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  • richardmitnick 5:41 am on October 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bringing robotic and human spaceflight closer together is critical for humankind's space future, Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, , DSOC-Deep Space Optical Communications, FLT-Flight Laser Transceiver, JPL's Table Mountain Facility, NASA JPL - Caltech, , School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, STMD-NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, The mission plans launch in 2022 and arrival at Psyche between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in 2026, TRL-Technology Readiness Level   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    October 18, 2017
    Gina Anderson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1160
    gina.n.anderson@nasa.gov

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Leonard(?)

    May 23, 2017
    Artist’s Concept of Psyche Spacecraft with Five-Panel Array
    1
    This artist’s-concept illustration depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. The artwork was created in May 2017 to show the five-panel solar arrays planned for the spacecraft.
    The spacecraft’s structure will include power and propulsion systems to travel to, and orbit, the asteroid. These systems will combine solar power with electric propulsion to carry the scientific instruments used to study the asteroid through space.
    The mission plans launch in 2022 and arrival at Psyche, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, in 2026. This selected asteroid is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. It offers evidence about violent collisions that created Earth and other terrestrial planets.
    Mission: Psyche. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

    2
    Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons
    The Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC) device will beam high data rates to a telescope at Palomar Mountain, California. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA

    A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

    The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA’s Psyche mission utilizes photons — the fundamental particle of visible light — to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

    Tapping the advantages offered by laser communications is expected to revolutionize future space endeavors – a major objective of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

    The DSOC project is developing key technologies that are being integrated into a deep space-worthy Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT), high-tech work that will advance this mode of communications to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6. Reaching a TRL 6 level equates to having technology that is a fully functional prototype or representational model.

    As a “game changing” technology demonstration, DSOC is exactly that. NASA STMD’s Game Changing Development Program funded the technology development phase of DSOC. The flight demonstration is jointly funded by STMD, the Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) Program and NASA/ HEOMD/Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN).

    Work on the laser package is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    “Things are shaping up reasonably and we have a considerable amount of test activity going on,” says Abhijit Biswas, DSOC Project Technologist in Flight Communications Systems at JPL. Delivery of DSOC for integration within the Psyche mission is expected in 2021 with the spacecraft launch to occur in the summer of 2022, he explains.

    “Think of the DSOC flight laser transceiver onboard Psyche as a telescope,” Biswas explains, able to receive and transmit laser light in precisely timed photon bursts.

    DSOC architecture is based on transmitting a laser beacon from Earth to assist line­ of ­sight stabilization to make possible the pointing back of a downlink laser beam. The laser onboard the Psyche spacecraft, Biswas says, is based on a master-oscillator power amplifier that uses optical fibers.

    The laser beacon to DSOC will be transmitted from JPL’s Table Mountain Facility located near the town of Wrightwood, California, in the Angeles National Forest. DSOC’s beaming of data from space will be received at a large aperture ground telescope at Palomar Mountain Observatory in California, near San Diego.

    Biswas anticipates operating DSOC perhaps 60 days after launch, given checkout of the Psyche spacecraft post-liftoff. The test-runs of the laser equipment will occur over distances of 0.1 to 2.5 astronomical units (AU) on the outward-bound probe. One AU is approximately 150 million kilometers-or the distance between the Earth and Sun.

    “I am very excited to be on the mission,” says Biswas, who has been working on the laser communications technology since the late 1990s. “It’s a unique privilege to be working on DSOC.”

    The Psyche mission was selected for flight in early 2017 under NASA’s Discovery Program, a series of lower-cost, highly focused robotic space missions that are exploring the solar system.

    The spacecraft will be launched in the summer of 2022 to 16 Psyche, a distinctive metal asteroid about three times farther away from the sun than Earth. The planned arrival of the probe at the main belt asteroid will take place in 2026.

    Lindy Elkins-Tanton is Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe. She is the principal investigator for the Psyche mission.

    “I am thrilled that Psyche is getting to fly the Deep Space Optical Communications package,” Elkins-Tanton says. “First of all, the technology is mind-blowing and it brings out all my inner geek. Who doesn’t want to communicate using lasers, and multiply the amount of data we can send back and forth?”

    Elkins-Tanton adds that bringing robotic and human spaceflight closer together is critical for humankind’s space future. “Having our robotic mission test technology that we hope will help us eventually communicate with people in deep space is excellent integration of NASA missions and all of our goals,” she says.

    In designing a simple, high-heritage spacecraft to do the exciting exploration of the metal world Psyche, “I find both the solar electric propulsion and the Deep Space Optical Communications to feel futuristic in the extreme. I’m proud of NASA and of our technical community for making this possible,” Elkins-Tanton concludes.

    Biswas explains that DSOC is a pathfinder experiment. The future is indeed bright for the technology, he suggests, such as setting up capable telecommunications infrastructure around Mars.

    “Doing so would allow the support of astronauts going to and eventually landing on Mars,” Biswas said. “Laser communications will augment that capability tremendously. The ability to send back from Mars to Earth lots of information, including the streaming of high definition imagery, is going to be very enabling.”

