MethaneSAT Completes Critical Design Review, Moves into Production Phase

MethaneSAT (Credit: EDF)

Sensors and spacecraft exceed mission performance goals; flow of precision measurements will open up new opportunities to track and reduce potent greenhouse emissions

SAN FRANCISCO (EDF PR) –MethaneSAT has reached an important new milestone with completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) phase for both the mission’s remote sensing instrument and the spacecraft platform “bus” that will provide power and maneuvering, and transmit the vast stream of data from the high resolution sensors to ground stations. Completion of the CDR means that MethaneSAT is now entering the production stage with a design that exceeds anticipated capabilities.

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First Mode Secures $1.8M Contract to Deliver Hardware for Use on NASA Psyche Spacecraft’s Journey to the Asteroid Belt

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

SEATTLE, September 9, 2020 (First Mode PR) — First Mode, a design, engineering, and technology development firm, today announced it has been awarded a subcontract from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build flight hardware for use on the NASA Psyche spacecraft. The firm-fixed price subcontract has a value of approximately $1.8 million and is expected to last through June 2021.

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Primary Mirror for NASA’s Roman Space Telescope Completed

The Roman Space Telescope’s primary mirror reflects an American flag. Its surface is figured to a level hundreds of times finer than a typical household mirror. (Credits: L3Harris Technologies)

By Ashley Balzer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s primary mirror, which will collect and focus light from cosmic objects near and far, has been completed. Using this mirror, Roman will capture stunning space vistas with a field of view 100 times greater than Hubble images.

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New Gears Can Withstand Impact, Freezing Temperatures During Lunar Missions

Andrew Kennett (left) watches as Dominic Aldi (right) uses liquid nitrogen to cool a motor integrated bulk metallic glass gearbox prior to shock testing it. The motor and gearbox are inside the frosty metal “bucket” that contains the liquid nitrogen. The tooling, including the “bucket” is designed to be mounted both vertically (shown) and horizontally on the cube for testing the motor and gearbox in three orientations. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Many exploration destinations in our solar system are frigid and require hardware that can withstand the extreme cold. During NASA’s Artemis missions, temperatures at the Moon’s South Pole will drop drastically during the lunar night. Farther into the solar system, on Jupiter’s moon Europa, temperatures never rise above -260 degrees Fahrenheit (-162 degrees Celsius) at the equator.

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The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

While our Moon is airless, research indicates the presence of hematite, a form of rust that normally requires oxygen and water. That has scientists puzzled.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, give the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.

A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which  discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon’s surface in 2008.

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Brazilian Partnership to Begin Producing NASA-Designed COVID-19 Ventilator

This image shows the ventilator prototype for coronavirus disease patients designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency has approved the commercial manufacture of VITAL, a breathing device designed specifically to address the needs of coronavirus patients.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — In late April, NASA announced the development of Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally (VITAL), a ventilator prototype designed specifically to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, 28 manufacturers around the world have been licensed to make the device. Now one of those licensees is preparing to begin production in Brazil.

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SDL to Provide SmallSat Constellation for NASA Solar Mission

NORTH LOGAN, Utah, August 21, 2020 — The Space Dynamics Laboratory announced today that it has been awarded a contract by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build six spacecraft for NASA’s Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment mission, known as SunRISE. The contract value was not disclosed.

SunRISE is led by principal investigator Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by JPL in Pasadena, California. It is scheduled to launch as a hosted rideshare with a commercial satellite in 2023.

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Unveiling Rogue Planets With NASA’s Roman Space Telescope

High-resolution illustration of the Roman spacecraft against a starry background. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

by Ashley Balzer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — New simulations show that NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to reveal myriad rogue planets – freely floating bodies that drift through our galaxy untethered to a star. Studying these island worlds will help us understand more about how planetary systems form, evolve, and break apart.

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New Ground Station Brings Laser Communications Closer To Reality

Illustration of the LCRD payload transmitting an optical signal to OGS-2 in Haleakala, Hawaii. (Credit: NASA)

by Matthew D. Peters
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Optical communications, transmitting data using infrared lasers, has the potential to help NASA return more data to Earth than ever. The benefits of this technology to exploration and Earth science missions are huge. In support of a mission to demonstrate this technology, NASA recently completed installing its newest optical ground station in Haleakala, Hawaii.

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How do we get There from Here? With Suborbital Flight Testing

Image shows Trona Pinnacles near California’s NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center during Jan. 31 Super Blue Blood Moon. Trona Pinnacles is an unusual geological feature of the state’s Desert National Conservation. (Credits: NASA / Lauren Hughes)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Standing here on Earth, on a clear night we can look to the sky and see the destination for NASA’s Artemis program: the Moon. Seemingly close, but still quite far. Yet the space between us and that source of fascination is ripe with possibilities for helping mature the technologies we will need to get there, stay there, and venture beyond to Mars.

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Deep Learning Will Help Future Mars Rovers Go Farther, Faster, and Do More Science

The Machine Learning-based Analytics for Autonomous Rover Systems (MAARS) program encompasses a range of areas where artificial intelligence could be useful. The team presented results of the MAARS project at IEEE Aerospace Conference in March 2020. The project was a finalist for the NASA Software Award. (Credit: TACC)

NASA JPL team uses TACC’s Maverick2 system to develop software, train models.

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Advance Computing Center PR) — NASA’s Mars rovers have been one of the great scientific and space successes of the past two decades.

Four generations of rovers have traversed the red planet gathering scientific data, sending back evocative photographs, and surviving incredibly harsh conditions — all using on-board computers less powerful than an iPhone 1. The latest rover, Perseverance, was launched on July 30, 2020, and engineers are already dreaming of a future generation of rovers.

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Tiny Asteroid Buzzes by Earth – the Closest Flyby on Record

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An SUV-size space rock flew past our planet over the weekend and was detected by a NASA-funded asteroid survey as it departed.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).

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Skolkovo Scientists Develop Method to Study Extreme Space Weather Events

Cluster with two consecutive Coronal Mass Ejections on 9 (left) and 10 (right) September 2017 with speeds of 1148 and 3703 km/s respectively. The event occurred during the declining phase of the 11-year solar cycle n24 and forced the crew onboard International Space Station to move to the station’s shelter to protect themselves from the strong radiation emitted by the largest solar flare observed in the last 12 years. (Credit: SDO/AIA +SOHO/LASCO COR1+COR2)

MOSCOW (Skoltech PR) — Scientists at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), together with colleagues from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz the the Kanzelhöhe Observatory (Austria), Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology (USA), Helioresearch (USA) and Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia) developed a method to study fast Coronal Mass Ejections, powerful ejections of magnetized matter from the outer atmosphere of the Sun.

The results can help to better understand and predict the most extreme space weather events and their potential to cause strong geomagnetic storms that directly affect the operation of engineering systems in space and on Earth.  The results of the study are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Franco-American SuperCam on Way to Mars Aboard Perseverance Rover

A close-up of the head of Mars Perseverance’s remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover’s two navigation cameras. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Thursday 30 July, the Mars 2020 mission successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop an Atlas V launcher. For the Perseverance rover carrying the French-U.S. SuperCam instrument, the long voyage to the red planet has begun. The mission is scheduled to land on Mars on 18 February 2021.

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Recharges Its Batteries in Flight

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flying through the Red Planet’s skies. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter received a checkout and recharge of its power system on Friday, Aug. 7, one week into its near seven-month journey to Mars with the Perseverance  rover. This marks the first time the helicopter has been powered up and its batteries have been charged in the space environment.

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