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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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1 May 2013 Opportunity Exits Standby, Back at Work
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project received confirmation from Mars this morning (May 1) that the Opportunity rover is back under ground control, executing a sequence of commands sent by the rover team. Opportunity is no longer in standby automode and has resumed normal operations.
30 Apr 2013 Dawn Journal
Nearly three times as far from Earth as the sun is, the Dawn spacecraft is making very good progress on its ambitious trek from Vesta to Ceres. After a spectacular adventure at the second most massive resident of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn used its extraordinary ion propulsion system to leave it behind and undertake the long journey to a dwarf planet.
29 Apr 2013 Opportunity Exits Standby, Back at Work
During a moratorium on commanding this month while Mars passed nearly behind the sun -- a phase called solar conjunction -- NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered a type of standby mode. Mission controllers learned of the changed status on April 27 when they first heard from Opportunity after the period of minimized communication during the solar conjunction. They prepared fresh commands today (April 29) for sending to the rover to resume operations.
25 Apr 2013 Curiosity Wins National Air and Space Museum Trophy
The team in charge of successfully landing NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's highest group honor at a dinner in Washington on Wednesday night, April 24. The 2013 Trophy for Current Achievement honors outstanding achievements in the fields of aerospace science and technology.
22 Apr 2013 NASA Successfully Launches Three Smartphone Satellites
Three smartphones destined to become low-cost satellites rode to space Sunday aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. The trio of "PhoneSats" is operating in orbit, and may prove to be the lowest-cost satellites ever flown in space. The goal of NASA's PhoneSat mission is to determine whether a consumer-grade smartphone can be used as the main flight avionics of a capable, yet very inexpensive, satellite. Transmissions from all three PhoneSats have been received at multiple ground stations on Earth, indicating they are operating normally.
15 Apr 2013 NASA-Funded Asteroid Tracking Sensor Passes Key Test
An infrared sensor that could improve NASA's future detecting and tracking of asteroids and comets has passed a critical design test. The test assessed performance of the Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) in an environment that mimicked the temperatures and pressures of deep space. NEOCam is the cornerstone instrument for a proposed new space-based asteroid-hunting telescope.
11 Apr 2013 NASA Mars Orbiter Images May Show 1971 Soviet Lander
Hardware from a spacecraft that the Soviet Union landed on Mars in 1971 might appear in images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While following news about Mars and NASA's Curiosity rover, Russian citizen enthusiasts found four features in a five-year-old image from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that resemble four pieces of hardware from the Soviet Mars 3 mission: the parachute, heat shield, terminal retrorocket and lander. A follow-up image by the orbiter from last month shows the same features. The Mars 3 lander transmitted for several seconds after landing on Dec. 2, 1971, the first spacecraft to survive a Mars landing long enough to transmit anything.
10 Apr 2013 NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement On The NASA FY 2014 Budget Request
This statement is from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year.
8 Apr 2013 NASA Celebrates Four Decades of Plucky Pioneer 11
Forty years ago, on April 5, 1973, a small, ambitious spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, heading towards the third-brightest point of light in the night sky. Following in the footsteps of its sister craft, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11 was intended as a backup for the dangerous mission. After Pioneer 10 successfully survived its encounter with Jupiter, Pioneer 11 was retargeted mid-flight to include another planetary encounter.
3 Apr 2013 Final MAVEN Instrument Integrated to Spacecraft
An instrument that will measure the composition of Mars' upper atmosphere has been integrated into NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. MAVEN has a scheduled launch date of Nov. 18.
3 Apr 2013 Used Parachute On Mars Flaps In The Wind
Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the parachute that helped NASA's Curiosity rover land on Mars last summer has subsequently changed its shape on the ground.
25 Mar 2013 Curiosity Resumes Science Investigations
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has resumed science investigations after recovery from a computer glitch that prompted the engineers to switch the rover to a redundant main computer on Feb. 28. The rover has been monitoring the weather since March 21 and delivered a new portion of powdered-rock sample for laboratory analysis on March 23, among other activities.
20 Mar 2013 LADEE Project Manager Update: Thermal-Vacuum Testing
Engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., are about to begin the Thermal-Vacuum (TVAC) phase of environmental testing on NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory. During the TVAC environmental testing phase, LADEE will undergo a variety of rigorous tests that simulate the full range of extreme temperatures and vacuum the spacecraft will experience during the course of its mission.
20 Mar 2013 Apollo Moon Rocket Engine Recovered
After lying on the ocean floor for more than 40 years, two Apollo rocket engines that helped deliver astronauts to the Moon are once again seeing the light of day. A team organized by Jeff Bezos spent three weeks fishing at sea to recover the corroded F-1 engines, which sat more than 4 kilometers below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. Bezos does not yet know precisely which Apollo mission the engines flew on as the original serial numbers on the objects are missing. He is hoping they are the Apollo 11 engines that brought the first men to the Moon.
20 Mar 2013 Sun in the Way Will Affect Mars Missions in April
The positions of the planets next month will mean diminished communications between Earth and NASA's spacecraft at Mars. Mars will be passing almost directly behind the sun, from Earth's perspective. The sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions between the two planets during that near-alignment. To prevent an impaired command from reaching an orbiter or rover, mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are preparing to suspend sending any commands to spacecraft at Mars for weeks in April. Transmissions from Mars to Earth will also be reduced.
19 Mar 2013 Curiosity Rover Exits 'Safe Mode'
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has returned to active status and is on track to resume science investigations, following two days in a precautionary standby status, "safe mode." Next steps will include checking the rover's active computer, the B-side computer, by commanding a preliminary free-space move of the arm. The B-side computer was provided information last week about the position of the robotic arm, which was last moved by the redundant A-side computer. The rover was switched from the A-side to the B-side by engineers on Feb. 28 in response to a memory glitch on the A-side. The A-side now is available as a back-up if needed.
19 Mar 2013 NASA's LRO Sees GRAIL's Explosive Farewell
Many spacecraft just fade away, drifting silently through space after their mission is over, but not GRAIL. NASA's twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft went out in a blaze of glory Dec. 17, 2012, when they were intentionally crashed into a mountain near the moon's north pole. The successful mission to study the moon's interior took the plunge to get one last bit of science: by kicking up a cloud of dust and gas with each impact, researchers hoped to discover more about the moon's composition. However, with the moon about 380,000 kilometers (over 236,000 miles) away from Earth, the impact plumes would be difficult to observe from here.
15 Mar 2013 Panorama From NASA Mars Rover Shows Mount Sharp
Rising above the present location of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, higher than any mountain in the 48 contiguous states of the United States, Mount Sharp is featured in new imagery from the rover. A pair of mosaics assembled from dozens of telephoto images shows Mount Sharp in dramatic detail. This layered mound, also called Aeolis Mons, in the center of Gale Crater rises more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor location of Curiosity. Lower slopes of Mount Sharp remain a destination for the mission, though the rover will first spend many more weeks around a location called "Yellowknife Bay," where it has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.
14 Mar 2013 A Tribute to MESSENGER: Video!
This video showcases a small sampling of the thousands of images taken by the spacecraft, as well as animations illustrating how MESSENGER moves in orbit and how its orbit has changed during the mission.
8 Mar 2013 Planetary Data System Releases MESSENGER Data from Third Mercury Solar Day
The Planetary Data System (PDS), which archives and distributes data from all of NASA's planetary missions, today released data collected during MESSENGER's thirteenth through eighteenth month in orbit around Mercury. With this release, images and measurements are now available to the public for the third full Mercury solar day of MESSENGER orbital operations.
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Last Updated: 16 Apr 2014