#Washington, #NASA; #NewSpaceEnvironmentMission; #FiveProposalsSelected
Washington, Aug 31 (Canadian-Media): NASA has selected five proposals for concept studies of missions to help improve understanding of the dynamics of the Sun and the constantly changing space environment with which it interacts around Earth. The information will improve understanding about the universe as well as offer key information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals – such as GPS – in space, NASA reports said.
The Sun sends out a constant stream of particles and energy, which drives a complex space weather system near Earth and can affect spacecraft and astronauts. NASA has chosen five new mission concept studies for further development to study various aspects of this dynamic system. Image Credits: NASA
ach of these Medium-Class Explorer proposals will receive $1.25 million to conduct a nine-month mission concept study. Following the study period, NASA will choose up to two proposals to go forward to launch. Each potential mission has a separate launch opportunity and timeframe.
“We constantly seek missions that use cutting edge technology and novel approaches to push the boundaries of science,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Each one of these proposals offers the chance to observe something we have never before seen or to provide unprecedented insights into key areas of research, all to further the exploration of the universe we live in.”
NASA's heliophysics program explores the giant, interconnected system of energy, particles, and magnetic fields that fills interplanetary space, a system that constantly changes based on outflow from the Sun and its interaction with the space and atmosphere around Earth.
"Whether it's looking at the physics of our star, studying aurora, or observing how magnetic fields move through space, the heliophysics community seeks to explore the space system around us from a variety of vantage points," said Nicky Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "We carefully pick missions to provide perfectly placed sensors throughout the solar system, each offering a key perspective to understand the space that human technology and humans increasingly travel through."
Each of these new proposals seeks to add a new puzzle piece to understanding that larger system, some by looking at the Sun, some by making observations closer to home.
The proposals were selected based on potential science value and feasibility of development plans. The cost for the investigation ultimately chosen for flight will be capped at $250 million and is funded by NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers’ program.
The proposals selected for concept studies are:
Solar-Terrestrial Observer for the Response of the Magnetosphere (STORM)
STORM would provide the first-ever global view of our vast space weather system in which the constant flow of particles from the Sun – known as the solar wind – interacts with Earth's magnetic field system, called the magnetosphere. Using a combination of observation tools that allow both remote viewing of Earth's magnetic fields and in situ monitoring of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field, STORM would track the way energy flows into and throughout near-Earth space. Tackling some of the most pressing questions in magnetospheric science, this comprehensive data set would provide a systemwide view of events in the magnetosphere to observe how one region affects another, helping to untangle how space weather phenomena circulate around our planet. STORM is led by David Sibeck at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
HelioSwarm: The Nature of Turbulence in Space Plasmas
HelioSwarm would observe the solar wind over a wide range of scales in order to determine the fundamental space physics processes that lead energy from large-scale motion to cascade down to finer scales of particle movement within the plasma that fills space, a process that leads to the heating of such plasma. Using a swarm of nine SmallSat spacecraft, HelioSwarm would gather multi-point measurements and be able to reveal the three-dimensional mechanisms that control the physical processes crucial to understanding our neighborhood in space. HelioSwarm is led by Harlan Spence at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
Multi-slit Solar Explorer (MUSE)
MUSE would provide high-cadence observations of the mechanisms driving an array of processes and events in the Sun's atmosphere – the corona – including what drives solar eruptions such as solar flares, as well as what heats the corona to temperatures far above that of the solar surface. MUSE would use breakthrough imaging spectroscopy techniques to observe radial motion and heating at ten times the current resolution – and 100 times faster – a key capability when trying to study the phenomena driving heating and eruption processes, which occur on time scales shorter than previous spectrographs could observe. Such data would enable advanced numerical solar modeling and help unpack long-standing questions about coronal heating and the foundation of space weather events that can send giant bursts of solar particles and energy toward Earth. MUSE is led by Bart De Pontieu at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, California.
Auroral Reconstruction CubeSwarm (ARCS)
ARCS would explore the processes that contribute to aurora at size scales that have been rarely studied: at the intermediate scale between the smaller, local phenomena leading directly to the visible aurora and the larger, global dynamics of the space weather system coursing through the ionosphere and thermosphere. Adding crucial information to understanding the physics at the border between our atmosphere and space, these observations would provide insight into the entire magnetospheric system surrounding Earth. The mission would use an innovative, distributed set of sensors by deploying 32 CubeSats and 32 ground-based observatories. The combination of instruments and spatial distribution would provide a comprehensive picture of the drivers and response of the auroral system to and from the magnetosphere. ARCS is led by Kristina Lynch at Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Solaris: Revealing the Mysteries of the Sun’s Poles
Solaris would address fundamental questions of solar and stellar physics that can only be answered with a view of the Sun's poles. Solaris would observe three solar rotations over each solar pole to obtain observations of light, magnetic fields, and movement in the Sun's surface, the photosphere. Space researchers have never collected imagery of the Sun's poles, though the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter will provide oblique angle views for the first time in 2025. Better knowledge of the physical processes visible from the pole is necessary to understand the global dynamics of the entire Sun, including how magnetic fields evolve and move throughout the star, leading to periods of great solar activity and eruptions approximately every 11 years. Solaris is led by Donald Hassler at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
#NASA; #Mars2020Perseverance; #NASAEyesontheSolarSystem, #IngenuityMarsHelicopter
Washington, Aug 23 (Canadian-Media): The last time we saw NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission was on July 30, 2020, as it disappeared into the black of deep space on a trajectory for Mars. But with NASA's Eyes on the Solar System, you can follow in real time as humanity's most sophisticated rover—and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter traveling with it—treks millions of miles over the next six months to Jezero Crater, https://phys.org/news/2020 news reports said.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 30. NASA's Eyes on the Solar System tool lets you track the spacecraft in real time as it makes its way to Mars for a Feb. 18, 2021, landing. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
"Eyes on the Solar System visualizes the same trajectory data that the navigation team uses to plot Perseverance's course to Mars," said Fernando Abilleira, the Mars 2020 mission design and navigation manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "If you want to follow along with us on our journey, that's the place to be."
