Asteroid Mission Selected for Next Phase of NASA Small Spacecraft Competition

Artist’s conception of the Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

DENVER  (Lockheed Martin PR) — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has been selected to design dual small deep space spacecraft to visit near-earth asteroids in a mission called Janus, led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

One of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) finalists, Janus is designed to fly by two binary asteroids, or asteroids orbiting a common center of mass, to image the system using both visible and infrared cameras. These small satellites will launch in 2022 to reach the asteroid system in 2026.

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SIMPLEx Small Satellite Concept Finalists Target Moon, Mars and Beyond

“I think the thing that impressed me the most was the lunar sunrises and sunsets,” said Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders as he described his impressions of the Moon from about 60 miles. “These in particular bring out the stark nature of the terrain, and the long shadows really bring out the relief.” This oblique photograph looks northwest into the Sea of Tranquility, the site where Apollo 11 would land seven months later. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected three finalists among a dozen concepts for future small satellites. The finalists include a 2022 robotic mission to study two asteroid systems, twin spacecraft to study the effects of energetic particles around Mars, and a lunar orbiter to study water on the Moon. At least one of these missions is expected to move to final selection and flight.

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NASA Awards UCF Deep Space CubeSat Mission

UCF physics professor Joshua Colwell (Credit: UCF)
UCF physics professor Joshua Colwell (Credit: UCF)

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCF PR) — Sometimes thinking small can get you a big win. That’s certainly the case for a team of physicists at the University of Central Florida.

UCF was one of only two universities selected to prepare an experiment for a miniaturized satellite mission as part of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program. Twenty-two projects were reviewed and only two were selected for flight, including UCF’s Q-PACE project. The project is a milestone for UCF. It is the first time the university has been selected to design, build and operate a satellite from start to finish.
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NASA Selects Two New Deep Space CubeSat Missions

CubeSat
CubeSat

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Good things really do come in small packages.

When we think of space satellites that assist with communications, weather monitoring and GPS here on Earth, we likely picture them as being quite large—many are as big as a school bus and weigh several tons. Yet there’s a class of smaller satellites that’s growing in popularity. These miniaturized satellites, known as nanosatellites or CubeSats, can fit in the palm of your hand and are providing new opportunities for space science.

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