NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to Chilly Ancient Mars Buried in Rocks

Filled with briny lakes, the Quisquiro salt flat in South America’s Altiplano represents the kind of landscape that scientists think may have existed in Gale Crater on Mars. (Credits: Maksym Bocharov)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — By studying the chemical elements on Mars today — including carbon and oxygen — scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Ready for Touchdown on Asteroid Bennu

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission is officially prepared for its long-awaited touchdown on asteroid Bennu’s surface. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has targeted Oct. 20 for its first sample collection attempt.

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NASA to Make Announcement About WFIRST Mission Trump Keeps Trying to Cancel

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a special edition of NASA Science Live at 11 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, May 20, to share an exciting announcement about the agency’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission. The episode will air live on NASA’s websiteNASA YouTubeNASA Facebook and Twitter/Periscope.

Members of the mission will respond to questions from the livestream chat in real time during the episode. Follow @NASA and @NASAWFIRST on Facebook and Twitter for additional information.

WFIRST is a space telescope that will conduct unprecedented large surveys of the infrared universe to explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

WFIRST is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the California Institute of Technology’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in Pasadena, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from research institutions across the United States.

For more information about WFIRST, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/wfirst

First Look: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Fully Stowed

A first look at NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully stowed into the same configuration it will have when loaded into an Ariane V rocket for launch. The image was taken from a webcam in the clean room at Northrop Grumman, in Redondo Beach, California. With staffing restrictions in place due to COVID-19, only essential staff are allowed in the clean room. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

by Thaddeus Cesari
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has been successfully folded and stowed into the same configuration it will have when loaded onto an Ariane 5 rocket for launch next year.

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A Tale of Two Telescopes: WFIRST and Hubble

This famous Hubble Ultra Deep Field image captured the cosmos in three different types of light: infrared, visible and ultraviolet. While WFIRST will be tuned to see infrared light exclusively, its much wider field of view will enable larger surveys that would take hundreds or even thousands of years for Hubble to complete. [Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz, M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University) and Z. Levay (STScI)]

by Ashley Balzer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), planned for launch in the mid-2020s, will create enormous cosmic panoramas. Using them, astronomers will explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

Though it’s often compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, which turns 30 years old this week,  WFIRST  will study the cosmos in a unique and complementary way.

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NASA Scientists Tapped to Mature More Rugged Seismometer System to Measure Moonquakes

A next-generation seismometer could be deployed autonomously, unlike the systems deployed in the past. In this photo, Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean carries the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package to its deployment site on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA hasn’t measured moonquakes since Apollo astronauts deployed a handful of measuring stations at various locations on the lunar surface and discovered unexpectedly that Earth’s only natural satellite was far from seismically inactive.

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NASA Awards NOAA’s Space Weather Follow On – Supra Thermal Ion Sensor

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA has awarded the Space Weather Follow On – Supra Thermal Ion Sensor contract to the Regents of the University of California, Berkeley.

This is a cost no-fee contract with a total value of $7,523,169. The period of performance is from the date of award through June 30, 2026. The work will be performed at University of California, Berkeley.

The principal purpose of this requirement within the Space Weather Follow On (SWFO) Project is to design, analyze, develop, fabricate, integrate, test, calibrate, evaluate and support launch and on-orbit check-out of the Supra Thermal Ion Sensor (STIS) instrument as part of the SWFO-L1 Observatory.

SWFO-L1 will provide NOAA with the continuity of solar wind data and coronal mass ejection imagery, the highest priority for space weather observations of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

The SWFO-L1 satellite, which is planned to launch in 2024 as a rideshare with the NASA Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, will collect upstream solar wind data and coronal imagery to support NOAA’s mission to monitor and forecast space weather events.

NOAA is responsible for the Space Weather Follow-On program. NASA is the program’s flight system procurement agent, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the lead for this acquisition.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

NASA’s Swift Mission Tallied Water From Interstellar Comet Borisov

NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory’s Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope captured six snapshots of Borisov as it traveled through the solar system. This GIF shows the UV images, with Borisov in the center. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Jeanette Kazmierczak
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For the first time, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory tracked water loss from an interstellar comet as it approached and rounded the Sun. The object, 2I/Borisov, traveled through the solar system in late 2019.

