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Archive for the ‘JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratoy)’ Category

JPL To Stream Mars Curiosity Telecon And Lecture

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA will host a media teleconference at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 12), to provide a status update on the Curiosity rover’s mission to Mars’ Gale Crater.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is more than one month into a two-year mission to investigate whether conditions have been favorable for microbial life and preserving clues in the rocks about possible past life.

Also this week, Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Richard Cook will speak Thursday, Sept. 13 in JPL’s von Karman Auditorium. The lecture, which begins at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT), is open to the public and will be broadcast live with moderated chat, on JPL’s Ustream channel.

Full Story and Links: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-287

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Dawn Has Departed The Giant Asteroid Vesta

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Image credit: NASA/JPL Caltech/UCLA/MP /DLR/IDA

Mission controllers received confirmation today that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has escaped from the gentle gravitational grip of the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn is now officially on its way to its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres.

Dawn departed from Vesta at about 11:26 p.m. PDT on Sept. 4 (2:26 a.m. EDT on Sept. 5). Communications from the spacecraft via NASA’s Deep Space Network confirmed the departure and that the spacecraft is now traveling toward Ceres.

“As we respectfully say goodbye to Vesta and reflect on the amazing discoveries over the past year, we eagerly look forward to the next phase of our adventure at Ceres, where even more exciting discoveries await,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-277

To Planets And Beyond: Voyager Celebrates 35 Years

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory celebrates the 35-anniversary of the Voyager mission, whose twin spacecraft conducted a Grand Tour of the planets and are now headed into interstellar space. A panel discussion in JPL’s von Karman auditorium will highlight insider stories about designing the planetary tour, Voyager’s post-launch “anxiety attack,” Voyager 2’s encounter with Neptune, and the Golden Record.

Full Story and Video: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

NASA Announces Aug. 27 Mars News Conference

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA will hold a televised news conference at 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m.EDT), Monday, Aug. 27, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., about the activities of its Curiosity rover mission on Mars. The event will feature new images, an update of the rover’s progress, and a special greeting by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Full Story and Links: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-258b

First Words Of Safe Landing On Mars – Tango Delta Nominal

August 22, 2012 Leave a comment

10:32 p.m. on the evening of Aug. 5 was turning out to be one long minute for Steve Sell. Of course, the previous six had been significantly protracted as well. When added together, the entry, descent and landing of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover had been touted as “Seven Minutes of Terror,” and as far as Sell was concerned things were trending in that direction. What the 42-year-old engineer from Gettysburg, Pa., wanted more than anything in that seventh minute was to hear the words “UHF Strong.”

There had been a debate amongst Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing team about what their first words to indicate that the rover had reached the surface should be. The EDL team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory knew their microphones would be “hot” and that NASA TV was beaming the landing event out live to anybody with the desire and wherewithal to watch. They also knew that landing safely on Mars meant more than simply landing on Mars – which any one of the 34 engineers present at JPL’s Building 264 Room 230, also known as the “EDL War Room,” will tell you at great length is not simple at all.

What if the descent stage kept descending right on top of the rover? What if the bridles connecting the two did not separate? What if the algorithm used to throttle up the engines for the flyaway maneuver was not accurate? It was the remaining “what ifs” that made what those first words from Mars confirming the rover was on the surface so important.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-253

Student Commands Mars Rover

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, physics doctoral student had the rare opportunity to control one of the science instruments on NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. Tate is working with Jeffrey Moersch, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

As a “payload uplink lead,” Tate assembled and verified the instrument command sequence for his science team’s instrument, a neutron detector. Overnight, his commands were sent to the rover, sitting millions of miles away on the Martian surface. They instructed the rover’s neutron detector to power up, take data for a couple hours, save it all and send it back to Earth.

“It blows my mind to think that I told a robot on another planet 150 million miles away to do something and it happened,” said Tate, of Woodberry, Tennessee.

Full Story: http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2012/08/21/student-commands-mars-rover/

NASA Curiosity Team Pinpoints Site for First Drive, First Laser Use On Tap This Weekend

August 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The scientists and engineers of NASA’s Curiosity rover mission have selected the first destination for their one-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory. The target area, named Glenelg, is a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain. The choice was described by Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology during a media teleconference on Aug. 17.

The trek to Glenelg will send the rover 1,300 feet (400 meters) east southeast of its landing site. One of the three types of terrain intersecting at Glenelg is layered bedrock, which is attractive as the first drilling target.

Prior to the rover’s trip to Glenelg, the team in charge of Curiosity’s Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, is planning to give their mast-mounted rock-zapping laser and telescope combination a thorough checkout. On Saturday night, ChemCam is expected to “zap” its first rock in the name of planetary science. It will be the first time such a powerful laser has been used on the surface of another world.

“Rock N165 looks like your typical Mars rock, about three inches wide. It’s about 10 feet away,” said Roger Wiens, principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “We are going to hit it with 14 millijoules of energy 30 times in 10 seconds. It is not only going to be an excellent test of our system, it should be pretty cool too.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/aug/HQ_12-287_Curiosity_First_Drive_Site_Chosen.html