NASA Science Keeps the Lights On

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Across NASA’s many missions, thousands of scientists, engineers, and other experts and professionals all over the country are doing what they do best, but now from home offices and via video conferencing. With most personnel supporting missions remotely to keep onsite staff at a minimal level in response to COVID-19, the Agency is moving ahead strongly with everything from space exploration to using our technology and innovation to help inform policy makers.  

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NASA Selects Mission to Study Causes of Giant Solar Particle Storms

In this image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Feb. 27, 2000, a coronal mass ejection is seen erupting from the Sun, which is hidden by the disk in the middle, so the fainter material around it can be seen. (Credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

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10.9 Million Names Now Aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover

A placard commemorating NASA’s “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign was installed on the Perseverance Mars rover on March 16, 2020, at Kennedy Space Center. Three silicon chips (upper left corner) were stenciled with 10,932,295 names and the essays from 155 finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign invited people around the world to submit their names to ride aboard the agency’s next rover to the Red Planet. Some 10,932,295 people did just that.

The names were stenciled by electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips, along with the essays of the 155 finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest. The chips were then were attached to an aluminum plate on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 16. Scheduled to launch this summer, Perseverance will land at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Gets Its Sample Handling System

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, now called Perseverance, undergoes processing at a payload servicing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 14, 2020. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — With the launch period for NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover opening in a little less than four months, the six-wheeler is reaching significant pre-launch milestones almost daily at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rover had some components removed prior to being shipped from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California to the Cape in early February.

Last week, Perseverance’s assembly, test and launch operations team integrated two components that will play key roles in the acquisition, containment and eventual return to Earth of humanity’s first samples from another planet: the Adaptive Caching Assembly and the Bit Carousel.

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GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles

Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier, with the mid-morning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. (Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge)

Greenland and Antarctica are melting – but how quickly and which areas are most affected? Nearly 20 years of satellite data provide key insights into these questions.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.

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Small Robots Practice Scouting Skills for Future Moon Mission

A shoebox-sized wheeled robot explores the rugged terrain on the surface of the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during recent tests of the Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robot (A-PUFFER) project. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The newest edition of NASA’s small, foldable robots recently practiced their scouting skills and successfully traversed rugged terrain in the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

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NASA’s Deep Space Antenna Upgrades to Affect Voyager Communications

DSS43 is a 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna at the Deep Space Network’s Canberra facility in Australia. It is the only antenna that can send commands to the Voyager 2 spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex)

The antenna enhancements will improve future spacecraft communications, but during the upgrades, Voyager 2 will not be able to receive new commands from Earth.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Starting in early March, NASA’s Voyager 2 will quietly coast through interstellar space without receiving commands from Earth. That’s because the Voyager’s primary means of communication, the Deep Space Network’s 70-meter-wide (230-feet-wide) radio antenna in Canberra, Australia, will be undergoing critical upgrades for about 11 months. During this time, the Voyager team will still be able to receive science data from Voyager 2 on its mission to explore the outermost edge of the Sun’s domain and beyond.

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NASA Approves Development of Universe-Studying, Planet-Finding Mission

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (Credit: NASA)

Editor’s Note: NASA continues to develop WFIRST even as the Trump Administration continues to try to kill it. The administration’s FY 2021 budget request cancels the telescope, a proposal Congress rejected last year.

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project has passed a critical programmatic and technical milestone, giving the mission the official green light to begin hardware development and testing.

The WFIRST space telescope will have a viewing area 100 times larger than that of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which will enable it to detect faint infrared signals from across the cosmos while also generating enormous panoramas of the universe, revealing secrets of dark energy, discovering planets outside our solar system (exoplanets), and addressing a host of other astrophysics and planetary science topics.

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NASA to Announce Mars 2020 Rover Name on Thursday

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will unveil the name of the agency’s next Mars rover, currently known as Mars 2020, during a live event on NASA Television at 1:30 p.m. EST Thursday, March 5, followed by a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. about the mission and the naming.

In addition to airing live on NASA Television, the event will stream live on Facebook, UstreamYouTubeTwitter, NASA Television, and the agency’s website.

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NASA Selects SpaceX Falcon Heavy to Launch Psyche Mission

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)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Psyche mission. The Psyche mission currently is targeted to launch in July 2022 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The total cost for NASA to launch Psyche and the secondary payloads is approximately $117 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs.

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Seismic Activity on Mars Resembles that Found in the Swabian Jura

Cereberus Fossae was shaped by volcanism and tectonics, (Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)
  • The SEIS experiment on board NASA’s InSight geophysical station recorded 174 seismic events up to the end of September 2019.
  • Weak earthquakes – magnitude less than three to four.
  • Accompanying measurements provide information about the local weather conditions.
  • In the coming weeks, the Mars ‘Mole’ is to be assisted more effectively by pressure from above applied with the robotic arm.

COLOGNE (DLR PR) — Mars is a seismically active planet – quakes occur several times a day. Although they are not particularly strong, they are easily measurable during the quiet evening hours. This is one of many results of the evaluation of measurement data from the NASA InSight lander, which has been operating as a geophysical observatory on the surface of Mars since 2019.

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A Year of Surprising Science From NASA’s InSight Mars Mission

In this artist’s concept of NASA’s InSight lander on Mars, layers of the planet’s subsurface can be seen below and dust devils can be seen in the background. (Credits: IPGP/Nicolas Sarter)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A new understanding of Mars is beginning to emerge, thanks to the first year of NASA’s InSight lander mission. Findings described in a set of six papers published today reveal a planet alive with quakes, dust devils and strange magnetic pulses.

Five of the papers were published in Nature. An additional paper in Nature Geoscience details the InSight spacecraft’s landing site, a shallow crater nicknamed “Homestead hollow” in a region called Elysium Planitia.

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New Commercial Robot Copies Geckos’ Toes

This artist’s concept shows how a future robot called LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) could inspect and maintain installations on the International Space Station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — No sooner had the gecko’s secret been cracked than humans got to work trying to copy it.

“It was one of those mysteries that had been around for a long time,” says Aaron Parness, who until recently managed the robotic climbers and grippers group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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NASA’s Mars InSight Lander to Push on Top of the ‘Mole’

NASA InSight recently moved its robotic arm closer to its digging device, called the “mole,” in preparation to push on its top, or back cap. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — After nearly a year of trying to dig into the Martian surface, the heat probe belonging to NASA’s InSight lander is about to get a push. The mission team plans to command the scoop on InSight’s robotic arm to press down on the “mole,” the mini pile driver designed to hammer itself as much as 16 feet (5 meters) down. They hope that pushing down on the mole’s top, also called the back cap, will keep it from backing out of its hole on Mars, as it did twice in recent months after nearly burying itself.

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