June 20, 2017

NASA Mars Orbiter Views Rover Climbing Mount Sharp

The feature that appears bright blue at the center of this scene is NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover amid tan rocks and dark sand on Mount Sharp, as viewed by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on June 5, 2017. The rover is about 10 feet long and not really as blue as it looks here. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

June 20, 2017 – Using the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a view of the Curiosity rover this month amid rocky mountainside terrain. The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in the enhanced-color image from the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The exaggerated color, showing differences in Mars surface materials, makes Curiosity appear bluer than it really looks. Read More

New Reports Confirm Near-Perfect Performance Record For Civil GPS Service

GPS Satellite. Image Credit: USAF

June 20, 2017 – The U.S. Air Force released two technical reports demonstrating that the Global Positioning System (GPS) continues to deliver exceptional performance to civilian users around the world. GPS is a U.S. Air Force satellite system that provides highly dependable positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services to military and civilian users around the world, free of direct user charges. Operated by the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, the GPS constellation provides precise PNT services worldwide 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Read More

New Branch In Family Tree Of Exoplanets Discovered

This diagram illustrates how planets are assembled and sortedinto two distinct size classes. First, the rocky cores of planets are formed from smaller pieces. Then, the gravity of the planets attracts hydrogen and helium gas. Finally, the planets are “baked” by the starlight and lose some gas. At a certain mass threshold, planets retain the gas and become gaseousmini-Neptunes; below this threshold, the planets lose all their gas, becoming rockysuper-Earths. Image credit: NASA/Kepler/Caltech (R. Hurt)

June 20, 2017 – Since the mid-1990s, when the first planet around another sun-like star was discovered, astronomers have been amassing what is now a large collection of exoplanets – nearly 3,500 have been confirmed so far. In a new study, researchers have classified these planets in much the same way that biologists identify new animal species and have learned that the majority of exoplanets found to date fall into two distinct size groups: rocky Earth-like planets and larger mini-Neptunes. The team used data from NASA’s Kepler mission and the W. M. Keck Observatory. Read More

NASA Completes Study Of Future ‘Ice Giant’ Mission Concepts

Left: Arriving at Uranus in 1986, Voyager 2 observed a bluish orb with subtle features. A haze layer hid most of the planet’s cloud features from view. Right: This image of Neptune was produced from Voyager 2 and shows the Great Dark Spot and its companion bright smudge. Image Credit: Left: NASA/JPL-Caltech – Right: NASA

June 20, 2017 – A NASA-led and NASA-sponsored study of potential future missions to the mysterious “ice giant” planets Uranus and Neptune has been released—the first in a series of mission studies NASA will conduct in support of the next Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The results of this and future studies will be used as the Decadal Survey deliberates on NASA’s planetary science priorities from 2022-2032. The study identifies the scientific questions an ice giant mission should address, and discusses various instruments, spacecraft, flight-paths and technologies that could be used. Read More

NASA Teams With Italian Space Agency To Probe Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Roberto Battiston, president of Italy’s space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, conclude the signing of a cooperative agreement for the IXPE space science mission with a handshake June 20, 2017, at the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Image Credit: ASI/ Giuseppina Piccirilli

June 20, 2017 – A new partnership forged between NASA and Italy’s space agency paves the way for a breakthrough mission to explore some of the most turbulent and extreme environments in our universe — from the hottest, messiest star factories to violent jets screaming away from monster black holes. Read More

NASA Debuts Automated System To Streamline Technology Patent Licensing

NASA’s Langley Research Center developed a method to consolidate carbon nanotube yarns and woven sheets and graphene sheets via the dehydration of sucrose. The resulting materials are lightweight, high-strength and cost-effective, and can be used to manufacture structural materials for aerospace vehicles. Image Credit: NASA

June 20, 1017 – NASA has developed a new system to streamline the way the agency licenses its technology patents, making the transfer of NASA-patented innovations to industry easier than ever before. The Automated Technology Licensing Application System (ATLAS) provides prospective licensees a streamlined, centralized online tool for applying for any one of the more than 1,400 innovations NASA currently has available for licensing. Read More

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B612 Studying Smallsat Missions To Search For Near Earth Objects
Source: SpaceNews

The B612 Foundation, which once sought to privately develop a large space observatory to search for potentially hazardous near Earth objects (NEOs), is now studying an alternative approach that uses much smaller spacecraft.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Source: Company Week

The Ball brothers launched the corporation that bears their name in 1880 with a $200 loan from their uncle. The company is now the largest manufacturer of recyclable metal and food containers on Earth. But Ball’s modern business isn’t constrained to any one planet — or galaxy, for that matter.

Orbital ATK Completes Mission Extension Vehicle Satellite System Preliminary Design Review
Source: Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK today announced the completion of its Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) system preliminary design review. The RPOD system comprises the sensors, actuators and control algorithms which allow for the detection, tracking, and safe approach to a client spacecraft. The company’s first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) will provide satellite life extension services to Intelsat S.A. beginning in 2019.

