Category Archives: March

March 2016 NASA Press Releases

NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Record-Breaking U.S. Astronaut

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March 10, 2016
MEDIA ADVISORY M16-026
NASA Television to Air Launch of Next Record-Breaking U.S. Astronaut

Expedition 47 crew members NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexei Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos pose for a photograph before their Soyuz qualification exams Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

On a second American record-breaking mission for 2016, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station at 5:26 p.m. EDT Friday, March 18, with cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA Television launch coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m.

During his six-month mission, Williams will become the new American record holder for cumulative days in space — 534 — surpassing Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly, who wrapped up his one-year mission on March 1. Williams will take command of the station on June 4 for Expedition 48. This will be his third space station expedition — another record.

The three will travel in a Soyuz spacecraft, rendezvousing with the space station six hours after launch. They’ll dock to the station’s Poisk module at 11:12 p.m. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 10:30 p.m.

The hatches between the Soyuz and station will be opened less than two hours later at about 12:55 a.m. Saturday, March 19, when the newly arrived crew members will be greeted by Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency). NASA TV coverage of the hatch opening will begin at 12:30 a.m.

Together, the Expedition 47 crew members will continue the several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science currently underway and scheduled to take place aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory. Williams, Ovchinin and Skripochka are scheduled to spend six months on the station, returning to Earth in early September 2016.

For the full schedule of prelaunch, launch and docking coverage, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Follow the space station crew members on Instagram and Twitter at:

http://instagram.com/iss

and

http://www.twitter.com/Space_Station 

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NASA news releases are written and distributed by NASA and reprinted here by USA in Space to allow easy access to the content and to provide an archive of the information.

NASA Selects Instruments to Study Air Pollution, Tropical

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March 10, 2016
RELEASE 16-025
NASA Selects Instruments to Study Air Pollution, Tropical Cyclones

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) investigation, 12 CubeSats about a foot long each, will study the development of tropical cyclones by taking measurements of temperature, precipitation and cloud properties as often as every 21 minutes.

Credits: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

NASA has selected two proposals for new Earth science investigations that will put new instruments in low-Earth orbit to track harmful particulate air pollutants and study the development of tropical cyclones.

Observations of small atmospheric aerosols from the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) will be combined with health information to determine the toxicity of different particulate matter types in airborne pollutants over the world’s major cities. David Diner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is the principal investigator.

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) investigation will develop and launch a constellation of CubeSats to study the development of tropical cyclones through rapid-revisit sampling. William Blackwell of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington is the principal investigator.

The instruments were competitively selected from 14 proposals submitted to NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument-3 program. Earth Venture investigations are small, targeted science investigations that complement NASA’s larger missions. The National Research Council recommended in 2007 that NASA undertake this type of regularly solicited, quick-turnaround project.

“We are excited to make selections that expand the use of CubeSats for Earth sciences and that make measurements and perform analyses that will have direct societal benefit,” said Geoffrey Yoder, deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These innovative Earth Venture Instruments will join and expand our growing suite of NASA Earth-observing sensors.”

MAIA uses a twin-camera instrument that will make radiometric and polarimetric measurements needed to characterize the sizes, compositions, and quantities of particulate matter in air pollution. As part of the MAIA investigation, researchers will combine MAIA measurements with population health records to better understand the connections between aerosol pollutants and health problems such as adverse birth outcomes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and premature deaths.

The MAIA team has extensive experience in polarimetry, air pollution, and human health. Diner has led numerous polarimetry observations from sub-orbital platforms throughout his career. The team includes partnerships with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as well as several universities, federal research organizations and international partners.

TROPICS will consist of 12 CubeSats, each about one foot long and weighing just 8.5 pounds, that use scanning microwave radiometers to measure temperature, humidity, precipitation and cloud properties. The CubeSats will be launched into three separate orbital planes to enable the overall constellation to monitor changes in tropical cyclones as frequently as every 21 minutes.

The TROPICS team has previous experience developing CubeSats and analyzing satellite measurements of storms, and includes partnerships with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, Goddard, several universities and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The two investigations were selected from NASA’s third Earth Venture Instrument competition. The first Earth Venture Instrument investigation, selected in 2012, the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission, will be the first space-based sensor to monitor major chemical air pollutants across North American hourly during daytime. It will share a ride on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload and orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator.

The second set of investigations selected in 2014 were the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) and ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS). These instruments will measure changes in global vegetation from the International Space Station, illuminating how forests and ecosystems are affected by changes in climate and land use.

Earth Venture missions are managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program located at Langley for the Science Mission Directorate. The missions in this program provide an innovative approach to address Earth science research with periodic windows of opportunity to accommodate new scientific priorities. For more information, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/MKvgJO

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earth

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NASA news releases are written and distributed by NASA and reprinted here by USA in Space to allow easy access to the content and to provide an archive of the information.

NASA Announces Winning Concepts to Further its Journey to Mars

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March 09, 2016
RELEASE 16-028
NASA Announces Winning Concepts to Further its Journey to Mars

NASA has announced the winners of two challenges to create new concepts for construction and human habitation on future space exploration missions, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The Space Suit Textile Testing and In-Situ Materials Challenges, managed for NASA by NineSigma, launched in October 2015 under the umbrella of the NASA Tournament Lab, yielded innovative concepts for spacesuit testing and in-situ building materials use for habitat construction.

“These two challenges offered the opportunity to think about two basic needs of exploration – protective suits and building materials – in a new way,” said Steve Rader, deputy manager of NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI). “Our journey to Mars will require innovations in design and technology; opening our process up to the public gives us more creative paths to follow.”

