#NASA; #GiantSpaceWeatherStorms; #SunRISE; #CubeSats; #SMD,
Washington, Mar 30 (Canadian-Media): NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through, NASA media reports said.
A new NASA mission called SunRISE will study what drives solar particle storms – giant surges of solar particles that erupt off of the Sun – as depicted in this illustration. Understanding how such storms affect interplanetary space can help protect spacecraft and astronauts. Credits: NASA
NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms – known as solar particle storms – into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.
The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.
NASA chose SunRISE in August 2017 as one of two Mission of Opportunity proposals to conduct an 11-month mission concept study. In February 2019, the agency approved a continued formulation study of the mission for an additional year. SunRISE is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
"We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets," said Nicky Fox, director of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts."
The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats – each about the size of a toaster oven – to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.
The constellation of CubeSats would fly within 6 miles of each other, above Earth's atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe. Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation. The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space.
NASA's Missions of Opportunity maximize science return by pairing new, relatively inexpensive missions with launches on spacecraft already approved and preparing to go into space. SunRISE proposed an approach for access to space as a hosted rideshare on a commercial satellite provided by Maxar of Westminster, Colorado, and built with a Payload Orbital Delivery System, or PODS. Once in orbit, the host spacecraft will deploy the six SunRISE spacecraft and then continue its prime mission.
Missions of Opportunity are part of the Explorers Program, which is the oldest continuous NASA program designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the Science Mission Directorate’s (SMD) astrophysics and heliophysics programs. The program is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for SMD, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system and universe.
#NASA; #CoronavirusImpacts; #Washington
Washington, Mar 22 (Canadian-Media): To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused, NASA reports said.
Image credit: Official logo
“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.”
The agency has defined mission-essential work as that which must be performed to maintain critical mission operations to ensure the schedule of time-sensitive mission-critical launches, or work to protect life and critical infrastructure. This includes work to support America’s national security and mission-essential functions for the nation. NASA leadership will continually assess all activities as the situation evolves.
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, which includes the Perseverance Rover and Mars Helicopter, remains a high priority for the agency, and launch and other mission preparations will continue. Much of the work is being done by employees and contractors who work remotely across the agency. Assessments by agency leadership are underway for anyone required to work in areas under restriction, such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, especially after the recent announcement by California’s governor.
The James Webb Space Telescope team, also in California, is suspending integration and testing operations. Decisions could be adjusted as the situation continues to unfold over the weekend and into next week. The decision was made to ensure the safety of the workforce. The observatory remains safe in its cleanroom environment.
Also in California, work continues by Lockheed Martin on X-59 NASA's first large-scale, piloted X-plane in more than 30 years, while NASA oversight and inspections will be conducted almost exclusively virtually.
Work on the agency’s Artemis program continues with limited production of hardware and software for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. SLS and Orion manufacturing and testing activities at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are temporarily on hold. The Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft will be shipped from the agency’s Glenn Research Center to its Kennedy Space Center where it eventually will be attached on top of SLS for the Artemis I lunar mission. Assembly and processing work is continuing on the Artemis II Orion spacecraft at Kennedy.
Since the Human Landing System program leverages capabilities across the agency, it already functions as a virtual team to conduct engineering analysis and other work, and it has seen minimal impact from the requirement for mandatory telework. Most development work on the Gateway program continues and can be done remotely, however, any on-site activity beyond securing hardware is temporarily suspended until further notice.
NASA’s Ames Research Center is keeping the agency’s supercomputing resources online, as well as the NASA IT Security Operations Center and in-flight spacecraft operations.
All work associated with supporting International Space Station operations continues. Flight controllers are working in the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston, where a number of additional measures went into effect in early March to reduce the risk of exposure to the team.
Astronaut training continues, as do preparations for the launch April 9 of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts. NASA and its international and commercial partners always take steps to prevent the crew from bringing illnesses like the cold or flu to the International Space Station. As with all crewed launches, crews must stay in quarantine for two weeks before they launch. This process ensures that they aren’t sick or incubating an illness when they get to the space station and is called “health stabilization.”
Work also continues on the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, a critical element to maintaining safe operations on the International Space Station and a sustained U.S. presence on the orbiting laboratory. Commercial resupply activities and future missions also will go on as scheduled in order to keep the space station crew fully supplied and safe.
NASA also is supporting mission-essential operations for all spacecraft. This encompasses the Hubble Space Telescope and space communications network, as well as satellite missions that support the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Defense, including those that provide critical weather and GPS data.
Most of the agency remains under a Stage 3 status, with mandatory telework for all employees with limited exceptions for on-site work. Ames, Michoud, and Stennis are at Stage 4 with personnel on-site to protect life and critical infrastructure. NASA leadership continues to monitor developments regarding COVID-19 around the nation and follow the guidance from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local and state health officials in order to keep the NASA community safe.
#Eurpope; #EuropeanMarsRover; #EuropeanSpaceAgency; #ExoMars; #NASA
Paris, Mar 13 (Canadian-Media): Multiple technical issues will delay the launch of the ExoMars mission for 2 years until 2022, the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, announced Mar 12, www.sciencemag.org/news reports said.
Europe’s Rosalind Franklin rover can drill 2 meters into the surface of Mars.
