OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Search Tests Instruments, Science Team

The path of the Main Belt asteroid 12 Victoria, as imaged by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Feb. 11, 2017, during the mission’s Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search. This animation is made of a series of five images taken by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera that were then cropped and centered on Victoria. The images were taken about 51 minutes apart and each was exposed for 10 seconds. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — During an almost two-week search, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission team activated the spacecraft’s MapCam imager and scanned part of the surrounding space for elusive Earth-Trojan asteroids — objects that scientists believe may exist in one of the stable regions that co-orbits the sun with Earth. Although no Earth-Trojans were discovered, the spacecraft’s camera operated flawlessly and demonstrated that it could image objects two magnitudes dimmer than originally expected.

The spacecraft, currently on its outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, flew through the center of Earth’s fourth Lagrangian area — a stable region 60 degrees in front of Earth in its orbit where scientists believe asteroids may be trapped, such as asteroid 2010 TK7 discovered by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite in 2010. Though no new asteroids were discovered in the region that was scanned, the spacecraft’s cameras MapCam and PolyCam successfully acquired and imaged Jupiter and several of its moons, as well as Main Belt asteroids.

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NASA Selects In-Situ Resource Utilization SBIR Phase II Projects

NASA has selected two proposals related to in-situ resource utilization for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The space agency will enter into negotiations with two companies for contracts worth up to $750,000 apiece over two years.

The selected proposals include:

  • In-Situ Ethylene and Methane Production from CO2 as Plastic Precursors — Opus 12, Inc., Berkeley, CA
  • Extraterrestrial Metals Processing — Pioneer Astronautics, Lakewood, CO

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Mechanism Underlying Size-Sorting of Rubble on Asteroid Itokawa Revealed

Asteroid Itokawa (Credit: JAXA)

By Greta Keenan
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

In 2005, the Hayabusa spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) landed on Itokawa, a small near-Earth asteroid named after the famous Japanese rocket scientist Hideo Itokawa. The aim of the unmanned mission was to study the asteroid and collect a sample of material to be returned to Earth for analysis. Contrary to scientific predictions that small asteroids are barren nuggets of rock, photographs taken by the Hayabusa spacecraft revealed that the surface of Itokawa is strewn with different sized particles. Even more puzzling was the lateral separation of small and large particles – with large boulders occupying the highlands and small pebbles occupying the lowlands.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

GREENBELT, MD (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft begins its search Thursday for an enigmatic class of near-Earth objects known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. OSIRIS-REx, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend almost two weeks searching for evidence of these small bodies.

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Successful Deep Space Maneuver for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft

This is an artist's concept of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney
This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

By Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

New tracking data confirms that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aced its first Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-1) on Dec. 28, 2016. The engine burn sets up the spacecraft for an Earth gravity assist this fall as it continues its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu.

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Lu: Good News and Bad News on Asteroid Defense

These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions
These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions)

Statement by Dr. Ed Lu
Co-founder and CEO, B612 Foundation

“Last week brought both good and bad news for the field of planetary defense and the worldwide effort to protect the Earth from large and dangerous asteroid impacts.

The good news is that the National Near Earth Object Preparedness Strategy report from the White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) presented a list of strategic goals to address the risk of large asteroid impacts.

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Asteroid Sleuths Go Back to the Future

Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)
Asteroid 2016 WJ1 (Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Careful sleuthing through decade-old images has enabled ESA’s asteroid team to decide that a newly discovered space rock poses little threat of hitting Earth any time soon.

Spotting a previously unknown asteroid for the first time always raises the big question: is there a risk it will impact Earth?

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Lockheed Martin to Build Lucy Asteroid Spacecraft

An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (left) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)
An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (left) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)

DENVER (Lockheed Martin PR)  — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for NASA’s Lucy mission. One of NASA’s two new Discovery Program missions, Lucy will perform the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids orbiting the sun in tandem with the gas giant. The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these exciting worlds.

