Category Archives: NASA

#MoonTunes

Do you have any favorite music scores you listen to while traveling about? NASA has a long tradition of using music on their missions, notably to awaken space-fairing travelers.

They are looking for suggestions to add to the old eight-track player. Ok no eight-track player, some readers may not even know what that is. Just as well, but if you must know, go here.

You can still buy them (used of course).

So here you go, BE SURE TO READ THE RULES at the end!

NASA: Music has been interwoven throughout spaceflight history, from pre-launch songs to shuttle wake-up calls to crewmembers playing instruments on the International Space Station. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, we’re also preparing to go back to the Moon by 2024, which means astronauts will have a non-stop journey of approximately 3 days each way – the ultimate long-distance travel. Just like any road trip needs a soundtrack, so does a spaceflight! If you were making the journey, what favorite song would you be sure to include on your playlist? Let us add it to ours! Tell us on Twitter with the hashtag #NASAMoonTunes or submit via this form

Submit your suggestion from June 3-June 28 — the same time frame in which Apollo 11 astronauts were making final preparations for their mission 50 years ago. Liftoff of our playlist will be on July 13 and 14 and will air during a live show on NASA’s Third Rock Radio, just a few days prior to the Apollo 11 launch anniversary!

Third Rock Radio

Website: www.thirdrockradio.net

Facebook: @thirdrockradionasa

Twitter: @ThirdRockRadio

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Facebook: @NASAJSC

Twitter: @NASA_Johnson

The rules:

1. Songs with explicit titles, lyrics and themes will not be accepted for addition to the playlist. NASA is for everyone – let’s make sure our playlist is too.

2. Only songs published on official music streaming services at the time of the acceptance period will be added to the playlist. A user may not submit song lyrics or unpublished music from sites such as SoundCloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, MixCloud or other user-uploaded content websites.

3. Only songs with the hashtag #NASAMoonTunes on Twitter and submissions via the above form will be accepted.

4. Third Rock Radio has the flexibility to select which songs will air from the proposed list. There is no requirement or obligation to play any specific song from the playlist, and there is no guarantee that each song submitted will be aired live. Want to know if your submission made the cut? Don’t miss the live show!

June is Going to be Fun

Going to plan on seeing Mercury. If I have decent skies that is and that’s a big “if”. It has been terrible for any kind of observing and has been terrible for a good long time.

I have had just one good opportunity to see the StarLink satellites and I don’t know what happened because they did not show up. Of course that was very early on.

We were supposed to have mostly clear skies yesterday but it seemed hazy. Turned out it was hazy because of smoke from wild fires 3,700 km (2300 miles) away.

Hopefully the weather turns around and dries out. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Get Your Name On Mars2020

You can get your name on NASA’s Mars2020 rover. Super simple here’s the details:

NASA: Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”

The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA’s journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each “flight,” with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, giving each “flyer” about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers).

From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here: https://go.nasa.gov/Mars2020Pass

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artemis Phase 1 Explained

NASA is serious about returning to the moon. Here we have NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine explains how Phase 1 of the Artemis mission to the moon might work.

We’ll see how the political landscape changes over the next few years to see if this becomes reality. Don’t get me wrong I hope it does.

Want to Help NASA?

NASA: Citizen scientists assemble! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu needs extra pairs of eyes to help choose its sample collection site on the asteroid – and to look for anything else that might be scientifically interesting. 

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been at Bennu since Dec. 3, 2018, mapping the asteroid in detail, while the mission team searches for a sample collection site that is safe, conducive to sample collection and worthy of closer study. One of the biggest challenges of this effort, which the team discovered after arriving at the asteroid five months ago, is that Bennu has an extremely rocky surface and each boulder presents a danger to the spacecraft’s safety. To expedite the sample selection process, the team is asking citizen scientist volunteers to develop a hazard map by counting boulders. 

“For the safety of the spacecraft, the mission team needs a comprehensive catalog of all the boulders near the potential sample collection sites, and I invite members of the public to assist the OSIRIS-REx mission team in accomplishing this essential task,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

For this effort, NASA is partnering with CosmoQuest, a project run out of the Planetary Science Institute that supports citizen science initiatives. Volunteers will perform the same tasks that planetary scientists do – measuring Bennu’s boulders and mapping its rocks and craters – through the use of a simple web interface. They will also mark other scientifically interesting features on the asteroid for further investigation.