    As a “game changing” technology demonstration, DSOC is exactly that. NASA STMD’s Game Changing Development program funded the technology development phase of DSOC. The flight demonstration is jointly funded by STMD, the Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program and NASA/ HEOMD/Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN). Work on the laser package is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    For more information about NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/main/index.html

    For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on October 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech, NASA's Great Observatories Provide a Detailed View of Kepler's Supernova Remnant   

    From JPL-Caltech and Spitzer via Manu: “NASA’s Great Observatories Provide a Detailed View of Kepler’s Supernova Remnant” 


    Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

    The universe around us.
    Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

    NASA/Spitzer Telescope


    Spitzer

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    1

    10.06.04
    NASA’s Great Observatories Provide a Detailed View of Kepler’s Supernova Remnant.

    NASA’s three Great Observatories — the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — joined forces to probe the expanding remains of a supernova, called Kepler’s supernova remnant, first seen 400 years ago by sky watchers, including famous astronomer Johannes Kepler.

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/Chandra Telescope

    The combined image unveils a bubble-shaped shroud of gas and dust that is 14 light-years wide and is expanding at 4 million miles per hour (2,000 kilometers per second). Observations from each telescope highlight distinct features of the supernova remnant, a fast-moving shell of iron-rich material from the exploded star, surrounded by an expanding shock wave that is sweeping up interstellar gas and dust.

    Each color in this image represents a different region of the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to infrared light. These diverse colors are shown in the panel of photographs below the composite image. The X-ray and infrared data cannot be seen with the human eye. By color-coding those data and combining them with Hubble’s visible-light view, astronomers are presenting a more complete picture of the supernova remnant.

    Visible-light images from the Hubble telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys [colored yellow] reveal where the supernova shock wave is slamming into the densest regions of surrounding gas.

    The bright glowing knots are dense clumps from instabilities that form behind the shock wave. The Hubble data also show thin filaments of gas that look like rippled sheets seen edge-on. These filaments reveal where the shock wave is encountering lower-density, more uniform interstellar material.

    The Spitzer telescope shows microscopic dust particles [colored red] that have been heated by the supernova shock wave. The dust re-radiates the shock wave’s energy as infrared light. The Spitzer data are brightest in the regions surrounding those seen in detail by the Hubble telescope.

    The Chandra X-ray data show regions of very hot gas, and extremely high-energy particles. The hottest gas (higher-energy X-rays, colored blue) is located primarily in the regions directly behind the shock front. These regions also show up in the Hubble observations, and also align with the faint rim of glowing material seen in the Spitzer data. The X-rays from the region on the lower left (colored blue) may be dominated by extremely high-energy electrons that were produced by the shock wave and are radiating at radio through X-ray wavelengths as they spiral in the intensified magnetic field behind the shock front. Cooler X-ray gas (lower-energy X-rays, colored green) resides in a thick interior shell and marks the location of heated material expelled from the exploded star.

    Kepler’s supernova, the last such object seen to explode in our Milky Way galaxy, resides about 13,000 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

    The Chandra observations were taken in June 2000, the Hubble in August 2003; and the Spitzer in August 2004.

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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    1

     
  • richardmitnick 4:03 pm on October 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Deposits in the Eridania basin of southern Mars as resulting from seafloor hydrothermal activity more than 3 billion years ago, , Mars Study Yields Clues to Possible Cradle of Life, NASA JPL - Caltech, The Eridania basin of southern Mars   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Mars Study Yields Clues to Possible Cradle of Life” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    October 6, 2017
    Guy Webster
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6278
    guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

    Jenny Knotts
    Johnson Space Center, Houston
    281-483-5111
    Norma.j.knotts@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077 / 202-358-1726
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    1
    This view of a portion of the Eridania region of Mars shows blocks of deep-basin deposits that have been surrounded and partially buried by younger volcanic deposits. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    2
    The Eridania basin of southern Mars is believed to have held a sea about 3.7 billion years ago, with seafloor deposits likely resulting from underwater hydrothermal activity. Image credit: NASA

    3
    This diagram illustrates an interpretation for the origin of some deposits in the Eridania basin of southern Mars as resulting from seafloor hydrothermal activity more than 3 billion years ago. Image credit: NASA

    ________________________________________________________

    Fast Facts:

    › A long-gone sea on southern Mars once held nearly 10 times as much water as all of North America’s Great Lakes combined, a recent report estimates.

    › The report interprets data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as evidence that hot springs pumped mineral-laden water directly into this ancient Martian sea.

    › Undersea hydrothermal conditions on Mars may have existed about 3.7 billion years ago; undersea hydrothermal conditions on Earth at about that same time are a strong candidate for where and when life on Earth began.

    › The report adds an important type of wet ancient Martian environment to the diversity indicated by previous findings of evidence for rivers, lakes, deltas, seas, groundwater and hot springs.
    ________________________________________________________

    The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.

    A recent international report examines observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

    “Even if we never find evidence that there’s been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth,” said Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston. “Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time — when early life was evolving here.”

