#NASA; #NASAMars2020PerseveranceRover; #IngenuityMarsHelicopter
Washington, Jul 14 (Canadian-Media): When NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida later this summer, an innovative experiment will ride along: the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Ingenuity may weigh only about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), but it has some outsize ambitions.
In this illustration, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet's surface as NASA's Perseverance rover (partially visible on the left) rolls away.
Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
"The Wright Brothers showed that powered flight in Earth's atmosphere was possible, using an experimental aircraft," said Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "With Ingenuity, we're trying to do the same for Mars."
Here are six things you should know about the first helicopter going to another planet:
1. Ingenuity is a flight test.
Ingenuity is what is known as a technology demonstration – a project that seeks to test a new capability for the first time, with limited scope. Previous groundbreaking technology demonstrations include the Mars Pathfinder rover Sojourner and the tiny Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats that flew by Mars in 2018.
Ingenuity features four specially made carbon-fiber blades, arranged into two rotors that spin in opposite directions at around 2,400 rpm – many times faster than a passenger helicopter on Earth. It also has innovative solar cells, batteries, and other components. Ingenuity doesn't carry science instruments and is a separate experiment from the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.
2. Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will make history's first attempt at powered flight on another planet next spring. It is riding with the agency's next mission to Mars (the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover) as it launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station later this summer. Perseverance, with Ingenuity attached to its belly, will land on Mars February 18, 2021.
What makes it hard for a helicopter to fly on Mars? For one thing, Mars' thin atmosphere makes it difficult to achieve enough lift. Because the Mars atmosphere is 99% less dense than Earth's, Ingenuity has to be light, with rotor blades that are much larger and spin much faster than what would be required for a helicopter of Ingenuity's mass on Earth.
It can also be bone-chillingly cold at Jezero Crater, where Perseverance will land with Ingenuity attached to its belly in February 2021. Nights there dip down to minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius). While Ingenuity's team on Earth has tested the helicopter at Martian temperatures and believes it should work on Mars as intended, the cold will push the design limits of many of Ingenuity's parts.
In addition, flight controllers at JPL won't be able to control the helicopter with a joystick. Communication delays are an inherent part of working with spacecraft across interplanetary distances. Commands will need to be sent well in advance, with engineering data coming back from the spacecraft long after each flight takes place. In the meantime, Ingenuity will have a lot of autonomy to make its own decisions about how to fly to a waypoint and keep itself warm.
3. Ingenuity is a fitting name for a robot that is the result of extreme creativity.
High school student Vaneeza Rupani of Northport, Alabama, originally submitted the name Ingenuity for the Mars 2020 rover, before it was named Perseverance, but NASA officials recognized the submission as a terrific name for the helicopter, given how much creative thinking the team employed to get the mission off the ground.
"The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration," Rupani wrote. "Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things."
In February 2021, NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (shown in an artist's concept) will be the agency's two newest explorers on Mars. Both were named by students as part of an essay contest.
4. Ingenuity has already demonstrated feats of engineering.
In careful steps from 2014 to 2019, engineers at JPL demonstrated that it was possible to build an aircraft that was lightweight, able to generate enough lift in Mars' thin atmosphere, and capable of surviving in a Mars-like environment. They tested progressively more advanced models in special space simulators at JPL. In January 2019, the actual helicopter that is riding with Perseverance to the Red Planet passed its final flight evaluation. Failing any one of these milestones would've grounded the experiment.
5. The Ingenuity team will count success one step at a time.
Given the firsts Ingenuity is trying to accomplish, the team has a long list of milestones they'll need to pass before the helicopter can take off and land in the spring of 2021. The team will celebrate each time they meet one. The milestones include:
When NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attempts its first test flight on the Red Planet, the agency's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will be close by, as seen in this artist's concept.
Ingenuity is intended to demonstrate technologies needed for flying in the Martian atmosphere. If successful, these technologies could enable other advanced robotic flying vehicles that might be included in future robotic and human missions to Mars. They could offer a unique viewpoint not provided by current orbiters high overhead or by rovers and landers on the ground, provide high-definition images and reconnaissance for robots or humans, and enable access to terrain that is difficult for rovers to reach.
"The Ingenuity team has done everything to test the helicopter on Earth, and we are looking forward to flying our experiment in the real environment at Mars," said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project manager at JPL. "We'll be learning all along the way, and it will be the ultimate reward for our team to be able to add another dimension to the way we explore other worlds in the future."
