HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston approximately $47 million to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon by December 2022 under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The delivery of the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment known as PRIME-1 will help NASA search for ice at the Moon’s South Pole and, for the first time, harvest ice from below the surface.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast coverage of a first for the agency as its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission attempts to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:12 p.m. EDT.
Live coverage of the spacecraft’s descent to the asteroid’s surface for its “Touch-And-Go,” or TAG, maneuver, which will be managed by Lockheed Martin Space near Denver, will begin at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast key events, including an Artemis program update, of the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which takes place virtually Monday, Oct. 12, through Wednesday, Oct. 14. Coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
During the conference, NASA will discuss international cooperation for the agency’s lunar exploration plans throughout the Artemis program, which includes sending American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024 and establishing a sustainable lunar presence by the end of the decade.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is hosting a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 24, to provide an update on the agency’s first attempt to contact the surface of asteroid Bennu and collect a sample next month. Teleconference audio and visuals will stream live on NASA’s website.
BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — A small satellite mission that will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids has received NASA approval to proceed to the next phase of its development.
On Sept. 3, the dual-spacecraft Janus project successfully passed the important Key Decision Point-C milestone. It’s the first concept study from the current round of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx-2) program to do so.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has established a Mars Sample Return Program Independent Review Board to proactively assist with analysis of current plans and goals for one of the most difficult missions humanity has ever undertaken: the return of samples from another planet to study on Earth.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Distant cosmic objects such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae are sometimes referred to by the scientific community with unofficial nicknames. As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful. NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA now is targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges.
This decision is based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities prior to launch. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 16, to provide an update on the status of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s next premier infrared space observatory and the largest, most complex space telescope for astronomy ever built.
The media teleconference audio will stream live at:
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator
Gregory Robinson, NASA Webb program director
Eric Smith, NASA Webb program scientist
Once deployed, Webb will help solve mysteries in our solar system and look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, as well as probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will hold a community town hall meeting via teleconference with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and his leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 28, to discuss updates in NASA’s science program and the current status of NASA activities.
Members of the science community, academia, the media and the public are invited to participate by calling 888-989-9718. International participants should call 312-470-7045. Both numbers will use the passcode 8137047. Participants must provide their name at the prompt. A replay of the call will be available for one month at 203-369-3252. Charts for the meeting will be posted just prior to the start of the meeting and an audio recording will be available later that day at:
Users must provide their first and last name and organization, and can submit their own questions or vote up or down a list of questions submitted by others. The meeting leaders will try to answer as many of the submitted questions as possible.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected the first two scientific investigations to fly aboard the Gateway, an orbital outpost which will support Artemis lunar operations while demonstrating the technologies necessary to conduct a historic human mission to Mars. The instruments selected for Gateway will observe space weather and monitor the Sun’s radiation environment.
NASA’s next Mars rover has a new name – Perseverance.
The name was announced Thursday by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Zurbuchen was at the school to congratulate seventh grader Alexander Mather, who submitted the winning entry to the agency’s “Name the Rover” essay contest, which received 28,000 entries from K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory.
Tne failures of three aging satellites the United States relies upon to forecast space weather could leave the nation partially blind to electromagnetic storms that could severely disrupt electrical grids, communications systems, aviation and Global Positioning System (GPS) dependent navigation.
“The observations that we rely on to provide alerts and warnings are critical. Should we lose some of the key spacecraft that we talk about, I won’t say we’re blind but we’re darn close. It will impact our ability to support this nation’s need for space weather services. And I don’t want to see that happen,” said William Murtagh, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has added five American companies to the pool of vendors that will be eligible to bid on proposals to provide deliveries to the surface of the Moon through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA released a report Friday with recommendations from the Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) the agency established in response to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report and a recommendation from the NASA Advisory Council.
With NASA, international, and commercial entities planning bold missions to explore our solar system and return samples to Earth, the context for planetary protection is rapidly changing. NASA established the PPIRB to conduct a thorough review of the agency’s policies.
Planetary protection establishes guidelines for missions to other solar system bodies so they are not harmfully contaminated for scientific purposes by Earth biology and Earth, in turn, is protected from harmful contamination from space.
The board’s report assesses a rapidly changing environment where more samples from other solar system bodies will be returned to Earth, commercial and international entities are discussing new kinds of solar system missions, and NASA’s Artemis program is planning human missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
The report discusses 34 findings, and 43 recommendations from the PPIRB, which was chaired by planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute to address future NASA missions and proposed missions by other nations and the private sector that include Mars sample return, robotic missions to other bodies, eventual human missions to Mars, and the exploration of ocean worlds in the outer solar system.
“The landscape for planetary protection is moving very fast. It’s exciting now that for the first time, many different players are able to contemplate missions of both commercial and scientific interest to bodies in our solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We want to be prepared in this new environment with thoughtful and practical policies that enable scientific discoveries and preserve the integrity of our planet and the places we’re visiting.”
The PPIRB, comprised of a high-level team of 12 experts and stakeholders from science, engineering and industry, examined how to update planetary protection policies and procedures in light of current capabilities. Such guidelines have periodically been updated and inform exploration by spacefaring nations that have signed the Outer Space Treaty since the 1960s.
“Planetary science and planetary protection techniques have both changed rapidly in recent years, and both will likely continue to evolve rapidly,” Stern said. “Planetary protection guidelines and practices need to be updated to reflect our new knowledge and new technologies, and the emergence of new entities planning missions across the solar system. There is global interest in this topic, and we also need to address how new players, for example in the commercial sector, can be integrated into planetary protection.”
NASA plans to begin a dialogue about the PPIRB report’s recommendations with stakeholders, and international and commercial partners to help build a new chapter for conducting planetary missions, and planetary protection policies and procedures.
For more information about Planetary Protection, visit: