September 26, 2017

3-D Analysis Offers New Info On Martian Climate Change, Age Of Polar Caps

Cut-away perspective view (toward 150°E) into the depth-converted Planum Boreum SHARAD 3-D volume, showing radar-return power (blue high, white low) from previously known (black) and buried (red) features within the north polar cap. The SHARAD no-data zone is due to MRO’s orbit inclination. Depth conversion assumes pure water ice (εʹ = 3.15). Scale is approximate (varies in this perspective), with vertical exaggeration of 136:1. Image Credit: Putzig et al.

September 26, 2017 – Three-dimensional (3-D) subsurface radar volumes generated from thousands of 2-D radar profiles are revealing new information about the polar regions of Mars, including more accurate mapping of CO2 and water ices, the discovery of buried impact craters, and new elevation data. Planetary Science Institute (PSI) Senior Scientist Nathaniel E. Putzig is the lead author of the new Icarus paper “Three-dimensional radar imaging of structures and craters in the Martian polar caps.” Read More

Solving The Mystery Of Pluto’s Giant Blades Of Ice

Pluto’s bladed terrain as seen from New Horizons during its July 2015 flyby. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Daniel Rutter

September 26, 2017 – NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant knife blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery. Read More

OSIRIS-REx Views The Earth During Flyby

Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona

September 26, 2017 – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft took this color composite image of Earth using its MapCam camera on September 22, 2017. This image was taken just hours after the spacecraft completed its Earth Gravity Assist at a range of approximately 106,000 miles (170,000 kilometers). MapCam is part of the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) operated by the University of Arizona. Read More

Eclipse 2017: A Celestial Achievement For Public Libraries

September 26, 2017 – 2.1 million pairs of eclipse glasses were distributed free through public libraries in the U.S. for the solar eclipse event on August 21, 2017. 7,100 organizations, including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and state libraries, received a package of free safe-viewing glasses, plus a 24-page information booklet on how best to do public outreach programs about the eclipse. This was the single largest distribution of free glasses in the entire country and reached more people with glasses and information than any other educational effort for the 2017 eclipse. It is projected that this library eclipse project allowed 6 million people to observe the event safely. Read More

UNOOSA Announces Call For Interest For Dream Chaser Spacecraft Mission Payloads

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Cargo variant will carry 20 to 30 powered experiments into space that are provided by organizations within UN Member States, with a particular emphasis on developing and emerging countries. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

September 26, 2017 – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) announced today the opportunity to participate in a space mission using Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft. The low-Earth orbit space mission will take 20 to 30 powered experiments provided by organizations within the participating UN Member States, with a particular emphasis on developing and emerging countries. Read More

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End Of Mission Blues With Dr. Storrie-Lombardi
Source: Spacepod

Dr. Lisa Storrie-Lombardi returns to the show to discuss NuSTAR, Spitzer, and what it feels like to end a mission you’ve been working on for decades. Cassini’s Grand Finale has us reflecting on the upcoming demise of the Spitzer Space Telescope.

NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid CubeSat Goes Full Sail
Source: NASA

NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, a small satellite the size of a shoebox, designed to study asteroids close to Earth, performed a full-scale solar sail deployment test at ManTech NeXolve’s facility in Huntsville, Alabama, Sept. 13. The test was performed in an indoor clean room to ensure the deployment mechanism’s functionality after recent environmental testing.

Video: Experiencing “Mars” Through HI-SEAS
Source: Lockheed Martin

Want to learn more about life on a simulated Mars mission? Hear from Josh Ehrlich – a Lockheed Martin engineer on the Orion spacecraft who traded in tech for a trowel as the resident botanist of the fifth Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) study. The video journal was recorded just days before the mission ended Sept. 17, 2017.

JPL Researchers Validate Technology Performance On Parabolic Flights
Source: NASA

A series of parabolic flights from Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) in March 2017 enabled researchers to test and validate the performance of two technologies from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL): Comet Sample Verification System and Biosleeve Gesture Control Interface for Telerobotics.

Helicopter Test For Jupiter Icy Moons Radar
Source: ESA

A long radar boom that will probe below the surface of Jupiter’s icy moons has been tested on Earth with the help of a helicopter. ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, is scheduled for launch in 2022, arriving seven years later. It will study Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere and vast magnetic fields, as well as the planet-sized moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.

