Exploring the Solar System? You May Need to Pack an Umbrella

Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) aeroshell. (Credits: NASA Ames Research Center/ Eric James)

by Kimberly Minafra and Gianine Figliozzi
​NASA Ames Research Center

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Gearing up for its first flight test, NASA’s Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology, or ADEPT, is no ordinary umbrella. ADEPT is a foldable device that opens to make a round, rigid heat shield, called an aeroshell. This game-changing technology could squeeze a heat shield into a rocket with a diameter larger than the rocket itself. The design may someday deliver much larger payloads to planetary surfaces than is currently possible.

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NASA Tests Space Tech on UP Aerospace Rocket

UP Aerospace SpaceLoft 12 rocket lifts off from Spaceport America. (Credit: NASA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NASA PR) — Three NASA technology demonstration payloads launched aboard UP Aerospace’s SpaceLoft 12 mission from Spaceport America in New Mexico on Sept. 12.

The suborbital rocket carried an umbrella-like heat shield called Adaptable Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT). Developed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, ADEPT’s unique design could be used for planetary lander and sample return missions. The flight tested the heat shield’s deployment sequence and entry performance.

Another Ames payload called Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM-3) measures the internal environment of suborbital rockets carrying experiments. The system monitored acceleration, temperature and pressure within the payload bay during flight and could benefit future suborbital launches.

The third technology is from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is the Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS). While the termination device was not active during launch, the payload tested hardware and software performance in the high dynamics of suborbital flight.

The payload flight tests were funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program, managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

For more about Armstrong, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/armstrong

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Bridenstine: NASA Lunar Plan Focused on Sustainable, Commercial Architecture

Orion near the moon (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA plans to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon within a decade using a sustainable architecture that stresses reusable vehicles and open systems, Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week.

“So how do we go sustainably?” Bridenstine said during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). “We start by taking advantage of capabilities in this country that didn’t exist even five or 10 years ago. We have commercial companies that can do things that weren’t possible even a few years ago….

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Video: Jim Bridenstine Addresses NASA Advisory Council

Video Caption: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke the agency’s exploration goals, during a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) on Aug. 29 at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. The Council meets several times a year for fact finding and deliberative sessions. Meetings are held at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, as well as at NASA Centers across the country.

Ice Confirmed at the Moon’s Poles

The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface, where the gray scale corresponds to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). The ice is concentrated at the darkest and coldest locations, in the shadows of craters. This is the first time scientists have directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon’s surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.

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NASA’s Trash Talk: Managing Garbage in Space

A potential trash management system for future, long-duration space missions, the current version of the Heat Melt Compactor, seen here in its ground configuration, has been tested extensively at NASA’s Ames Research Center. (Credits: NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Dealing with trash is a challenge wherever people work and live, and space is no exception. Astronauts produce a couple of pounds of trash per crew member per day. To better manage this, NASA is developing a new trash processing system to demonstrate on the International Space Station. This work is critical for potential future missions traveling farther from Earth, to the Moon and Mars, and for longer periods of time.

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NASA Awards $15 Million to Small Businesses for Competitive R&D Projects

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 20 research and technology proposals — valued at $15 million — from 19 American small businesses. Each is partnering with research institutions for Phase II of NASA’s competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

STTR supports NASA’s future missions into deep space and benefits the U.S. economy. Selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology. The awards are for small companies partnering with research institutions from across the country, including New Jersey, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois and California.

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Planetary Defense Has New Tool in Weather Satellite Lightning Detector

On December 29, 2017, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, an instrument flying on board two weather satellites, detected a bright meteor in Earth’s atmosphere over the western Atlantic Ocean. (Credits: NASA/Lockheed Martin)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s efforts to better understand asteroid impacts has found unexpected support from a new satellite sensor designed to detect lightning. New research published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that the new Geostationary Lightning Mapper, or GLM, on two weather satellites is able to pick up signals of meteors in Earth’s atmosphere.

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NASA’s TESS Spacecraft Starts Science Operations

TESS exoplanet satellite (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite has started its search for planets around nearby stars, officially beginning science operations on July 25, 2018. TESS is expected to transmit its first series of science data back to Earth in August, and thereafter periodically every 13.5 days, once per orbit, as the spacecraft makes it closest approach to Earth. The TESS Science Team will begin searching the data for new planets immediately after the first series arrives.

“I’m thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system’s neighborhood for new worlds,” said Paul Hertz, NASA Astrophysics division director at Headquarters, Washington. “Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the strange, fantastic worlds we’re bound to discover.”

