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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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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.
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.
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Last Updated: 16 Apr 2014