Caltech Announces Breakthrough $100 Million Gift to Fund Space-based Solar Power Project

A solar panel being developed by the Space Solar Power Project at Caltech. (Credit: Caltech)

PASADENA, August 3, 2021 (Caltech PR) — Today, Caltech is announcing that Donald Bren, chairman of Irvine Company and a lifetime member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, donated over $100 million to form the Space-based Solar Power Project (SSPP), which is developing technology capable of generating solar power in space and beaming it back to Earth.

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NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample

Perseverance’s First Road Trip: This annotated image of Jezero Crater depicts the routes for Perseverance’s first science campaign (yellow hash marks) as well as its second (light-yellow hash marks). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. The six-wheeled geologist is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

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NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars

Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA’s InSight lander, on Mars. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Three papers published today share new details on the crust, mantle, and molten core of the Red Planet.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Before NASA’s InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars in 2018, the rovers and orbiters studying the Red Planet concentrated on its surface. The stationary lander’s seismometer has changed that, revealing details about the planet’s deep interior for the first time.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins Its First Science Campaign on Mars

Mastcam-Z’s 360-degree View of “Van Zyl Overlook”: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z imaging system to capture this 360-degree panorama of “Van Zyl Overlook,” where the rover was parked as the Ingenuity helicopter performed its first flights. The 2.4 billion-pixel panorama is made up of 992 individual images stitched together. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

The six-wheeled scientist is heading south to explore Jezero Crater’s lakebed in search of signs of ancient microbial life.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On June 1, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover kicked off the science phase of its mission by leaving the “Octavia E. Butler” landing site. Until recently, the rover has been undergoing systems tests, or commissioning, and supporting the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s month of flight tests.

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NASA Approves Asteroid Hunting Space Telescope to Continue Development

NEO Surveyor is a new mission proposal designed to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids that are near the Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The infrared space telescope is designed to help advance NASA’s planetary defense efforts.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has approved the Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope (NEO Surveyor) to move to the next phase of mission development after a successful mission review, authorizing the mission to move forward into Preliminary Design (known as Key Decision Point-B). The infrared space telescope is designed to help advance NASA’s planetary defense efforts by expediting our ability to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit, collectively known as near-earth objects, or NEOs.

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NASA’s InSight Mars Lander Gets a Power Boost

To clean a bit of dust from one of its solar panels, NASA’s InSight lander trickled sand above the panel. The wind-borne sand grains then picked up some dust on the panel, enabling the lander to gain about 30 watt-hours of energy per sol on May 22, 2021, the 884th Martian day of the mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The spacecraft successfully cleared some dust off its solar panels, helping to raise its energy and delay when it will need to switch off its science instruments.

The team behind NASA’s InSight Mars lander has come up with an innovative way to boost the spacecraft’s energy at a time when its power levels have been falling. The lander’s robotic arm trickled sand near one solar panel, helping the wind to carry off some of the panel’s dust. The result was a gain of about 30 watt-hours of energy per sol, or Martian day.

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NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study ‘Lost Habitable’ World of Venus

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two new missions to Venus, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor. Part of NASA’s Discovery Program, the missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours – and may have been the first habitable world in the solar system, complete with an ocean and Earth-like climate.

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Europa’s Interior May Be Hot Enough to Fuel Seafloor Volcanoes

Europa Clipper in orbit around Europa. (Credit: NASA)

Jupiter’s moon Europa has an icy crust covering a vast, global ocean. The rocky layer underneath may be hot enough to melt, leading to undersea volcanoes.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — New research and computer modeling show that volcanic activity may have occurred on the seafloor of Jupiter’s moon Europa in the recent past – and may still be happening. NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission, targeting a 2024 launch, will swoop close to the icy moon and collect measurements that may shed light on the recent findings.

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Surviving an In-Flight Anomaly: What Happened on Ingenuity’s Sixth Flight

This image of Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight on May 22, 2021. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Written by Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

On the 91st Martian day, or sol, of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter performed its sixth flight. The flight was designed to expand the flight envelope and demonstrate aerial-imaging capabilities by taking stereo images of a region of interest to the west. Ingenuity was commanded to climb to an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) before translating 492 feet (150 meters) to the southwest at a ground speed of 9 mph (4 meters per second). At that point, it was to translate 49 feet (15 meters) to the south while taking images toward the west, then fly another 164 feet (50 meters) northeast and land.

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Perseverance’s Robotic Arm Starts Conducting Science

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager to capture this image of “Santa Cruz,” a hill about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) away from the rover, on April 29, 2021, the 68th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The entire scene is inside of Mars’ Jezero Crater; the crater’s rim can be seen on the horizon line beyond the hill. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

NASA’s newest Mars rover is beginning to study the floor of an ancient crater that once held a lake.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance rover has been busy serving as a communications base station for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and documenting the rotorcraft’s historic flights. But the rover has also been busy focusing its science instruments on rocks that lay on the floor of Jezero Crater.

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Logs Second Successful Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovers over Jezero Crater during its second experimental flight test on April 22, 2021. The imagery was captured by the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z imager. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

The small rotorcraft’s horizons were expanded on its second flight.

WRIGHT BROTHERS FIELD, Mars (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its second Mars flight on April 22 – the 18th sol, or Martian day, of its experimental flight test window. Lasting 51.9 seconds, the flight added several new challenges to the first, which took place on April 19, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

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NASA to Attempt First Controlled Flight on Mars As Soon As Monday

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting no earlier than Monday, April 19, for the first flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at approximately 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT).

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Survives First Cold Martian Night on Its Own

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Making it through the frigid Martian temperatures after being deployed by NASA’s Perseverance rover is a major milestone for the small rotorcraft.  

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has emerged from its first night on the surface of Mars.

Evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical components and damage the onboard batteries required for flight. Surviving that first night after being deployed from where it was attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on April 3 is a major milestone for the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft. In the days to come, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.

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Major Earth Satellite to Track Disasters, Effects of Climate Change

The S-band SAR, one of two kinds of radar on the NISAR mission, arrived at JPL on March 19. The next day, technicians and engineers moved the S-SAR into the airlock to the Spacecraft Assembly Facility’s High Bay 1 clean room. The equipment will be unpacked over several days in the clean room. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Designed to spot potential natural hazards and help researchers measure how melting land ice will affect sea level rise, the NISAR spacecraft marks a big step as it takes shape.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — An SUV-size Earth satellite that will be equipped with the largest reflector antenna ever launched by NASA is taking shape in the clean room at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Called NISAR, the joint mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has big goals: By tracking subtle changes in Earth’s surface, it will spot warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, help to monitor groundwater supplies, track the melt rate of ice sheets tied to sea level rise, and observe shifts in the distribution of vegetation around the world. Monitoring these kinds of changes in the planet’s surface over nearly the entire globe hasn’t been done before with the high resolution in space and time that NISAR will deliver.

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