Becoming Martians: NASA’s 25-year Plan for Humans to Inhabit the Red Planet

Mars in opposition. [(Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Bell (ASU), and M. Wolff (Space Science Institute) ]

NPC  Newsmaker Event
Date: November 13, 2018
Time: 10:00 a.m. EST
Location: Bloomberg Room

This event is open only to members of The National Press Club and credentialed press.

WASHINGTON (National Press Club PR) — Humans are on the precipice of becoming an interplanetary species. We earthlings are on our way to becoming Martians. In fact, the future Martians are here on Earth now, training for Mars missions using new technological developments following a strict timeline that will get us there within 25 years.

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Cosmic Detective Work: Why We Care About Space Rocks

This artist’s concept depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

By Elizabeth Landau
NASA

The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

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DARPA Names Potential Sites for Launch Challenge, Eighteen Teams Prequalify

DARPA Launch Challenge candidate sites (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NASA PR) — DARPA has narrowed the potential launch locations for the DARPA Launch Challenge to eight, with options for both vertical and horizontal launch. The challenge will culminate in late 2019 with two separate launches to low Earth orbit within weeks of each other from two different sites. Competitors will receive information about the final launch sites, payloads, and targeted orbit in the weeks prior to each launch.

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Researchers to Discuss Science Launching on Next Space Station Resupply Mission

From July 15, 2018 when Northrop Grumman’s “S.S. J.R. Thompson” Cygnus spacecraft left the International Space Station after delivering approximately 7,400 pounds of cargo to astronauts on board. The spacecraft successfully concluded its ninth cargo supply mission on July 30. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 8, to discuss select science investigations and technology demonstrations launching on the next Northrop Grumman commercial resupply flight to the International Space Station. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website.

Tara Ruttley, associate chief scientist for Microgravity Research in NASA’s Office of Chief Scientist, and Liz Warren, associate program scientist for the station’s National Lab, will provide an overview of the research and technology aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.

Also participating in Thursday’s briefing are:

  • Laurence Harris is a professor at York University in Toronto and principle investigator for research to develop, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, a mathematical model for how an astronaut’s perception of motion, body position and distance to objects changes in space.
  • Marco Baptista with the Michael J. Fox Foundation in New York is the principle investigator for a National Lab investigation to evaluate growth of protein crystals implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Crystals grown in space are larger, enabling more detailed analysis to help define the protein’s exact shape and morphology and help scientists better understand the disease’s pathology.
  • Negar Rajabiat Cemscia, LLC, is principle investigator for National Lab research to test a novel approach of using particles of calcium-silicate to synthesize membranes as thin as a human hair. These particles can separate carbon dioxide molecules from air or other gases, technology that could aid in removing carbon dioxide from waste gases to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Tamara Koch, David Merges and Dominik Spahr, principle and co-principle investigators at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, will discuss a National Lab investigation focused on astrophysics research to examine the formation of chondrules, some of the oldest material in the solar system.

To participate in the teleconference, media must contact Joshua Finch at 202-358-1100 or joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov by 10 a.m. Nov. 8 for dial-in information.

Northrop Grumman is targeting Thursday, Nov. 15, for its 10th contracted mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The Cygnus spacecraft will launch on an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s pad 0A at Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, carrying scientific research, crew supplies, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory to support the station’s Expedition 57 and 58 crews.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/northropgrumman

For more information on the science, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/ng-10_research_highlights

Five Things to Know About InSight’s Mars Landing

This is an illustration showing a simulated view of NASA’s InSight lander about to land on the surface of Mars. This view shows the underside of the spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Every Mars landing is a knuckle-whitening feat of engineering. But each attempt has its own quirks based on where a spacecraft is going and what kind of science the mission intends to gather.

On Nov. 26, NASA will try to safely set a new spacecraft on Mars. InSight is a lander dedicated to studying the deep interior of the planet – the first mission ever to do so.