#NASA; #MinipayloadChallenge; #NASAArtemis; #NASATournamentLab; #STMD
Washington, Jul 14 (Canadian-Media): The winners for the JPL-led "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" challenge have been announced, and the miniature robotic designs could help the agency explore the Moon.
The JPL-led challenge invited the public to design tiny payloads not much larger than a bar of soap for a miniaturized Moon rover. Image Credits: NASA
NASA's next giant leap may be aided by tiny lunar robots. These miniature robots would help scout the lunar surface, collecting key information about the Moon, its resources, and the environment. Such data would be helpful for the agency's future lunar endeavors and NASA's Artemis program.
In April, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California ran a public prize competition for miniature payload designs for future Moon missions. The "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" challenge garnered the interest of hundreds of innovators. Now, the winners have been announced.
"The ideas generated by the community were outstanding," said Sabah Bux, a technologist at JPL. "These designs could help NASA sustain a human presence on the Moon and enable new science.”
Existing payloads are often big, heavy, and require a lot of power. Tiny payloads allow for the development of technologies that can do more prospecting and science on smaller, more mobile platforms. This challenge sought designs for payloads not much larger than a bar of soap – 3.9 inches by 3.9 inches by 1.9 inches (10 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 5 centimeters) – and weighing no more than 0.8 pounds (0.4 kilograms).
Submissions were divided among two categories: lunar resource potential and lunar environment. A total of $160,000 in prizes was awarded.
Category 1: Lunar Resource Potential
First Prize: $30,000
First Prize: $30,000
You can also participate in a moderated discussion with the NASA challenge team, hosted by HeroX, on Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT). Register here.
The challenge is expected to be followed by new competitions to prototype, test, and deliver the winning ideas. It is also intended to generate a maturation pipeline of next-generation instruments, sensors, technologies, and experiments for near-term lunar exploration.
The challenge was funded by NASA's Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative within the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The initiative champions technologies needed to live on and explore the Moon. The NASA Tournament Lab, part of STMD's Prizes and Challenges program, managed the challenge. The program supports the use of public competitions and crowdsourcing as tools to advance NASA R&D and other mission needs.
Learn more about opportunities to participate in your space program via NASA prizes and challenges: www.nasa.gov/solve
#NASA; #CometC2020F3NEOWISE; #NASAScienceLive; #mediaTeleconference; #NASAJPL
Washington, Jul 14 (Canadian-Media): NASA experts will discuss and answer public questions about Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE during a broadcast of NASA Science Live and follow up media teleconference on Wednesday, July 15. The comet is visible with the naked-eye in the early morning sky and starting this week, after sunset.
The NASA Science Live episode will air live at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday on NASA Television and the agency's website, along with Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, LinkedIn, Twitch, and USTREAM.
Viewers can submit questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA or by leaving a comment in the chat section of Facebook, Periscope, or YouTube.
NASA will follow the broadcast with a media teleconference at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The media teleconference audio will stream live at: https://www.nasa.gov/live
The teleconference participants include:
To participate in the teleconference, media must email their name and affiliation to email@example.com by 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 15.
Solar System and beyond. Image credit: NASA
#NASA; #ESA; #SolarOrbiter; #SolarCapture
WAshington, Jul 14 (Canadian-Media): Scientists from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) will release the first data captured by Solar Orbiter, the joint ESA/NASA mission to study the Sun, during an online news briefing at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 16. The briefing will stream live on NASA’s website.
ESA/NASA's Solar Orbiter is returning its first science data, including images of the Sun taken from closer than any spacecraft in history. Image Credits: ESA/ATG Medialab
In mid-June, Solar Orbiter made its first close pass of the Sun following its Feb. 9 launch, turning on all 10 of its instruments together for the first time. This flyby captured the closest images ever taken of the Sun. During the briefing, mission experts will discuss what these closeup images reveal about our star, including what we can learn from Solar Orbiter’s new measurements of particles and magnetic fields flowing from the Sun.
Participants in the briefing include:
#NASA; #AviationScholars; #SpaceStation; #ArtemisProgram; #Mars; #EAA; #TDRS
Washington, Jul 11 (Canadian-Media): Aviation scholars from across the nation will pose questions next week to NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The educational downlink event will air live at 1:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 14, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
NASA astronaut Doug Hurley prepares NASA astronaut Bob Behnken for Extravehicular Activity 65 in the Airlock. Image credit: NASA
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will answer prerecorded questions from students participating in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Young Eagles Ray Aviation Scholars program. EAA is a community of more than 240,000 members in 900 local chapters who embody the spirit of aviation by sharing their passion for flying, building, and restoring recreational aircraft.
