#NASA; #CommercialLunarPayloadServices ; #ArtemisProgram
Washington, July 31 (Canadian-Media): NASA has announced the latest opportunity for industry to participate in its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) efforts to deliver science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.
Commercial landers will carry NASA-provided science and technology payloads to the lunar surface, paving the way for NASA astronauts to land on the Moon by 2024. Credits: NASA
The newest announcement calls for companies to push the boundaries of current technology to support the next generation of lunar landers that can land heavier payloads on the surface of the Moon, including the South Pole, as part of the agency’s Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, setting the stage for future human exploration of Mars.
NASA anticipates the need for both small and mid-size lunar landers to enable a variety of science investigations and larger technology demonstration payloads that will meet science objectives and human exploration goals. Future payloads could include rovers, power sources, science experiments, and technology to be infused into the Artemis program.
“Our commercial partners are helping us to advance lunar science in an unprecedented way,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. “As we enable broader opportunities for commercial providers through CLPS, we’re enlarging our capabilities to do novel measurements and technology development scientists have long wanted to do at the Moon.”
Any companies newly selected under this call will join the nine CLPS providers already contracted to provide services to the lunar surface to support NASA exploration priorities and use the Moon as a proving ground for systems and technologies that will enable humans to explore Mars. The CLPS project focuses on a speedy return to the Moon and advances scientific and technical goals on many fronts, with selected companies able to compete for delivery task orders.
“The Artemis program integrates our science and human exploration goals, and we are using our commercial partners to help meet those goals with an innovative and cost-effective approach,” said Steven Clarke, NASA deputy associate administrator for exploration in science. “The capability to land heavier payloads on the lunar surface is a service that NASA has a keen interest in. We’re looking forward to innovative proposals and possibly more partners to advance what we’ve already started with CLPS.”
The CLPS contracts are indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts with a combined maximum contract value of $2.6 billion with performance through 2028.
Washington, July 31 )Canadian-Media): As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance, NASA reports said.
Illustration of a human landing system and crew on the lunar surface with Earth near the horizon. Credits: NASA
NASA has selected 13 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this release misstated the number of companies selected. The correct number is 13.
NASA centers will partner with the companies, which range from small businesses with fewer than a dozen employees to large aerospace organizations, to provide expertise, facilities, hardware and software at no cost. The partnerships will advance the commercial space sector and help bring new capabilities to market that could benefit future NASA missions.
“NASA’s proven experience and unique facilities are helping commercial companies mature their technologies at a competitive pace,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “We’ve identified technology areas NASA needs for future missions, and these public-private partnerships will accelerate their development so we can implement them faster.”
The selections were made through NASA’s Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO) released in October 2018. They will result in non-reimbursable Space Act Agreements between the companies and NASA. The selections cover the following technology focus areas, which are important to America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
Advanced Communications, Navigation and Avionics
Entry, Descent and Landing
In-Space Manufacturing and Assembly
Other Exploration Technologies
Through ACO, NASA helps reduce the development cost of technologies and accelerate the infusion of emerging commercial capabilities into space missions. As the agency embarks on its next era of exploration, STMD is focused on advancing technologies and testing new capabilities for use at the Moon that also will be critical for crewed missions to Mars.
Washington, July 29 (Canadian-Media): NASA's newest planet-hunting satellite has discovered a type of planet missing from our own solar system, Phys.org news reports said.
Compare and contrast worlds in the TOI 270 system with these illustrations of each planet. Temperatures given for TOI 270 planets are equilibrium temperatures, calculated without taking into account the warming effects of any possible atmospheres. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Launched in 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has found three new worlds around a neighboring star. Stephen Kane, a UC Riverside associate professor of planetary astrophysics, says the new star system, called TESS Object of Interest, or TOI-270, is exactly what the satellite was designed to find.
A paper describing TOI-270 has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy and is now available online. Of the three new exoplanets, meaning they're outside our solar system, one is rocky and slightly larger than Earth, while the two others are gaseous and roughly twice Earth's size.
Not only is the smaller planet in the habitable zone—the range of distances from a star that are warm enough to allow liquid-water oceans on a planet—but the TOI-270 star is nearby, making it brighter for viewing. It's also "quiet," meaning it has few flares and allows scientists to observe it and its orbiting planets more easily.
"We've found very few planets like this in the habitable zone, and many fewer around a quiet star, so this is rare," said Kane. "We don't have a planet quite like this in our solar system."
In our own solar system, there are either small, rocky planets like Earth, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, or much larger planets like Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune that are dominated by gasses rather than land. We don't have planets about half the size of Neptune, though these are common around other stars.
"TOI-270 will soon allow us to study this "missing link" between rocky Earth-like planets and gas-dominant mini-Neptunes, because here all of these types formed in the same system," said lead researcher Maximilian Gunther, a Torres Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Follow-up observations on the system have been planned for next year, when the James Webb Space Telescope launches. It will be able to measure the composition of the TOI-270 planets' atmospheres for oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide.