    Mars today has neither standing water nor volcanic activity. Researchers estimate an age of about 3.7 billion years for the Martian deposits attributed to seafloor hydrothermal activity. Undersea hydrothermal conditions on Earth at about that same time are a strong candidate for where and when life on Earth began. Earth still has such conditions, where many forms of life thrive on chemical energy extracted from rocks, without sunlight. But due to Earth’s active crust, our planet holds little direct geological evidence preserved from the time when life began. The possibility of undersea hydrothermal activity inside icy moons such as Europa at Jupiter and Enceladus at Saturn feeds interest in them as destinations in the quest to find extraterrestrial life.

    Observations by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) provided the data for identifying minerals in massive deposits within Mars’ Eridania basin, which lies in a region with some of the Red Planet’s most ancient exposed crust.

    “This site gives us a compelling story for a deep, long-lived sea and a deep-sea hydrothermal environment,” Niles said. “It is evocative of the deep-sea hydrothermal environments on Earth, similar to environments where life might be found on other worlds — life that doesn’t need a nice atmosphere or temperate surface, but just rocks, heat and water.”

    Niles co-authored the recent report in the journal Nature Communications with lead author Joseph Michalski, who began the analysis while at the Natural History Museum, London, andco-authors at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and the Natural History Museum.

    The researchers estimate the ancient Eridania sea held about 50,000 cubic miles (210,000 cubic kilometers) of water. That is as much as all other lakes and seas on ancient Mars combined and about nine times more than the combined volume of all of North America’s Great Lakes. The mix of minerals identified from the spectrometer data, including serpentine, talc and carbonate, and the shape and texture of the thick bedrock layers, led to identifying possible seafloor hydrothermal deposits. The area has lava flows that post-date the disappearance of the sea. The researchers cite these as evidence that this is an area of Mars’ crust with a volcanic susceptibility that also could have produced effects earlier, when the sea was present.

    The new work adds to the diversity of types of wet environments for which evidence exists on Mars, including rivers, lakes, deltas, seas, hot springs, groundwater, and volcanic eruptions beneath ice.

    “Ancient, deep-water hydrothermal deposits in Eridania basin represent a new category of astrobiological target on Mars,” the report states. It also says, “Eridania seafloor deposits are not only of interest for Mars exploration, they represent a window into early Earth.” That is because the earliest evidence of life on Earth comes from seafloor deposits of similar origin and age, but the geological record of those early-Earth environments is poorly preserved.

    The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, built and operates CRISM, one of six instruments with which MRO has been examining Mars since 2006. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver built the orbiter and supports its operations. For more about MRO, visit:

    https://mars.nasa.gov/mro

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:01 pm on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech, Super Earth   

    From JPL: “The Super-Earth that Came Home for Dinner” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    OCTOBER 4, 2017
    Written by Pat Brennan

    Elizabeth Landau
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6425
    elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    Super Earth
    An artist’s illustration of a possible ninth planet in our solar system, hovering at the edge of our solar system. Neptune’s orbit is shown as a bright ring around the Sun. Credit: ESO/Tom Ruen/nagualdesign

    It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side.

    If a planet is there, it’s extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance — in case you’re wondering — of ever colliding with Earth, or bringing “days of darkness”).It is a possible “Planet Nine” — a world perhaps 10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times farther from the sun than Neptune. The signs so far are indirect, mainly its gravitational footprints, but that adds up to a compelling case nonetheless.

    One of its most dedicated trackers, in fact, says it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet Nine than with one.

    “There are now five different lines of observational evidence pointing to the existence of Planet Nine,” said Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist at Caltech in Pasadena, California, whose team may be closing in. “If you were to remove this explanation and imagine Planet Nine does not exist, then you generate more problems than you solve. All of a sudden, you have five different puzzles, and you must come up with five different theories to explain them.”

    Batygin and his co-author, Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, described the first three breadcrumbs on Planet Nine’s trail in a January 2016 paper, published in the Astronomical Journal. Six known objects in the distant Kuiper Belt, a region of icy bodies stretching from Neptune outward toward interstellar space, all have elliptical orbits pointing in the same direction. That would be unlikely — and suspicious — enough. But these orbits also are tilted the same way, about 30 degrees “downward” compared to the pancake-like plane within which the planets orbit the sun.

    Breadcrumb number three: Computer simulations of the solar system with Planet Nine included show there should be more objects tilted with respect to the solar plane. In fact, the tilt would be on the order of 90 degrees, as if the plane of the solar system and these objects formed an “X” when viewed edge-on. Sure enough, Brown realized that five such objects already known to astronomers fill the bill.

    Two more clues emerged after the original paper. A second article from the team, this time led by Batygin’s graduate student, Elizabeth Bailey, showed that Planet Nine could have tilted the planets of our solar system during the last 4.5 billion years. This could explain a longstanding mystery: Why is the plane in which the planets orbit tilted about 6 degrees compared to the sun’s equator?

    “Over long periods of time, Planet Nine will make the entire solar-system plane precess or wobble, just like a top on a table,” Batygin said.

    The last telltale sign of Planet Nine’s presence involves the solar system’s contrarians: objects from the Kuiper Belt that orbit in the opposite direction from everything else in the solar system. Planet Nine’s orbital influence would explain why these bodies from the distant Kuiper Belt end up “polluting” the inner Kuiper Belt.