The Space Suit Textile Testing Challenge offered three prizes of $5,000 for winning ideas on how to test the outer protective layer of spacesuit material for performance in different kinds of planetary environments, such as like Mars or large asteroids.

Winners for the Space Suit Textile Testing Challenge are:

  • Evaluating Space Suit Textile Abrasion in Planetary Environments — Ahilan Anantha Krishnan
  • Cylindrical Abrasion Method — Himel Barua, Thomas L. Collins, Riniah Foor, Evan Hess, Joey Stavale, Christopher Daniels, Heather Oravec, Janice Mather and M.J. Braun
  • Point-of-Failure Based System Using High Velocity Abrasives — John Holler

The In-Situ Challenge sought solutions using surface materials like regolith — crushed basalt rock — for Earth and space fabrication and construction applications and offered a first-place prize of $10,000 and two second-place prizes of $2,500 for top submissions.

Using native materials for construction is tremendously beneficial for space exploration because in-situ regolith utilization (ISRU) reduces the need for materials to be shipped from Earth, along with the expense and resources this requires. ISRU could potentially save the agency more than $100,000 per kilogram to launch, making space pioneering more cost-effective and feasible.

The winners for the In Situ Challenge are:

  • 1st place: Planetary Fabrication of Complex Metallic/Ceramic Objects with In-Situ Resources — Behrokh Khoshnevis
  • 2nd place: Cold Spray Technology Applied to Building and Repair — David Espinosa and David Orlebeke
  • 2nd place: Simultaneous Exhaust-Enabled Ore Reduction, Separation and Processing — Patrick Donovan

“We are proud to have connected NASA with innovators that have immediately viable technical solutions in a variety of disciplines to accelerate NASA’s goals,” said NineSigma CEO, Andy Zynga. We are also pleased to have created opportunities for winners of these challenges to collaborate with NASA in shaping the future of space exploration.”

CoECI was established with support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to assist NASA and other federal agencies in using new tools – such as challenges – to solve tough, mission-critical problems. The center launches challenges under the umbrella of the NASA Tournament Lab and offers a variety of open innovation platforms that engage the crowdsourcing community in challenges to create the most innovative, efficient and optimal solutions for specific, real-world challenges.

For more information on NASA challenges, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/solve

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NASA news releases are written and distributed by NASA and reprinted here by USA in Space to allow easy access to the content and to provide an archive of the information.

NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

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16-026March 09, 2016
RELEASE 16-026
NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

 

NASA has set a new launch opportunity, beginning May 5, 2018, for the InSight mission to Mars. This artist’s concept depicts the InSight lander on Mars after the lander’s robotic arm has deployed a seismometer and a heat probe directly onto the ground. InSight is the first mission dedicated to investigating the deep interior of Mars. The findings will advance understanding of how all rocky planets, including Earth, formed and evolved.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to study the deep interior of Mars is targeting a new launch window that begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.

InSight’s primary goal is to help us understand how rocky planets – including Earth – formed and evolved. The spacecraft had been on track to launch this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted NASA in December to suspend preparations for launch.

InSight project managers recently briefed officials at NASA and France’s space agency, Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), on a path forward; the proposed plan to redesign the science instrument was accepted in support of a 2018 launch.

“The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plans to overcome the technical challenges are sound,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We’re excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will redesign, build and conduct qualifications of the new vacuum enclosure for the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the component that failed in December. CNES will lead instrument level integration and test activities, allowing the InSight Project to take advantage of each organization’s proven strengths. The two agencies have worked closely together to establish a project schedule that accommodates these plans, and scheduled interim reviews over the next six months to assess technical progress and continued feasibility.

The cost of the two-year delay is being assessed. An estimate is expected in August, once arrangements with the launch vehicle provider have been made.

The seismometer instrument’s main sensors need to operate within a vacuum chamber to provide the exquisite sensitivity needed for measuring ground movements as small as half the radius of a hydrogen atom. The rework of the seismometer’s vacuum container will result in a finished, thoroughly tested instrument in 2017 that will maintain a high degree of vacuum around the sensors through rigors of launch, landing, deployment and a two-year prime mission on the surface of Mars.

The InSight mission draws upon a strong international partnership led by Principal Investigator Bruce Banerdt of JPL. The lander’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package is provided by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This probe will hammer itself to a depth of about 16 feet (five meters) into the ground beside the lander.

SEIS was built with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, with support from the Swiss Space Office and the European Space Agency PRODEX program; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, supported by DLR; Imperial College, supported by the United Kingdom Space Agency; and JPL.

“The shared and renewed commitment to this mission continues our collaboration to find clues in the heart of Mars about the early evolution of our solar system,” said Marc Pircher, director of CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre.

The mission’s international science team includes researchers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

JPL manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The InSight spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver. It was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in December 2015 in preparation for launch, and returned to Lockheed Martin’s Colorado facility last month for storage until spacecraft preparations resume in 2017.

NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet, and that work remains on track. Robotic spacecraft are leading the way for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover being designed and built, the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers exploring the Martian surface, the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft currently orbiting the planet, along with the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) orbiter, which is helping scientists understand what happened to the Martian atmosphere.

NASA and CNES also are participating in ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) Mars Express mission currently operating at Mars. NASA is participating on ESA’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing telecommunication radios for ESA’s 2016 orbiter and a critical element of a key astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.

For addition information about the mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/insight

More information about NASA’s journey to Mars is available online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars

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NASA news releases are written and distributed by NASA and reprinted here by USA in Space to allow easy access to the content and to provide an archive of the information.