Category Archives: NASA

2017 Half Over

The title of this video is “What’s Happened So Far – Mid-Year @NASA – June 16, 2017”. I ask what happened TO the first half of the year? Half over already, my goodness!

NASA’s Newest Astronauts

One presumably young lady said in the comments for this video: “I will be in one of these videos someday.” and to that I say, I hope so!!

Also it could go without saying (and almost did), Good luck and congratulations to the new astronauts!

The Europa Clipper

NASA – NASA’s upcoming mission to investigate the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa now has a formal name: Europa Clipper.

The moniker harkens back to the clipper ships that sailed across the oceans of Earth in the 19th century. Clipper ships were streamlined, three-masted sailing vessels renowned for their grace and swiftness. These ships rapidly shuttled tea and other goods back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean and around globe.

In the grand tradition of these classic ships, the Europa Clipper spacecraft would sail past Europa at a rapid cadence, as frequently as every two weeks, providing many opportunities to investigate the moon up close. The prime mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.

Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust. The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical ingredients, and energy sources sufficient to enable biology.

“During each orbit, the spacecraft spends only a short time within the challenging radiation environment near Europa. It speeds past, gathers a huge amount of science data, then sails on out of there,” said Robert Pappalardo, Europa Clipper project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Previously, when the mission was still in the conceptual phase, it was sometimes informally called Europa Clipper, but NASA has now adopted that name as the former title for the mission.

The mission is being planned for launch in the 2020s, arriving in the Jupiter system after a journey of several years.

JPL manages the mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Europa Mission to Phase B

Good news! According to the following press release the Europa mission is moving along, oh it will be a good while before this off the ground, but this is a critical hurdle.

From NASA:

On Feb. 15, NASA’s Europa multiple-flyby mission successfully completed its Key Decision Point-B review. This NASA decision permits the mission to move forward into its preliminary design phase, known as “Phase B,” beginning on Feb. 27.

A highlight of Phase A was the selection and accommodation of 10 instruments being developed to study the scientific mysteries of Europa. The new mission phase is planned to continue through September 2018, and will result in the completion of a preliminary design for the mission’s systems and subsystems. Some testing of spacecraft components, including solar cells and science instrument detectors, has already been underway during Phase A, and this work is planned to continue into Phase B.

In addition, during Phase B subsystem vendors will be selected, as well as prototype hardware elements for the science instruments. Spacecraft subassemblies will be built and tested as well.

The Europa mission spacecraft is being planned for launch in the 2020s, arriving in the Jupiter system after a journey of several years. The spacecraft would orbit Jupiter as frequently as every two weeks, providing many opportunities for close flybys of Europa. The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys in the prime mission, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.

The life cycle of a NASA science mission includes several key phases. At each step, missions must successfully demonstrate that they have met the agency’s requirements in order to indicate readiness to move forward into the next phase. Phase B includes preliminary design work, while phases C and D include final design, spacecraft fabrication, assembly and testing, and launch.

Image: NASA

Tornado Damage at NASA

Here’s the update to the damage sustained by NASA’s Michoud facility in Louisiana.

By the way:
Hopefully everyone that was able to, had a chance to see the lunar eclipse. When the moon rose over the mountains to the east it was beautiful but very shortly after cirrus clouds moved in and more or less ruined the show. I’m not that sad about the clouds though, it brought the temperatures up from the minus 20 deg C it was to the minus 5 deg C it is now.

I am going to try and do a post early for Monday because we have been assured we can expect 30 cm / 12 inches of snow with strong winds Sunday into Monday.  I’m a bit concerned about having power.  I

Tornado Strikes NASA Facility

NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility was damaged by a tornado yesterday shortly after noon local time. There were reports of one injury of unknown severity and building damage. Michoud is where components to the new Space Launch System (SLS); there was no damage to any of the components such as the hydrogen and oxygen fuel tanks.

A facility assessment is underway so we should know to was extent of the damage shortly.