    “No other model can explain the weirdness of these high-inclination orbits,” Batygin said. “It turns out that Planet Nine provides a natural avenue for their generation. These things have been twisted out of the solar system plane with help from Planet Nine and then scattered inward by Neptune.”

    The remaining step is to find Planet Nine itself. Batygin and Brown are using the Subaru Telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii to try to do just that. The instrument is the “best tool” for picking out dim, extremely distant objects lost in huge swaths of sky, Batygin said.

    But where did Planet Nine come from? Batygin says he spends little time ruminating on its origin — whether it is a fugitive from our own solar system or, just maybe, a wandering rogue planet captured by the sun’s gravity.

    “I think Planet Nine’s detection will tell us something about its origin,” he said.

    Other scientists offer a different possible explanation for the Planet Nine evidence cited by Batygin. A recent analysis based on a sky mapping project called the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, which discovered more than 800 new “trans-Neptunian objects,” suggests that the evidence also could be consistent with a random distribution of such objects. Still, the analysis, from a team led by Cory Shankman of the University of Victoria, could not rule out Planet Nine.

    If Planet Nine is found, it will be a homecoming of sorts, or at least a family reunion. Over the past 20 years, surveys of planets around other stars in our galaxy have found the most common types to be “super Earths” and their somewhat larger cousins — bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

    Yet these common, garden-variety planets are conspicuously absent from our solar system. Weighing in at roughly 10 times Earth’s mass, the proposed Planet Nine would make a good fit.

    Planet Nine could turn out to be our missing super Earth.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 5:48 am on September 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ends Its Historic Exploration of Saturn” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    September 15, 2017

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    Preston Dyches
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-5011
    preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Saturn’s active, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus sinks behind the giant planet in a farewell portrait from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. This view of Enceladus was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back.

    A thrilling epoch in the exploration of our solar system came to a close today, as NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made a fateful plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year tour of the ringed planet.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    “This is the final chapter of an amazing mission, but it’s also a new beginning,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Cassini’s discovery of ocean worlds at Titan and Enceladus changed everything, shaking our views to the core about surprising places to search for potential life beyond Earth.”

    2
    Spacecraft operations team manager for the Cassini mission at Saturn, Julie Webster is seen after the end of the Cassini mission.

    Telemetry received during the plunge indicates that, as expected, Cassini entered Saturn’s atmosphere with its thrusters firing to maintain stability, as it sent back a unique final set of science observations. Loss of contact with the Cassini spacecraft occurred at 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT), with the signal received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna complex in Canberra, Australia.

    NASA Canberra, AU Deep Space Network

    3
    This montage of images shows the location on Saturn where the NASA spacecraft entered Saturn’s atmosphere.

    “It’s a bittersweet, but fond, farewell to a mission that leaves behind an incredible wealth of discoveries that have changed our view of Saturn and our solar system, and will continue to shape future missions and research,” said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which manages the Cassini mission for the agency. JPL also designed, developed and assembled the spacecraft.

    Cassini’s plunge brings to a close a series of 22 weekly “Grand Finale” dives between Saturn and its rings, a feat never before attempted by any spacecraft.

    “The Cassini operations team did an absolutely stellar job guiding the spacecraft to its noble end,” said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL. “From designing the trajectory seven years ago, to navigating through the 22 nail-biting plunges between Saturn and its rings, this is a crack shot group of scientists and engineers that scripted a fitting end to a great mission. What a way to go. Truly a blaze of glory.”

    As planned, data from eight of Cassini’s science instruments was beamed back to Earth. Mission scientists will examine the spacecraft’s final observations in the coming weeks for new insights about Saturn, including hints about the planet’s formation and evolution, and processes occurring in its atmosphere.

    “Things never will be quite the same for those of us on the Cassini team now that the spacecraft is no longer flying,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL. “But, we take comfort knowing that every time we look up at Saturn in the night sky, part of Cassini will be there, too.”

    Cassini launched in 1997 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and arrived at Saturn in 2004. NASA extended its mission twice – first for two years, and then for seven more. The second mission extension provided dozens of flybys of the planet’s icy moons, using the spacecraft’s remaining rocket propellant along the way. Cassini finished its tour of the Saturn system with its Grand Finale, capped by Friday’s intentional plunge into the planet to ensure Saturn’s moons – particularly Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and signs of hydrothermal activity – remain pristine for future exploration.

    While the Cassini spacecraft is gone, its enormous collection of data about Saturn – the giant planet, its magnetosphere, rings and moons – will continue to yield new discoveries for decades to come.

    “Cassini may be gone, but its scientific bounty will keep us occupied for many years,” Spilker said. “We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can learn from the mountain of data it has sent back over its lifetime.”


    NASA Recap: Saturn End of Mission. 1 hour.

    An online toolkit with information and resources for Cassini’s Grand Finale is available at:

    https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 5:54 pm on September 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA JPL - Caltech, SPHEREx   

    From CfA: “CfA Plays Key Role in SPHEREx” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics


    Center For Astrophysics

    On August 9, NASA announced that SPHEREx is among three Medium-Class Explorer (MIDEX) missions selected for a “Phase A” study.