Here are a few things to know about InSight’s landing.
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Rocket Lab Selects Wallops Island for U.S. Launch Site

Electron launch (Credit: Rocket Lab)

RICHMOND, Va. (Virginia Governor’s Office PR)—Governor Ralph Northam announced today that Rocket Lab, a California-based company, has chosen Virginia Space and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport as the location for Launch Complex-2 (LC-2), Rocket Lab’s first launch facility located in the United States.

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Still No Word From NASA’s Opportunity Rover on Mars

Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam) took the component images for this view from a position outside Endeavor Crater during the span of June 7 to June 19, 2017. Toward the right side of this scene is a broad notch in the crest of the western rim of crater. (Credits: NASA/JPL (Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

NASA Mission Update
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, Calif.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. PDT on Oct. 11, 2018

One month since increasing their commanding frequency, engineers have yet to hear from NASA’s Opportunity rover.

NASA hasn’t set any deadlines for the mission but will be briefed later this month on the progress and prospects for the recovery campaign being carried out at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

JPL engineers are employing a combination of listening and commanding methods in case Opportunity is still operational. It’s possible that a layer of dust deposited on the rover’s solar panels by the recent global dust storm is blocking sunlight that could recharge its batteries. No one can tell just how much dust has been deposited on its panels.

A windy period on Mars — known to Opportunity’s team as “dust-clearing season” — occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover’s panels in the past. The team remains hopeful that some dust clearing may result in hearing from the rover in this period.

Opportunity has exceeded its expected lifespan many times over. Both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, were designed to last only 90 days on the Martian surface, with the expectation that the planet’s extreme winters and dust storms could cut their mission short. The rover has lasted nearly 15 years: It last communicated on June 10 before being forced into hibernation by the growing dust storm.

NASA Seeks Partnerships with U.S. Companies to Advance Exploration Space Tech

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA partnerships are crucial for expanding capabilities and opportunities in space. The agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is seeking new partnerships with U.S. companies through an Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO) solicitation.

­

STMD has five strategic thrust areas, representing the capabilities needed for robotic and human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

  1. Go – Enable safe and efficient transportation into and through space
  2. Land – Increase access to planetary surfaces
  3. Live – Enable humans to live and explore in space and on planetary surfaces
  4. Explore – Expand capabilities through robotic exploration and discovery
  5. Prosper – Accelerate the industrialization of space

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NASA, UAE Space Agency Sign Historic Agreement for Cooperation in Human Spaceflight

BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA) signed an Implementing Arrangement (IA) Monday, Oct. 1, that outlines cooperation across a range of areas related to space exploration and human spaceflight. The document was signed by H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a ceremony at the 69th International Astronautical Congress, being held in Bremen, Germany Oct. 1-5.

The IA falls under the overarching Framework Agreement signed between the UAESA and NASA in June 2016, which established a framework for areas of cooperation in ground-based research; sub-orbital research; research and flight activities in low-Earth orbit (LEO); and human and robotic exploration in the vicinity of the moon, on the lunar surface, and beyond.

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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

NASA Releases New Plan for Return to Moon & Trips to Mars

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In December of 2017, President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-1, in which the president directed NASA “to lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.”

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NASA: Landing Men & Women on the Moon Before the Next Decade is Out

Credit: NASA

NASA has released the National Space Exploration Campaign Report that had been mandated by Congress. It commits the United States to building a human-tended Lunar Gateway beginning in 2023 and returning humans to the moon’s surface by the end of the 2020’s.

The plan is to build a sustainable architecture for lunar exploration that is open to commercial and international partners. NASA would use the exploration campaign to test out technologies for sending astronauts to Mars.

Below are key excerpts from the report.

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Still Silent Opportunity Rover Emerges From Martian Dust Storm

NASA’s Opportunity rover appears as a blip in the center of this square. This image taken by HiRISE, a high-resolution camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the dust storm over Perseverance Valley has substantially cleared. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA still hasn’t heard from the Opportunity rover, but at least we can see it again.

A new image produced by HiRISE, a high-resolution camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), shows a small object on the slopes of the Red Planet’s Perseverance Valley. That object is Opportunity, which was descending into the Martian valley when a dust storm swept over the region a little more than 100 days ago.

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