NASA grants free access to its technologies in latest software release

This third edition of the publication has contributions from all the agency’s centres on data processing/storage, business systems, operations, propulsion and aeronautics. It includes many of the tools NASA uses to explore space and broaden our understanding of the universe. Each catalogue entry is accompanied with a plain language description of what it does.

Source: NASA grants free access to its technologies in latest software release

SpaceX to Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Beyond the Moon Next Year

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth. Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral – the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions. This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.

Source: SpaceX to Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Beyond the Moon Next Year | SpaceX

NanoRacks To Catalyze Concepts for Deep Space Habitats

The Ixion Team is a new addition to NASA’s NextSTEP effort, and will begin by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study evaluating the conversion of rocket upper stages into habitats. This innovative approach offers a pathway that is more affordable and involves less risk than fabricating modules on the ground and subsequently launching them into orbit.

Source: NanoRacks To Catalyze Concepts for Deep Space Habitats

The Curious Link Between the Fly-By Anomaly and the “Impossible” EmDrive Thruster

The conceptual problems arise with momentum. The system’s total momentum increases as it begins to move. But where does this momentum come from? Shawyer had no convincing explanation, and critics said this was an obvious violation of the law of conservation of momentum.

Source: The Curious Link Between the Fly-By Anomaly and the “Impossible” EmDrive Thruster

McCulloch says there is observational evidence for this in the form of the famous fly by anomalies. These are the strange jumps in momentum observed in some spacecraft as they fly past Earth toward other planets. That’s exactly what his theory predicts.

Kepler Spacecraft in Emergency Mode

The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April. 4.  The spacecraft was in good health and operating as expected.

Kepler completed its prime mission in 2012, detecting nearly 5,000 exoplanets, of which, more than 1,000 have been confirmed. In 2014 the Kepler spacecraft began a new mission called K2. In this extended mission, K2 continues the search for exoplanets while introducing new research opportunities to study young stars, supernovae, and many other astronomical objects.

Source: Mission Manager Update: Kepler Spacecraft in Emergency Mode | NASA

Also From: Kepler Reaction Wheel Failure Cripples Spacecraft, but Mission Thrives

To save on bandwidth, Kepler only downlinks data from the pixels associated with 156,000 target stars out of the millions of stars in the Kepler field.  Data from an “aperture” of pixels around each target star are downlinked to Earth, and computer programs on Earth measure the brightness of the star based on the light that hit the pixels in the aperture.  If the telescope pointing is not good enough to keep the target stars in their respective apertures on the pixels, it is impossible to measure the brightness of those stars with a precision of 20 parts per million.

Update From:  Kepler telescope readies for new mission after communications scare

Once the spacecraft checks out, Kepler will kick off its latest effort, looking toward the galactic center for planets whose gravity distorts the light from far more distant stars. This technique, known as gravitational microlensing, has been used with ground-based telescopes to discover about 46 planets, some of them orphaned from their parent stars. But the method is a first for Kepler, which searches for dips in starlight caused by planets crossing in front of their suns.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

If JWST works as expected, it’s carrying enough fuel on-board that it should operate from 2018 through 2028, and although it’s never been done, the potential exists for a robotic (or crewed, if the technology gets developed by then) re-fueling mission to L2, which could increase the telescope’s lifetime by another decade. Just as Hubble’s been in operation for 25 years and counting, JWST could give us a generation of revolutionary science if things work out as well as they could. It’s the future of astronomy, and after more than a decade of hard work, it’s almost time to come to fruition. The future of space telescopes is almost here!

Source: The Future Of Astronomy: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – Forbes

NASA, Google reveal quantum computing leap

Quantum computers rely on fundamentally different principles to today’s computers, in which each bit represents either a zero or a one. In quantum computing, each bit can be both a zero and a one simultaneously. So while three conventional bits can represent any of eight values (2^3), three qubits, as they’re called, can represent all eight values at once. That means calculations can theoretically be performed at much higher speeds.

Source: NASA, Google reveal quantum computing leap | CIO

NASA releases first images of Cassini’s dive through the geyser of Enceladus

The reason scientists are excited about the data being returned from the geyser is that it may include elements of life beneath the surface of Enceladus. Cassini is not designed to detect life directly. However, it could pick up its building blocks.

Source: NASA releases first images of Cassini’s dive through the geyser of Enceladus | Examiner.com

NASA’s New Horizons Plans July 7 Return to Normal Science Operations

Preparations are ongoing to resume the originally planned science operations on July 7 and to conduct the entire close flyby sequence as planned. The mission science team and principal investigator have concluded that the science observations lost during the anomaly recovery do not affect any primary objectives of the mission, with a minimal effect on lesser objectives.

Source: NASA’s New Horizons Plans July 7 Return to Normal Science Operations

Opportunity Logs Sol 4000, Digs Spirit of St. Louis Crater

It has been written many times in these pages, and it begs repeating: this rover was sent on a 90-day expedition, with the mission success mobility objective of driving 600 meters. In March, Opportunity completed 42.195 kilometers or 26.2 miles. It’s the first marathon “run” on another planet. And in April – the 4000th sol. “This rover just keeps giving and giving,” said Planetary Society President Jim Bell, professor of astronomy and planetary scientist at Arizona State University and lead scientist on the MERs’ panoramic cameras (Pancams).

Source: Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Logs Sol 4000, Digs Spirit of St. Louis Crater | The Planetary Society