This downlink is produced in partnership with NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, which directly benefits today’s air transportation systems, the aviation industry, and the passengers and businesses who rely on aviation every day.
Charles Precourt, retired NASA astronaut and EAA board member, will provide opening and closing remarks for the event.
Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Astronauts living in space on the orbiting laboratory communicate with NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston 24 hours a day through the Space Network’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS).
For nearly 20 years, astronauts have been continuously living and working on the space station, testing technologies, performing science and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. Through NASA’s Artemis program, the agency will send astronauts to the Moon by 2024, with eventual human exploration of Mars. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.
#Washington; #NASA; #SETIInstituteInMountainView; #PlanetaryProtection; #California
Washington, Jul 11 (Canadian-Media): NASA has awarded the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, a contract to support all phases of current and future planetary protection missions to ensure compliance with planetary protection standards.
Amy Baker, SETI Project Manager, instructs proper sampling technique during the 2019 course ‘Planetary Protection: Policies and Practices’ at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on May 1, 2019. Image Credits: NASA/Elaine Seasly
The SETI Institute will work with NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection (OPP) to provide technical reviews and recommendations, validate biological cleanliness on flight projects, provide training for NASA and its partners, as well as develop guidelines for implementation of NASA requirements, and disseminate information to stakeholders and the public. The role of OPP is to promote responsible exploration of the solar system by protecting both Earth and mission destinations from biological contamination.
“The depth of mission experience and breadth of knowledge on the SETI Institute team will help NASA meet the technical challenges of assuring forward and backward planetary protection on the anticipated path of human exploration from the Moon to Mars,” said Lisa Pratt, NASA’s planetary protection officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Planetary protection preserves environments, as well as the science, ensuring verifiable scientific exploration for extraterrestrial life. Some of the upcoming NASA science missions that will be supported by this contract include the Mars 2020 and Europa Clipper missions, and preparations for NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission. In addition, future human spaceflight exploration under NASA’s Artemis program, such as the Gateway lunar orbital outpost, the Human Lander System, and Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, will be supported under this contract, as part of America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.
The contract is a fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum award value of $4.7 million over a five-year period that began July 1.
“As we return to the Moon, look for evidence of past or present life on Mars and continue our missions of exploration and discovery in the solar system, planetary protection becomes an increasingly important component of mission planning and execution,” said Bill Diamond, president and chief executive officer of the SETI Institute. “We are proud to be NASA’s partner for this mission-critical function, protecting Earth from backward contamination, and helping ensure that the life we may find on other worlds, didn’t come from our own.”
NASA and the SETI Institute have worked together on planetary protection for more than a decade and have developed a strong relationship and core competency in this area. SETI Institute scientists have extensive experience in understanding microbial life and how it can affect missions, even in the extreme conditions of spaceflight and extraterrestrial environments. The SETI Institute also has been deeply involved on science teams for many NASA missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Curiosity, New Horizons, OSIRIS-REx, Kepler, and others.
Implementing effective and consistent planetary protection standards is more important than ever, as we increasingly venture into space, not only on missions governed by space agencies, but with projects run in conjunction with, and even wholly by, the commercial sector.
#NASA; #NASAResearch; #NASAAwards;
Washington, Jul 5 (Canadian-Media): NASA has awarded the Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor-2 (TSIS-2) Spacecraft contract to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group of San Diego, California, NASA reports said.
Image credit: Twitter handle
This is a hybrid firm-fixed price, time and materials contract in the amount of approximately $32.9 million. The base contract is for spacecraft development in the amount of about $29.2 million The contract also contains Options 1 through 9 for launch delays and mission operations in the amount of approximately $2 million. The time and materials portion of the contract is for a not to exceed amount of $1.6 million.
The performance period runs from now through May 2026. The work will be performed primarily at the contractor’s facility.
General Atomics shall develop and test the core spacecraft for the TSIS-2 project; integrate the primary instrument into the observatory; and provide the functional, performance and environmental testing of the observatory. The contractor also will ship the spacecraft to the launch site and support launch operations, in-orbit performance verification and operations of the mission operations center for three years, through the decommissioning of the TSIS-2 spacecraft.
This is a directed mission to address the 2017 Decadal Survey recommendation for sustained multidecadal global measurements of solar irradiance and will continue the collection of high-quality data for the long-term climate record. These measurements are indispensable to the scientific community for understanding solar influences on Earth’s climate.