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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Galileo Satellites Prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to Highest Accuracy Yet

Galileos measure Einsteinian time dilation. (Credit: ESA-P. Carril/Wikimedia Commons/G. Porter)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system – already serving users globally – has now provided a historic service to the physics community worldwide, enabling the most accurate measurement ever made of how shifts in gravity alter the passing of time, a key element of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

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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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Eu:CROPIS Life Support System – Greenhouses Launched into Space

Eu:CROPIS satellite (Credit: DLR)
  • On 3 December, the DLR Eu:CROPIS mission was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
  • A biofilter will be used to convert urine into fertiliser in a closed life support system.
  • The germination and ripening of the tomatoes in the two greenhouses will indicate that the experiment is going well.
  • By rotating around its own axis, the satellite can simulate gravitational conditions like those on the Moon or Mars.
  • Focus: Life support systems, biofilters, space travel, long-term missions

+++ Update: The Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-food Production in Space (Eu:CROPIS) mission of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) was successfully launched to space. The DLR satellite was successfully placed in orbit at an altitude of 600 kilometres.

First radio contact of the approximately refrigerator-sized satellite to the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen took place about one hour and 15 minutes after the launch. In the next two weeks, GSOC will commission the satellite in space and test all functions. In about seven weeks, the researchers will be able to put the first of two greenhouses into operation. Shortly thereafter, the first tomatoes will be cultivated. +++

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (DLR PR) — At 19:34 CET on 3 December 2018, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS mission was launched into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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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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NanoRacks Provides Historic Triple-Altitude Delivery for Customers in Single Space Station Launch

HOUSTON, November 19, 2018 (NanoRacks PR) — Early this morning, Cygnus, the spacecraft from the tenth contracted cargo resupply mission for Northrop Grumman (previously Orbital ATK), berthed with the International Space Station carrying yet another historic NanoRacks mission. For the first time ever, NanoRacks booked customers on three different altitudes on one commercial resupply launch.

The first delivery will be a research experiment to the astronauts on station. The experiment, “Experimental Chondrule Formation at the International Space Station,” or EXCISS, is the third and final project to launch through the joint “Überflieger” program, sponsored by DLR, the German Space Agency, and DreamUp, an XO Markets company and the leading provider of educational opportunities in space.

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DLR Developing Reusable Rocket Engine for Small Satellite Launcher

Rocket motor during hot fire test (Credit: DLR)
  • DLR researchers have developed a reusable rocket engine specifically for the launch of small satellites.
  • The rocket engine consists of two central components: a metal injector head manufactured by means of metal 3D printing and a ceramic combustion chamber.
  • Small satellites have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry.
  • Focus: space, small satellites, new manufacturing technologies, fibre ceramics

STUTTGART, Germany (DLR PR) — Whether alone or in a constellation, small satellites weighing from just a few kilograms (nanosatellites) up to several hundred kilograms (micro- and minisatellites) are becoming increasingly technologically sophisticated and have the potential to fundamentally change the space industry. In the coming years, hundreds of such small satellites will be carried into Earth orbit.

As part of the EU project SMILE (Small Innovative Launcher for Europe), researchers from the Institute of Structures and Design at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have developed a reusable rocket engine especially for launching such satellites, and have performed an initial series of successful trials on a test rig.
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MASCOT Successfully Completes Exploration of Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 1c (Credit : JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)
  • As planned, MASCOT was able to acquire data about the composition and texture of the asteroid at several locations.
  • Before the battery depleted, the lander sent all scientific data to the Hayabusa2 mothercraft.
  • New images from MASCOT’s landing on asteroid Ryugu were presented by DLR, JAXA and CNES today at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — It was a day full of exciting moments and a happy team of scientists and engineers: late in the afternoon of 3 October 2018, the German-French lander MASCOT completed its historic exploration of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu at 21:04 CEST, as its battery ran out.

On-asteroid operations were originally scheduled to last 16 hours after separation from the Japanese mothercraft Hayabusa2. But in the end, the battery lasted more than 17 hours.

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Images of MASCOT’s Descent to Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 1c shows the MASCOT lander descending toward asteroid Ryugu. (Credit : JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The small asteroid lander, MASCOT, that was developed in Germany and France, was successfully separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft on October 3 and delivered safely to the surface of Ryugu. After landing, MASCOT acquired scientific data on the asteroid surface, which was transmitted to the MASCOT team via the spacecraft. Scientific analysis of this data is expected to be performed by the MASCOT team from now onwards.

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Japan, France & Germany to Study Martian Moon Rover & Sample Return

Martian moon Phobos

Joint Statement
By
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA),
The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES),
and
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V.,
Linder Höhe, 51147 Köln, represented by its Executive Board
(The German Aerospace Center DLR)
on
Joint Study Activities for a Rover onboard Martian Moon eXploration Mission (MMX)

 The DLR – CNES asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) onboard Hayabusa 2 is intended to land on the surface of asteroid Ryugu on October 3,2018. MASCOT will significantly enhance the mission’s science result through performing remote observation as well as surface composition analysis.

In the light of this success, JAXA, CNES, and DLR jointly declare their wish to cooperate on the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission as follows:

MMX is a JAXA led mission to explore Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, aiming for observation, landing, and sample return.

JAXA, CNES, and DLR have agreed that the rover onboard MMX would be developed through French-German collaboration.

The rover would be released to the surface of Martian Moon prior to the landing of its mother ship, MMX. The rover is to analyze the surface regolith and configuration in great details to optimize the MMX landing and sample return operation. This process is expected not only to reduce the mission risk but also to achieve scientific result as the rover acquires surface data in advance of the physical sample return to the Earth.

While the MASCOT with primary batteries allows approximately 1-day of operation, the rover onboard MMX is to be powered by solar cell, which is to enable mobile surface observation that is expected to last for several months.

The scientific observation instrument to be onboard MMX will be determined in the aim of maximizing the outcome of MMX mission.

JAXA, CNES, and DLR are going to jointly conduct study activities for MMX and the rover with the aim for launch in 2024.

In witness hereof this Statement has been signed on October 3, 2018 at International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

Hiroshi Yamakawa
President, JAXA

Jean-Yves Le Gall
President, CNES

Pascale Ehrenfreund
Chair of the Executive Board, DLR

Hansjörg Dittus
Member of the Executive Board, DLR

A Closer Look at Hayabusa2’s MASCOT Asteroid Lander

Left: Illustration of MASCOT separating from Hayabusa2. Right: Illustration of MASCOT landing on the surface of Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) is the asteroid lander jointly developed by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and CNES (French National Center for Space Studies). MASCOT is stored on the -Y-plane side of Hayabusa2 (this is the left-hand side surface when the high gain antenna is at the head and the ion engine is at the spacecraft back) and deployed from this position (see Figure 1).
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MASCOT Lands Safely on Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 3: Left: Illustration of MASCOT separating from Hayabusa2. Right: Illustration of MASCOT landing on the surface of Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, located approximately 300 million kilometres from Earth, has a new inhabitant: On 3 October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) landed on the asteroid and began to work.

The lander successfully separated from the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe at 03:58 CEST. The 16 hours in which the lander will conduct measurements on the asteroid’s surface have begun for the international team of engineers and scientists.
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