For the scientists, that ends a mission of unexpected endurance. The rover was designed to last only three months. Opportunity provided scientists a close-up view of Mars that they had never seen: finely layered rocks that preserved ripples of flowing water several billion years ago, a prerequisite for life.
“New Horizons is like a time machine, taking us back to the birth of the solar system. We are seeing a physical representation of the beginning of planetary formation, frozen in time,” said Jeff Moore, New Horizons Geology and Geophysics team lead. “Studying Ultima Thule is helping us understand how planets form — both those in our own solar system and those orbiting other stars in our galaxy.”
Plans to send a probe into the Sun’s corona date back to 1958 and the very start of NASA. At the space agency’s inception, a special committee listed 14 different missions that NASA should pursue, including visiting all the planets of the Solar System. All 14 missions have been accomplished in some form apart from one: a probe to visit near the Sun.
Like many subsea drones, the 10-foot-long Icefin is shaped like a torpedo. It made headlines in 2014 as one of the prototype drones that plumbed the Antarctic as part of a NASA program to test the technology. Now, a new program called the Ross Ice Shelf and Europa Underwater Probe (RISE UP), NASA is funding three expeditions to put an upgraded Icefin under the ice. This was its first deployment..
When Icefin dove to the sea floor it found odd, feathery creatures waiting for them. “My favorite moments from the seafloor were our visits by crinoids…it was incredible to behold,” she says, referring to the to the odd, feathery dwellers that call Antarctica home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!