Roscosmos, ESA And NASA To Play Leading Roles In Lunar Orbital Station Project
Source: TASS Russian News Agency

Russian state aerospace corporation Roscosmos, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will likely be the main partners in Deep Space Gateway lunar orbital station project, Roscosmos Director General Igor Komarov told reporters at Le Bourget 2017 aerospace show.

Longtime Denver Angel Investor Joins Angel Capital Association Board
Source: Rockies Venture Club

Entrepreneurship and angel investing are burgeoning in Colorado and the nation is taking notice. For the first time since founding in 2004, the Angel Capital Association (ACA) — the world’s leading professional organization for angel investors — has elected longtime Colorado resident, Peter Adams, Executive Director of Rockies Venture Club (RVC), to their board of directors.

Star’s Birth May Have Triggered Another Star Birth, Astronomers Say
Source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) have found new evidence suggesting that a jet of fast-moving material ejected from one young star may have triggered the formation of another, younger protostar.

Getting To Know Your Robot
Source: CU Engineering Magazine

Dan Szafir, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and ATLAS Institute, envisions a day when robots can be found making beds at understaffed nursing homes, drones fly over fields providing precise measurements of crop yields, and flying automatons hover around the International Space Station, handling mundane chores so astronauts can tendto more important tasks. Rather than seeing such intelligent machines as replacements for people (as is so often the fear), Szafir views them as integral collaborators, able to help DIY-ers with household projects.

Finding New Earths: PLATO Spacecraft To Be Built
Source: Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

ESA’s planet-hunting mission PLATO has been adopted for implementation; the launch is planned for 2026.

Michael Flasar – A “Back of the Envelope” Scientist And Cassini Principal Investigator
Source: NASA

I am the principal investigator for the Composite Infrared Spectrometer on the Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn. CIRS was one of the instruments selected for Cassini in 1990.

Susan Thompson Talks About Creating Kepler Planet Catalogs
Source: NASA

A conversation with Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

Qualifying The Life Saver – LAS Set For Two More Tests Ahead Of EM-2
Source: NASASpaceFlight.com

Following Orbital ATK successful test-firing of an Orion launch abort system (LAS) abort motor at their Promontory facility in Utah on June 15, two more qualification tests will be required before the vital crew safety element is officially ready to fly with crewed Space Launch System (SLS) missions, beginning with Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2) mission in the early 2020s.

Gravitational Wave Mission Selected, Planet-Hunting Mission Moves Forward
Source: ESA

The LISA trio of satellites to detect gravitational waves from space has been selected as the third large-class mission in ESA’s Science programme, while the Plato exoplanet hunter moves into development.

How Tiny Satellites Are Changing The Way We Do Business
Source: Fast Company

As the private space industry sends more nanosatellites into orbit, new imagery is shaping American farmland, Arctic shipping routes, and everything in between.

Stratcom Commander Speaks At Space Conference
Source: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (dvids)

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic
Command, provides remarks on space, nuclear and missile defense modernization during the Mitchell Institute Space Breakfast Series at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, June 20, 2017.

NASA, French Space Agency Express Commitment To Joint Exploration
Source: NASA

France and the United States have a long history of cooperation in space, combining their talents over the years to advance science and launch exploration missions whose results have been instrumental in creating entirely new fields of research. The leaders of the two space agencies, Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, reaffirmed the agencies’ mutual desire to explore opportunities for collaboration to advance science and to enable robotic and human exploration of the solar system during a meeting Monday, June 19, at the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.

Return To The Blue
Source: ESA

How do you prepare for space missions on Earth? One way is to simulate an expedition into space underwater. Yesterday, six aquanauts dived almost 20 m to the sea floor where they will spend 10 days living and working below the waves. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren will be commander for this mission that will focus on exploration spacewalks as well as tasks based on the International Space Station.

Magnetic Space Tug Could Target Dead Satellites
Source: ESA

Derelict satellites could in future be grappled and removed from key orbits around Earth with a space tug using magnetic forces. This same magnetic attraction or repulsion is also being considered as a safe method for multiple satellites to maintain close formations in space.

Martian Crater Provides Reminder Of Apollo Moonwalk
Source: NASA

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity passed near a young crater this spring during the 45th anniversary of Apollo 16’s trip to Earth’s moon, prompting a connection between two missions. Opportunity’s science team informally named the Martian feature “Orion Crater.”

Boulder Toy Maker Spins Off A Personal Robot Division
Source: Denver Business Journal

Sphero, the Boulder toy maker that makes the rolling BB-8 toy from “Star Wars,” said it’s completed the spin-off of a company that will concentrate on building personal robots. “Misty Robotics’ vision is to put a personal robot in every home and office.