Tag Archives: news

Curiosity Rover Safely Lands on Mars – Begins Two Year Mission!

Curiosity on descent to Mars

In this amazing NASA image, the MRO HiRISE satellite captures the MSL suspended from a supersonic parachute during a terrifying descent to the Mars surface!

After a tense 352-million mile journey, NASA’s newest rover, Curiosity, made a pinpoint landing in the Gale crater on Mars late last night!  It seemed that the entire world was watching, including several other satellites.  The NASA Mars Reconnaissance orbiter captured the image to the left – a shot of Curiosity connected to a supersonic parachute during the descent to Gale Crater.  Hundreds of people gathered in New York’s time square to watch the landing on the big screen.  The landing activities were streamed live online and millions cheered with the mission crew after touchdown.  The excitement and elation were global and contagious!

As we join with the mission team in a collective high five, we wish the Curiosity rover great success in a two-year mission to search for signs that life may have once existed on Mars.

Share in our enthusiasm and watch the video below!

And don’t forget to visit the NASA website for the very latest information about the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the Curiosity rover.  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html


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NASA Administrator Bolden Suggests Potential For International Manned Mars Mission

Curiosity Rover

Could the success of the Mars Science Lab mission drive future manned missions to Mars?

In an interview with the USA Today editorial board, NASA’s Chief Administrator, Charles Bolden, pointed to Mars as a prime exploration destination but insisted that any US manned missions to Mars would be international efforts.

“I have no desire to do a Mars landing on our own,” Bolden said. “The U.S. cannot always be the leader, but we can be the inspirational leader through international cooperation” in space exploration.

The upcoming Curiosity rover landing, scheduled for August 5th, should fuel public interest in the Red Planet. NASA has focused heavily on public involvement in the event, scheduling viewing parties, offering multiple press conferences to hype the event, releasing a free Xbox Kinect game to simulate the landing, and publishing several sensational videos describing the landing process.  NASA even struck viral gold with their “Seven Minutes of Terror” video, which quickly spread across the internet last month.  It is hoped that the Mars Science Lab mission will find signs of previous microbial life on Mars.  Such a discovery, combined with a similar NASA PR push, would certainly boost public interest in a manned mission.

Don’t forget to tune in to NASA TV this weekend to watch the Curiosity landing!

Read the USA Today article at:  NASA chief: U.S. won’t go it alone on manned Mars mission – USATODAY.com


NASA – Mars Orbiter Repositioned to Phone Home Mars Landing

NASA – Mars Orbiter Repositioned to Phone Home Mars Landing. July 24, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has successfully adjusted its orbital location to be in a better position to provide prompt confirmation of the August landing of the Curiosity rover.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity can send limited information directly to Earth as it enters Mars’ atmosphere. Before the landing, Earth will set below the Martian horizon from the descending spacecraft’s perspective, ending that direct route of communication. Odyssey will help to speed up the indirect communication process.

NASA reported during a July 16 news conference that Odyssey, which originally was planned to provide a near-real-time communication link with Curiosity, had entered safe mode July 11. This situation would have affected communication operations, but not the rover’s landing. Without a repositioning maneuver, Odyssey would have arrived over the landing area about two minutes after Curiosity landed.

A spacecraft thruster burn Tuesday, July 24, lasting about six seconds has nudged Odyssey about six minutes ahead in its orbit. Odyssey is now operating normally, and confirmation of Curiosity’s landing is expected to reach Earth at about 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (early Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time), as originally planned.

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Fish in Space: Space Station Gets an Aquarium

Space Aquarium

The Aquatic Habitat, or AQH, will help astronauts study the effects of microgravity on fish!

Fish in Space: Space Station Gets an Aquarium.

The Japanese Space Agency, or JAXA, will install a new aquatic node on the International Space Station today to study the effects of microgravity on fish and aquatic organisms.  According to Universe Today,

This is not the first time fish have been part of a space mission. Versions of the AQH flew on space shuttle missions STS-47, STS-65, and STS-90. The current system’s design upgrades are based on lessons learned from these missions.

