NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Following a thorough evaluation, NASA has extended the planetary science missions of eight of its spacecraft due to their scientific productivity and potential to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and beyond.

The missions – Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), InSight lander, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons – have been selected for continuation, assuming their spacecraft remain healthy. Most of the missions will be extended for three years; however, OSIRIS-REx will be continued for nine years in order to reach a new destination, and InSight will be continued until the end of 2022, unless the spacecraft’s electrical power allows for longer operations.

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Welcome to ‘Octavia E. Butler Landing’ on Mars

Perseverance Rover landing site. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has named the landing site of the agency’s Perseverance rover “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” after the science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. The landing location is marked with a star in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

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Spectacular Image: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Captures Perseverance Rover Descent to Surface

The descent stage holding NASA’s Perseverance rover can be seen falling through the Martian atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The descent stage holding NASA’s Perseverance rover can be seen falling through the Martian atmosphere, its parachute trailing behind, in this image taken on Feb. 18, 2021, by the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ancient river delta, which is the target of the Perseverance mission, can be seen entering Jezero Crater from the left.

HiRISE was approximately 435 miles (700 kilometers) from Perseverance and traveling at about 6750 mile per hour (3 kilometers per second) at the time the image was taken.  The extreme distance and high speeds of the two spacecraft were challenging conditions that required precise timing and for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to both pitch upward and roll hard to the left so that Perseverance was viewable by HiRISE at just the right moment.

The orbiter’s mission is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, built the spacecraft. The University of Arizona provided and operates HiRISE.

Where Should Future Astronauts Land on Mars? Follow the Water

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. (Credit: NASA)

A new NASA paper provides the most detailed map to date of near-surface water ice on the Red Planet.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

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Martian Moon’s Orbit Hints at an Ancient Ring of Mars

These color-enhanced views of Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, result from imaging on Feb. 21, 2009, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Insitute PR — Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only has two small, misshapen moons, Phobos and Deimos. Although these moons are small, their peculiar orbits hide important secrets about their past.

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Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

NASA’s InSight spacecraft, its heat shield and its parachute were imaged on Dec. 6 and 11 by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 26, NASA’s InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight’s exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

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How We Will Know When InSight Touches Down on Mars

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — What’s the sound of a touchdown on Mars?

If you’re at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it sounds like winning the Super Bowl: cheers, laughter and lots of hollering.

But in the minutes before that, NASA’s InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander’s radio signals using a variety of spacecraft — and even radio telescopes here on Earth — to suss out what’s happening 91 million miles (146 million km) away.

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ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

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View of ESA Mars Probe on Surface

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site. (Credit: NASA)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site. (Credit: NASA)

DARMSTADT, Germany, 21 October 2016 (ESA PR) — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator module.

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NASA Lets Public Select Photo Targets on Mars

MRO_in_orbit

NASA MISSION UPDATE

The most powerful camera aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars will soon be taking photo suggestions from the public.

Since arriving at Mars in 2006, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has recorded nearly 13,000 observations of the Red Planet’s terrain. Each image covers dozens of square miles and reveal details as small as a desk. Now, anyone can nominate sites for pictures.

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NASA Mars Orbiter Spots Ice From Meteorite Impacts

mars_ice

NASA MISSION UPDATE

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed frozen water hiding just below the surface of mid-latitude Mars. The spacecraft’s observations were obtained from orbit after meteorites excavated fresh craters on the Red Planet.

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Cool Image of the Week: Victoria Crater on Mars

 This image of Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at more of a sideways angle than earlier orbital images of this crater.
This image of Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at more of a sideways angle than earlier orbital images of this crater.

TUCSON, Ariz. — The high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned a dramatic oblique view of the Martian crater that a rover explored for two years.

The new view of Victoria Crater shows layers on steep crater walls, difficult to see from straight overhead, plus wheel tracks left by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between September 2006 and August 2008.

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NASA Orbiter Finds Martian Rock Record With 10 Beats to the Bar

NASA PRESS RELEASE

Climate cycles persisting for millions of years on ancient Mars left a record of rhythmic patterns in thick stacks of sedimentary rock layers, revealed in three-dimensional detail by a telescopic camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Researchers using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera report the first measurement of a periodic signal in the rocks of Mars. This pushes climate-cycle fingerprints much earlier in Mars’ history than more recent rhythms seen in Martian ice layers. It also may rekindle debates about some patterns of rock layering on Earth.

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