    1
    NASA/JPL

    The SPHEREx team, along with the two other chosen MIDEX mission teams, has 9 months and $2 million to refine the mission concept and report back to NASA. NASA anticipates making its final selection by the end of 2018, with a launch expected in 2022 at the earliest. Medium-Class Explorer mission costs are capped at $250 million each, excluding the launch vehicle.

    If approved, during its nominal 27-month mission, the passively cooled SPHEREx telescope will conduct four all-sky surveys, obtaining background-limited infrared spectra of every 6 arcsec x 6 arcsec region of the sky, or about 14 billion spectra per survey. The instrument, which has no moving parts, will cover the wavelength range between 0.75 and 5.0 microns, enabling a wide range of science goals. The SPHEREx team itself will focus on three important science themes:

    1) Constraining the physics of inflation by studying its imprints on the three-dimensional large-scale distribution of matter,
    2) Tracing the history of galactic light production through a deep multi-band measurement of large-scale clustering, and
    3) Mapping the abundance and distribution of water and other biogenic ices throughout the Milky Way with a focus on the early phases of star formation and planet-forming disks.

    SPHEREx will, however, enable a wide range of other scientific investigations with its full-sky spectroscopy roughly two magnitudes deeper than 2MASS in every spectral element. The SPHEREx Principal Investigator is Jamie Bock of the California Institute of Technology; however, a group of CfA scientists, led by Gary Melnick, are responsible for the third science theme. SPHEREx Co-Investigators Matthew Ashby and Volker Tolls are also part of the CfA water/biogenic ices team, and SPHEREx collaborator Karin Öberg will be responsible for interpreting near-infrared spectra in light of present and future laboratory measurements.

    For more about SPHEREx, including the instrument design, the main science themes, and a wider array of scientific questions that SPHEREx will address, follow this link to the official SPHEREx website:

    http://spherex.caltech.edu/index.html

    See the full article here .

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:13 pm on September 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: APL JEDI-built Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, Electric potentials, , Jupiter’s Auroras Present a Powerful Mystery, NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From JHUAPL: “Jupiter’s Auroras Present a Powerful Mystery” 

    Johns Hopkins
    Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab bloc
    JHU Applied Physics Lab

    September 6, 2017
    Michael Buckley
    Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory,
    240-228-7536
    michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu

    D. C. Agle
    NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
    818-393-9011
    david.c.agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA/Juno

    1
    This image, created with data from Juno’s Ultraviolet Spectrograph, marks the path of Juno’s readings of Jupiter’s auroras, highlighting the electron measurements that show the discovery of the so-called discrete auroral acceleration processes indicated by the “inverted Vs” in the lower panel. This signature points to powerful magnetic field-aligned electric potentials that accelerate electrons toward the atmosphere to energies that are far greater than what drive the most intense auroras at Earth — and scientists are looking into why the same processes are not the main factor in Jupiter’s most powerful auroras. Credit: NASA/SwRI/Randy Gladstone

    2
    Ultraviolet auroral images of Jupiter from the Juno Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument. The images contain intensities from three spectral ranges, false-colored red, green and blue, providing qualitative information on precipitating electron energies (high, medium and low, respectively). Credit: NASA/SwRI/Randy Gladstone

    3
    Reconstructed view of Jupiter’s northern lights through the filters of the Juno Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument on Dec. 11, 2016, as the Juno spacecraft approached Jupiter, passed over its poles, and plunged toward the equator. Such measurements present a real challenge for the spacecraft’s science instruments: Juno flies over Jupiter’s poles at 30 miles (50 kilometers) per second — more than 100,000 miles per hour — speeding past auroral forms in a matter of seconds. Credit: NASA/Bertrand Bonfond

    Scientists on NASA’s Juno mission have observed massive amounts of energy swirling over Jupiter’s polar regions that contribute to the giant planet’s powerful auroras — only not in ways the researchers expected.

    Examining data collected by the ultraviolet spectrograph and energetic-particle detector instruments aboard the Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft, a team led by Barry Mauk of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland, observed signatures of powerful electric potentials, aligned with Jupiter’s magnetic field, that accelerate electrons toward the Jovian atmosphere at energies up to 400,000 electron volts. This is 10 to 30 times higher than the largest auroral potentials observed at Earth, where only several thousands of volts are typically needed to generate the most intense auroras — known as discrete auroras — the dazzling, twisting, snake-like northern and southern lights seen in places like Alaska and Canada, northern Europe, and many other northern and southern polar regions.

    Jupiter has the most powerful auroras in the solar system, so the team was not surprised that electric potentials play a role in their generation. What’s puzzling the researchers, Mauk said, is that despite the magnitudes of these potentials at Jupiter, they are observed only sometimes and are not the source of the most intense auroras, as they are at Earth.

    “At Jupiter, the brightest auroras are caused by some kind of turbulent acceleration process that we do not understand very well,” said Mauk, who leads the investigation team for the APL-built Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI). “There are hints in our latest data indicating that as the power density of the auroral generation becomes stronger and stronger, the process becomes unstable and a new acceleration process takes over. But we’ll have to keep looking at the data.”

    Scientists consider Jupiter to be a physics lab of sorts for worlds beyond our solar system, saying the ability of Jupiter to accelerate charged particles to immense energies has implications for how more distant astrophysical systems accelerate particles. But what they learn about the forces driving Jupiter’s auroras and shaping its space weather environment also has practical implications in our own planetary backyard.

