NASA to Discuss Planetary Protection Review’s Findings and Recommendations

This scene from the panoramic camera on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks back toward part of the west rim of Endeavour Crater that the rover drove along, heading southward, during the summer of 2014. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 18, to discuss recommendations presented by the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB), established in June 2019 by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

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New Camera System to Offer High-Resolution Images and Video of Lunar Landings

The Heimdall camera system. (Credit: Malin Space Science Systems)

TUCSON (Planetary Science Institute PR) — A new spacecraft-mounted camera system funded by NASA is poised to return the first high-resolution video of a landing plume as it lands on the Moon.

The Heimdall camera system project, headed by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist R. Aileen Yingst, consists of four color cameras and a DVR to store images until they can be uplinked to Earth.

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TRAPPIST-1 System Planets Potentially Habitable

The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultra-cool dwarf, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist’s concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature on Feb. 23, 2017. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Tucson, Ariz. (Planetary Science Institute PR) — Two exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 system have been identified as most likely to be habitable, a paper by PSI Senior Scientist Amy Barr says.

The TRAPPIST-1 system has been of great interest to observers and planetary scientists because it seems to contain seven planets that are all roughly Earth-sized, Barr and co-authors Vera Dobos and Laszlo L. Kiss said in “Interior Structures and Tidal Heating in the TRAPPIST-1 Planets” that appears in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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PSI’s Toolbox for Research and Exploration Project Funded for $5.5 Million

TUCSON, Ariz. (PSI PR) – The Planetary Science Institute has been awarded $5.5 million by NASA to be a research node of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system. The node, known as the Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) project, will be led by PSI Senior Scientist Amanda Hendrix, the Principal Investigator, and funded for five years. The Deputy Principal Investigator for TREX is PSI Senior Scientist Faith Vilas. An additional 18 PSI scientists are on the team.

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MARSDROP Micro-probes Could Explore Alien World

MarsDropFlight
The steerable MARSDROP parawing glider is capable of up to 10 minutes of guided flight covering a lateral distance of approximately 10 kilometers (~6 miles). Foreground image is a MER scene. Inset is from a high-altitude weather balloon drop test that demonstrated parawing deployment within speeds and atmospheric conditions expected during Mars entry. The image captures the parawing and capsule descending to the Nevada desert floor. (Credit: Planetary Science Institute)

TUCSON, Ariz. (PSI PR) — Microprobes that piggyback on Mars-bound spacecraft could investigate areas currently unavailable to surface instruments, a Planetary Science Institute researcher said.

The payload could be steered to scientifically desired targets during the gliding phase, enabling a wide variety of enticing research locations including canyons, fresh impact crater sites, volcanic region and glaciers, PSI’s Rebecca M.E. Williams said during a poster presentation today at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

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Atsa Team Successfully Fits Observatory Camera in XCOR Spacecraft


Sept. 5, 2012, Tucson, Ariz
. (PSI PR) — Planetary Science Institute scientists and undergraduate students from The Citadel and other South Carolina colleges visited XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, Calif., to fit the Atsa Suborbital Observatory Mark I camera in an engineering model of the Lynx Mark I spacecraft.

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