NASA’s Push to Save the Mars InSight Lander’s Heat Probe

NASA’s InSight lander on Mars is trying to use its robotic arm to get the mission’s heat flow probe, or mole, digging again. InSight team engineer Ashitey Trebbi-Ollennu, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, explains what has been attempted and the game plan for the coming weeks. The next tactic they’ll try will be “pinning” the mole against the hole it’s in. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander, which is on a mission to explore the deep interior of Mars, positioned its robotic arm this past weekend to assist the spacecraft’s self-hammering heat probe. Known as “the mole,” the probe has been unable to dig more than about 14 inches (35 centimeters) since it began burying itself into the ground on Feb. 28, 2019.

The maneuver is in preparation for a tactic, to be tried over several weeks, called “pinning.”

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NASA’s InSight ‘Hears’ Peculiar Sounds on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Put an ear to the ground on Mars and you’ll be rewarded with a symphony of sounds. Granted, you’ll need superhuman hearing, but NASA’s InSight lander comes equipped with a very special “ear.”

The spacecraft’s exquisitely sensitive seismometer, called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), can pick up vibrations as subtle as a breeze. The instrument was provided by the French space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), and its partners.

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Ariane 6’s Core Engine Completes Qualification Tests

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

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (ESA PR) — Ariane 6, Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle, has passed another key development milestone. Its Vulcain 2.1 liquid-fuelled engine has now completed its qualification testing, which means combined tests can now begin.

The main stage Vulcain 2.1 engine will deliver 135 t of thrust to propel Ariane 6 in the first eight minutes of flight up to an altitude of 200 km.

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Comet’s Collapsing Cliffs and Bouncing Boulders

An example of a boulder having moved across the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface, captured in Rosetta’s OSIRIS imagery. [Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA (CC BY-SA 4.0)]

PARIS (ESA PR) — Scientists analysing the treasure trove of images taken by ESA’s Rosetta mission have turned up more evidence for curious bouncing boulders and dramatic cliff collapses.

Rosetta operated at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko between August 2014 and September 2016, collecting data on the comet’s dust, gas and plasma environment, its surface characteristics and its interior structure.

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ONERA Joins ArianeWorks Accelerator

PARIS (CNES PR) — ArianeWorks, the acceleration and innovation platform created at the beginning of 2019 by the French space agency CNES and ArianeGroup, founder members and coordinators, continues to expand with the arrival of a new partner, ONERA, a leading player in aerospace research and a key partner in the development of the Ariane family of launchers.

This partnership agreement will enable ArianeWorks’ projects to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the French aerospace research center, notably in the fields of structural health monitoring (SHM) and aerothermodynamics.

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DLR’s Mars Heat Probe Remains Stuck as Efforts Suspended

Illustration of HP3 mole instrument on NASA’s InSight Mars lander. (Credit: DLR)

DLR Mission Update

In his logbook, Instrument Lead Tilman Spohn who is back in Berlin since April and communicating with JPL via the web, gives us the latest updates regarding the InSight mission and our HP3 instrument – the ‘Mole’ – which will hammer into the Martian surface.

Logbook entry 27 August 2019

I hope you had – or are still having – a good summer!

Back in early July, I reported that we had safely removed the Support Structure Assembly (the SSA) to expose the mole. You may recall that the SSA’s function is to house the mole and the tethers before deployment and that it was sitting above the mole when the latter penetrated into the surface. The SSA was thus blocking the view of the mole. By removing it, we enabled us to view the mole up close, to eventually interact with it, and to work its immediate surroundings with the robotic arm. What we saw first showed us that our estimate of the length of the mole in the sand of 30-35 cm was pretty good (Figure 1).

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ISS Report: Station Science Returns and a Spacecraft Shuffle

Space station cupola view (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s Beyond mission has kicked into high gear during the last two weeks. He has been keeping the International Space Station running smoothly as well as working remotely with European researchers – with even Luca’s mealtimes the subject of experimental scrutiny.