Internship And Postdoc Opportunities At NASA Ames
Source: NASA

The Kepler/K2 Science Center at NASA Ames is now accepting applications for paid internships via the NASA Internships Portal. The program enables students to gain experience in the scientific operations of a high-profile space photometry mission. PhD and graduate students already using Kepler or K2 data as part of their research projects are particularly encouraged to apply. Also at NASA Ames, the NASA Postdoctoral Program is accepting applications to work on high-resolution imaging of K2 and TESS exoplanet host stars with Steve Howell and the analysis of transiting planets to be observed by JWST with Tom Greene.

VP, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Launch Mars Science City
Source: Dubai Media Office

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have launched the Mars Science City project. The AED 500 million-City will cover 1.9 million square feet, making it the largest space simulation city ever built and will provide a viable and realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars.

Smallsat Companies Band Together In New Spectrum-Advocacy Organization
Source: SpaceNews

Eleven small satellite companies (including Boulder’s Blue Canyon Technologies) are establishing a trade association to address spectrum policies and regulations specific to the no-longer-tiny smallsat industry.

Rocket Lab To Fly Planet And Spire Satellites On Second Test Flight
Source: Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab yesterday announced it will fly payloads for Planet and Spire aboard its upcoming second test flight, ‘Still Testing’, from Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand. Rocket Lab’s Electron orbital launch vehicle will carry two Earth-imaging Dove satellites for Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites from Spire for weather mapping and ship traffic tracking.

NASA’s New Hubble E-Book Series Dives Into The Solar System And Beyond
Source: NASA

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope team has unveiled a new e-book titled “Hubble Focus: Our Amazing Solar System.” It kicks off a series of e-books that will showcase the telescope’s recent contributions to many different fields of astronomy.

The Mars 2020 Rover Features New Spectral Abilities With Its New SuperCam
Source: The Optical Society

Scientists are already building the next generation’s ChemCam with impressive upgrades and brand new spectral capabilities for the NASA Mars 2020 rover, named for the year of its scheduled launch. In addition to a faster LIBS system, the SuperCam will feature an entirely new conduction-cooled laser system to provide the non-destructive analysis ability of Raman spectroscopy, capable of detecting carbon-based signatures of organic materials.

Research: The New Horizons And Hubble Space Telescope Search For Rings, Dust, And Debris In The Pluto-Charon System

We conducted an extensive search for dust or debris rings in the Pluto-Charon system before, during, and after the New Horizons encounter in July 2015. Methodologies included attempting to detect features by back-scattered light during the approach to Pluto (phase angle α ∼ 15◦), in situ detection of impacting particles, a search for stellar occultations near the time of closest approach, and by forward-scattered light imaging during departure (α ∼ 165◦). An extensive search using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) prior to the encounter also contributed to the final ring limits.

Cosmic Kittens: Saturn Features Get Feline Names

If you know anything about Saturn, you probably know that it’s a planet surrounded by rings. But did you know that it’s also surrounded by cats? NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which plunged into Saturn on Sept. 15, has discovered at least 60 “kittens” orbiting in Saturn’s F ring. These features aren’t actually young cats, but Cassini scientists have been naming them after kittens, mostly just for fun.

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
Source: NASA

Vice President Mike Pence offered his thanks Monday to employees working on NASA’s human spaceflight programs during a tour of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Colorado Scientist Dreams Up A Frisbee-Like Robot To Sail Onto Asteroids
Source: CPR

Soft, frisbee-like robots may one day be flying around asteroids, according to a University of Colorado scientist who won a NASA innovation grant to study the idea. Jay McMahon tells Colorado Matters the “soft bot” could adhere to an asteroid using something called van der Waals principles — relatively weak forces that allow a gecko to climb walls, for example.

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission Completes 3 Years In Orbit
Source: Press Trust of India

India’s rendezvous with the red planet continues as its celebrated Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) completes three years in orbit.

Oxygen-Deficient Dwarf Galaxy Hints At Makings Of Early University
Source: University of Virginia

A recently discovered dwarf galaxy in the constellation Lynx may serve well as a proxy for better understanding the developing chemistry of the early universe, according to a research team that includes University of Virginia astronomers.