2021 in Review: Highlights from NASA in Silicon Valley

Ingenuity Mars helicopter flies on the Red Planet. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Join us as we look back at the highlights of 2021 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

1) NASA’s water-hunting Moon rover, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, made great strides this year. The VIPER team successfully completed practice runs of the full-scale assembly of the Artemis program’s lunar rover in VIPER’s new clean room. Two rounds of egress testing let rover drivers practice exiting the lander and rolling onto the rocky surface of the Moon. NASA also announced the landing site selected for the robotic rover, which will be delivered to the Nobile region of the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023 as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. NASA also chose eight new VIPER science team members and their proposals to expand and complement VIPER’s already existing science team and planned investigations. This year’s progress contributed to VIPER’s completion of its Critical Design Review, turning the mission’s focus toward construction of the rover beginning in late 2022.

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New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler’s Total Count

This artist’s illustration shows the planetary system K2-138, which was discovered by citizen scientists in 2017 using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope. [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)]

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Scientists recently added a whopping 301 newly validated exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally. The throng of planets is the latest to join the 4,569  already validated planets orbiting a multitude of distant stars. How did scientists discover such a huge number of planets, seemingly all at once? The answer lies with a new deep neural network called ExoMiner.

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