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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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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Meet InSIGHT: NASA’s Newest Planetary Mission

InSIGHT information from JPL’s website. To learn more, click here.

Mission Overview

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a proposed NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior. But InSight is more than a Mars mission – it is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science – understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

By using sophisticated geophysical instruments, InSight will delve deep beneath the surface of Mars, detecting the fingerprints of the processes of terrestrial planet formation, as well as measuring the planet’s “vital signs”: Its “pulse” (seismology), “temperature” (heat flow probe), and “reflexes” (precision tracking).
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NASA to Announce New Planetary Mission Today


UPDATE:
The Washington Post is reporting that the InSIGHT lander (pictured above) will be sent in 2016. InSIGHT contains a drill that will sample the Martian interior. The cost will be $425 million. Learn more here.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 5 p.m. EDT today to discuss the selection of a new Discovery-class mission that will further NASA’s exploration of the solar system. The selection will be the 12th in NASA’s series of Discovery-class missions.

The panelists for the briefing are:

  • John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington
  • James Green, director, NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Washington

Created in 1992, the Discovery Program sponsors frequent, cost-capped solar system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. In May 2011, NASA selected three mission concepts from 28 proposals for funding to conduct preliminary design studies and analyses.

Recent Discovery missions include MESSENGER, Dawn, Stardust, Deep Impact and Genesis. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

The teleconference will be streamed live online at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For more information about the Discovery Program, visit: http://discovery.nasa.gov