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Posts Tagged ‘spaceflight’

Mars Crater May Actually Be Ancient Supervolcano

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC

Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC

A research project led by Joseph R. Michalski, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, has identified what could be a supervolcano on Mars – the first discovery of its kind. In a paper published Oct. 3 in the journal Nature, Michalski and co-author Jacob E. Bleacher of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center describe a new type of volcanic construction on Mars that until now has gone unrecognized.

The volcano in question, a vast circular basin on the face of the Red Planet, previously had been classified as an impact crater. Researchers now suggest the basin is actually the remains of an ancient supervolcano eruption. Their assessment is based on images and topographic data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, as well as the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.

“On Mars, young volcanoes have a very distinctive appearance that allows us to identify them,” Michalski said. “The long-standing question has been what ancient volcanoes on Mars look like. Perhaps they look like this one.”

Link To Full Story.

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Upgrade To Mars Rovers Could Aid Discovery On More Distant Worlds

September 10, 2013 1 comment

Smart as the Mars Curiosity mission has been about landing and finding its own way on a distant world, the rover is pretty brainless when it comes to doing the science that it was sent 567 million kilometers to carry out. That has to change if future rover missions are to make discoveries further out in the solar system, scientists say.

The change has now begun with the development of a new camera that can do more than just take pictures of alien rocks – it also thinks about what the pictures signify so the rover can decide on its own whether to keep exploring a particular site, or move on.

“We currently have a micromanaging approach to space exploration,” said senior researcher Kiri Wagstaff, a computer scientist and geologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “While this suffices for our rovers on Mars, it works less and less well the further you get from the Earth. If you want to get ambitious and go to Europa and asteroids and comets, you need more and more autonomy to even make that feasible.”

Full Story: http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2013/2013-43.shtml

SwRI To Build Miniature Solar Observatory For Manned Suborbital Flight

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received funding from NASA to build a miniature, portable solar observatory for developing and testing innovative instrumentation in suborbital flight.

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) will fly on new, commercial manned suborbital craft, such as XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft, to enable spaceborne science and instrument development at a fraction of the cost of unmanned sounding rockets.

SSIPP is a self-contained unit that is bolted in place of a passenger seat on the Lynx. In flight, it optically locks onto the Sun, providing steering feedback to the pilot and delivering a clean, stabilized view of the Sun to a small instrument mounted on an optical workbench inside the unit.

“The biggest challenge for new space instrumentation is the high cost barrier for entry into service,” said SSIPP team leader Dr. Craig DeForest, a staff scientist in the Planetary Science Directorate of SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “Until now, making a new instrument has meant building and testing a complete, custom, self-contained observatory each time.”

Full Story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2012/ssipp.htm

Atsa Team Successfully Fits Observatory Camera In XCOR Spacecraft

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Planetary Science Institute scientists and undergraduate students from The Citadel and other South Carolina colleges visited XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, Calif., to fit the Atsa Suborbital Observatory Mark I camera in an engineering model of the Lynx Mark I spacecraft.

The Atsa project will use a reusable suborbital spacecraft equipped with a specially designed telescope to provide low-cost space-based observations above the limiting atmosphere of Earth, while avoiding some operational constraints of satellite telescope systems such as the inability to observe objects close to the sun.

“The visit to XCOR was to do a first fit test of the Atsa Armrest Camera, which is the engineering test bed for the Atsa Suborbital Observatory. The AAC is a small, hand-guided camera that is designed to demonstrate target acquisition and tracking for human-tended suborbital astronomy, and will acquire multispectral images of targets such as Venus and Mercury in the visible to near-infrared spectral range — out to about 900 nanometers,” Vilas said. “The test was very successful: the AAC will indeed fit into the Lynx cockpit and be useable.”

Full Story: http://www.psi.edu/news/press-releases#atsaxcor

Join Universe Today’s Live Webcast Of The Curiosity Rover Landing


Want to be part of the Mars Science Laboratory landing event and join thousands of others in watching it live? Universe Today is teaming up with Google, the SETI Institute and CosmoQuest to provide unprecedented, live coverage of the historic landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. Starting at 8 pm PDT on August 5th (03:00 UTC August 6th) a live, 4-hour webcast will highlight the landing of the car-sized robotic roving laboratory. During the webcast, via a Google+ Hangout on Air, scientists, engineers and other experts will provide unique insight into the rover and the landing, and viewers will have the chance to interact and ask questions.

Full Story: http://www.universetoday.com/96541/join-universe-todays-live-webcast-of-the-curiosity-rover-landing/#more-96541

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/c7c2fbd2gil25fjimln1jnr1134/110701307803962595019#events/c7c2fbd2gil25fjimln1jnr1134/110701307803962595019

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/universetoday/

NASA Invites Social Media Followers To Kennedy Space Center


NASA invites its social media followers to a two-day NASA Social Aug. 2-3 to celebrate Kennedy Space Center’s 50 years of human spaceflight. NASA Socials are in-person meetings with people who engage with the agency through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.

Participants will receive a unique perspective into Kennedy’s 50 years of launching humans and machines into low Earth orbit and to other planets. They will be treated to speakers from Kennedy’s past, present and future, and tour the historical launch pads of NASA’s early days through the present-day facilities that supported the Space Shuttle Program and Kennedy’s transition to the future.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jul/HQ-M12-130_KSC_NASA_Social.html

NASA 3-D App Gives Public Ability To Experience Robotic Space Travel


A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency’s robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D now is available for free on the iPhone and iPad.

Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover that will touch down on Mars Aug. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT, and the twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow currently orbiting the moon.

“With Spacecraft 3D and a mobile device, you can put high definition, three-dimensional models literally into the hands of kids of all ages,” said Stephen Kulczycki, deputy director for communications and education at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jul/HQ_12-226_NASA_3D_Spacecraft_App.html