TESS is NASA’s latest satellite to search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. The mission will spend the next two years monitoring the nearest and brightest stars for periodic dips in their light. These events, called transits, suggest that a planet may be passing in front of its star. TESS is expected to find thousands of planets using this method, some of which could potentially support life.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission.

Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

For the latest updates on TESS, visit nasa.gov/tess.

NASA Launches Channel for Roku

Credit: Roku

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — There’s a new way for people to learn about NASA’s exciting missions and thought-provoking discoveries: The agency now has a channel for Roku digital media streaming devices.

Users can install the app for free to access NASA content. This channel, a version of the NASA app, is similar to previous versions of the app developed for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV devices. Users have downloaded the NASA app more than 18 million times across all platforms.

“We want NASA to be available across a range of devices and news and entertainment sources,” said Bob Jacobs, acting associate administrator for communications at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “This broadens the places where users can stream NASA’s on-demand content and watch live launches and activities in space — right on their televisions.”

Credit: Roku

The NASA app for Roku offers several features, including:

  • Live-streaming of NASA Television
  • Real-time views of Earth from the International Space Station
  • Popular NASA vodcasts, such as This Week @NASA, NASA Edge, Space to Ground, JPL, NASA-X, NASA ScienceCast, Hubblecast, The Beautiful Universe: Chandra

As with previous versions of the NASA app, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, developed the NASA Roku channel.

For more information about the NASA app, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasaapp

Learn more about NASA’s missions and activities at:

https://www.nasa.gov

NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Pauses Science Observations to Download Science Data

This artist’s concept depicts select planetary discoveries made to date by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. (Credit: NASA/W. Stenzel)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Earlier this week, NASA’s Kepler team received an indication that the spacecraft fuel tank is running very low. NASA has placed the spacecraft in a hibernation-like state in preparation to download the science data collected in its latest observation campaign. Once the data has been downloaded, the expectation is to start observations for the next campaign with any remaining fuel.

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NASA FDL Leverages Public/Private Partnership to Push New Boundaries of Space Science with Artificial Intelligence


AI Accelerator to Focus on Key Challenges in Space Resources, Astrobiology, Space Weather, And Exoplanets to Benefit the Space Program and Humanity

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Institute/NASA PR) — The NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL) has announced it will apply artificial intelligence (AI) to four key space challenges. FDL is an AI/machine learning research accelerator powered by a public/private partnership between NASA, the SETI Institute, commercial leaders in AI, and pioneers in the private space industry.

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NASA Selects Lessee for Massive Housing Development at Moffett Field

Moffett Field (Credit: NASA)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Mountain View Housing Ventures, LLC, an affiliate of CRC Partners LLC, as the preferred selected lessee to develop housing on NASA property in Moffett Field, California.

NASA and the U.S General Services Administration posted a development opportunity in October 2017, requesting proposals to construct and operate a minimum of 1,930 housing units on 46 acres of federal property.

NASA will begin negotiations with the selected organization in order to establish a long-term lease under its enhanced use lease authority.

With a severe shortage of housing across the Bay Area, NASA Ames is looking to use this development as an opportunity to provide housing for those who work or go to school on the NASA property.

“We are looking forward to doing our part to help mitigate traffic and provide housing for the community,” said Ames Associate Center Director Deborah Feng. “Partnering with industry, academia and other organizations has afforded us with unique opportunities to advance our mission here at NASA Ames.”

To view the request for proposals, visit:

https://go.usa.gov/xRsjZ

For information about federal business opportunities through the GSA, visit:

https://www.fbo.gov/

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

NASA’s New Planet Hunter Snaps Initial Test Image, Swings by Moon Toward Final Orbit

This test image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) captures a swath of the southern sky along the plane of our galaxy. TESS is expected to cover more than 400 times the amount of sky shown in this image when using all four of its cameras during science operations. (Credits: NASA/MIT/TESS)

GREEBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s next planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is one step closer to searching for new worlds after successfully completing a lunar flyby on May 17. The spacecraft passed about 5,000 miles from the Moon, which provided a gravity assist that helped TESS sail toward its final working orbit.

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NASA Seeks Research Proposals for Space Technologies to Flight Test

Carthage College researchers testing their propellant mass gauging experiment in zero gravity. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Flight Opportunities program is seeking research proposals for promising space technologies that benefit future NASA space exploration missions. Selected technologies from industry and academia will be flight-tested on commercial suborbital launch vehicles, reduced gravity aircraft and high-altitude balloon flights.

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