Kane says these kinds of observations can help determine whether a planet has ever had a liquid water ocean, and whether any of the planets has conditions suitable for life as we know it.
While TOI-270 is far enough away that no one living will likely ever travel there, at 73 light-years away it is still considered close.
"The diameter of our galaxy is 100,000 light years, and our galaxy is just one of millions of galaxies," Kane said. "So, 73 light years means it's one of our neighboring stars."
TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT and managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, NASA's Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. More than a dozen universities, research institutes, and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.
Kane, a member of UCR's NASA-funded Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center, is available for media interviews about TESS and his involvement in analyzing its data and observations.
He and the team hope further research will reveal additional planets in the system beyond the three now known. The smaller planet is unlikely to host life because its surface could be too warm for the presence of liquid water. But additional planets at greater distances from the star might be cooler, allowing water to pool on their surfaces.
Hawaiʻi (U.S.), July 29 (Canadian-Media): An astronomer from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) and an international team published a new study that reveals more of the vast cosmic structure surrounding our Milky Way galaxy, Phys.org news reports said.
The universe is a tapestry of galaxy congregations and vast voids. In a new study being reported in The Astrophysical Journal, Brent Tully's team applies the same tools from an earlier study to map the size and shape of an extensive empty region they called the Local Void that borders the Milky Way galaxy. Using the observations of galaxy motions, they infer the distribution of mass responsible for that motion, and construct three-dimensional maps of our local Universe.
Galaxies not only move with the overall expansion of the universe, they also respond to the gravitational tug of their neighbors and regions with a lot of mass. As a consequence, they are moving towards the densest areas and away from regions with little mass—the voids.
Although we live in a cosmic metropolis, back in 1987 Tully and Richard Fisher noted that our Milky Way galaxy is also at the edge of an extensive empty region that they called the Local Void. The existence of the Local Void has been widely accepted, but it remained poorly studied because it lies behind the center of our galaxy and is therefore heavily obscured from our view.
#NASA; #TransitingExoplanetSurveySatellite; #NorthernHemisphere
Washington, July 28 (Canadian-Media): NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 21 planets outside our solar system and captured data on other interesting events occurring in the southern sky during its first year of science. TESS has now turned its attention to the Northern Hemisphere to complete the most comprehensive planet-hunting expedition ever undertaken, Science X Newsletter reports said.
Illustration of L 98-59b, the smallest exoplanet discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Ravyn Cullor
TESS began hunting for exoplanets (or worlds orbiting distant stars) in the southern sky in July of 2018, while also collecting data on supernovae, black holes and other phenomena in its line of sight. Along with the planets TESS has discovered, the mission has identified over 850 candidate exoplanets that are waiting for confirmation by ground-based telescopes.
"The pace and productivity of TESS in its first year of operations has far exceeded our most optimistic hopes for the mission," said George Ricker, TESS's principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "In addition to finding a diverse set of exoplanets, TESS has discovered a treasure trove of astrophysical phenomena, including thousands of violently variable stellar objects."
To search for exoplanets, TESS uses four large cameras to watch a 24-by-96-degree section of the sky for 27 days at a time. Some of these sections overlap, so some parts of the sky are observed for almost a year. TESS is concentrating on stars closer than 300 light-years from our solar system, watching for transits, which are periodic dips in brightness caused by an object, like a planet, passing in front of the star.
On July 18, the southern portion of the survey was completed and the spacecraft turned its cameras to the north. When it completes the northern section in 2020, TESS will have mapped over three quarters of the sky.
"Kepler discovered the amazing result that, on average, every star system has a planet or planets around it," said Padi Boyd, TESS project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "TESS takes the next step. If planets are everywhere, let's find those orbiting bright, nearby stars because they'll be the ones we can now follow up with existing ground and space-based telescopes, and the next generation of instruments for decades to come."
Here are a few of the interesting objects and events TESS saw during its first year.
To qualify as an exoplanet candidate, an object must make at least three transits in the TESS data, and then pass through several additional checks to make sure the transits were not a false positive caused by an eclipse or companion star, but may in fact be an exoplanet. Once a candidate is identified, astronomers deploy a large network of ground-based telescopes to confirm it.
"The team is currently focused on finding the best candidates to confirm by ground-based follow-up," said Natalia Guerrero, who manages the team in charge of identifying exoplanet candidates at MIT. "But there are many more potential exoplanet candidates in the data yet to be analyzed, so we're really just seeing the tip of the iceberg here. TESS has only scratched the surface."
The planets TESS has discovered so far range from a world 80% the size of Earth to ones comparable to or exceeding the sizes of Jupiter and Saturn. Like Kepler, TESS is finding many planets smaller in size than Neptune, but larger than Earth.