“Borisov doesn’t fit neatly into any class of solar system comets, but it also doesn’t stand out exceptionally from them,” said Zexi Xing, a graduate student at the University of Hong Kong and Auburn University in Alabama who led the research. “There are known comets that share at least one of its properties.”

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NASA CubeSat Will Shine a Laser Light on the Moon’s Darkest Craters

The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface. Take water, for instance: Because it’s a heavy and therefore expensive resource to launch from Earth, our future explorers might have to seek out ice to mine. Once excavated, it can be melted and purified for drinking and used for rocket fuel. But how much water is there on the Moon, and where might we find it?

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Checkpoint Rehearsal From the Lens of NavCam 2

OSIRIS-REx approaches asteroid Bennu during rehearsal for sample return. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Captured on Apr. 14 during the first rehearsal of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s sample collection event, this series of images shows the navigation camera’s (NavCam 2) field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and moves away from asteroid Bennu’s surface.

The rehearsal brought the spacecraft through the first two maneuvers of the sampling sequence to a point approximately 213 feet (65 meters) above the surface, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

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Checkpoint: OSIRIS-REx Practices Sample Collection

The Nightingale Crater on asteroid Bennu is the primary sample collection site for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx’s mission. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In August, the robotic spacecraft will make NASA’s first-ever attempt to descend to the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample and ultimately bring it safely back to Earth.

In order to achieve this challenging feat, the mission team devised new techniques to operate in asteroid Bennu’s microgravity environment – but they still need experience flying the spacecraft in close proximity to the asteroid in order to test them.

So, before touching down at sample site Nightingale this summer, OSIRIS-REx will first rehearse the activities leading up to the event.

On Apr. 14, the mission will pursue its first practice run – officially known as “Checkpoint” rehearsal – which will also place the spacecraft the closest it’s ever been to Bennu. This rehearsal is a chance for the OSIRIS-REx team and spacecraft to test the first steps of the robotic sample collection event.

There will be a four-hour social media campaign on @OSIRISREx and @NASASolarSystem.

Rehearsal Time for NASA’s Asteroid Sampling Spacecraft

This artist’s concept shows the trajectory and configuration of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft during Checkpoint rehearsal, which is the first time the mission will practice the initial steps for collecting a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credits: NASA/ Goddard/University of Arizona)

By Brittany Enos
University of Arizona

In August, a robotic spacecraft will make NASA’s first-ever attempt to descend to the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample, and ultimately bring it safely back to Earth. In order to achieve this challenging feat, the OSIRIS-REx mission team devised new techniques to operate in asteroid Bennu’s microgravity environment – but they still need experience flying the spacecraft in close proximity to the asteroid in order to test them. So, before touching down at sample site Nightingale this summer, OSIRIS-REx will first rehearse the activities leading up to the event.

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NASA Selects Mission to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms

In this image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Feb. 27, 2000, a coronal mass ejection is seen erupting from the Sun, which is hidden by the disk in the middle, so the fainter material around it can be seen. (Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

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Bennu’s Boulders Shine as Beacons for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx

During the sample collection event, Natural Feature Tracking (NFT) will guide NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to asteroid Bennu’s surface. The spacecraft takes real-time images of the asteroid’s surface features as it descends, and then compares these images with an onboard image catalog. The spacecraft then uses these geographical markers to orient itself and accurately target the touchdown site. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — This summer, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will undertake NASA’s first-ever attempt to touch the surface of an asteroid, collect a sample of it, and safely back away. But since arriving at asteroid Bennu over a year ago, the mission team has been tackling an unexpected challenge: how to accomplish this feat at an asteroid whose surface is blanketed in building-sized boulders.

Using these hazardous boulders as signposts, the mission team developed a new precision navigation method to overcome the challenge.

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First Official Names Given to Features on Asteroid Bennu

This flat projection mosaic of asteroid Bennu shows the locations of the first 12 surface features to receive official names from the International Astronomical Union. The accepted names were proposed by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team members, who have been mapping the asteroid in detail over the last year. Bennu’s surface features are named after birds and bird-like creatures in mythology, and the places associated with them. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

by Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Asteroid Bennu’s most prominent boulder, a rock chunk jutting out 71 ft (21.7 m) from the asteroid’s southern hemisphere, finally has a name. The boulder – which is so large that it was initially detected from Earth – is officially designated Benben Saxum after the primordial hill that first arose from the dark waters in an ancient Egyptian creation myth.  

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