    “The highest energies that we are observing within Jupiter’s auroral regions are formidable. These energetic particles that create the auroras are part of the story in understanding Jupiter’s radiation belts, which pose such a challenge to Juno and to upcoming spacecraft missions to Jupiter under development,” said Mauk. “Engineering around the debilitating effects of radiation has always been a challenge to spacecraft engineers for missions at Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. What we learn here, and from spacecraft like NASA’s Van Allen Probes and MMS that are exploring Earth’s magnetosphere, will teach us a lot about space weather and protecting spacecraft and astronauts in harsh space environments. Comparing the processes at Jupiter and Earth is incredibly valuable in testing our ideas of how planetary physics works.”

    Mauk and colleagues present their findings in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of SwRI. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft.

    See the full article here .

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    Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab Campus

    Founded on March 10, 1942—just three months after the United States entered World War II—APL was created as part of a federal government effort to mobilize scientific resources to address wartime challenges.

    APL was assigned the task of finding a more effective way for ships to defend themselves against enemy air attacks. The Laboratory designed, built, and tested a radar proximity fuze (known as the VT fuze) that significantly increased the effectiveness of anti-aircraft shells in the Pacific—and, later, ground artillery during the invasion of Europe. The product of the Laboratory’s intense development effort was later judged to be, along with the atomic bomb and radar, one of the three most valuable technology developments of the war.

    On the basis of that successful collaboration, the government, The Johns Hopkins University, and APL made a commitment to continue their strategic relationship. The Laboratory rapidly became a major contributor to advances in guided missiles and submarine technologies. Today, more than seven decades later, the Laboratory’s numerous and diverse achievements continue to strengthen our nation.

    APL continues to relentlessly pursue the mission it has followed since its first day: to make critical contributions to critical challenges for our nation.

    Johns Hopkins Campus

    The Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876, with the inauguration of its first president, Daniel Coit Gilman. “What are we aiming at?” Gilman asked in his installation address. “The encouragement of research … and the advancement of individual scholars, who by their excellence will advance the sciences they pursue, and the society where they dwell.”

    The mission laid out by Gilman remains the university’s mission today, summed up in a simple but powerful restatement of Gilman’s own words: “Knowledge for the world.”

    What Gilman created was a research university, dedicated to advancing both students’ knowledge and the state of human knowledge through research and scholarship. Gilman believed that teaching and research are interdependent, that success in one depends on success in the other. A modern university, he believed, must do both well. The realization of Gilman’s philosophy at Johns Hopkins, and at other institutions that later attracted Johns Hopkins-trained scholars, revolutionized higher education in America, leading to the research university system as it exists today.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From JPL: “NASA’s Next Mars Mission to Investigate Interior of Red Planet” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    August 28, 2017

    Guy Webster
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6278
    guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    Danielle Hauf
    Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Denver
    303-932-4360
    danielle.m.hauf@lmco.com

    Shannon Ridinger
    Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
    256-544-3774
    shannon.j.ridinger@nasa.gov

    Dwayne Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    1
    NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. The findings will advance understanding of how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved. This artist’s concept depicts the InSight lander on Mars after the lander’s robotic arm has deployed a seismometer and a heat probe directly onto the ground.

    2
    This view looks upward toward the InSight Mars lander suspended upside down. It shows the top of the lander’s science deck with the mission’s two main science instruments — the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3) — plus the robotic arm and other subsystems installed. The photo was taken Aug. 9, 2017, in a Lockheed Martin clean room facility in Littleton, Colorado.

    Preparation of NASA’s next spacecraft to Mars, InSight, has ramped up this summer, on course for launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California — the first interplanetary launch in history from America’s West Coast.

    Lockheed Martin Space Systems is assembling and testing the InSight spacecraft in a clean room facility near Denver. “Our team resumed system-level integration and test activities last month,” said Stu Spath, spacecraft program manager at Lockheed Martin. “The lander is completed and instruments have been integrated onto it so that we can complete the final spacecraft testing including acoustics, instrument deployments and thermal balance tests.”

    InSight is the first mission to focus on examining the deep interior of Mars. Information gathered will boost understanding of how all rocky planets formed, including Earth.

    “Because the interior of Mars has churned much less than Earth’s in the past three billion years, Mars likely preserves evidence about rocky planets’ infancy better than our home planet does,” said InSight Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. He leads the international team that proposed the mission and won NASA selection in a competition with 27 other proposals for missions throughout the solar system. The long form of InSight’s name is Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.

    Whichever day the mission launches during a five-week period beginning May 5, 2018, navigators have charted the flight to reach Mars the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2018.

    The mission will place a stationary lander near Mars’ equator. With two solar panels that unfold like paper fans, the lander spans about 20 feet (6 meters). Within weeks after the landing — always a dramatic challenge on Mars — InSight will use a robotic arm to place its two main instruments directly and permanently onto the Martian ground, an unprecedented set of activities on Mars. These two instruments are:

    — A seismometer, supplied by France’s space agency, CNES, with collaboration from the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany. Shielded from wind and with sensitivity fine enough to detect ground movements half the diameter of a hydrogen atom, it will record seismic waves from “marsquakes” or meteor impacts that reveal information about the planet’s interior layers.

