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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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11 Jun 2013 NASA's Robotic LRO Spacecraft Provides Data for Human Exploration
NASA's robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the agency's spacecraft that set out to map the moon, is yielding information about the radiation environment humans will encounter as they venture into deep space. An instrument on LRO, Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER), gauged the radiation dose of cosmic rays after passing through a plastic material that simulates how space radiation interacts with human muscle tissue.
7 Jun 2013 Mars Rover Opportunity Trekking Toward More Layers
Approaching its 10th anniversary of leaving Earth, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is on the move again, trekking to a new study area still many weeks away. The destination, called "Solander Point," offers Opportunity access to a much taller stack of geological layering than the area where the rover has worked for the past 20 months, called "Cape York." Both areas are raised segments of the western rim of Endeavour Crater, which is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter.
6 Jun 2013 NASA Prepares for Launch of Next Solar Satellite
NASA's next scientific satellite, which is scheduled for launch June 26, will provide the most detailed look ever at the sun's lower atmosphere or interface region. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through this largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. The interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.
5 Jun 2013 NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Nears Turning Point
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission is approaching its biggest turning point since landing its rover, Curiosity, inside Mars' Gale Crater last summer. Curiosity is finishing investigations in an area smaller than a football field where it has been working for six months, and it will soon shift to a distance-driving mode headed for an area about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, at the base of Mount Sharp.
31 May 2013 MESSENGER Images 100% of Mercury's Surface under Daylight Conditions
At the very end of 2012, MESSENGER obtained the final image needed to view 100% of Mercury's surface under daylight conditions. The mosaics shown here cover all of Mercury's surface and were produced by using the monochrome mosaic released by NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) on March 8, 2013, as the base. The full resolution mosaics are available for download on MESSENGER's Global Mosaics webpage.
30 May 2013 Data From NASA Rover's Voyage To Mars Aids Planning
Measurements taken by Mars Science Laboratory mission as it delivered the Curiosity rover to Mars in 2012 are providing NASA the information it needs to design systems to protect human explorers from radiation exposure on deep-space expeditions in the future. Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is the first instrument to measure the radiation environment during a Mars cruise mission from inside a spacecraft that is similar to potential human exploration spacecraft. The findings reduce uncertainty about the effectiveness of radiation shielding and provide vital information to space mission designers who will need to build in protection for spacecraft occupants in the future.
24 May 2013 MESSENGER Completes Its 2,000th Orbit of Mercury, Provides Data on Solar Magnetic Field
MESSENGER began its 2,000th orbit around Mercury on May 22, 2013. The spacecraft completed its primary mission on March 17, 2012, and its first extended mission on March 17, 2013. The team is awaiting word from NASA on a proposal for a second extended mission. In the meantime, instruments aboard the spacecraft continue to gather new data on Mercury and its environment.
20 May 2013 NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Drills Second Rock Target
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a powdered sample from the interior of a rock called "Cumberland." Plans call for delivering portions of the sample in coming days to laboratory instruments inside the rover. This is only the second time that a sample has been collected from inside a rock on Mars. The first was Curiosity's drilling at a target called "John Klein" three months ago. Cumberland resembles John Klein and lies about nine feet (2.75 meters) farther west. Both are within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay."
16 May 2013 New Horizons PI's Perspective: Encounter Planning Accelerates
The New Horizons team studied numerous alternate flybys, called SHBOTs, before recommending to NASA a pair of backups to protect New Horizons from possible impact hazards in the Pluto system.
16 May 2013 Nine-Year-Old Mars Rover Passes 40-Year-Old Record
While Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt visited Earth's moon for three days in December 1972, they drove their mission's Lunar Roving Vehicle 19.3 nautical miles (22.210 statute miles or 35.744 kilometers). That was the farthest total distance for any NASA vehicle driving on a world other than Earth until yesterday. The team operating NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity received confirmation in a transmission from Mars today that the rover drove 263 feet (80 meters) on Thursday, bringing Opportunity's total odometry since landing on Mars in January 2004 to 22.220 statute miles (35.760 kilometers).
16 May 2013 NASA's Asteroid Sample Return Mission Moves into Development
NASA's first mission to sample an asteroid is moving ahead into development and testing in preparation for its launch in 2016. The Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) passed a confirmation review Wednesday called Key Decision Point (KDP)-C. NASA officials reviewed a series of detailed project assessments and authorized the spacecraft's continuation into the development phase. OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return a sample of it to Earth in 2023.
15 May 2013 Mission Manager Update: Kepler Spacecraft Status
Update on the status of the Kepler Spacecraft. At our semi-weekly contact on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, we found the Kepler spacecraft once again in safe mode. As was the case earlier this month, this was a Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. The spacecraft is stable and safe.
9 May 2013 NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target On Mars
The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling. The rover will set course to the drilling location in coming days. This second drilling target, called "Cumberland," lies about nine feet (2.75 meters) west of the rock where Curiosity's drill first touched Martian stone in February. Curiosity took the first rock sample ever collected on Mars from that rock, called "John Klein." The rover found evidence of an ancient environment favorable for microbial life. Both rocks are flat, with pale veins and a bumpy surface. They are embedded in a layer of rock on the floor of a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay."
3 May 2013 LADEE Passes Thermal Test
NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory recently completed the Thermal-Vacuum (TVAC) phase of environmental testing at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. During the TVAC environmental testing phase, LADEE underwent 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. The successful completion of this phase of testing means NASA engineers are confident that LADEE will be able to operate in the harsh conditions of space.
1 May 2013 NASA Invites Public to Send Names And Messages to Mars
NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD to be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the Martian upper atmosphere. The DVD will be in NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in November. The DVD is part of the mission's Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).
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.
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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014