Welcome back to space this week! After a break, we’re glad to have our Friday morning digest of all space-related things for you again. Let’s start with NASA news.
NASA has augmented eight missions in its astronomical spacecraft, thanks to their outstanding scientific productivity. List: NASA’s Insight Lander, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MAVEN, Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, New Horizons and OSIRIS-Rex.
Most of the listed missions have a three-year extension. But NASA experts think they can get it Nine more years Outside of OSIRIS-REx, I assume that the indomitable spacecraft continues to work as it has so far. In fact, OSIRIS is getting a new title with its promotion. The newly named OSIRIS-APEX team will redirect the spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid called Apophis.
This is probably the latest expansion of Insight, as mission scientists are finally drawing spacecraft activity on Mars. Hopefully we will get the data by the end of 2022. Lander’s power reserves are dwindling, but the Insight team notes that Insight may have a chance to charge itself next Tuesday summer.
“Extended missions allow us to leverage NASA’s large investment in exploration, allowing ongoing science activities at a much lower cost than developing a new mission,” said Laurie Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at Washington headquarters. “Maximizing taxpayer dollars thus allows missions to receive valuable new science data and, in some cases, allows NASA to explore new goals with completely new science goals.”
Ingenuity Spots Perseverance Rover’s parachute
Cleverness is a really small helicopter that could. After a year on Mars, it is still getting stronger. In fact, on the one-year anniversary of the first flight, Ingenuity embarked on a highly successful Flight 26. The goal was to visit its own landing site. Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission engineers asked if Ingenuity could persevere get a decent picture of its defensive backshell and landing chute. Although perseverance only illustrated the landing place from a distance, the close-up expressed gratitude.
The backshell is looking around the world like a down-flying saucer, smashed by a highway-speed lithobreaking event. And indeed, its purpose was to soak up the influence, to preserve perseverance with its life. However, the parachute and its tricks are apparently in great shape. The orange-and-white tent “shows no signs of damage” from Mars’ atmospheric entry, despite braking at a comfortable 78 miles per hour from fifteen thousand miles per hour.
“NASA has expanded engagement flight operations to perform such pioneering flights,” said Teddy Janetos, Ingenuity’s team leader. “Every time we are airborne, Ingenuity covers new lands and offers a perspective that no previous planet has been able to achieve.”
Mars sampling return missions may benefit
Ingenuity mission scientists expect that it will take “a few weeks” to investigate their backshells and parachutes. Once this is completed, scientists at the Mars Sample Return Mission hope to use the results to ensure a safe landing for future spacecraft. And in the plural sense it is “spacecraft”. The MSR design team recently split the sample retrieval lander into two separate, smaller landers. At a meeting of the Space Studies Board, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, explained the team’s argument. “This phase of analysis has shown that, in fact, the single lander breaks the tradition of entry, landing and landing,” said Zurbuchen. “It’s actually a high risk.”
So, the MSR mission team is now trying to make the best use of the time between their scheduled launch date of 2028. Meanwhile, perseverance is constantly accumulating and collecting samples to bring MSR home. However, the damaged ESA ExoMars rover mission could further complicate MSR’s already delayed timeline.
Cleverness and perseverance are currently surveying the delta of an ancient Mars river, named for the three paths to the top of the Three Forks. Their arrival in Delta marks the beginning of a mission-oriented episode called the Delta Front Campaign.
Perseverance spent a whole year at the bottom of an ancient crater lake filled with silt. (It’s like driving across Ohio, but Ohio has more corn.) Now that there’s some terrain, it’s time to start choosing scientific goals. The mission is wasted for the choice of scientists; Percy is there to study the rocks, and the whole area is cliffs and boulders. The delta of the Three Forks River itself is 130 feet (40 m) above the pit floor.
But geological grace comes with a cost. Thanks to all these ruins, only two of the three named thorns in the delta look passable. More reconnaissance sorts by Ingenuity will help mission scientists determine which route is best.
‘An Absolutely Great Ride’
Near the home, SpaceX on Wednesday launched four astronauts into the ISS, a crew dragon named Freedom under the new name. The astronauts’ mission is known as Crew-4, and they will replace Crew-3 astronauts who have lived and worked in microgravity at ISS since November. CMDR. Kegel Lindgren and pilot Bob “Farmer” Hines are on the roster, along with two female mission experts. This is the fifth flight for NASA in the last two years and the fourth launch for the Dragon reusable booster.
“We’ve had a great journey in low Earth orbit on an F9 booster and Freedom capsule,” Lindgren said. “It was a really smooth ride. And the GSs were pretty amazing.”
“It was incredible,” Hines added. “That ride, especially the second stage, it was really teary-eyed, it was great.”
The launch arrived less than two days after SpaceX’s previous crew mission – the first of its kind – to safely land off the coast of Georgia. Kathy Lloyders, leader of NASA’s space mission mission directorate, commented, “If we look tired, maybe we’re a little tired.” “What a busy week in NASA space operations. Less than 40 hours ago we were [landed] Our first private astronaut mission, and the team carefully went through that data and then set up for the Crew-4 launch. “
The crew-4 mission reached ISS safely
Also a milestone for Crew-4 mission representation. This is the first NASA crew to boast an equal number of men and women. Flying with crew-4 colleagues Lindgren and Hines, Samantha Christophoretti, 44, a veteran ESA astronaut and a fitted Italian fighter pilot. Christopherty previously spent 199 days at the ISS during a research mission from 2014-2015. ISS Crew-4 will welcome planetary geologist Jessica Watkins on a four-month mission. Watkins, 33, will become the first black woman to be on the ISS for such a long-term mission, during which time she will make the ISS her second home in the sky. As a planetary geologist, Watkins is also on NASA’s shortlist for future lunar missions.
“I think, for me, the scariest part of the whole ride must have been the scene,” Watkins said, shortly after Dragon was born on the ISS. “When we arrived for docking, we started getting suits and getting ready and at the last minute it was time to look out the window and we could see the space station in the distance. “
Skywatch: Saturn and Mars align with Venus and Jupiter
Finally, speaking of a beautiful scene, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the night sky.
Solar weather has calmed down this week; NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center expects a minor (G1) geomagnetic storm this afternoon, and then the sky will calm over the weekend.
Saturday, April 30 will be a great opportunity for the skywalkers. And you won’t even need a telescope! An interesting combination of Venus and Jupiter will reach the top of about 19 UTC (3pm ET). The planets have been traveling slowly towards each other for weeks; Tonight, they’ll be just over a degree away. However, on Saturday afternoon, Venus and Jupiter will be separated by only 0.2 degrees. Despite being millions of miles apart, the two planets can be seen touching. If Venus and Jupiter conduct their great dance, Mars and Saturn will also be visible, fairly aligned north of the connection.
The heavenly show will run all night and early in the morning. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will have to look at the southeast horizon about an hour before dawn. According to Earthsky, Southern Hemisphere stargazers will also be able to see the connection, but Venus and Jupiter will appear at sunrise above the eastern horizon. Stay tuned for the next few nights, and enjoy a moment of kinship with the elders. As the two planets begin to separate, you can see why the ancient astronomers called them “Wanderers”.