December 6, 2017

Clay Minerals On Mars May Have Formed In Primordial Steam Bath

Mars may have been enveloped in a thick, steamy atmosphere as the planet’s crust cooled and solidified. That steam bath could have created the clay minerals that have long been attributed to water flow on or just beneath the surface. Image Credit: Brown University

December 6, 2017 – Planetary scientists from Brown University have proposed a new scenario for the formation of ancient clay minerals on Mars that, if shown to be true, could rewrite the early history of the red planet. Read More

Ascent’s Superlight Thin-Film Solar Selected For Jupiter Deployment Demonstration By The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

A Solar Sail converts sunlight as a propulsion by means of a large membrane while a Solar “Power” Sail gets electricity from thin film solar cells on the membrane in addition to acceleration by solar radiation. What’s more, if the ion-propulsion engines with high specific impulse are driven by such solar cells, it can become a “hybrid” engine that is combined with photon acceleration to realize fuel-effective and flexible missions. To evaluate the performance of the solar power sails, IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) was launched on May 21, 2010 together with the Venus Climate Orbiter, AKATSUKI And IKAROS becomes the world’s first solar powered sail craft employing both photon propulsion and thin film solar power generation during its interplanetary cruise. Image Credit: JAXA

December 6, 2017 – Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art, lightweight and flexible thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solutions, announces that the company has fulfilled a third order from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for custom PV products designed specifically for JAXA’s upcoming solar sail deployment demonstration project. Read More

USGS, NASA Preparing To Commit to Launch Date, Cost For Landsat 9

Landsat 9 Satellite. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard

December 6, 2017 – NASA and USGS officials are meeting December 6, 2017 at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C., at which time NASA will be asked to commit to a total cost and launch date for Landsat 9. Read More

More News:

NASA Mars Rover Team’s Tilted Winter Strategy Works
Source: NASA

NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, has just passed the shortest-daylight weeks of the long Martian year with its solar panels in encouragingly clean condition for entering a potential dust-storm season in 2018.

Delta 4 Launch From California Slips To January
Source: Spaceflight Now

The launch of a top secret National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been pushed back from Dec. 13 until no earlier than Jan. 10 to complete software validation on the Delta 4 rocket’s new avionics system, United Launch Alliance announced Wednesday.

From Homelessness To Rocket Science
Source: Metropolitan State University

It’s no wonder Dan Strawn dreamed of rockets as a child. They could help him escape a stepdad who constantly berated him — each word penetrating like a cold knife: “You’re worthless! You’ll never amount to anything!” In 2000 and part of 2001, Strawn, who grew up in Parker, Colorado, was homeless – caught in an ugly cycle: sleep on a friend’s couch, then sleep in his car. Repeat.

Subcommittee on Space Hearing – NASA’s Next Four Large Telescopes
Source: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

The purpose of this hearing is to examine the development of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and the planning for a next generation space telescope.

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Spacecraft Departs International Space Station, Begins Secondary Mission In Space
Source: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that its Cygnus™ spacecraft, following a highly successful stay as a part of the International Space Station, has departed from the station to begin the next phase of its mission. The “S.S. Gene Cernan” is now set to deploy a record number of cubesats in orbit before reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Found: Most Distant Black Hole
Source: NASA/JPL

Scientists have uncovered a rare relic from the early universe: the farthest known supermassive black hole. This matter-eating beast is 800 million times the mass of our Sun, which is astonishingly large for its young age. Researchers report the find in the journal Nature.

CASIS And The NSF Announce Second Space Station Funding Opportunity In Fluid Dynamics
Source: CASIS

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a joint solicitation wherein researchers from the fluid dynamics community will have the ability to leverage resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. Up to $2 million will be awarded for multiple research investigations to support flight projects to the ISS National Laboratory.

Purple Gaze: Parker Solar Probe’s Solar Arrays Pass Laser Illumination Testing
Source: NASA

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe passed laser illumination testing the week of Nov. 27, 2017. During this test, each segment of the spacecraft’s solar panels was illuminated with lasers to check that they were still electrically connected after the vigorous vibration and acoustic testing completed earlier this fall.

Astronauts Command Robotic Arm To Release Cygnus Cargo Craft
Source: NASA

After delivering almost 7,400 pounds of cargo to support dozens of science experiments from around the world, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft has departed the International Space Station. At 8:11 a.m., Expedition 53 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA gave the command to release Cygnus.

NASA Invites Media To Orion Spacecraft Parachute Test In Arizona
Source: NASA

NASA is inviting media to attend a test of parachutes for the agency’s Orion spacecraft Wednesday, Dec. 13, at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. This test is the fifth in a series of eight to qualify the parachute system for crewed Orion missions.

Scientists Observe Supermassive Black Hole In Infant Universe
Source: MIT News

A team of astronomers, including two from MIT, has detected the most distant supermassive black hole ever observed. The black hole sits in the center of an ultrabright quasar, the light of which was emitted just 690 million years after the Big Bang. That light has taken about 13 billion years to reach us — a span of time that is nearly equal to the age of the universe.

The PI’s Perspective: Wrapping Up 2017 En Route To Our Next Flyby
Source: Space Foundation

New Horizons is in good health and cruising closer each day to its next encounter: a flyby of the Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 (or “MU69” for short). If you follow our mission, you likely know that flyby will occur on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2019, which is just barely over a year from now!

Homeschool Days In A Galaxy Far Away
Source: Space Foundation

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is hosting several events to wrap up 2017 that are interactive, educational and of course, fun.

Designing Future Human Space Exploration On Hawaii’s Lava Fields
Source: NASA

On the lava fields of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, a team of NASA researchers and partners have been busy doing science in a most unusual way. They were studying the biology and geology of this remarkable terrain while simulating a realistic mission to the surface of Mars. The conditions were so real that many of the expected challenges of otherworldly exploration were recreated, including a communications delay of several minutes, and limited bandwidth for transmitting data.

Orion Service Module-2 Structure Complete
Source: ESA

Wrapping up our blog entries on the frame of the second European Service module for Orion, these pictures show the completed internal structure for Flight Model-2. It will support up to four astronauts and send them further than any human being has ever been from Earth in a few years.

Robert Zubrin Interview On Red Planet Radio Broadcast
Source: The Mars Society

In the latest episode of Red Planet Radio, the official podcast of the Mars Society, President Dr. Robert Zubrin discusses the most recent scientific findings on the planet Mars, the new direction NASA is taking with the current administration and Elon Musk’s plans for the ITS and Mars exploration.

NASA’s SuperTIGER Balloon Flies Again To Study Heavy Cosmic Particles
Source: NASA

A science team in Antarctica is preparing to loft a balloon-borne instrument to collect information on cosmic rays, high-energy particles from beyond the solar system that enter Earth’s atmosphere every moment of every day. The instrument, called the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (SuperTIGER), is designed to study rare heavy nuclei, which hold clues about where and how cosmic rays attain speeds up to nearly the speed of light.