New Study Reveals Solar Heat to be the Likely Cause of Dust Storms on Mars

Mars weather seen from the InSight lander. (Credit: NASA)

COLUMBIA, Md. and HOUSTON, May 16, 2022 (Universities Space Research Association PR) — A team of scientists, including Dr. Germán Martínez from the Universities Space Research Association, just published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study indicates there are seasonal energy imbalances in the amount of solar energy absorbed and released by Mars which is a likely cause of dust storms and could play an important role in understanding the climate and atmosphere of the red planet. 

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NASA Seeks Input on Moon to Mars Objectives, Comments Due May 31

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As NASA moves forward with plans to send astronauts to the Moon under Artemis missions to prepare for human exploration of Mars, the agency is calling on U.S. industry, academia, international communities, and other stakeholders to provide input on its deep space exploration objectives. 

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From the Grand Canyon to Mars

Grand Canyon (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

If the Grand Canyon were an animal, it would probably be a mountain lion that waits patiently for its prey to arrive before ambushing it with overwhelming force.

That’s what it feels to visit the South Rim. There’s a long drive from Flagstaff through high plains and lightly forested areas as mountains tower in the distance. The scenery isn’t much different from most of Northern Arizona. After paying the fee at the entrance gate, you drive threw a forest where deer are quietly feeding. Find a parking space, walk down the trail, and…

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NASA Invites Comment on Initial Plans for Mars Sample Return Program

Lockheed Martin will lead development of the Mars Ascent Vehicle (pictured), cruise stage for the Mars Sample Retrieval Lander, and the Earth Entry System that will help return the first ever Martian rock samples to Earth. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is requesting public comment on the scope of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the agency’s proposed Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign. Comments will be accepted through the mail and online through Monday, May 16, 2022.

The agency also is hosting two virtual public meetings about the proposed program at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, and 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at:

https://jpl.webex.com/meet/msr

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Spots Gear That Helped Perseverance Rover Land

Perseverance’s backshell, supersonic parachute, and associated debris field is seen strewn across the Martian surface in this image captured by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 26th flight on April 19, 2022. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Eyeing some of the components that enabled the rover to get safely to the Martian surface could provide valuable insights for future missions.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed both the parachute that helped the agency’s Perseverance rover land on Mars and the cone-shaped backshell that protected the rover in deep space and during its fiery descent toward the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. Engineers with the Mars Sample Return program asked whether Ingenuity could provide this perspective. What resulted were 10 aerial color images taken April 19 during Ingenuity’s Flight 26.

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NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Following a thorough evaluation, NASA has extended the planetary science missions of eight of its spacecraft due to their scientific productivity and potential to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the solar system and beyond.

The missions – Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), InSight lander, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons – have been selected for continuation, assuming their spacecraft remain healthy. Most of the missions will be extended for three years; however, OSIRIS-REx will be continued for nine years in order to reach a new destination, and InSight will be continued until the end of 2022, unless the spacecraft’s electrical power allows for longer operations.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera to shoot video of Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, eclipsing the Sun. It’s the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has captured dramatic footage of Phobos, Mars’ potato-shaped moon, crossing the face of the Sun. These observations can help scientists better understand the moon’s orbit and how its gravity pulls on the Martian surface, ultimately shaping the Red Planet’s crust and mantle.

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Report Identifies Priority Planetary Science Missions, Planetary Defense Efforts, and Strategic Investments for the Next Decade

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new decadal survey from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies scientific priorities and opportunities and makes funding recommendations to maximize the advancement of planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense in the next 10 years.

The recommendations by the steering committee for the decadal survey draw on input from the scientific community through the advice of six panels, hundreds of white papers, invited speakers, outreach to advisory groups and professional society conferences, and work with mission-design teams.

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ESA Ends Cooperation with Russia on 3 Lunar Missions, Deepens Cooperation with U.S. & Japan

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ESA’s Director General has initiated a comprehensive review of all activities currently undertaken in cooperation with Russia and Ukraine. The objective is to determine the possible consequences of this new geopolitical context for ESA programmes and activities and to create a more resilient and robust space infrastructure for Europe.

The ESA Council on 13 April acknowledged the following findings and took the following decisions.

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UAE and US Mars Missions to Collaborate on Science Data Analysis

An artist’s impression of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft in orbit around Mars, where it will arrive in February 2021 after launching in July from Japan. (Credit: MBRSC)

DUBAI, April 12, 2022 (UAE Government Media Office) — The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, has finalised a science data analysis collaboration initiative with NASA’s MAVEN Mars Mission, which will pave the way towards greater scientific collaboration and data exchange between the two missions.

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Rogozin Courts Chinese Cooperation on ExoMars, Space Station

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Chinese government-owned CGTN website has an interview with Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin. With relations severely damaged with the West due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos is increasingly focused on deepening cooperation with China’s surging space program. The partnership already includes jointly developing a crewed base on the moon in the 2030s.

On the suspended ExoMars mission with Europe, Rogozin said:

“In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else.”

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NASA to Participate in Space Symposium, Broadcast Select Panels

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy visited the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on Dec. 8, 2021 for tours and briefings on Michoud’s role in the Artemis program and other capabilities that enrich many facets of the nation’s space exploration endeavors. (Credits: NASA/Michael DeMocker)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Associate Administrator Bob Cabana are among the agency’s speakers at the Space Foundation’s 37th Space Symposium from Wednesday, April 5 to Thursday, April 7 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Topics highlighted by NASA participants throughout the event include the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach including Artemis, technology, science, commercial partnerships, and more. A full agenda for the symposium is available online.

The agency will stream the following panels on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website:

Tuesday, April 5

  • 12:25 p.m. EDT – Plenary session remarks from Melroy about NASA’s Moon to Mars strategy and updated current milestones
  • 1:15 p.m.: Artemis and Industry: Building the Space Economy. Panelists include:
    • Kenneth Bowersox, deputy associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington
    • Jim Free, associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters
    • James Reuter, associate administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters
    • Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters

Wednesday, April 6

Members of the media registered for the symposium can attend “Small Satellites, Big Missions: Pathfinding CubeSats Exploring the Moon and Beyond,” a news conference featuring NASA leaders, at 6 p.m. EDT. The conference will take place in Media Room A of the event’s media center. To register for the symposium, media must email the Space Foundation at media@spacefoundation.org.

Participants in the news conference include:

  • NASA Associate Administrator Cabana
  • Elwood Agasid, deputy program manager for Small Spacecraft Technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, and Space Technology Hall of Fame inductee
  • Andres Martinez, program executive for small spacecraft in NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters
  • Bradley Cheetham, CEO, Advanced Space in Westminster, Colorado
  • Joe Shoer, engineer, Lockheed Martin, Denver

For more information about NASA, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/

NASA Administrator Statement on President’s FY 2023 Budget Request

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The President’s fiscal year 2023 budget would allow NASA to sustain America’s global innovation leadership and keep NASA at the forefront of exploration and discovery by returning to the Moon with the Artemis program, among other efforts. This budget would enable NASA to address climate change, drive economic growth, and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

The Biden-Harris Administration Monday submitted to Congress President Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2023. The President’s budget details his vision to expand on the historic progress our country has made over the last year and deliver the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address – to build a better America, reduce the deficit, reduce costs for families, and grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out. 

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