NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Successfully Stows Sample of Asteroid Bennu

The left image shows the OSIRIS-REx collector head hovering over the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) after the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm moved it into the proper position for capture. The right image shows the collector head secured onto the capture ring in the SRC. Both images were captured by the StowCam camera. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission has successfully stowed the spacecraft’s Sample Return Capsule (SRC) and its abundant sample of asteroid Bennu. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the mission team sent commands to the spacecraft, instructing it to close the capsule – marking the end of one of the most challenging phases of the mission.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Goes for Early Stow of Asteroid Sample

This illustration shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft stowing the sample it collected from asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. The spacecraft will use its Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) arm to place the TAGSAM collector head into the Sample Return Capsule (SRC). (Credits: NASA/University of Arizona, Tucson)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is ready to perform an early stow on Tuesday, Oct. 27, of the large sample it collected last week from the surface of the asteroid Bennu to protect and return as much of the sample as possible.

On Oct. 22, the OSIRIS-REx mission team received images that showed the spacecraft’s collector head overflowing with material collected from Bennu’s surface – well over the two-ounce (60-gram) mission requirement – and that some of these particles appeared to be slowly escaping from the collection head, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM).

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NASA Selects Intuitive Machines to Land Water-Measuring Payload on the Moon

NASA has selected Intuitive Machines to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Intuitive Machines of Houston approximately $47 million to deliver a drill combined with a mass spectrometer to the Moon by December 2022 under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative. The delivery of the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment known as PRIME-1 will help NASA search for ice at the Moon’s South Pole and, for the first time, harvest ice from below the surface.

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NASA to Broadcast OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Collection Activities

The Nightingale Crater on asteroid Bennu is the primary sample collection site for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx’s mission. The image is overlaid with a graphic of the spacecraft to illustrate the scale of the site. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast coverage of a first for the agency as its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission attempts to collect a sample of asteroid Bennu on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 6:12 p.m. EDT.

Live coverage of the spacecraft’s descent to the asteroid’s surface for its “Touch-And-Go,” or TAG, maneuver, which will be managed by Lockheed Martin Space near Denver, will begin at 5 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NASA to Provide Coverage of 71st International Astronautical Congress

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast key events, including an Artemis program update, of the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which takes place virtually Monday, Oct. 12, through Wednesday, Oct. 14. Coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

During the conference, NASA will discuss international cooperation for the agency’s lunar exploration plans throughout the Artemis program, which includes sending American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024 and establishing a sustainable lunar presence by the end of the decade.

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NASA to Provide Update on Agency’s First Asteroid Sample Collection Attempt

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/University of Arizona)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is hosting a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, Sept. 24, to provide an update on the agency’s first attempt to contact the surface of asteroid Bennu and collect a sample next month. Teleconference audio and visuals will stream live on NASA’s website.

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New SIMPLEx Mission to Send SmallSats on Longest Deep Space Journey to Date

NASA rendering of a Janus satellite rendezvousing with a binary asteroid. (Credit: NASA)

BOULDER, Colo. (NASA PR) — A small satellite mission that will study the formation and evolutionary implications for small “rubble pile” asteroids has received NASA approval to proceed to the next phase of its development.

On Sept. 3, the dual-spacecraft Janus project successfully passed the important Key Decision Point-C milestone. It’s the first concept study from the current round of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx-2) program to do so. 

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NASA Establishes Board to Initially Review Mars Sample Return Plans

This illustration depicts NASA’s Perseverance rover operating on the surface of Mars. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has established a Mars Sample Return Program Independent Review Board to proactively assist with analysis of current plans and goals for one of the most difficult missions humanity has ever undertaken: the return of samples from another planet to study on Earth.

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NASA to Reexamine Nicknames for Cosmic Objects

Planetary nebula N-2392 (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Distant cosmic objects such as planets, galaxies, and nebulae are sometimes referred to by the scientific community with unofficial nicknames. As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful. NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

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Webb Space Telescope Launch Slips 7 Months

Shown with its primary mirror fully deployed, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most technically complex space science telescope NASA has ever built. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA now is targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges.

This decision is based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities prior to launch. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021.

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NASA to Provide Update on James Webb Space Telescope

Following the complete assembly of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, testing teams performed a comprehensive systems evaluation which allowed them to confidently assess Webb’s software and electronic performance as a single fully connected vehicle. (Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 4:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 16, to provide an update on the status of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s next premier infrared space observatory and the largest, most complex space telescope for astronomy ever built. 

The media teleconference audio will stream live at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Participants in the teleconference include: 

  • Stephen Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator 
  • Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator 
  • Gregory Robinson, NASA Webb program director 
  • Eric Smith, NASA Webb program scientist 

Once deployed, Webb will help solve mysteries in our solar system and look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, as well as probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. 

For more information on Webb, go to: 

https://www.nasa.gov/webb

NASA Science to Hold Virtual Community Town Hall Meeting

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will hold a community town hall meeting via teleconference with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and his leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, May 28, to discuss updates in NASA’s science program and the current status of NASA activities.  

Members of the science community, academia, the media and the public are invited to participate by calling 888-989-9718. International participants should call 312-470-7045. Both numbers will use the passcode 8137047. Participants must provide their name at the prompt. A replay of the call will be available for one month at 203-369-3252. Charts for the meeting will be posted just prior to the start of the meeting and an audio recording will be available later that day at:

https://science.nasa.gov

To ask a question, participants can go to:

https://arc.cnf.io/sessions/ykc8/#!/dashboard

Users must provide their first and last name and organization, and can submit their own questions or vote up or down a list of questions submitted by others. The meeting leaders will try to answer as many of the submitted questions as possible.

For more about NASA science, visit:

https://science.nasa.gov

NASA Selects First Science Instruments to Send to Gateway

Gateway with Orion over the Moon (Credit: ESA/NASA/ATG Medialab)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected the first two scientific investigations to fly aboard the Gateway, an orbital outpost which will support Artemis lunar operations while demonstrating the technologies necessary to conduct a historic human mission to Mars. The instruments selected for Gateway will observe space weather and monitor the Sun’s radiation environment.

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Virginia Middle School Student Earns Honor of Naming NASA’s Next Mars Rover

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring and taking a core sample on the Red Planet. The mission will investigate the geology of Jezero Crater. It will acquire and store samples of the most promising rocks and soils that it encounters, setting them on the surface of Mars for a future mission to bring back samples to Earth for deeper study. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s next Mars rover has a new name – Perseverance.

The name was announced Thursday by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate, during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Zurbuchen was at the school to congratulate seventh grader Alexander Mather, who submitted the winning entry to the agency’s “Name the Rover” essay contest, which received 28,000 entries from K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory.

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Failure of Aging Satellites Could Leave U.S. Partially Blind to Space Weather

Diagram of DSCOVR spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Tne failures of three aging satellites the United States relies upon to forecast space weather could leave the nation partially blind to electromagnetic storms that could severely disrupt electrical grids, communications systems, aviation and Global Positioning System (GPS) dependent navigation.

“The observations that we rely on to provide alerts and warnings are critical. Should we lose some of the key spacecraft that we talk about, I won’t say we’re blind but we’re darn close. It will impact our ability to support this nation’s need for space weather services. And I don’t want to see that happen,” said William Murtagh, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

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