PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Today Astrobotic announced a program to study advanced navigation techniques that could allow the next generation of spacecraft to target landings at some of the most interesting scientific destinations in the solar system.
CARDIFF, UK (Cardiff University PR) — A location often earmarked as a potential habitat for extra-terrestrial life could prove to be a tricky place for spacecraft to land, new research has revealed.
A team led by scientists from Cardiff University has predicted that fields of sharp ice growing to almost 15 metres [49 feet] tall could be scattered across the equatorial regions of Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
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
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on the exploration of moons and asteroids.
Shapeshifters from Science Fiction to Science Fact: Globetrotting from Titan’s Rugged Cliffs to its Deep Seafloors Aliakbar Aghamohammadi NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
SPARROW: Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds Gareth Meirion-Griffith NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (MIDEA) Sigrid Close Stanford University
Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below. (more…)
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on new ways of exploring asteroids and moons.
Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with AoES (Area-of-Effect Soft-bots) Jay McMahon University of Colorado, Boulder
Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object Steven Oleson NASA Glenn Research Center
NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester Michael VanWoerkom ExoTerra Resource
Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below. (more…)
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has received and is reviewing 12 proposals for future unmanned solar system exploration. The proposed missions of discovery – submitted under NASA’s New Frontiers program – will undergo scientific and technical review over the next seven months. The goal is to select a mission for flight in about two years, with launch in the mid-2020s.
An airship for Mars, two spacecraft capable of exploring the hellish environment of Venus, and a fusion-powered orbiter and lander for Pluto are three of the planetary-related research projects recently funded by theNASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.
In all, NIAC funded eight advanced projects focused on Mars, Venus and Pluto in its latest annual funding round. The space agency also funded two proposals aimed at identifying and extracting resources on planets, moons and asteroids. (more…)
Remote Laser Evaporative Molecular Absorption Spectroscopy Sensor System
Gary Hughes California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Amount: up to $500,000 Length of Study: 2 years
We propose a sensor system capable of remotely probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets (asteroids, comets, planets, moons), such as from a spacecraft orbiting the target.
The spacecraft would be equipped with a high-power laser and an infrared spectrometer, both powered by photovoltaics. The laser is directed at a spot on the target, with central flux in the 10 MW/ m2 range.
Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization
Joel Sercel TransAstra Corp. Lake View Terrace, CA
Amount: up to $500,000 Length of Study: 2 years
Problem — Deep Space Human Exploration is Unaffordable:
In 2014 the NASA Advisory Council issued a finding that “The mismatch between NASA’s aspirations for human spaceflight and its budget for human spaceflight is the most serious problem facing the Agency.”
Since the time of that advisory, NASA has conducted many mission and systems analyses, but has yet to publish a sustained mission plan and cost analysis that fits within any budget that Congress will approve. NASA’s vision of human exploration remains unaffordable largely due to the high cost of launching large quantities of drinking water, oxygen, radiation shielding and especially rocket propellant from Earth. (more…)
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is one from Masahiro Ono of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Journey to the Center of Icy Moons
Masahiro Ono NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In Jules Verne’s classic science fiction, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Professor Otto Lidenbrock and his company descend into an Icelandic volcano to explore it in the name of science, discover a vast subterranean ocean among other unexpected wonders, and must resiliently survive the experience to complete their mission. This is exactly what we want to do in reality on Europa and Enceladus.
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is one from Gary Hughes of California Polytechnic State University.
Molecular Composition Analysis of Distant Targets
Gary Hughes California Polytechnic State University
We propose a system capable of probing the molecular composition of cold solar system targets such as asteroids, comets, planets and moons from a distant vantage. Our concept utilizes a directed energy beam to vaporize or sublimate a spot on a distant target, such as from a spacecraft near the object. With sufficient flux, our published results indicate that the spot temperature rises rapidly, and evaporation of materials on the target surface occurs (Hughes et al., 2015; Lubin and Hughes, 2015; Lubin et al., 2014).
NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently selected 13 proposals for Phase I awards. Below is the description of a propellant harvester submitted by Michael VanWoerkom of Exoterra Resource, LLC.
NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester
Michael VanWoerkom Exoterra Resource, LLC
The latest Decadal Survey lists multiple sample return missions to the Moon, Mars and Jovian moons as high priority goals. In particular, a mission to Jupiter’s Europa is a top science goal as its liquid oceans holds the potential for discovery of extra-terrestrial life. However, using traditional techniques, these delta-V intensive missions result in large initial masses and have cost estimates in the $1-5B range.
To reduce the cost of these missions, ExoTerra taps into both the rapidly developing CubeSat industry, in-situ resource utilization, and the work being performed with high power solar arrays and electric propulsion under the asteroid redirect program. Combined, these offer the ability to drastically reduce the initial mass and cost of sample return missions.
ExoTerra’s NIMPH project develops a CubeSat scale in-situ resource utilization system that harvests water to enable low-cost sample return missions to icy moons through micro-landers. To exemplify the enabling capabilities of the technology, the project demonstrates the ability to conduct a sample return mission from Europa at an order of magnitude cost reduction.
During the effort, we develop the mission architecture and concept of operations, identifying key risks and mitigations. The project then performs the conceptual design of the key ISRU and micro-thruster technologies. Finally, the results of the design are fed into the conceptual design of the micro-lander used to collect and deliver the sample. Once the micro-lander and ISRU technologies are demonstrated, it offers the potential to perform sample return missions across the solar system at an affordable price.
The NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NASA) program has awarded Marco Pavone of Stanford University a Phase II grant to continue development of small exploration vehicles that would hop and tumble across the surfaces of asteroids, moons and comets.
The spacecraft/rover hybrids would be deployed from a mother ship orbiting the body to be explored. Their movements would be controlled by three internal flywheels.
The award is worth up to $500,000. The earlier Phase I award was worth up to $100,000.