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DSI Hires CEO

Bill Miller
Bill Miller

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Deep Space Industries is excited to announce that Bill Miller will be joining the company as chief executive officer to position DSI for rapid growth in the coming years. With an impeccable track record of growing technology companies, Bill brings game-changing approaches, solutions, and perspectives to DSI through his experience in defining, developing, and delivering results for dynamic organizations.

“Bill is a proven difference-maker and change agent who knows how to deliver solutions by crafting a vision and executing strategy that leads to concrete results,” said Rick Tumlinson, DSI’s chair of the board of DSI. “He brings the exact type of leadership and experience that will be instrumental to the growth of DSI in the coming years.”

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SSL to Provide Spacecraft for NASA Asteroid Mission

The Psyche mission spacecraft will include a multispectral imager, which will be led by an ASU science team and will provide high-resolution images using filters to differentiate between the asteroid’s metallic and silicate components. (Credit: SSL)
The Psyche mission spacecraft will include a multispectral imager, which will be led by an ASU science team and will provide high-resolution images using filters to differentiate between the asteroid’s metallic and silicate components. (Credit: SSL)

Palo Alto, Calif. (SSL PR) Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced that it will provide a spacecraft platform for a NASA Discovery Mission to explore the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche. SSL will work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to support Principal Investigator Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration, in a mission to research the 210 km diameter asteroid, which is believed to be the only place in the solar system where a metal planetary core can be studied. As the industrial partner, SSL will provide the “power-propulsion chassis,” a highly capable composite structure spacecraft platform equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion (SEP) system.

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ASU to Lead NASA Space Exploration Mission for 1st Time

Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU
Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU

Metal asteroid Psyche to offer unique look into violent collisions that created Earth, terrestrial planets

by Karin Valentine
Media Relations & Marketing manager,
ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University’s Psyche Mission, a journey to a metal asteroid, has been selected for flight, marking the first time the school will lead a NASA space exploration mission and the first time scientists will be able to see what is believed to be a planetary core.

The mission’s spacecraft is expected to launch in 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, where it will spend 20 months in orbit, mapping it and studying its properties.

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SwRI to lead NASA’s Lucy Mission to Jupiter’s Trojans

Southwest Research Institute is leading NASA’s Lucy mission, which will launch in 2021 for the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. In this artist’s concept (not to scale), the Lucy spacecraft is flying by Eurybates, one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. (Credit: SwRI)
Southwest Research Institute is leading NASA’s Lucy mission, which will launch in 2021 for the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. In this artist’s concept (not to scale), the Lucy spacecraft is flying by Eurybates, one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. (Credit: SwRI)

BOULDER, Colo., January 4, 2017 (SwRI PR) — NASA has selected Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) to lead Lucy, a landmark Discovery mission to perform the first reconnaissance of the Trojans, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. The Lucy spacecraft will launch in 2021 to study six of these exciting worlds.

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NASA Selects Two Missions to Explore Asteroids

An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (lef) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system.  (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)
An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft (lef) flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus. (Credit: SwRI, SSL/Peter Rubin)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two missions that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest eras in the history of our solar system – a time less than 10 million years after the birth of our sun. The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

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White House Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy

Asteroid Eros
Asteroid Eros

National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy

Product of the Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) (Damien) of the National Science and Technology Council

December 2016

Executive Summary

The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy (Strategy) and the forthcoming National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to improve our Nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national
and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking. The Strategy and Action Plan build on efforts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to better detect and characterize the NEO population as well as recent efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for and respond to a NEO impact. Together, they aim to foster a collaborative effort in which the Nation can better understand, prevent, and prepare for the effects of a NEO impact. The Nation must continue to leverage existing networks of expertise and capabilities, both public and private, and pursue targeted enhancements to improve the ability to manage the risks associated with NEOs.

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NASA’s Exploration Year in Review

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)
BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2016, NASA drove advances in technology, science, aeronautics and space exploration that enhanced the world’s knowledge, innovation, and stewardship of Earth.

“This past year marked record-breaking progress in our exploration objectives,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We advanced the capabilities we’ll need to travel farther into the solar system while increasing observations of our home and the universe, learning more about how to continuously live and work in space, and, of course, inspiring the next generation of leaders to take up our Journey to Mars and make their own discoveries.”
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