    — A heat probe, designed to hammer itself to a depth of 10 feet (3 meters) or more and measure the amount of energy coming from the planet’s deep interior. The heat probe is supplied by the German Aerospace Center, DLR, with the self-hammering mechanism from Poland.

    A third experiment will use radio transmissions between Mars and Earth to assess perturbations in how Mars rotates on its axis, which are clues about the size of the planet’s core.

    The spacecraft’s science payload also is on track for next year’s launch. The mission’s launch was originally planned for March 2016, but was called off due to a leak into a metal container designed to maintain near-vacuum conditions around the seismometer’s main sensors. A redesigned vacuum vessel for the instrument has been built and tested, then combined with the instrument’s other components and tested again. The full seismometer instrument was delivered to the Lockheed Martin spacecraft assembly facility in Colorado in July and has been installed on the lander.

    “We have fixed the problem we had two years ago, and we are eagerly preparing for launch,” said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman, of JPL.

    The best planetary geometry for launches to Mars occurs during opportunities about 26 months apart and lasting only a few weeks.

    Together with two active NASA Mars rovers, three NASA Mars orbiters and a Mars rover being built for launch in 2020, InSight is part of a legacy of robotic exploration that is helping to lay the groundwork for sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

    More information about InSight is online at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/insight

    https://insight.jpl.nasa.gov/

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 12:06 pm on August 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A fully mechanical rover, Analog technologies, , , , , Morse code, NASA AREE, NASA JPL - Caltech,   

    From JPL: “A Clockwork Rover for Venus” NASA AREE 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    August 25, 2017

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-2433
    andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    AREE is a clockwork rover inspired by mechanical computers. A JPL team is studying how this kind of rover could explore extreme environments, like the surface of Venus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    A look inside the AREE rover (next to an astronaut for scale). Wind would be channeled through the rover’s body for primary power. Rotating targets on top could be “pinged” by radar, sending data as Morse code.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    A good watch can take a beating and keep on ticking. With the right parts, can a rover do the same on a planet like Venus?

    A concept inspired by clockwork computers and World War I tanks could one day help us find out. The design is being explored at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE) is funded for study by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The program offers small grants to develop early stage technology, allowing engineers to work out their ideas.

    AREE was first proposed in 2015 by Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at JPL. He was inspired by mechanical computers, which use levers and gears to make calculations rather than electronics.

    By avoiding electronics, a rover might be able to better explore Venus. The planet’s hellish atmosphere creates pressures that would crush most submarines. Its average surface temperature is 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius), high enough to melt lead.

    Steampunk computing

    Mechanical computers have been used throughout history, most often as mathematical tools like adding machines. The most famous might be Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, a 19th century invention for calculating algebraic equations. The oldest known is the Antikythera mechanism, a device used by ancient Greeks to predict astronomical phenomena like eclipses.

    Mechanical computers were also developed as works of art. For hundreds of years, clockwork mechanisms were used to create automatons for wealthy patrons. In the 1770s, a Swiss watchmaker named Pierre Jaquet-Droz created “The Writer,” an automaton that could be programmed to write any combination of letters.

    Sauder said these analog technologies could help where electronics typically fail. In extreme environments like the surface of Venus, most electronics will melt in high temperatures or be corroded by sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

    “Venus is too inhospitable for kind of complex control systems you have on a Mars rover,” Sauder said. “But with a fully mechanical rover, you might be able to survive as long as a year.”

    Wind turbines in the center of the rover would power these computers, allowing it to flip upside down and keep running. But the planet’s environment would offer plenty of challenges.

    The extreme planet

    No spacecraft has survived the Venusian surface for more than a couple hours.

    Venus’ last visitors were the Soviet Venera and Vega landers. In the 1970s and 1980s, they sent back a handful of images that revealed a craggy, gas-choked world.

    “When you think of something as extreme as Venus, you want to think really out there,” said Evan Hilgemann, a JPL engineer working on high temperature designs for AREE. “It’s an environment we don’t know much about beyond what we’ve seen in Soviet-era images.”

    Sauder and Hilgemann are preparing to bake mechanical prototypes, allowing them to study how thermal expansion could affect their moving parts. Some components of the Soviet landers had actually been designed with this heat expansion in mind: their parts wouldn’t work properly until they were heated to Venusian temperatures.

    Tank treads for Venus

    AREE includes a number of other innovative design choices.

    Mobility is one challenge, considering there are so many unknowns about the Venusian surface. Sauder’s original idea was inspired by the “Strandbeests” created by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. These spider-like structures have spindly legs that can carry their bulk across beaches, powered solely by wind.

    Ultimately, they seemed too unstable for rocky terrain. Sauder started looking at World War I tank treads as an alternative. These were built to roll over trenches and craters.

    Another problem will be communications. Without electronics, how would you transmit science data? Current plans are inspired by another age-old technology: Morse code.