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EDEN ISS Project Presents Results of New Greenhouse Concept for Future Space Missions

The EDEN ISS greenhouse concept is designed to be launched on a Falcon 9 booster. It would have 30 square meters of cultivate space to provide food for astronauts on the moon or Mars. (Credit: LIQUIFER Systems Group)
  • 268 kilograms of food produced in an area of only 12.5 square metres over 9.5 months.
  • Power consumption less than half as much as previously assumed for greenhouses in space.
  • Concept – a deployable greenhouse suitable for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Project in Antarctica continues.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Future food production in deserts and cold regions, as well as under the inhospitable conditions of future space missions to the Moon and Mars, is providing the stimulus for research in the Antarctic greenhouse project EDEN ISS, which is led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).

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Background Information on CIMON Mobile Astronaut Assistant

the CIMON mobile astronaut assistant is tested at the European Astronaut Centre’s Columbus training module. (Credit: DLR)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Developed and built in Germany, CIMON is a technology experiment to support astronauts and increase the efficiency of their work. CIMON is able to show and explain information, instructions for scientific experiments and repairs. Voice-controlled access to documents and media is an advantage, as the astronauts can keep both hands free.

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CIMON Mobile Astronaut Assistant Back on Earth After 14 Months on ISS

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with the CIMON mobile astronaut assistant aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)
  • On 27 August 2019, the robotic astronaut assistant CIMON, which was developed and built in Germany, returned from the International Space Station on board the SpaceX CRS-18 spacecraft
  • A successor model of the technology experiment with extended functionality is currently being built and tested by Airbus on behalf of the DLR Space Administration; the ‘second’ CIMON also uses IBM ‘Watson’ artificial intelligence technology and he scientific aspects of the assistance system were co-developed and supervised by a team at Ludwig-Maximilian University Hospital in Munich

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON (CIMON) mobile astronaut assistant, which is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), returned to Earth on 27 August 2019. The SpaceX CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft carrying CIMON was undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 16:59 CEST; the capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 480 kilometres southwest of Los Angeles and was recovered at 22:21 CEST.

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The Near-Earth Asteroid Ryugu – a Fragile Cosmic ‘Rubble Pile’

(Credit: MSCOT/DLR/JAXA)
  • The asteroid is similar to carbonaceous, 4.5 billion year old meteorites found in collections on Earth.
  • Ryugu has numerous cavities.

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — In the summer of 2018, the asteroid Ryugu, which measures only approximately 850 metres across, was visited by the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft. On board was the 10-kilogram German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) – a lander no bigger than a microwave oven and equipped with four instruments.

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Ariane 5 Orbits Communications Satellites on Third Launch of 2019

Ariane 5 lifts off with the Intelsat 5 and EDRS-C communications satellites aboard. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace marked another success for global telecommunications with launch of the Intelsat 39 and EDRS-C satellites, which were deployed to geostationary transfer orbit on its latest flight using a workhorse Ariane 5.

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Ariane 6 Vulcain Engine Completes Successful Qualification Testing

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)
  • The qualification tests of the Vulcain® 2.1 engine, which will power the Ariane 6 main stage, were completed during the 26th development test.
  • This final qualification test took place on July 16 on the P5 test stand at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen
  • Both Ariane 6 liquid propulsion engines have now completed their firing qualification tests
  • The qualification tests for the Vinci re-ignitable engine for the Ariane upper stage were completed in October 2018

LAMPOLDSHAUSEN, Germany (ArianeGroup PR) — This final qualification test, carried out on the P5 test stand at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) site in Lampoldshausen, lasted almost 11 minutes (655 seconds).

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Hayabusa2’s MASCOT Lander Confirms What Scientists Have Long Suspected at Asteroid Ryugu

Close-up of the rock examined by MASCOT. The yellow arrow shows the direction of the incident light, and the dotted line separates the observed stone from the background. The red arrow shows the part of the rock where the radiometer MARA measured the surface temperature, the dotted line here shows a ledge. The scale in the center of the image shows the dimensions at this distance from the camera. The image was acquired by the DLR camera MASCAM on MASCOT. (Credit: MASCOT/DLR/JAXA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR) PR) — Ryugu and other asteroids of the common ‘C-class’ consist of more porous material than was previously thought. Small fragments of their material are therefore too fragile to survive entry into the atmosphere in the event of a collision with Earth.

This has revealed the long-suspected cause of the deficit of this meteorite type in finds on Earth. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have come to this conclusion in a scientific paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

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