Sample Retrieval System Biggest Challenge for Mars 2020 Mission

This self-portrait of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on Feb. 3, 2013, plus three exposures taken on May 10, 2013. (Credit: NASA)

The biggest risk for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission meeting its launch window is the development of its soil and rock collecting system, according to a new audit from the space agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

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ASU to Lead NASA Space Exploration Mission for 1st Time

Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU
Artist rendition of the asteroid Psyche. (Credit: Peter Rubin/ASU

Metal asteroid Psyche to offer unique look into violent collisions that created Earth, terrestrial planets

by Karin Valentine
Media Relations & Marketing manager,
ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration

Arizona State University’s Psyche Mission, a journey to a metal asteroid, has been selected for flight, marking the first time the school will lead a NASA space exploration mission and the first time scientists will be able to see what is believed to be a planetary core.

The mission’s spacecraft is expected to launch in 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, where it will spend 20 months in orbit, mapping it and studying its properties.

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Laser-based Navigation Sensor Could Be Standard for Planetary Landing Missions

Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA's Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)
Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA’s Langley Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — A laser-guided navigation sensor that could help future rovers make safe, precise landings on Mars or destinations beyond will soon undergo testing in California’s Mojave Desert.

The Navigation Doppler Lidar, or NDL, which was developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will be flight tested aboard a rocket-powered Vertical Take-off, Vertical Landing (VTVL) platform, named Xodiac, developed by Masten Space Systems, in Mojave, California.

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A Box of ‘Black Magic’ to Study Earth from Space

RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Black magic.

That’s what radiofrequency engineers call the mysterious forces guiding communications over the air. These forces involve complex physics and are difficult enough to master on Earth. They only get more baffling when you’re beaming signals into space.

Until now, the shape of choice for casting this “magic” has been the parabolic dish. The bigger the antenna dish, the better it is at “catching” or transmitting signals from far away.

But CubeSats are changing that. These spacecraft are meant to be light, cheap and extremely small: most aren’t much bigger than a cereal box. Suddenly, antenna designers have to pack their “black magic” into a device where there’s no room for a dish — let alone much else.

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NASA Microthrusters Achieve Success on ESA’s LISA Pathfinder

An artist's concept of the European Space Agency's LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, designed to pave the way for a mission detecting gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system on board. (Credit: ESA)
An artist’s concept of the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, designed to pave the way for a mission detecting gravitational waves. NASA/JPL developed a thruster system on board. (Credit: ESA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — A next-generation technology demonstration mission has just passed a big milestone.

The Space Technology 7 Disturbance Reduction System (ST7-DRS) is a system of thrusters, advanced avionics and software managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. It has been flying on the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, which launched from Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 3, 2015 GMT (Dec. 2 PST). As of Oct. 17, the system had logged roughly 1,400 hours of in-flight operations and met 100 percent of its mission goals.

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NASA Postpones Orbit Changing Burn for Juno

NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. (Credit: NASA)
NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mission managers for NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter have decided to postpone the upcoming burn of its main rocket motor originally scheduled for Oct. 19. This burn, called the period reduction maneuver (PRM), was to reduce Juno’s orbital period around Jupiter from 53.4 to 14 days. The decision was made in order to further study the performance of a set of valves that are part of the spacecraft’s fuel pressurization system. The period reduction maneuver was the final scheduled burn of Juno’s main engine.

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Masten Tests Mars 2020 Lander Vision System for NASA

Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)
Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA tested new “eyes” for its next Mars rover mission on a rocket built by Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, in 2014, thanks in part to NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, or FO program.

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JPL Seeks Robotic Spacecraft Development for Asteroid Redirect Mission

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (Credit: NASA)
This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (Credit: NASA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has issued a request for proposal (RFP) seeking design, development and build of the robotic spacecraft that will capture a multi-ton asteroid boulder from deep space during the first segment of the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The RFP is open to the four industry partners that previously completed conceptual designs of the spacecraft.

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NASA’s Juno Successfully Completes Jupiter Flyby

Jupiter's north polar region is coming into view as NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)
Jupiter’s north polar region is coming into view as NASA’s Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken on August 27, when Juno was 437,000 miles (703,000 kilometers) away. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter today. The time of closest approach with the gas-giant world was 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC) when Juno passed about 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter’s swirling clouds. At the time, Juno was traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet. This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission.

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NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Completes Design Milestone as Cost Rises

Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (Credit: NASA/AMA Studios)
Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (Credit: NASA/AMA Studios)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

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Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)
Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter.  Information has come from the following Tweeters:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
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NASA Tests Pop-up PUFFER Rover in Mojave Desert

The PUFFER team hiking to Rainbow Basin to identify areas for field testing. Examples include overhung rocks (top inset), incline with prototype (middle), and a large region for general mobility testing (bottom). (Credit: NASA)
The PUFFER team hiking to Rainbow Basin to identify areas for field testing. Examples include overhung rocks (top inset), incline with prototype (middle), and a large region for general mobility testing (bottom). (Credit: NASA)

By Denise M. Stefula
NASA

The Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots technology, or PUFFER, is readying a prototype for field testing in Southern California’s Mojave Desert through this summer and into the fall.

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Deep Space Optical Communications

A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)
A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)

By Denise M. Stefula

In May 2016, the Game Changing Development Program’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) project completed TRL 6 milestone testing on its key deliverable, an integrated deep-space flight laser transmitter assembly. Proposed on several Discovery missions, the technology undergoes a transition review in June and is expected to advance to NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program.

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NASA Selects New Technologies for Flight Tests

Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.
Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 13 space technology payloads to flight test on parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons or suborbital launch vehicles to demonstrate new technologies. The selections were made through the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington.

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