Here are highlights from TESS's first year of science operations. All exoplanet animations are illustrations. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight CenterWhile NASA is striving to put astronauts on some of our nearest neighbors—the Moon and Mars—in order to understand more about the planets in our own solar system, follow-up observations with powerful telescopes of the planets TESS discovers will enable us to better understand how Earth and the solar system formed.
With TESS's data, scientists using current and future observatories, like the James Webb Space Telescope, will be able to study other aspects of exoplanets, like the presence and composition of any atmosphere, which would impact the possibility of developing life.
Before science operations started, TESS snapped clear images of a newly discovered comet in our solar system. During on-orbit instrument testing, the satellite's cameras took a series of images that captured the motion of C/2018 N1, a comet found on June 29 by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE).
TESS captured data on similar objects outside the solar system as well.
Data from the mission were also used to identify transits by comets orbiting another star: Beta Pictoris, located 63 light-years away. Astronomers were able to find three comets that were too small to be planets and had detectable tails, the first identification of its type in visible light.
Because TESS spends nearly a month looking in the same location, it can capture data on stellar events, like supernovae, as they begin. During its first months of science operations, TESS spotted six supernovae occurring in distant galaxies that were later discovered by ground-based telescopes.
Scientists hope to use these types of observations to better understand the origins of a specific kind of explosion known as a Type Ia supernova.
Type Ia supernovae occur either in star systems where one white dwarf draws gas from another star or when two white dwarfs merge. Astronomers don't know which case is more common, but with data from TESS, they'll have a clearer understanding of the origins of these cosmic blasts.
Type Ia supernovae are a class of objects called a "standard candle," meaning astronomers know how luminous they are and can use them to calculate quantities like how quickly the universe is expanding. TESS data will help them understand differences between Type Ia supernovae created in both circumstances, which could have a large impact on how we understand events happening billions of light-years away and, ultimately, the fate of the universe
Washington, July 25 (Canadian-Media): A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station Wednesday, July 31. Live coverage of the resupply craft’s launch and docking will begin at 7:45 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website, NASA reports said.
Earth's atmospheric glow is back-dropped by a starry Milky Way as the International Space Station orbits 258 miles above Myanmar during a nighttime pass on July 11, 2019. The ISS Progress 72 resupply ship and the Pirs docking compartment, with its lit airlock window, silhouette the background. Credits: NASA
The Progress 73 spacecraft will lift off at 8:10 a.m., on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (5:10 p.m. Baikonur time) loaded with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the residents of the orbiting laboratory.
The spacecraft will arrive at the station three hours after launch and connect to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex. Rendezvous and docking coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m., with docking scheduled for 11:35 a.m.
The spacecraft will remain at the orbital outpost until mid-December.
July 24, 2019 by Alison HallThe following is a guest post by Steve Andreadis, outreach and education specialist in the Office of Public Information and Education.
Fifty years after astronauts returned to Earth from the moon, the Apollo 11 mission still grabs our attention and sparks our imagination. This historic achievement continues to inspire new documentaries, retrospectives, and even artistic displays, such as the Library of Congress’ own display of quilts and books. I’m always astounded by the level of detail that went into the first humans stepping onto the moon. No matter how small, mission managers had to consider it. Copyright was no exception. From before the mission launched to well after astronauts touched back on Earth, copyright was there.
For instance, before the rocket launched on July 16, 1969, the mission team considered how astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins would occupy themselves on the three-day journey to and from the moon. With the advent of audio cassette tapes, astronauts could bring with them a personalized playlist of tunes; they could also record over the playlist if they had to record notes on those tapes. Mickey Kapp, who at the time was working for Kapp Records and had ties to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) dating back to the Mercury program, was tasked with creating the playlists based on Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins’ requests. He used his music industry connections to obtain permission to add these songs, including classics like Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” Barbra Streisand’s “People,” Blood Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel,” and more.
Once the astronauts reached the moon, they proceeded to image the lunar surface as never before. Because these pictures were created by NASA astronauts, who took the pictures as part of their mission with a U.S. federal government agency, the public can use these images free of charge. They are currently available on the NASA Apollo 11 Image Library, and copyright is the first item you read about on that page.
VCC copyright registration card for a medallion inspired by Apollo 11.
Apollo 11’s main mission ended on July 24 when the astronauts returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. However, in some respects it was only the beginning of the copyright story. A casual search for “Apollo 11” in the U.S. Copyright Office’s Virtual Card Catalog shows some of the materials people registered with the Copyright Office in subsequent years. What grabbed my attention were items of memorabilia such as an album of the stamps commemorating the landing and a medallion showing the Apollo lunar landing module.
Copyright has been a part of the United States’ time in space. While it is almost impossible to predict what astronauts will be accomplishing fifty years from now, a good bet is copyright will be part of that adventure just like it was during Apollo 11.
