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Robotic Spacecraft: Far-Ranging Robots
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13 Nov 2013 Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites In Memory of Bruce Murray
Features on Mars important to the missions of NASA's two active Mars rovers are now called "Murray Ridge" and "Murray Buttes," in honor of influential planetary scientist Bruce Murray (1931-2013). The rover Opportunity, which has been roaming Mars for nearly a decade, is currently climbing Murray Ridge, part of an uplifted crater rim. NASA's newer rover, Curiosity, is headed toward Murray Buttes as the entryway to that mission's main destination.
4 Nov 2013 Dawn Journal
Deep in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn is continuing its smooth, silent flight toward dwarf planet Ceres. Far behind it now is the giant protoplanet Vesta, which the spacecraft transformed from a tiny splotch in the night sky to an exotic and richly detailed world.
29 Oct 2013 NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Approaches 'Cooperstown'
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity completed its first two-day autonomous drive Monday, bringing the mobile laboratory to a good vantage point for pictures useful in selecting the next target the rover will reach out and touch.
25 Oct 2013 New Horizons: On the Path to Pluto, 5 AU and Closing
Pluto isn't quite the next exit on New Horizons' voyage through the outer solar system, but the destination is definitely getting closer. Today the NASA spacecraft speeds to within five astronomical units (AU) of Pluto -- which is less than five times the distance between the Earth and the sun, or about 460 million miles.
23 Oct 2013 Mars Rover Opportunity Heads Uphill
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover has begun climbing "Solander Point," the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission's nearly 10 Earth years on Mars. Guided by mineral mapping from orbit, the rover is exploring outcrops on the northwestern slopes of Solander Point, making its way up the hill much as a field geologist would do.
22 Oct 2013 NASA Laser Communication System Sets Record with Data Transmissions to and from Moon
NASA's Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps). LLCD is NASA's first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.
21 Oct 2013 The Sounds of New Horizons
What does New Horizons say when it calls home? Nothing, without the help of software that transforms zeros and ones from New Horizons' computers into images, instrument readings, or useful information on the spacecraft's status. Those datasets are then transmitted to Earth by the telecommunications (radio) system aboard New Horizons.
21 Oct 2013 Earth from Juno
On Oct. 9, Juno flew by Earth using the home planet's gravity to get a boost needed to reach Jupiter. The JunoCam caught this image of Earth, and other instruments were tested to ensure they work as designed during a close planetary encounter.
21 Oct 2013 NASA: Back to Work, Back to Mission
NASA is once again open for business in a big way. While we were out, several of our on-going missions achieved significant milestones, and although it will take a little time to fully assess the impacts of the government shut down on our other operations, this week will make clear we're back to our core mission implementing America's ambitious space program.
18 Oct 2013 LADEE Mission Update
During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to perform its critical maneuvers and capture into the commissioning orbit around the moon. The LADEE spacecraft commissioning activities are now complete, and the instrument commissioning activities have begun. The LDEX and UVS aliveness activities were completed successfully on Oct. 16, with both instrument covers deployed. These instrument cover deployments were the last remaining planned critical events for the mission. All critical maneuvers and all instrument cover deployments are completed at this point.
17 Oct 2013 Managing the Deluge of 'Big Data' From Space
For NASA and its dozens of missions, data pour in every day like rushing rivers. Spacecraft monitor everything from our home planet to faraway galaxies, beaming back images and information to Earth. All those digital records need to be stored, indexed and processed so that spacecraft engineers, scientists and people across the globe can use the data to understand Earth and the universe beyond.
20 Sep 2013 Communications Tests Go the Distance for MAVEN
It's not easy to simulate millions of miles electronically, but that's what engineers did recently as they tested the all-important communications system the MAVEN spacecraft will use to relay its study results from Mars orbit to Earth-bound researchers. Working from their consoles at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, a team of test engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, better known as JPL, conducted more than a week of evaluations on the antennas and circuitry aboard the spacecraft.
20 Sep 2013 NASA's Deep Space Comet Hunter Mission Comes to an End
After almost 9 years in space that included an unprecedented July 4th impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional comet flyby, and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA's Deep Impact mission has ended. The project team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history's most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.71 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).
17 Sep 2013 NASA Hosts Social Media Event at MAVEN Launch in Florida
NASA will give 150 of its social media followers an insider's look at America's space program and the opportunity to see a launch in person. The NASA Social, scheduled for Nov. 16 and 18 to coincide with the launch of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), will be held at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA Socials are in-person meetings with people who engage with the agency through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks. MAVEN is targeted to launch at 1:27 p.m. EST Nov. 18 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
10 Sep 2013 Long Drive Puts NASA Mars Rover Near Planned Waypoint
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity now has a view of a patch of exposed bedrock scientists selected for a few days of close-up study, the first such study since the rover began its long trek to Mount Sharp two months ago. Curiosity reached the crest of a rise informally called "Panorama Point." From Panorama Point, the rover took photographs of a pale-toned outcrop area that the team chose earlier as "Waypoint 1" on the basis of imagery from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
7 Sep 2013 LADEE Launches, Heads for the Moon
NASA has confirmed its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) has separated from its ride into space, powered up and is communicating with ground controllers following a successful launch at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6, from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. LADEE is on its way to arrive at the moon in 30 days, then enter lunar orbit.
4 Sep 2013 NASA Evaluates Four Candidate Sites for 2016 Mars Mission
NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential landing sites for the agency's next mission to the surface of Mars, a 2016 lander to study the planet's interior. The stationary Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander is scheduled to launch in March 2016 and land on Mars six months later. It will touch down at one of four sites selected in August from a field of 22 candidates. All four semi-finalist spots lie near each other on an equatorial plain in an area of Mars called Elysium Planitia.
3 Sep 2013 NASA Mission To Study Mysterious Lunar Twilight Rays
Back in the 60s and 70s, Apollo astronauts circling the Moon saw something that still puzzles researchers today. About 10 seconds before lunar sunrise or lunar sunset, pale luminous streamers would pop up over the gray horizon. These "twilight rays" were witnessed by crewmembers of Apollo 8, 10, 15 and 17. Later this week a NASA spacecraft is going back to the Moon to investigate. Slated for launch on Sept 6, 2013, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer ("LADEE" for short) will seek out twilight rays and other mysteries of the lunar atmosphere.
27 Aug 2013 NASA's Mars Curiosity Debuts Autonomous Navigation
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars. This latest addition to Curiosity's array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars.
23 Aug 2013 New Horizons: Late in Cruise, and a Binary Ahoy
New Horizons has just completed a summer of intensive activities and entered hibernation on Aug. 20. The routine parts of the activities included thorough checkouts of all our backup systems (result: they work fine!) and of all our scientific instruments (they work fine too!). We also updated our onboard fault protection (a.k.a. "autonomy") software, collected interplanetary cruise science data, and tracked the spacecraft for hundreds of hours to improve our trajectory knowledge. Added to this mix of routine summer wake-up activities for New Horizons were two major activities that had never been performed before.
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Last Updated: 16 Apr 2014