GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On April 8, the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) aboard the International Space Station started experiencing issues powering up its cryogen coolers that maintain the temperature of liquid methane contained within the module. After several troubleshooting attempts, it was determined the coolers could not be powered up. As a result, the temperature of the liquid began to rise. The liquid methane turned into a gas and was safely vented from the payload. There was no impact to other station systems or operations.
While RRM3 can no longer perform a cryogenic fuel transfer, its four months on station taught NASA about the technology needed to store and transfer cryogenic fuel in space. The mission will carry out other planned operations with servicing and inspection tools. Ultimately, RRM3 will still help bring NASA closer to replenishing cryogenic fuel in space so spacecraft can live longer and journey farther into the solar system.
RRM3 launched to the space station in December 2018 and is installed to the outside of station on Express Logistics Carrier-1.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is lagging behind three other agency centers when it comes to transferring technology to the private sector, according to a new audit by the Office of Inspector General. [Full Report]
“Goddard…is experiencing poor technology transfer performance outcomes when compared to the other three NASA Centers we reviewed, to include a lower percentage of licenses as well as delays in processing of [New Technology Reports] and patent applications,” the audit said.
Researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.
The findings will help scientists understand the history of lunar water — a potential resource for sustaining long term operations on the Moon and human exploration of deep space. Models had predicted that meteoroid impacts could release water from the Moon as a vapor, but scientists hadn’t yet observed the phenomenon.
NASA needs better methods to track its efforts to minimize costs on the more than $16 billion worth of engineering and technical services the space agency purchases annually, according to a new audit by the Inspector General (IG).
“Although NASA has a variety of mechanisms at the Headquarters and Center levels to share lessons learned, many of these are informal, dependent upon personal relationships between Centers, and not focused on sharing information on efficiencies,” the audit said.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain.
This trio of images acquired by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft shows a wide shot and two close-ups of a region in asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere. The wide-angle image (left), obtained by the spacecraft’s MapCam camera, shows a 590-foot (180-meter) wide area with many rocks, including some large boulders, and a “pond” of regolith that is mostly devoid of large rocks.
The two closer images, obtained by the high-resolution PolyCam camera, show details of areas in the MapCam image, specifically a 50-foot (15 meter) boulder (top) and the regolith pond (bottom). The PolyCam frames are 101 feet (31 meters) across and the boulder depicted is approximately the same size as a humpback whale.
The images were taken on February 25 while the spacecraft was in orbit around Bennu, approximately 1.1 miles (1.8 km) from the asteroid’s surface. The observation plan for this day provided for one MapCam and two PolyCam images every 10 minutes, allowing for this combination of context and detail of Bennu’s surface.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Scientists looking for signs of life beyond our solar system face major challenges, one of which is that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone to consider. To narrow the search, they must figure out: What kinds of stars are most likely to host habitable planets?
GREENBELT, Md. — When NASA solicits future investigations of the Moon five teams involving scientists and engineers at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will be ready.
The agency’s Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation, or DALI, program recently awarded 10 teams funding to mature spacecraft-based instruments for use in future lander missions, including those offered by commercial ventures through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract. These instruments are expected to reach a high level of technology readiness by the time funding ends in three years.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A new experimental type of deep space communications technology is scheduled to be demonstrated on the International Space Station this spring.
Currently, NASA relies on radio waves to send information between spacecraft and Earth. Emerging laser communications technology offers higher data rates that let spacecraft transmit more data at a time. This demonstration involves X-ray communications, or XCOM, which offers even more advantages.
A NASA technologist is taking miniaturization to the extreme.
Mahmooda Sultana won funding to advance a potentially revolutionary, nanomaterial-based detector platform. The technology is capable of sensing everything from minute concentrations of gases and vapor, atmospheric pressure and temperature, and then transmitting that data via a wireless antenna — all from the same self-contained platform that measures just two-by-three-inches in size.
Christopher Scolese of New York, to be the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
Mr. Scolese currently serves as the Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Previously, he served as the associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as NASA’s chief engineer.
Mr. Scolese is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Leadership Medal, the Goddard Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Capital Section Young Engineer/Scientist of the Year award.
Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.
The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)
By Francis Reddy NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has found three confirmed exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system, in its first three months of observations.
The mission’s sensitive cameras also captured 100 short-lived changes — most of them likely stellar outbursts — in the same region of the sky. They include six supernova explosions whose brightening light was recorded by TESS even before the outbursts were discovered by ground-based telescopes.
TUCSON (University of Arizona PR) — At 2:43 p.m. EST on December 31, while many on Earth prepared to welcome the New Year, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, 70 million miles (110 million kilometers) away, carried out a single, eight-second burn of its thrusters – and broke a space exploration record. The spacecraft entered into orbit around the asteroid Bennu, and made Bennu the smallest object ever to be orbited by a spacecraft.
By Stephanie Zeller NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Half a century ago, Apollo 8 ushered in a new era of space exploration. The missions that followed in close succession would herald these breakthroughs in science and in engineering prowess with drama and color. They would bring a cornucopia of knowledge about the Moon, the origins of our solar system, the nature of our universe, the history of our Earth and even the history of life. In addition to tangible, scientific assets gained from Apollo, the mission brought some degree of unification to a nation fractured by conflict at home and abroad.