California (USA) A trio of researchers at the University of California has found evidence that suggests there is far more ice on the surface of the moon than has been thought, phys.org/news reports said.
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Lior Rubanenko, Jaahnavee Venkatraman and David Paige describe their study of similarities between craters on Mercury and craters on the moon and what they found.
Prior researchers using data from the Arecibo Observatory and also NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft found evidence of ice on Mercury. As part of this new effort, the researchers studied depth/diameter ratios of 2,000 craters on the planet using Mercury Laser Altimeter data. In so doing, they found that permanently shadowed craters became less shallow in higher latitudes—an indication of ice.
Back in 2009, as part of the LCROSS mission, researchers allowed an empty stage of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) launch vehicle to crash into the floor of a crater close to the moon's south pole. Testing of the debris cloud by sensors aboard the Shepherding Spacecraft, showed evidence of water and ice, along with other material.
The researchers with this new effort believed it was likely that there was more ice on the moon than was shown during the LCROSS impact study—likely existing in shadowed craters similar to those that had been seen on Mercury. To find out, they carried out a parallel crater study, similar to the one they had conducted for Mercury. In this case, they studied 12,000 craters on the moon using data from the LRO. They report that they found "a similar morphological trend" in craters on the south side of the Moon, near the pole. They suggest this indicates that such craters likely harbor thick ice deposits along with other materials similar to those that are believed to exist on Mercury. The researchers suggest that if this is indeed the case, then there could be up to 100 million metric tons of ice in such craters, which they note is double the amount of previous estimates based on data from the LCROSS impact study. The researchers conclude by suggesting that future Moon missions include the use of probes that can be used to study the shaded craters to confirm their suspicions.
Washington, July 21 (Canadian-Media): Fifty years to the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon in a giant leap for humanity, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and two fellow crew members arrived Saturday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, where humans have lived and worked continuously for more than 18 years, NASA reports said.
The Soyuz MS-13 carrying Expedition 60 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Drew Morgan of NASA, and flight engineer Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency), launches at 12:28 p.m. EDT (9:28 p.m. Baikonur time) Saturday, July 20, 2019, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky
The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft carrying Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched at 12:28 p.m. EDT July 20 (9:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their spacecraft docked to the station’s Zvezda service module at 6:48 p.m., after a four-orbit, six-hour flight, and they are scheduled to open hatches and be welcomed aboard the orbiting laboratory at approximately 8:50 p.m.
Their arrival restores the station's crew complement to six. They join NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Expedition 60 Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.
The Expedition 60 crew will spend more than six months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development. Work on the unique microgravity laboratory advances scientific knowledge and demonstrates new technologies, making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.
One of those key technology developments will be the arrival and installation of the second docking port for commercial crew spacecraft – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner. International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3) is set to launch to the station on SpaceX Dragon’s 18th commercial resupply services mission at 6:24 p.m. Wednesday, July 24. Coverage of the SpaceX launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 6 p.m.
Once the docking port arrives, flight controllers in Houston will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to extract it from Dragon’s cargo hold and position it over Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, on the space-facing side of the station’s Harmony module. Hague and Morgan are scheduled to conduct a spacewalk no earlier than mid-August to install the docking port, connect power and data cables, and install a new high-definition camera as part of ongoing upgrades to the station’s external camera system.
Highlights of upcoming investigations the crew will facilitate on the orbiting laboratory in the unique microgravity environment include the growth of mossaboard the station, a platform to attempt successful printing of biological tissues and bio-mining in space.
Parmitano and Skvortsov are scheduled to remain aboard the station with Koch until February 2020, leaving Morgan on station for an extended stay. Hague and Ovchinin are set to return to Earth on Oct. 3.
A global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the International Space Station, which has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.
Washington, July 21 (Canadian-Media): NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX now is targeting 6:24 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 24, for the launch of its 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website with pre-launch events Tuesday, July 23, NASA reports said.
The company’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver supplies and critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 60 and beyond. In addition to bringing research to station, the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk is carrying the International Docking Adapter-3 (IDA-3), which, when installed on the space station, will provide the microgravity laboratory with two common ports that expand opportunities for visiting vehicles, including new spacecraft designed to carry humans for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Dragon will dock to the space station Friday, July 26, and be greeted by NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch and Andrew Morgan. Using the station’s robotic arm, Hague will grab, or grapple, Dragon with Koch providing backup. Morgan will assist by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send ground commands for the station’s robotic arm to rotate and install it on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, July 23
Wednesday, July 24
10 a.m. – Prelaunch news conference from Kennedy with representatives from the agency’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing.
Friday, July 26
5:30 a.m. – Dragon rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the station. Capture is scheduled for approximately 7 a.m.
Dragon will remain at the space station until Aug. 20, when the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and return cargo.