the effects of microgravity on disease-causing organisms. (Credit: The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University)
Cheryl Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, is using the ISS platform to pursue new research into the effects of microgravity on disease-causing organisms.
(Credit: The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University)

By Richard Harth
The Biodesign Institute

Performing sensitive biological experiments is always a delicate affair. Few researchers, however, contend with the challenges faced by Cheryl Nickerson, whose working laboratory aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is located hundreds of miles above the Earth, traveling at some 17,000 miles per hour.

Nickerson, a microbiologist at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, is using the ISS platform to pursue new research into the effects of microgravity on disease-causing organisms.

(more…)











Commercial Spaceflight Federation Welcomes 3 New Members

Washington, D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of three new Associate Members: Arizona State University, Near Space Corporation, and Qwaltec.

“The private spaceflight sector continues to expand, and it is evidence with the addition of these three members, each unique in their commitment to the industry,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “We are excited to welcome these companies into the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and are looking forward to working with each of them to promote the commercial spaceflight sector.”
(more…)