March 6th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Key instruments on InSight are stuck and a Martian rock may be to blame. International Space Station (ISS) astronauts assemble tools for Robotic Refueling demo.

Space Science

Key instrument on NASA’s InSight lander is stuck. A Martian rock may be to blame

Los Angeles Times (3/5): A subsurface heat probe that is part of NASA’s Mars InSight lander seems to have struck an underground obstacle, likely a rock, as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package began to tap itself to a hoped for depth of sixteen feet last week.

The hammering has stopped, while the science team assesses the issue. InSight landed on Mars in late November to carry out the first ever studies of the Martian crust, mantle and core.

Zurbuchen cancels Europa Clipper instrument due to cost overruns (3/5): Zubruchen leads NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. A decision to stop work on a magnetometer for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission spacecraft and look for a science instrument replacement was based on the rising cost of the Interior Characterization of Europa Using Magnetometry (ICEMAG) instrument. Europa, an ice and ocean covered moon of Jupiter made famous in the science fiction film classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, appears eruptive and may host habitable environments. The costly Europa Clipper mission is launch in the 2020s to carry out successive flybys of Europa to further characterize its environment.

Kepler Space Telescope’s first exoplanet candidate confirmed, ten years after launch (3/5): Thursday will mark a decade since the launch of NASA’s very productive Kepler Space Telescope, an extra solar planet hunter. As its mission ended late last year, the first of its distant planet discoveries, Kepler 1658b, had yet to be confirmed. Recently, scientists finished the confirmation process, concluding 1658b is actually a hot Jupiter-like planet. In all, Kepler is credited with more than 2,300 confirmed planet discoveries.


Other News 

ISS astronauts assemble tools for Robotic Refueling demo (3/5): In space, spacecraft refueling could be a key technology as human explorers reach out beyond low Earth orbit. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are supporting a tech demonstration, the Robotic Refueling Mission, provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The technology shows promise for extending the lives on Earth orbiting satellites as well. 

Little Earth’ on SpaceX Crew Dragon gives boost to Celestial Buddies (3/4): NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Demo-1 mission now underway at the International Space Station (ISS) with last weekend’s launch and docking of an uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon is providing a commercial boost for Celestial Buddies, makers of the company’s Planetary Pal Earth, a small replica of the Earth launched aboard the spacecraft as a “zero G indicator.”

The cosmic vision of Jeff Bezos (3/5): Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin as well as speaks out on his vision for the future of space exploration and the role that his New Glenn orbital and New Shepard suborbital rockets could play in moving ahead.

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