Eyes doesn't just let you see the distance between the Red Planet and the spacecraft at this very moment. You can also fly formation with Mars 2020 or check the relative velocity between Mars and Earth or, say, the dwarf planet Pluto.
"With all our orbital assets circling Mars as well as Curiosity and InSight on its surface, there is new data and imagery coming in all the time about the Red Planet," said Jon Nelson, visualization technology and applications development supervisor at JPL. "Essentially, if you haven't seen Mars lately through Eyes on the Solar System, you haven't seen Mars."
Dozens of controls on pop-up menus allow you to customize not just what you see—from faraway to right "on board" a spacecraft—but also how you see it: Choose the 3-D mode, and all you need is a pair of red-cyan anaglyph glasses for a more immersive experience.
#NewYork, #SpaceXFunding; #astronomy; ElonMusk
Aug 22 (Canadian-Media): With rise in investor interest, billionaire Elon Musk finalized $1.9 billion in new funding for his rocket company SpaceX, the largest fundraising round yet for SpaceX, according to PitchBook, just weeks after completing the first launch of astronauts to space from U.S. soil since 2011, according to regulatory filings on Friday, media reports said.
Elon Musk. Image credit: Facebook page
Bloomberg, who first reported the funding news, with Brokerage giant Fidelity Investments, an existing investor in the company, was one of the biggest participants in the latest round, according to Bloomberg, reported by Forbes.
The funding comes just after SpaceX completed its most high-profile mission yet: In May, the company sent a NASA crew to the International Space Station, marking the first crewed orbital flight from American soil since 2011.
The two astronauts completed successful safe return to earth on August 2, when SpaceX’s Dragon capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico and marked a signature achievement for Musk 18 years after he founded the space exploration company.
Recently SpaceX entered into $316 million defense contract with the U.S. government to launch military satellites into orbit for five years starting in 2022.
Having recently become the world’s fifth-richest person due to a recent jump in electric vehicle maker Tesla’s stock, Musk now has a net worth of $86.5 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.
#Washington, #NASA; #InternationalSpaceStation; #JAXA
Washington, Aug 14 (Canadian-Media): Eleven years after the launch of the first H-II Transfer cargo vehicle (HTV) to the International Space Station, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) HTV-9 will depart the orbital laboratory Tuesday, Aug. 18, with live coverage beginning at 1:15 p.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The International Space Station is seen on June 30, 2020, orbiting almost directly above Marfa, Texas, on a southeastern orbital trek that would take it over Mexico and across South America. In the foreground, is the "Dextre" fine-tuned robotic hand with Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle-9 (HTV-9) behind it. Inside the HTV-9, is the HTV-8 pallet holding old nickel-hydrogen batteries removed from the station during previous spacewalks.
Image Credits: NASA
Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release the spacecraft from the station at 1:35 p.m., ending its three-month stay. To prepare for release, flight controllers operating from NASA’s Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will send commands to unbolt and detach the uncrewed cargo craft from the station’s Harmony module and remotely operate Canadarm2 to move it into place for departure.
This will be the final station departure of JAXA’s Kounotori, or “white stork,” model cargo craft, nine of which have delivered more than 40 tons of supplies to space station crews. JAXA is developing a new fleet of HTV cargo craft, the HTV-X, which is targeted for its first launch in 2022.
The spacecraft, which launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on May 20, delivered about four tons of supplies and experiments to the orbital complex, including new lithium-ion batteries that were used to upgrade the station’s power systems. The new-technology batteries were installed through a series of spacewalks along the far port truss “backbone” of the station.
HTV-9 will be commanded by JAXA flight controllers at its HTV control center in Tsukuba, Japan, to move away from the station and, on Aug. 20, to fire its deorbit engine in a burn that will send it back into Earth’s atmosphere. Loaded with trash from the space station, the spacecraft will burn up harmlessly over the Pacific Ocean.
For nearly 20 years, astronauts have continuously lived and work on the space station, testing technologies, performing science and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. As a global endeavor, 240 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.
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.
#NASA; #SpaceStationExplorersSTEMprograms; #STEMStudents; #ISS
Washington, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): Students participating in Space Station Explorers STEM programs across the nation will pose questions this week to NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy aboard the International Space Station. The educational downlink event will air live at 12:45 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 7, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Cassidy will answer prerecorded questions from students participating in Space Station Explorers STEM programs through the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the organization tasked by NASA to manage U.S. National Laboratory research on the space station. The organization works to bring value to America, enable a sustainable commercial research market in low-Earth orbit, and to engage and inspire the next generation of explorers.
The Earth-to-space call serves as the kickoff to the Celebrating Station Science series, which will connect students and educators to 20 years of space station experiments and research through monthly themes with K-12 STEM resources and the career paths of NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers as they share their stories. Each month during the 2020-2021 school year, educators may use lesson plans, information on space station experiments, and various space station resources to excite the Artemis Generation of explorers.
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 continuously lived and work 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.