NASA News – 3 Weeks Ending August 15th
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.
Artemis Moon Rocket Engine Test Series Continues
On Aug. 5, engineers at our Stennis Space Center conducted the sixth RS-25 engine hot fire test of the current seven-part test series. Four RS-25s will help power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future Moon missions, including Artemis I targeted for later this year. For more details, visit: nasa.gov/SLS.
Preparing for the First Mission to the Trojan Asteroids
Our Lucy spacecraft arrived recently at our Kennedy Space Center and was transported to nearby Astrotech for final prelaunch preparations. Lucy’s 23-day launch window opens Oct. 16. It will be the first space mission to the Trojan asteroids, a diverse population of small bodies believed to be remnants of our early solar system that are trapped in stable orbits associated with the planet Jupiter. Learn more at: nasa.gov/lucy.
Sonification of Hubble Ultra Deep Field
From Aug. 2-6, we celebrated the Hubble Space Telescope’s iconic “Deep Field” images that have revolutionized our understanding of the universe. This sonification of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image plays a note as the captured light emitted by each galaxy shows up in the image.
The farther away the galaxy is, the longer its light traveled before reaching Hubble. In the sonification, which is just under a minute long, we can hear back nearly 13 billion years to the farthest galaxies in the image.
The “SUITS” Student Challenge
NASA’s Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students or (SUITS) challenge is looking for college students to create graphical spacesuit information displays within augmented reality (AR) environments for a simulated mission to the Moon. Technologies like this could help astronauts on future Artemis lunar surface exploration missions. For more about this and other ways you can be part of the Artemis mission, check out stem.nasa.gov/artemis.
NASA Tools Could Help Fight Fires from the Sky and the Ground
We demonstrated our Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations or STEReO project during a recent wildfire simulation in Northern California, to show how the technology can help emergency responders work more safely and effectively. STEReO uses NASA’s expertise in drone traffic management to provide a way to coordinate an emergency response effort that keeps assets in the air and on the ground in close contact, but safely out of each other’s way.
X-57 Maxwell Concludes High-Voltage Testing
NASA’s all-electric X- 57 Maxwell experimental aircraft has completed high-voltage testing – another milestone toward first flight. High-voltage testing powers the aircraft from an auxiliary power supply to test the functionality of the integrated systems under full power. Next up, the X-57 will undergo verification and validation testing.
Commercial Cargo Mission to the Space Station
A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft launched to the International Space Station on Aug. 10 from our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, loaded with more than 8,200 pounds of research, supplies and hardware. Two days later, the Cygnus – named in honor of the late Ellison Onizuka, NASA’s first Asian American astronaut – arrived at the station. This is the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the space station for NASA.
Dedication of Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility
On Aug. 11, our Glenn Research Center held a dedication ceremony for the renaming of NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, to the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility. The event was led by our Administrator Bill Nelson and featured remarks by several guest speakers.
“It’s our family’s hope that the Neil Armstrong Test Facility will continue to vault us forward for faster and safer aerospace transport and that this new name will be a beacon for the best, the brightest and, perhaps most importantly, the most determined.”—Mark Armstrong/Neil Armstrong’s Son
The Armstrong Test Facility houses the world’s largest and most powerful aerospace testing facilities and is the only place in the world that can test a full-sized spacecraft for the extreme conditions of launch and spaceflight.
NASA Recruiting for Simulated Mars Mission
NASA is looking for crew members for the first in a series of one-year analog missions in a 3D-printed habitat at our Johnson Space Center designed to simulate life on a distant world. Set to begin in Fall 2022, the series of missions – known as Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog – could help develop methods and technologies to prevent and resolve potential problems on future human missions to the Moon and Mars. Learn more about this and other NASA analog missions at nasa.gov/analogs.
Improved Understanding of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
Precision-tracking data captured by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has helped researchers pinpoint the future orbits of asteroid Bennu, which is expected to make a very close approach to Earth in 2135. With the ability to better understand the movements of Bennu researchers believe the chances of it hitting Earth are very low through the year 2300. This development has also improved our ability to predict the orbits of many other asteroids that are potential impact hazards to Earth.
A New Window on Rising Seas
A new online NASA visualization tool can show you what sea levels will look like anywhere in the world in the coming decades. The tool, hosted on NASA’s Sea Level Portal, makes extensive data on future sea level rise from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC easily accessible. It can deliver a detailed report for a location based on the most updated physical understanding of the climate system and climate change. For more details go to sealevel.nasa.gov
Citizen Science: NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE
NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE is one of the agency’s many citizen science projects that allow public volunteers to act as citizen scientists to help make important scientific discoveries. GLOBE CLOUD GAZE uses detailed information from citizen science observations of clouds or dust storms that NASA scientists can compare with other data sources in the process of studying our atmosphere. Find out more at science.nasa.gov/citizenscience.
That’s what’s up this week @NASA … For more on these and other stories, follow us on the web at nasa.gov/twan.