You can read more about the planned experiements and the Medaka fish that will become the astronauts’ new friends at http://www.universetoday.com/96475/fish-in-space-space-station-gets-an-aquarium/

I wonder if they plan to name the fish…

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NASA – NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency’s fiscal year 2013 budget at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 13. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. SW, in Washington.

You can read the press announcement at the following link: NASA – NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2013 Budget.

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NASA – Mars-Bound NASA Rover Carries Coin for Camera Checkup

NASA’s new Mars rover, Curiosity, will carry a US penny to Mars. The penny will be used for camera calibration during the mission. Read more about the upcoming mission at the following link:

NASA – Mars-Bound NASA Rover Carries Coin for Camera Checkup.


NASA Announces New Head of Science Directorate

Physicist and Former Astronaut John Grunsfeld To Head NASA Science Directorate

WASHINGTON — NASA has named physicist and former astronaut John Grunsfeld as the new associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. Grunsfeld will take the reins of the office effective Jan. 4, 2012. He succeeds Ed Weiler, who retired from NASA on Sept. 30.

Grunsfeld currently serves as the deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which manages the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and is a partner in the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. His background includes research in high energy astrophysics, cosmic ray physics and in the emerging field of exoplanet studies with specific interest in future astronomical instrumentation.

A veteran of five space shuttle flights, Grunsfeld visited Hubble three times as an astronaut, performing a total of eight spacewalks to service and upgrade the observatory.

“John’s understanding of the critical connection between scientific research and the human exploration of space makes him an ideal choice for this job,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “I look forward to working with him to take the agency’s science programs to even greater heights and make more of the ground-breaking discoveries about Earth and our universe for which NASA is known.”

Grunsfeld graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in physics. Returning to his native Chicago, he earned a master’s degree and, in 1988, a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago using a cosmic ray experiment on space shuttle Challenger for his doctoral thesis. From Chicago, he joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology as a Senior Research Fellow in Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.

Grunsfeld joined NASA’s Astronaut Office in 1992. He logged over 58 days in space on five shuttle missions, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of spacewalk time. He first flew to space aboard Endeavour in March 1995 on a mission that studied the far ultraviolet spectra of faint astronomical objects using the Astro Observatory. His second flight was aboard Atlantis in January 1997. The mission docked with the Russian space station Mir and exchanged U.S. astronauts living aboard the outpost. Grunsfeld then flew three shuttle missions – aboard Discovery in December 1999, Columbia in March 2002 and Atlantis in May 2009 — that successfully serviced and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope. He served as the payload commander on the 2002 mission and lead spacewalker in charge of Hubble activities on the 2009 flight. In 2004 and 2005, he served as the commander and science officer on the backup crew for Expedition 13 to the International Space Station.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be offered the opportunity to lead NASA’s Science Mission Directorate during this exciting time in the agency’s history,” Grunsfeld said. “Science at NASA is all about exploring the endless frontier of the Earth and space. I look forward to working with the NASA team to help enable new discoveries in our quest to understand our home planet and unravel the mysteries of the universe.”

For Grunsfeld’s NASA astronaut biography, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/grunsfel.html

For more information about NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, visit: http://nasascience.nasa.gov


Next Mars Rover Faces Race Against Time, Funding

NASA’s next Mars rover faces looming technical, financial and scheduling challenges before its planned launch in November, according to an internal audit released June 8.

The rover, called Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and nicknamed Curiosity, has already seen several launch delays and last-minute infusions of funds. But unresolved technical issues, incomplete software and chronic underestimation of costs may push the price tag up by another $44 million.

“Based on our calculations, unless managers request additional money the Project may have insufficient funds to complete all currently identified tasks prior to launch and may therefore be forced to reduce capabilities, delay the launch for 2 years, or cancel the mission,” wrote NASA Inspector General Paul Martin in the report.

Read more at http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/msl-costs/

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