Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…
Planetary Defense Exercise Uses Apophis as Hazardous Asteroid Stand-In
Clockwise from top left are three of the observatories that participated in a 2021 planetary defense exercise: NASA’s Goldstone planetary radar, the Mount Lemmon telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, and NASA’s NEOWISE mission. At bottom left is an illustration of the path of Apophis’ close approach in 2029. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Over 100 participants from 18 countries – including NASA scientists and the agency’s NEOWISE mission – took part in the international exercise.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Watching the skies for large asteroids that could pose a hazard to the Earth is a global endeavor. So, to test their operational readiness, the international planetary defense community will sometimes use a real asteroid’s close approach as a mock encounter with a “new” potentially hazardous asteroid. The lessons learned could limit, or even prevent, global devastation should the scenario play out for real in the future.

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  • June 3, 2022
Voyager’s Space Micro Completes Delivery of Seven Flight Level Single Board Computers to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for SunRISE

SAN DIEGO (Voyager Space PR) — Space Micro Inc., powered by Voyager Space, recently delivered a total of seven (7) flight-level Single Board Computers (SBCs) to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of Pasadena, CA for the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE). 

Slated for a 2024-2025 launch, SunRISE will collect data obtained by a small-sat array to help scientists better understand how the Sun generates and releases solar particle storms into space and how these storms influence the interplanetary environment. Space Micro’s SBCs contribute to the mission by performing on-board data processing.

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  • May 17, 2022
International Satellite to Track Impacts of Small Ocean Currents
SWOT’s solar panels unfold as part of a test in January at a Thales Alenia Space facility in Cannes, France, where the satellite is being assembled. SWOT will measure elevations of Earth’s ocean and surface water, giving researchers information with an unprecedented level of detail. (Credits: CNES/Thales Alenia Space)

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission will explore how the ocean absorbs atmospheric heat and carbon, moderating global temperatures and climate change.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Though climate change is driving sea level rise over time, researchers also believe that differences in surface height from place to place in the ocean can affect Earth’s climate. These highs and lows are associated with currents and eddies, swirling rivers in the ocean, that influence how it absorbs atmospheric heat and carbon.

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  • May 14, 2022
NASA’s Mars Helicopter Spots Gear That Helped Perseverance Rover Land
Perseverance’s backshell, supersonic parachute, and associated debris field is seen strewn across the Martian surface in this image captured by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 26th flight on April 19, 2022. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Eyeing some of the components that enabled the rover to get safely to the Martian surface could provide valuable insights for future missions.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed both the parachute that helped the agency’s Perseverance rover land on Mars and the cone-shaped backshell that protected the rover in deep space and during its fiery descent toward the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. Engineers with the Mars Sample Return program asked whether Ingenuity could provide this perspective. What resulted were 10 aerial color images taken April 19 during Ingenuity’s Flight 26.

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  • April 28, 2022
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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  • April 26, 2022
NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera to shoot video of Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, eclipsing the Sun. It’s the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.

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  • April 21, 2022
Webb’s Coldest Instrument Reaches Operating Temperature
MIRI, the mid-infrared camera and spectrograph (left), was installed in the science payload module of the James Webb Space Telescope (right) on 29 April 2013 at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

PARIS (ESA PR) — With help from a cryocooler, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument has dropped down to just a few degrees above the lowest temperature matter can reach and is ready for calibration.

The James Webb Space Telescope will see the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang, but to do that its instruments first need to get cold – really cold. On 7 April, Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) – a joint development by ESA and NASA – reached its final operating temperature below 7 kelvins (minus 266 degrees Celsius).

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  • April 17, 2022
US Space Force Releases Decades of Bolide Data to NASA for Planetary Defense Studies
This photograph taken by an International Space Station astronaut shows a bright meteor from the Perseid meteor shower in Earth’s atmosphere. The brightest meteors are known as fireballs, or bolides. (Credit: NASA)

Hosted by JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, the data can be used by the science community to better understand how asteroids break up when entering the atmosphere.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — An agreement between NASA and the U.S. Space Force recently authorized the public release of decades of data collected by U.S. government sensors on fireball events (large bright meteors also known as bolides) for the benefit of the scientific and planetary defense communities. This action results from collaboration between NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) and the U.S. Space Force to continue furthering our nation’s efforts in planetary defense, which include finding, tracking, characterizing, and cataloguing near-Earth objects (NEOs). The newly released data is composed of information on the changing brightness of bolides as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, called light curves, that could enhance the planetary defense community’s current ability to model the effects of impacts by larger asteroids that could one day pose a threat to Earth.

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  • April 9, 2022
International Sea Level Satellite Takes Over From Predecessor
Meltwater from Greenland glaciers like the one pictured can contribute significantly to sea level rise. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich monitors the height of Earth’s oceans so that researchers can better understand the amount and rate of sea level rise. (Credits: NASA Earth Observatory using Landsat data from USGS)

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the newest addition to a long line of ocean-monitoring satellites, becomes the reference satellite for sea level measurements.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On March 22, the newest U.S.-European sea level satellite, named Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, became the official reference satellite for global sea level measurements. This means that sea surface height data collected by other satellites will be compared to the information produced by Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich to ensure their accuracy.

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  • March 25, 2022