Artist’s concept of Maven in orbit around the planet Mars. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC
After a decade of hard work and intricate preparations and an interplanetary voyage of over 700 million kilometers (400 million miles), NASA’s newest Mars orbiter, MAVEN, has completed its commissioning phase and transitioned over to start its full on science mission to investigate the planet’s astrobiological potential over the eons.
Continue reading MAVEN Starts Astrobiology Science Mission Orbiting the Red Planet
An unprecedented view of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, that was obtained with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. A new study has provided evidence that Sagittarius A* is a source of high-energy neutrinos. Image Credit: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Wisconsin/Y.Bai. et al.
In the new Hollywood sci-fi epic “Interstellar,” black holes hold the key to humanity’s deeper understanding of the Universe and to our own species’ ultimate, transcendental development to fifth-dimensional beings. In the real world, black holes may hold the key to answering some more mundane but nonetheless fascinating astrophysical mysteries, like the origins of cosmic rays and neutrinos that have baffled scientists for decades, according to a new study by a U.S. research team.
Continue reading New Research Suggests Potential Link Between Neutrinos and the Supermassive Black Hole at Milky Way’s Center
The Expedition 42 crew, from left, consists of Yelena Serova, Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Soyuz TMA-15M new arrivals Anton Shkaplerov, Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti. Photo Credit: NASA
Two weeks after the 9 November return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-13M, a new three-member crew will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:01 a.m. local time Monday, 24 November (4:01 p.m. EST Sunday, 23 November), bound for a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Terry Virts, and Italy’s first female spacefarer, Samantha Cristoforetti, will embark on a now-standard six-hour, four-orbit “fast rendezvous” profile and should be in position to dock their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft at the station’s Earth-facing (or “nadir”) Rassvet module at 9:53 p.m. EST Sunday. After confirming the integrity of seals between the two vehicles, hatches will be opened at about 11:30 p.m., whereupon the new arrivals will be greeted by the incumbent Expedition 42 crew of U.S. astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova, who have been aboard the orbital outpost since 25 September.
Continue reading All-Air Force Crew From Three Nations Ready for Launch to Space Station (Part 1)
Technicians in a Lockheed Martin clean room prepare NASA’s InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and leak testing on Oct. 31, 2014. Following the test, the lander was moved to another clean room where it will undergo the assembly phase of ATLO during the next six months. Credit: Lockheed Martin
NASA’s next Mars lander—the InSight spacecraft—has reached the start of its critical final assembly operations phase known as ATLO, or assembly, test, and launch operations.
InSight’s construction is on track for its scheduled departure from Earth to the Red Planet in March 2016.
Continue reading Final Assembly Begins for NASA’s Next Mars Lander: InSight
Cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev, both Expedition 42 flight engineers, pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA
SPACE STATION WEEKLY UPDATE Nov. 10 – Nov. 16, 2014 — As a new crew prepares on the ground for their upcoming ride to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstahn, Expedition 42 crew members Barry Wilmore, Elena Serova, and Alexander Samokutyaev stayed busy on station continuing their ongoing work and research. Following the landing of their colleagues Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman, and Alexander Gerst on Sunday, Nov. 10, the trio spent last Monday off-duty to rest before a busy week filled with scientific work, cargo transfers, station maintenance, and space debris avoidance.
Continue reading Science, Cargo Transfers, and Maintenance Highlight ISS Work as New Crew Prepares for Launch
Artist’s conception of the new Dellingr 6U CubeSat. The advanced CubeSat could be deployed from the International Space Station by January 2016. Image Credit: NASA/Luis H. Santos
An advanced new six-unit (6U) CubeSat is being designed by a NASA skunkworks team, for possible deployment from the International Space Station by January 2016. The CubeSat, named Dellingr after the god of the dawn in Norse mythology, will be developed and tested over the next year under a self-imposed deadline. The CubeSat will be able to accommodate agency-class science investigations and technology demonstrations at a lower cost than normal.
Continue reading NASA Skunkworks Team Designs Advanced New ‘Dellingr’ CubeSat
OSIRIS spots Philae drifting across the comet. These incredible images show the breathtaking journey of Rosetta’s Philae lander as it approached and then rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Europe’s intrepid and plucky Philae spacecraft has detected organic molecules on the surface of a comet, after successfully completing history’s first-ever soft landing on a comet and subsequently surviving two harrowingly unplanned bounces before finally coming to rest, barely a week ago.
Continue reading Philae Detects Organic Molecules at Comet Landing Site
Artist’s concept of Dream Chaser Landing at Ellington Airfield, Houston, Texas. The Dream Chaser vehicle can
land at any suitable runway that is at least 8,000 feet long. Image Credit: SNC
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) may not have been awarded a multi-billion dollar commercial crew contract by NASA, but that isn’t stopping the company from moving forward with plans for their Dream Chaser. The fact is the spacecraft’s unique lifting-body winged design offers numerous potential applications that no other existing spacecraft can, and the aerospace community is taking note regardless of NASA’s decision to select two capsules for the same job. Earlier this month SNC and partner organization RS&H, Inc., presented findings regarding the challenges and opportunities of landing Dream Chaser at public airports during the Space Traffic Management Conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach, Fla., summarizing the vehicle’s capabilities and describing their efforts to land at commercial airports with minimal impact to existing operations.
Dream Chaser’s ultimate goal is to provide commercial services to a broader commercial market, and at the conference, which was held on Nov. 5, 2014, SNC discussed in detail how they plan to ensure that their reusable “spaceplane” meets safety and environmental requirements, as well as operates within, or exceeds, existing and future procedures and policies.
Continue reading Sierra Nevada Outlines Challenges and Opportunities for Landing Dream Chaser at Public Airports
Artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft approaching Pluto and its system of moons. New Horizons is getting ready to emerge from its electronic hibernation on December 6, in order to begin its final preparations for the start of the Pluto encounter operations in January 2015. Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)
They say that practice makes perfect, and the New Horizons mission has had much time in its hands to do just that. After more than eight years of silently cruising through the entirety of the Solar System toward its ultimate destination, the intrepid spacecraft is almost there: Currently located just over 1.5 times the Earth-Sun distance away from mysterious Pluto, New Horizons is set to come out of hibernation for the very last time three weeks from now, prior to the start of its historic encounter operations in January 2015 with this distant world in the outer reaches of the Solar System.
Continue reading New Horizons Ready for Last Wake-Up Call Prior to Start of Historic Pluto Encounter Operations
Morpheus taking flight for Free Flight 14 on May 28, 2014. Although #14 represented the end of the team’s flight test campaign, more data is needed, and so Project Morpheus is readying to take to the skies again, with the first tethered flight test expected to occur this week. Photo Credit: NASA/Mike Chambers
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, at the northern edge of the former Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), is an area that looks very much like the surface of the Moon, complete with rocks and craters to serve as a site to flight test the agency’s Morpheus prototype planetary lander. A total of 14 free flight tests have been conducted so far, the last of which took place under cover of darkness on May 28, 2014, and although Free Flight 14 (FF14) concluded Project Morpheus’ flight test campaign the team feels there are some areas they can improve upon, and so operations are again in full swing for a new series of flight tests, the first of which is currently scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014.
Continue reading Morpheus Prototype Lander Ready for New Series of Flight Tests at Kennedy Space Center