Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 15th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Lengthy Mars mission simulation set to get underway Thursday in Hawaii. NASA’s asteroid bound Osiris-Rex mission takes long distance image of the Earth and moon. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center prepares for a brisk 2018 launch pace.

Human Space Exploration

Sixth UH Mars simulation begins

Hawaii Herald Tribune (2/15): An international team of four will begin an eight month Mars surface mission simulation at test facilities on Mauna Loa in Hawaii. The HI-SEAS deep space simulation includes a 20 minute communications delay as though the participants were on Mars and their control team on Earth. They must don space suits for any activities outside their simulation habitat.

Orion supplier awarded 2017 NASA Johnson Small Business Subcontractor of the Year

Markets Insider (2/14): San Diego Composites, a subcontractor to NASA Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin, has been selected as 2017 Small Business Subcontractor of the Year by NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The composite supplier provides critical components for the Orion capsule’s Launch Abort System. Orion is to house astronauts as they launch and land during missions of human deep space exploration.


Space Science

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx captures new Earth-moon image

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2/14): Launched in September 2016, NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission is well on its way to the asteroid Bennu, where it is to become the first U.S. mission to gather a sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth. On January 17, Osiris Rex turned its camera optics towards Earth from a distance of 39 1/2 million miles. The spacecraft is to begin a lengthy close-up reconnaissance of Bennu in October. The samples are to make their way back to Earth in September 2023.

Did crystals from ancient lakes on Mars form these tiny, weird things? (2/14): NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, now more than five years on the red planet, has found new evidence in the soil suggesting that liquid water once flowed on a cold, dry, desert like red planet. The small dark features resemble those that form around crystals of the mineral gypsum on Earth and found at lakes in the processing of drying up.

NASA is thinking about sending a submarine into space

USA Today (2/13): NASA’s long running Cassini mission to Saturn, which ended last year, offered new evidence that the ringed planet’s moon Titan hosts seas of liquid methane and ethane. NASA scientists and engineers are developing concepts for a robotic submarine that might one day return to the Saturn system to explore their depths for evidence of habitable environments.

NASA gears up for brisk launch pace, starting with weather satellite (2/14):  Science, Earth, Planetary and Solar mission themes dominate a demanding sequence of launches this year, each managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center.


Other News

NOAA budget proposal restores schedule for future JPSS satellites

Space News (2/14): The Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal restores schedules for two advanced weather satellite programs, the GOES-R series of geostationary spacecraft and the JPSS polar orbiters, despite spending reductions. The strategy also supports plans for NOAA to evaluate the purchase of commercially gathered satellite data for timely forecasting.

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