The boulder mapping work involves a high degree of precision, but it is not difficult. The CosmoQuest mapping app requires a computer with a larger screen and a mouse or trackpad capable of making precise marks. To help volunteers get started, the CosmoQuest team provides an interactive tutorial, as well as additional user assistance through a Discord community and livestreaming sessions on Twitch. 

“We are very pleased and excited to make OSIRIS-REx images available for this important citizen science endeavor,” said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “Bennu has surprised us with an abundance of boulders. We ask for citizen scientists’ help to evaluate this rugged terrain so that we can keep our spacecraft safe during sample collection operations.”

Sample return isn’t new for NASA – this year, the agency is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions to the Moon, which allowed astronauts to bring back 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil. Those samples helped scientists discover that the Moon has water locked in its rocks and even permanently frozen in craters. These findings and others inspired the agency to create the Artemis program to return humans to the Moon by 2024 and start preparing for human exploration on Mars.

“The OSIRIS-REx mission will continue the Apollo legacy by giving scientists precious samples of an asteroid,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These samples will help scientists discover the secrets of planetary formation and the origins of our planet Earth.”

The Bennu mapping campaign continues through July 10, when the mission begins the sample site selection process. Once primary and secondary sites are selected, the spacecraft will begin closer reconnaissance to map the two sites to sub-centimeter resolution. The mission’s Touch-and-Go (TAG) sampling maneuver is scheduled for July 2020, and the spacecraft will return to Earth with its cargo in September 2023.

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

To volunteer as a Bennu mapper, visit: Bennu.cosmoquest.org

Phobos Temperatures

The surprising (to me at least) findings from temperature observations of the Martian moon Phobos. The infrared signatures seem to shows the moon appears to get warm it is at times. I’m sure the warmth may be fleeting the but we are talking about nice warm and therefore comfortable summer temperatures for most of us here on Earth.

NASA’s caption: These are three different views of the Martian moon Phobos, as seen by NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter using its infrared camera, Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). Each color represents a different temperature range.

The annotated version of this image labels each of these views with the dates when they were imaged by THEMIS. The two views on the left were taken while Phobos was in a half-moon phase, which is better for studying surface textures. The third, on the far-right, was taken in a full-moon phase, which is better for studying material composition.

A scale bar on the annotated image ranges from 150 to 300 degrees Kelvin, or -190 degrees Fahrenheit (-123 degrees Celsius) to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. THEMIS was developed by Arizona State University in Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing.

The THEMIS investigation is led by Philip Christensen at ASU. The prime contractor for the Odyssey project, Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena.Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/SSI

NEOWISE Looks at Comet Iwamoto

Comet C/2018 Y1 Iwamoto as imaged in multiple exposures of infrared light by the NEOWISE space telescope. The infrared images were taken on Feb. 25, 2019, when the comet was about 56 million miles, or 90 million kilometers, from Earth. C/2018 Y1 Iwamoto is a long-period comet originally from the Oort Cloud and coming in near the Sun for the first time in over 1,000 years.

Appearing as a string of red dots, this comet can be seen in a series of exposures captured by the spacecraft. Infrared light detected by the 3.4-micron channel is mapped to blue and green, while light from the 4.6-micron channel is mapped to red. In this image, stars show up as blue because they are hotter, whereas the cooler dust around the comet – with a temperature near the freezing point of water – glows red.

JPL manages NEOWISE for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, built the science instrument. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about NEOWISE, visit http://www.nasa.gov/neowise

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch.

There is also an animation that was released with the image — have a look here.

Image (and animation) Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

The View in Front of InSight

Here’s a look from the Instrument Context Camera (ICC) looking towards the front of the InSight Lander on Mars.

The foot-pads of the lander seem to be pressed well into the Martian soil which has several small rocks scattered about. The rocks are in the subsoil as well and there could be such rocks blocking the “mole”, the probe that hammers itself into the ground to take thermal conductivity tests.

The mole hit some obstruction shortly after it began and has been stopped. There is a plan forward, the team was going to command a 10 or 15 minute hammering session to see if they can get through. They also were also to take a thermal conductivity reading, a 24 hour test, the results of which might be downloaded today (?). There have been no updates on either of these as yet.

Image:
NASA/JPL-Caltech