JAXA Cleans Up on AIAA Awards

AIAA PR — The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will present awards recognizing key achievements in space science and technology, space program management, and sustained service to the Institute, at a noon awards luncheon on September 28 as part of the AIAA SPACE 2011 Conference & Exposition, September 27–29, at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, Calif. JAXA’s Hayabusa and ETS-VII/JEMS teams will received awards during the ceremony.

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Groups Make Progress on Protecting Earth From Asteroids

From top to bottom, pictured (not to scale) are the moon, Venus, and an asteroid.

SWF PR — A workshop has brought together leading representatives from space agencies and international experts to discuss key issues related to global response and cooperation in the event of a Near Earth Object (NEO) impact threat to Earth.

The gathering of specialists took place August 25-26 in Pasadena, California. The meeting was co-organized and co-sponsored by Action Team-14, part of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, Secure World Foundation (SWF), and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) that represents over 350 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space.

The supporting agency host of the meeting was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Near Earth Object Observations Program Office.

This recent workshop is a follow-up to previous meetings that took place last year in Mexico City to discuss a NEO Information, Analysis, and Warning Network (IAWN) and in Darmstadt, Germany to confer about a NEO Mission Planning and Operations Group, or MPOG, to plan, organize, and conduct any necessary missions to threatening asteroids.

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Cool Picture: Vesta Finally Gets its Closeup

NASA PR — PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned the first close-up image after beginning its orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta. On Friday, July 15, Dawn became the first probe to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The image taken for navigation purposes shows Vesta in greater detail than ever before. When Vesta captured Dawn into its orbit, there were approximately 9,900 miles (16,000 kilometers) between the spacecraft and asteroid. Engineers estimate the orbit capture took place at 10 p.m. PDT. (more…)

Dawn Rises Over Vesta


NASA PR — PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on Saturday became the first probe ever to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Dawn will study the asteroid, named Vesta, for a year before departing for a second destination, a dwarf planet named Ceres, in July 2012. Observations will provide unprecedented data to help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system. The data also will help pave the way for future human space missions.

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Dawn to Enter Orbit Around Asteroid Vesta Tonight

NASA PR — PASADENA, Calif. — On July 15, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will begin a prolonged encounter with the asteroid Vesta, making the mission the first to enter orbit around a main-belt asteroid.

The main asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Dawn will study Vesta for one year, and observations will help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system’s history.

As the spacecraft approaches Vesta, surface details are coming into focus, as seen in a recent image taken from a distance of about 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometers).

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Stardust Finds Human-made Scar on Comet Tempel 1

This pair of images shows the before-and-after comparison of the part of comet Tempel 1 that was hit by the impactor from NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Maryland/Cornell

NASA’s Stardust spacecraft returned new images of a comet showing a scar resulting from the 2005 Deep Impact mission. The images also showed the comet has a fragile and weak nucleus.

The spacecraft made its closest approach to comet Tempel 1 on Monday, Feb. 14, at 8:40 p.m. PST (11:40 p.m. EST) at a distance of approximately 178 kilometers (111 miles). Stardust took 72 high-resolution images of the comet. It also accumulated 468 kilobytes of data about the dust in its coma, the cloud that is a comet’s atmosphere. The craft is on its second mission of exploration called Stardust-NExT, having completed its prime mission collecting cometary particles and returning them to Earth in 2006.

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Stardust-NExT Flies By a Comet

Comet Tempel 1 as Seen by NASA’s Stardust

NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:39 p.m. PST (11:39 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011. The comet was first visited by NASA’s Deep Impact mission in 2005.

Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission’s principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.

For more information about Stardust-NExT, please visit http://stardustnext.jpl.nasa.gov.

NASA Spacecraft to Fly By Comet Tonight

NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission spacecraft will fly by comet Tempel 1 on Monday evening. Live coverage on NASA TV and via the Internet begins at 8:30 p.m. PST (11:30 p.m. EST) from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Coverage also will include segments from the Lockheed Martin Space System’s mission support area in Denver.

The closest approach is expected tonight at approximately 8:40 p.m. PST (11:40 p.m. EST).

The mission team expects to begin receiving images on the ground starting at around midnight PST (3 a.m. on Feb. 15 EST). Transmission of each image will take about 15 minutes. It will take about 10 hours to complete the transmission of all images and science data aboard the spacecraft.

For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv .

The live coverage and news conference will also be carried on one of JPL’s Ustream channels. During events, viewers can take part in a real-time chat and submit questions to the Stardust-NExT team at: http://www.ustream.tv/user/NASAJPL2 .

A post-flyby news conference is planned on Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST).

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International Asteroid Symposium Set for April

Asteroid Ida

International Symposium on Asteroid Mitigation and Exploration
Texas A&M University — College Station
April 4-6, 2011
http://aeweb.tamu.edu/isam/index.php

The International Symposium on Asteroid Mitigation and Exploration, to be held in College Station, Texas, will bring together an international community of researchers and practitioners to discuss new research results, mitigation and exploration strategies, international collaboration, and public awareness. In additional to presentations from attendees, a round table will be held to discuss future international cooperation, public awareness, and public policy statements.

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Energia Wants to Spend $1.9 Billion on Orbital Pod to Clean Up Space Debris

Some interesting news via the Chinese Xinhua news agency that RSC Energia plans to build a nuclear-power “orbital pod” to clean up space debris. The details include:

  • cost: 600 billion rubles ($1.9 billion USD)
  • cleanup 600 satellites by dropping them in the ocean over 10 years
  • begin operations by 2023
  • 15 year lifespan.

The report also indicates that Energia has been developing plans for a “space interceptor designed to destroy dangerous space objects heading toward the Earth.” These presumably would be near Earth objects.

As with many Russian projects, it’s not clear if there is money available or this is a proposal looking for funding.

NASA’s EPOXI Spacecraft Flew Through Cosmic Snow Storm

NASA MISSION UPDATE

The EPOXI mission’s recent encounter with comet Hartley 2 provided the first images clear enough for scientists to link jets of dust and gas with specific surface features. NASA and other scientists have begun to analyze the images.

The EPOXI mission spacecraft revealed a cometary snow storm created by carbon dioxide jets spewing out tons of golf-ball to basketball-sized fluffy ice particles from the peanut-shaped comet’s rocky ends. At the same time, a different process was causing water vapor to escape from the comet’s smooth mid-section. This information sheds new light on the nature of comets and even planets.

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Russians Aim for Landings on Moon, Mercury, Phobos and Europa

During the International Academy of Astronautics Summit on Wednesday, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov laid out Russia’s ambitious plans for Solar System exploration, which includes a sample return from Phobos and the Moon as well as landings on the planet Mercury and Jupiter’s moon Europa. The meeting, which was aimed at deepening international cooperation in space, was attended by 27 heads of space agencies.

The Russian space agency and ITAR-TASS reported on Perminov’s comments, which also included remarks about nuclear propulsion, climate change monitoring, asteroid missions, space situational awareness, and the International Space Station.

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