Image credit: www.sciencemag.org
ExoMars includes a Russian-built landing station and an ESA rover that would drill 2 meters below Mars’s surface to look for signs of past or present life. Now, just 4 months from its originally planned launch, the mission has been postponed because of problems with its parachute system, solar panels, and electrical wiring.
“We cannot really cut corners,” said ESA Director General Jan Wöerner today at a press conference, following a meeting with Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin. “It was a very tough decision, but I’m sure it was the right one.”
Although the issues could be resolved in the next few months, Wöerner said there was not enough time to test the mission’s software system on the final flight-ready spacecraft. He did not want a repeat of the failure of ESA’s first Mars lander, 2016’s Schiaparelli, which crashed because of a software error during its descent.
Once repairs and testing are complete—probably by the end of the year–the lander and rover will be put into storage until the next launch window in the autumn of 2022, when the planets are aligned to allow the quickest journey. Scientists who have spent decades building instruments for the mission are philosophical about the delay. “Such is life. It’s the way it goes,” says Valèrie Ciarletti of the University of Paris-Saclay. “Space missions are like this,” says Francesca Esposito of the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte.
Problems with the parachutes emerged last year during high altitude drop tests. The parachute fabric was torn while being pulled from its bag. Following redesigns, NASA and ESA engineers carried out successful ground tests at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But crucial drop tests in Oregon had to be delayed because the testing company had to perform parachute tests for Boeing’s Starliner crewed spacecraft. The ExoMars chute tests are expected in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, environmental testing in Cannes, France, revealed the failure of glue holding solar panels to the rover, named after British DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin. ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker told the press conference that this was partly expected from earlier studies. Once the rover has completed its tests in Cannes and is returned to its manufacturer in Turin, Italy, the panels will be attached with “additional mechanical fastenings,” Parker said.
The lander, which doubles as a base station with sensors to study Mars’s interior, atmosphere, and weather, had four components that malfunctioned electrically during testing, Wöerner said, and have been returned to their manufacturers for modification. All these issues have delayed an overall test of the spacecraft’s software system, which must be carried out on the complete spacecraft. Insiders say that right now, the mission has used up all its time contingency and is 2 weeks behind schedule. “We have to wait until it is fully repaired,” said ExoMars project manager Francois Spoto. “That’s why we need a delay.”
Wöerner said the mission in 2022 would go ahead with the same launcher and landing site. There are no plans to add new instruments to the spacecraft, but ESA has offered instrument teams the chance to tinker with their devices and swap out components if needed. However, a delayed launch will mean ExoMars will not join two other Mars rovers planned for launch during the July/August launch window. NASA’s Perseverance rover is on track, and China plans to send a small rover along with an orbiter.
That’s a shame, Ciarletti says, because ExoMars and Perseverance “would have benefitted from operating at the same time.” Both rovers have ground-penetrating radar to study the top few meters of soil beneath the surface and the Rosalind Franklin rover’s deep sampling drill would have helped both missions to understand what the radar was seeing. And that, in turn, could have helped Perseverance in its goal to collect and store samples of rock and soil for that would later be brought back to Earth by a Mars sample return mission. Researchers still hope that Perseverance may last beyond its nominal 2-year mission and overlap with ExoMars. Wöerner said the delay would not impact on ESA’s plans to collaborate with NASA on the sample return missions next decade.
For all the disappointment in the delay, Ciarletti is still OK with it. Schiaparelli was a technology demonstrator, but the hopes of hundreds of scientists ride with ExoMars. “The scientific payload is impressive. It would be a nightmare if it just crashed on Mars,” she says.
#NASA; #Microgravity; #LangstonUniversity
Washington, Mar 11 (Canadian-Media): A signing ceremony celebrating NASA’s partnership with Langston University and DreamUp/ NanoRacks to place an immune cell culture payload on the International Space Station took place Feb. 13, NASA reports said.
LU-Nasas_2020_97 NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine helps student Quiana Mcknight from Langston University conduct an experiment that is studying the effects of microgravity on the immune system. NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) funded the Langston University NASA Advanced Research in Biology Center in 2015 to focus on issues affecting crew members during spaceflight missions. Photo Credit: Langston University / Brandon Clemoens
Student Quiana Mcknight from Langston University’s NASA Advanced Research in Biology Center (LUNAR-BC), is demonstrating an experiment to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine that may mitigate the risk to immune systems of crewmembers on extended spaceflight missions. The experiment is studying the effects of microgravity on the immune system (natural countermeasures of a dysregulated immune system) that crew members experience during spaceflight. The LUNAR-BC has partnered with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to develop natural countermeasures through plant extracts that will help restore astronauts’ immune systems in space.
Immune system dysregulation has been found to reactivate multiple latent viruses in astronauts during space flight missions. The researchers and students at Langston University have found a way to naturally treat this through the use of compounds found in plants extracts that will enhance the immune system during space flight missions and reverse the effects of microgravity. These medicinal plant extracts may play an important role in restoring immune function in astronauts on NASA’s Moon to Mars mission.
NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) funded the LUNAR-BC to focus on issues affecting crew members under extended spaceflight conditions. MIRO is part of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and managed by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.