NASA News – August 1, 2021 – The next commercial crew test flight to the space station; A new space station module; And another astronomical discovery by Hubble; Relocating a commercial spacecraft at the space station; While another one gets ready to launch to the station; And Perseverance prepares for a mission milestone on Mars.
Next Commercial Crew Mission to Space Station
NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station is the second uncrewed flight test of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of our Commercial Crew Program. The mission aims to demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner and the Atlas V launch vehicle and provide valuable data toward certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
Arrival of New Space Station Module
A few hours after the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) docked to the International Space Station on July 29, flight controllers noticed the unplanned firing of the module’s thrusters – which caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams worked to regain attitude control and stabilize the space station, and the crew was never in any danger. Nauka is the new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for the Russian segment of the station. Meanwhile, the Pirs module left the orbital outpost with a Progress spacecraft on July 26. Pirs had been the previous docking port for Russian spacecraft and airlock for Russian spacewalks since September 2001.
First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede
New and archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have helped astronomers uncover evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede for the first time. This water vapor forms when ice from the surface of this extremely frigid moon turns from solid to gas. Researchers believe there is an ocean about 100 miles below Ganymede’s crust that contains more water than all of the oceans on Earth.
Tropical Rainforest Vulnerability Index
Scientists from our Jet Propulsion Laboratory joined international researchers to create an index that tracks how the world’s rainforests are responding to threats like our planet’s warming climate and human land use. These diverse ecosystems are home to more than half of the planet’s life forms and act as a natural slowing mechanism to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The index could help policy makers plan for conservation and forest restoration activities.
NASA Announces Winners of Future of Flight Challenge
NASA has named nine winners in the Future-Scaping our Skies challenge. The competition, conducted through our Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, asked the public to help envision the future of flight, taking into account how societal, technological, regulatory, environmental, economic, and political changes over the next 30 years might impact aviation, and vice versa. Input from the challenge could help us better anticipate aviation needs in the future and make better decisions about technology development today.
50th Anniversary of Apollo 15
July 26 was the 50th anniversary of the launch of astronauts David Scott, Al Worden, and Jim Irwin on Apollo 15, the fourth NASA mission to land humans on the Moon. The mission was also the first to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle, which Scott and Irwin used during their more than 18 hours of lunar surface exploration while Worden orbited overhead in the command module.
Crew Dragon Port Relocation on Space Station
On July 21, our SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts moved their Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft from the forward port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module to the station’s space-facing port. The relocation sets the stage for an historic first when two different U.S. commercial spacecraft built for crew will be docked to the station at the same time.
NASA, Boeing Prepare for Starliner Launch
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner will be the other spacecraft of this anticipated and historic docked duo. The Starliner is expected to join the Crew Dragon at the space station on our uncrewed Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 or (OFT-2) mission. OFT-2 is targeted for launch July 30 and will provide valuable data toward certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample
The Perseverance Mars rover is preparing to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth for study. This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. The rover will be looking for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.” The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars
Data captured by our InSight spacecraft of seismic activity on Mars – or marsquakes – were used in three papers published in Science detailing the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle, and core, including confirmation that the planet’s center is molten. Part of InSight’s mission was to measure the depth, size, and structure of these three layers. The mission can help improve our understanding of how all rocky planets formed, including Earth.
Hubble Returns to Full Science Observations
The science instruments on our Hubble Space Telescope have returned to full operation, after recovering from a computer anomaly that suspended the telescope’s observations for more than a month. The telescope’s first observations since resuming its 32nd year of discovery included a large spiral galaxy with unusual extended arms, and the first high-resolution glimpse at an intriguing pair of colliding galaxies in the southern hemisphere. Keep up with Hubble and its mission at nasa.gov/hubble.
That’s what’s up this week @NASA … For more on these and other stories, follow us on the web at nasa.gov/twan.