NASA Updates Planetary Protection Policies for Robotic and Human Missions to Earth’s Moon and Future Human Missions to Mars

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to record this eastward horizon view on the 2,407th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Oct. 31, 2010). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has released two NASA Interim Directives (NIDs) updating the agency’s requirements for robotic and human missions traveling to the Earth’s Moon, and human missions traveling to Mars.

The first, NID 8715.128, addresses the control of forward terrestrial biological contamination associated with all NASA and NASA-affiliated missions intended to land, orbit, or otherwise encounter the Moon.

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NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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7 Things to Know About the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Mission

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s next rover to the Red Planet is slated to launch no earlier than July 30. These highlights will get you up to speed on the ambitious mission.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — In less than a month, NASA expects to launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Loaded with scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing, and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.

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NASA’s InSight Flexes Its Arm While Its ‘Mole’ Hits Pause

The movement of sand grains in the scoop on the end of NASA InSight’s robotic arm suggests that the spacecraft’s self-hammering “mole,” which is in the soil beneath the scoop, had begun tapping the bottom of the scoop while hammering on June 20, 2020. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight lander has been using its robotic arm to help the heat probe known as the “mole” burrow into Mars. The mission is providing the first look at the Red Planet’s deep interior to reveal details about the formation of Mars and, ultimately, all rocky planets, including Earth.

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JPL’s Terrain-Relative Navigation Technology Set to Launch on Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

NASA Press Release

The Technology

Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN) technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) enables pin-point landing and large hazard avoidance for crewed and robotic lander vehicles. A camera captures images during vehicle descent, which are subsequently matched to orbital maps stored onboard the lander. Matching images to multiple known terrain features enables automated determination of the lander’s position relative to the terrain.

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How NASA’s Mars Helicopter Will Reach the Red Planet’s Surface

In this video clip, an engineer observes as a test of the Mars Helicopter Delivery System at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver on April 2019. (Credits: Lockheed Martin Space)

The small craft will seek to prove that powered, controlled flight is possible on another planet. But just getting it onto the surface of Mars will take a whole lot of ingenuity.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will travel with the Perseverance rover through 314 million miles (505 million kilometers) of interplanetary space to get to Mars. But for the team working on the first experimental flight test on another planet, engineering the final 5 inches (13 centimeters) of the journey has been among the most challenging of all. To safely navigate those 5 inches — the distance Ingenuity will travel from where it’s stowed on the rover to the surface of Mars — they came up with the ingenious Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

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Fiber Optic Sensing System Readied for Space Use

Allen Parker, Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) senior research engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, and Jonathan Lopez show how FOSS in aeronautics is used on a wing to determine its shape and stress on its structure. (Credits: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will soon test an enhanced system that can take thousands of measurements along a fiber optic wire about the thickness of a human hair for use in space. In the future the technology could monitor spacecraft systems during missions to the Moon and landings on Mars.

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Students Develop Innovative Lunar Exploration Concepts in NASA’s Artemis Competition

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Two university teams have taken top honors in NASA’s 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition, which culminated in a virtual forum June 16-18.

The RASC-AL competition is an annual university-level engineering design challenge that allows students to work on real challenges and provide innovative solutions that can be used to advance human exploration of space.

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Future Space Travelers May Follow Cosmic Lighthouses

An image of NICER on the exterior of the space station with one of the station’s solar panels in the background. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — For centuries, lighthouses helped sailors navigate safely into harbor. Their lights swept across the water, cutting through fog and darkness, guiding mariners around dangerous obstacles and keeping them on the right path. In the future, space explorers may receive similar guidance from the steady signals created by pulsars.

Scientists and engineers are using the International Space Station to develop pulsar-based navigation using these cosmic lighthouses to assist with wayfinding on trips to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis  program and on future human missions to Mars.

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Airbus Wins Next Study Contract for Martian Sample Fetch Rover

Landing in 2028, the rover will then travel an average of 200 metres a day, over a period of six months to find and pick up the samples. It will collect up to 36 tubes, carry them back to the lander and place them in a Mars Ascent Vehicle which will launch them into orbit around Mars. (Credit: NASA)

Work progresses on joint ESA/NASA mission to bring samples back from Mars

STEVENAGE, UK (Airbus PR) – Airbus Defence and Space has won the next phase of the study contract (Advanced B2) from the European Space Agency (ESA) for the advanced Sample Fetch Rover which will be used to collect samples from the surface of Mars.

Mars Sample Return is a joint NASA and ESA campaign to return samples from the Red Planet. NASA’s 2020 Mars rover mission Perseverance will collect Martian soils and rock samples and leave them on the surface in small metal tubes.

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The Launch Is Approaching for NASA’s Next Mars Rover, Perseverance

In a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Red Planet’s surface has been visited by eight NASA spacecraft. The ninth will be the first that includes gathering Mars samples for future return to Earth. 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is just over a month from its July 20 targeted launch date. The rover’s astrobiology mission will seek signs of past microscopic life on Mars, explore the geology of the Jezero Crater landing site, and demonstrate key technologies to help prepare for future robotic and human exploration. And the rover will do all that while collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for return to Earth by a set of future missions.

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NASA’s Mars Rover Drivers Need Your Help

Three images from the tool called AI4Mars show different kinds of Martian terrain as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover. By drawing borders around terrain features and assigning one of four labels to them, you can help train an algorithm that will automatically identify terrain types for Curiosity’s rover planners. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — You may be able to help NASA’s Curiosity rover drivers better navigate Mars. Using the online tool AI4Mars to label terrain features in pictures downloaded from the Red Planet, you can train an artificial intelligence algorithm to automatically read the landscape.

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U.S. Companies Advance Critical Human Lander Technologies

Compilation of artist’s renderings representing NextSTEP Appendix E work. Top row, left to right: Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin. Bottom row, left to right: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, Masten Space System, Boeing. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA and 11 commercial partners recently completed a series of technical studies, demonstrations and ground prototypes for 21st Century human landing systems. The Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix E work helped the agency refine its Artemis program requirements for the companies competing to build the landers that will take American astronauts to the Moon throughout this decade.

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Major Space Agency Heads Hold Virtual Meeting

Translated from French by Google Translate

PARIS (CNES PR) — Tuesday, June 9, fifteen heads of space agencies from around the world (European Space Agency (ESA), Germany, Australia, Canada, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, News – Zealand, Russia, United Kingdom) participated, at the invitation of NASA, in a virtual meeting to exchange their points of view on the progress of human and robotic exploration. 

Because of COVID-19, this meeting could not be held, as every year, at the time of the Colorado Springs Space Symposium initially scheduled for the end of March. 

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Three New Views of Mars’ Moon Phobos

Six views of the Martian moon Phobos captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter as of March 2020. The orbiter’s THEMIS camera is used to measure temperature variations that suggest what kind of material the moon is made of. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/NAU)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Three new views of the Martian moon Phobos have been captured by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter. Taken this past winter and this spring, they capture the moon as it drifts into and out of Mars’ shadow.

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