ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NASA PR) — While the sun beat down on the New Mexico desert, inside, a dense fog hung in the air. In a special facility outside Albuquerque, a team of NASA researchers was working with the kind of fog that’s so thick you can’t see three feet in front of you.
BALTIMORE (NASA PR) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team fully deployed its 21-foot, gold-coated primary mirror, successfully completing the final stage of all major spacecraft deployments to prepare for science operations.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The James Webb Space Telescope team has fully deployed the spacecraft’s 70-foot sunshield, a key milestone in preparing it for science operations.
The sunshield – about the size of a tennis court at full size – was folded to fit inside the payload area of an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket’s nose cone prior to launch. The Webb team began remotely deploying the sunshield Dec. 28, 2021, three days after launch.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — When NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, explores and samples the soils at the Moon’s South Pole, scientists anticipate it will reveal answers to some of the Moon’s enduring mysteries. Where is the water and how much is there? Where did the Moon’s water come from? What other resources are there?
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (NASA PR) — Teams from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville are currently testing components of NASA’s CubeSat Laser Infrared CrosslinK (CLICK) B/C demonstration, aiming to validate that the technology can be packaged into a CubeSat and work as expected. CLICK B/C is the second of two sequential missions designed to advance optical communications capabilities for autonomous fleets of CubeSats.
KOUROU, French Guiana, December 25, 2021 (NASA PR) — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.
A joint effort with ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, the Webb observatory is NASA’s revolutionary flagship mission to seek the light from the first galaxies in the early universe and to explore our own solar system, as well as planets orbiting other stars, called exoplanets.
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected nine space technologies under the agency’s 2021 TechFlights solicitation for testing aboard parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and suborbital rocket-powered systems.
With its recent 17th flight, the Red Planet rotorcraft reaches an airborne milestone the team never considered achievable. Its 18th flight is scheduled for no earlier than today.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The 17th flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on Dec. 5 pushed the total flight time past the 30-minute mark. The 117-second sortie brought history’s first aircraft to operate from the surface of another world closer to its original airfield, “Wright Brothers Field,” where it will await the arrival of the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover, currently exploring “South Séítah” region of Mars’ Jezero Crater.
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.
Engages expert pan-Canadian team of small businesses, scientists and academics
BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA Ltd. (TSX:MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly-expanding global space industry, today announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to undertake a Phase A initial design study for a Canadian Lunar Rover mission to the Moon.
As part of the CSA’s Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP), the Lunar Rover will advance eight key technologies that are foundational building blocks for planetary rovers, including mobility, communications, operations, thermal control for lunar night survival, power generation and storage, and semi-autonomous plus autonomous operations.
By Nicole Quenelle NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
EDWARDS, Calif. — As you read this article, you don’t need to worry that cosmic radiation might destroy the computer displaying it. That’s because the Earth’s atmosphere provides protection against such radiation. However, for astronauts relying on computing systems in space, cosmic radiation is a real concern. This is why NASA is supporting tests of radiation-tolerant computing systems on suborbital vehicles – and eventually on the Moon.
By Nicole Quenelle NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
MOJAVE, Calif. — Video capture during future lunar landings could play an important role in contributing to researchers’ understanding of disturbances in lunar surface materials – called regolith – caused by the lander’s rocket plume. With support from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, on Oct. 14, 2021, researchers from Los Angeles-based Zandef Deksit put a high-tech video capture and regolith sensor payload called ExoCam to the test. The desert environment of Mojave, California, provided a stand-in for the surface of the Moon, and the Xodiac vertical takeoff vertical landing (VTVL) platform from Masten Space Systems was the test vehicle.
Simulating the movement of a lunar lander, the VTVL vehicle enabled researchers from Zandef Deksit and co-investigators from Honeybee Robotics to test an ejection mechanism to jettison the ExoCam onto the desert surface at specific altitudes just before landing. Along with calculations to account for lunar gravity, this helped the team understand the limit of how far from a planetary surface they would need to eject the payload in order for it to survive landing and function properly.
Once on the ground, the payload’s camera captured video footage from the unique vantage point of the desert surface. The ExoCam also utilized a regolith sensor developed by co-investigators at Arizona State University to capture data about the quantity of regolith particles picked up by the vehicle’s rocket plume, as well as the speed at which they were propelled as the lander descended onto the surface.
About Flight Opportunities
Flight Opportunities rapidly demonstrates promising technologies for space exploration, discovery, and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington, and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA seeks to improve a variety of Earth and space-based capabilities, including detecting and tracking wildfires, identifying plumes of gas venting into Earth’s atmosphere, and precision tracking of small spacecraft positions in orbit. The NASA TechLeap Prize is helping to advance these types of technologies for space exploration and Earth observation.
The agency has named three winners in the first TechLeap Prize competition, Autonomous Observation Challenge No. 1. The proposed solutions will help rapidly advance small spacecraft technologies for autonomous observation of events on Earth and beyond, as well as improve communications and computing power in small spacecraft applications. The winning teams will each receive an initial $200,000 prize they can use to begin building their payloads for a later suborbital flight test.
LAFAYETTE, Colo., October 20, 2021 (Blue Canyon PR) — Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, delivered the first of four 6U CubeSats to NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. The CubeSats will support a technology demonstration called Starling. NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate funds the demonstration. Under the current contract agreement, in addition to designing and manufacturing the spacecraft buses, BCT will also provide engineering and support to Starling mission operations for the four flight-qualified 6U CubeSats.
“The delivery of CubeSats will allow Ames to continue with payload integration and testing of the integrated flight unit,” said Stephanee Borck, senior program manager at Blue Canyon Technologies. “A lot of hard work from both teams has gone into making it thus far in the project. We look forward to delivering the next three CubeSats and seeing what the technology demonstration can do on-orbit.”