    An orbiting spacecraft could ping the rover using radar. The rover would have a radar target, which if shaped correctly, would act like “stealth technology in reverse,” Sauder said. Stealth planes have special shapes that disperse radar signals; Sauder is exploring how to shape these targets to brightly reflect signals instead. Adding a rotating shutter in front of the radar target would allow the rover to turn the bright, reflected spot on and off, communicating much like signal lamps on Navy ships.

    Now in its second phase of NIAC development, the JPL team is selecting parts of the AREE concept to be refined and prototyped. Team members hope to flesh out a rover concept that will eventually be able to study the geology of Venus and perhaps drill a few samples.

    For more information about AREE, go to:

    https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/2017_Phase_I_Phase_II/Automaton_Rover_Extreme_Environments

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 7:26 pm on August 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cassini End of Mission activities, , NASA JPL - Caltech   

    From JPL: “NASA Announces Cassini End-of-Mission Media Activities” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    Aug. 24, 2017

    Dwayne Brown
    Headquarters, Washington
    |202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    Laurie Cantillo
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1077
    laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

    Preston Dyches
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-7013
    preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft is shown during its Sept. 15, 2017, plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere in this artist’s depiction. Cassini will use its thrusters to keep its antenna pointed at Earth for as long as possible while sending back unique data about Saturn’s atmosphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    On Sept. 15, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will complete its remarkable story of exploration with an intentional plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, ending its mission after nearly 20 years in space. News briefings, photo opportunities and other media events will be held at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

    NASA also will hold a media teleconference Tuesday, Aug. 29 to preview activities for Cassini during its final two weeks.

    Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere. In April of this year, Cassini began the final phase of its mission, called its Grand Finale — a daring series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and its rings. On Sept. 15, Cassini will plunge into Saturn, sending new and unique science about the planet’s upper atmosphere to the very end. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor. This is the first time a spacecraft has explored this unique region of Saturn — a dramatic conclusion to a mission that has revealed so much about the ringed planet.

    Cassini flight controllers will monitor the spacecraft’s final transmissions from JPL Mission Control. Interviews with mission engineers and scientists will be available for media.

    Cassini Media Events and Schedule

    (All media teleconferences and NASA TV news conferences will be available on the agency’s website, and times are subject to change)

    Tuesday, Aug. 29

    2 p.m. EDT — Media teleconference about spacecraft science and operations activities for the final orbits leading up to the end of the mission will include:

    Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist, Headquarters, Washington
    Earl Maize, Cassini project manager, JPL
    Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, JPL

    Visuals discussed during the telecon will be available at the start of the event at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/cassinitelecon

    Wednesday, Sept. 13

    1 p.m. EDT — News conference from JPL with a detailed preview of final mission activities (also available on NASA TV and online)

    11:15 a.m. PDT — Media tours of Mission Control (each group tour will last about half an hour)

    Thursday, Sept. 14

    10 a.m. to 3 p.m PDT — NASA Social — onsite gathering for 30 pre-selected social media followers (JPL-accredited media may also attend). Events will include a tour, and a speaker program that will be carried on NASA TV and online.
    After 2 p.m. PDT — Media tours of Mission Control

    About 8 p.m. PDT — Final downlink of images expected to begin (streamed online only)

    Friday, Sept. 15: End of Mission

    7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT — Live commentary on NASA TV and online. In addition, an uninterrupted, clean feed of cameras from JPL Mission Control, with mission audio only, will be available during the commentary on the NASA TV Media Channel and on Ustream.

    About 8 a.m. EDT — Expected time of last signal and science data from Cassini

    9:30 a.m. EDT — Post-mission news conference at JPL (on NASA TV and online)

    To participate by phone in any of the three briefings, media must contact Andrew Good at andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov or 818-393-2433 by one hour before each of the briefings’ start time. To attend the Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 news conferences in person, media must have credentials arranged in advance. Media and the public also may ask questions during the events using #askNASA.

    For online streaming, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/live

    To watch the news conferences online, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/live

    http://www.youtube.com/nasajpl/live

    Accreditation

    To cover these events at JPL, media must have pre-arranged credentials issued via the JPL Media Relations Office. The deadlines to apply for credentials have passed.

    Pre-arranged media credentials may be picked up at JPL Visitor Reception, located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, starting Sept. 13 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. PDT. U.S. media must present a valid form of government-issued photo identification to obtain credentials. Non-U.S. citizens must present their valid passport and visa or permanent resident alien registration card.

    Interview Opportunities

    For interviews with mission team members at JPL, media with JPL credentials may schedule interviews in the JPL newsroom or by calling 818-354-5011. Offsite media may schedule phone or Skype interviews by calling 818-354-5011.

    JPL Tours

    On Sept. 13, tours of JPL mission control are available to media. Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Media wishing to join a tour must have a JPL media credential and must make a reservation with the JPL Media Relations Office at 818-354-5011, or sign up in person at the JPL Newsroom.

    Resources

    A Cassini press kit will be available beginning on Aug. 29 at:

    https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/for-media

    Video for the Cassini mission is available for download at:

    https://vimeo.com/album/4649677

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

    For more information on the Cassini mission’s finale, including graphics, fact sheets, press kit, and an up-to-date timeline of mission events, visit:

    https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale

    Follow the mission on social media at:

    https://www.facebook.com/NASACassini

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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