InSight Is the Newest Mars Weather Service

The white east- and west-facing booms — called Temperature and Wind for InSight, or TWINS — on the deck of NASA’s InSight lander belong to its suite of weather sensors. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — No matter how cold your winter has been, it’s probably not as chilly as Mars. Check for yourself: Starting today, the public can get a daily weather report from NASA’s InSight lander.

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Austrian Research Promotion Agency Signs Joint Statement on Institutional Use of Ariane 6, Vega C

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS, 30 January 2019 (ESA PR) — This morning, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency added its signature to the joint statement signed by other European institutions (ASI, ESA, CDTI, CNES & DLR) and the Swiss Confederation in October last year in support to the European launcher industry and to Ariane 6 and Vega-C.

Through this Statement, signatories recognise the benefit of aggregating their institutional demand for launch services to ensure an independent, cost-effective, affordable, and reliable access to space for Europe.

Klaus Pseiner, Managing Director at the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft, FFG) signed the joint statement in the presence of Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General, and Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation, at ESA Headquarters in Paris.

Space capacities are strategically important to civil, commercial, security and defence-related policy objectives. Space is an enabler for responding to societal challenges and for stimulating job and growth creation. Europe needs to maintain a leading position in this sector. Europe’s autonomy of action in space is conditional on autonomy in accessing space.

Vega-C’s First Stage P120C Motor Tested in French Guiana

Hot firing of P120C solid rocket motor for Vega-C. (Credit: ESA/CNES)

KOUROU, French Guiana, 29 January 2019 (ESA PR) — The first qualification model of the P120C solid-fuel motor, configured for Vega-C, was static fired yesterday on the test stand at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

Fully loaded with 142 tonnes of fuel, the 13.5 m long and 3.4 m diameter motor was ignited for a final simulation of liftoff and the first phase of flight.

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Self Driving Rovers Tested in Mars-like Morocco

SherpaTT rover during Morocco field test. (Credit: DFKI GmbH, Florian Cordes)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Robots invaded the Sahara Desert for Europe’s largest rover field test, taking place in a Mars-like part of Morocco. For two weeks three rovers and more than 40 engineers tested automated navigation systems at up to five different sites.

This marked the end of the first phase of the strategic research cluster on space robotics technologies, a scheme funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

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Arianespace Supports France and European Defense with CSO-1 Satellite’s Launch

Soyuz lifts off from French Guiana. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — For its 11th and final launch of the year – and the third in 2018 with the Soyuz medium-lift launcher – Arianespace successfully orbited the CSO-1 military Earth observation satellite for the French CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense.

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Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

NASA’s InSight spacecraft, its heat shield and its parachute were imaged on Dec. 6 and 11 by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 26, NASA’s InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight’s exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

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France Outlines Plans for Space Cooperation with China

BEIJING (CNES PR) — In the presence of Bernard Larrouturou, General Director of Research and Innovation, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, spoke on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Beijing, as part of the preparation of the joint scientific and technological committee Franco -Chinese and presented the space cooperation between France and China.

On this day, he also had the opportunity to speak with Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, Zhang Kejian, CNSA Administrator, and Wang Zhenyu, head of the CNSA’s Office of International Cooperation. Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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NASA InSight Lander Hears Martian Winds

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, has provided the first ever “sounds” of Martian winds on the Red Planet.

InSight sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, estimated to be blowing between 10 to 15 mph (5 to 7 meters a second) on Dec. 1, from northwest to southeast. The winds were consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area, which were observed from orbit.

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Ariane 6 Moving Forward

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

PARIS (ESA PR) — This has been an intense year for Ariane 6 development, with progress boosted across Europe: plants are manufacturing new parts using novel methods, all engines have been tested, and the construction of launch facilities is well underway.

ESA has worked with an industrial network led by prime contractor ArianeGroup, of more than 600 companies in 13 European countries, including 350 small- and medium-sized enterprises, to fine-tune the design and start production. Meanwhile, France’s CNES space agency has been preparing its launch facilities at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

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German Mars Mole HP3 Arrives at Red Planet Aboard NASA’s InSight

The DLR experiment Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package in operation. (Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR)
  • The InSight space probe touched down safely on the Elysium Planitia plains of Mars on 26 November 2018 at 20:52:59 CET.
  • Carrying the DLR experiment HP3 (Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package), the mission will yield fresh insights into how the interior of Mars and rocky planets like Earth are structured and how they have evolved over time.
  • Focus: Space, exploration, robotics

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR)  — Just a few weeks from now, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) HP3 Mole will start hammering its way automatically into the subsoil of the Red Planet to measure its inner heat.

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ESA Works on Improving Vega Performance & Capabilities

Europe’s Vega small launcher is set to demonstrate its extended capability to deploy multiple light satellites using its new versatile Small Satellites Mission Service (SSMS) dispenser, mid-2019. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Vega is proving its reliability. Based on this heritage, ESA and European industry are building new elements that will increase Vega’s performance, capabilities and flexibility from mid-2019.

A proof of concept flight on Vega of the Small Spacecraft Mission Service is planned for mid-2019.

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InSight Is Catching Rays on Mars

The Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA’s InSight lander, took this picture of the Martian surface on Nov. 26, 2018, the same day the spacecraft touched down on the Red Planet. The camera’s transparent dust cover is still on in this image, to prevent particulates kicked up during landing from settling on the camera’s lens. This image was relayed from InSight to Earth via NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, currently orbiting Mars. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. and ELISIUM PLANITIA, Mars (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — NASA’s InSight has sent signals to Earth indicating that its solar panels are open and collecting sunlight on the Martian surface. NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter relayed the signals, which were received on Earth at about 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST). Solar array deployment ensures the spacecraft can recharge its batteries each day. Odyssey also relayed a pair of images showing InSight’s landing site.

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NASA’s InSight to Explore What Lies Beneath Martian Surface

InSight’seismometer (Crecdit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. and ELYSIUM PLANITIA, Mars (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Mars has just received its newest robotic resident. NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on the Red Planet after an almost seven-month, 300-million-mile (458-million-kilometer) journey from Earth.

InSight’s two-year mission will be to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.

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How We Will Know When InSight Touches Down on Mars

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — What’s the sound of a touchdown on Mars?

If you’re at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it sounds like winning the Super Bowl: cheers, laughter and lots of hollering.

But in the minutes before that, NASA’s InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander’s radio signals using a variety of spacecraft — and even radio telescopes here on Earth — to suss out what’s happening 91 million miles (146 million km) away.

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NASA InSight Team on Course for Mars Touchdown

An artist’s impression of NASA InSight’s entry, descent and landing at Mars, scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Mars Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on track for a soft touchdown on the surface of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, the Monday after Thanksgiving. But it’s not going to be a relaxing weekend of turkey leftovers, football and shopping for the InSight mission team. Engineers will be keeping a close eye on the stream of data indicating InSight’s health and trajectory, and monitoring Martian weather reports to figure out if the team needs to make any final adjustments in preparation for landing, only five days away.

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