Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 18th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra…  Today, the Perseverance rover will attempt the most precise Mars landing ever, scheduled for 3:55 p.m. EST. NASA coverage starts at 2:15 p.m. EST.


Human Space Exploration

NASA media telecon regarding upcoming second SLS Hot Fire test, February 19, 2021, virtual 9:00 am ET
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing (2/18): NASA is looking to February 25 for a second attempt at the Hot Fire of the first Space Launch System (SLS) core stage, the last step in the rocket’s Green Run test series. The date will be confirmed after a test readiness review this week. NASA plans a news briefing on Friday at 9:00 a.m. EST to discuss the re-test. It will stream at

Russia, China to sign agreement on international lunar research station (2/17): An official announcement could come as soon at June, but Russia and China are discussing a cooperative effort to establish an International Lunar Research Base at the Moon, a sign Russia may be parting ways with its International Space Station (ISS) partners. The first phase would be robotic, evolving to possible short term human missions to the lunar south pole in the early 2030s. Longer term human missions are envisioned between 2036 and 2045.


Space Science

NASA ready for its newest rover to land on Mars
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (2/18): After a seven-month journey from Earth, it’s time for NASA’s Perseverance rover to attempt a daring landing at Jezero Crater on Mars, where the rover will look for signs of ancient life. Perseverance will plunge into the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour, fend off heat from the friction of the atmosphere, deploy a parachute while streaking at supersonic speed, and activate a propulsive “sky crane” to hover over the landing site and lower the car-sized rover to the surface by cable. Signals confirming success or indicating failure should reach NASA at 3:55 p.m. EST. Coverage of the landing starts at 2:15 p.m. EST:

How a fleet of spacecraft will watch NASA’s Perseverance rover land on Mars
Coalition Member in the News – L3Harris (2/14): Four spacecraft orbiting Mars will be monitoring the Entry, Descent and Landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover Thursday afternoon. They include NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and MAVEN orbiter as well as the Russian Exo Mars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express. MRO will act as a data relay. MAVEN will track the descent to supply post landing data. The TGO will attempt to image Perseverance once the rover is on the Martian surface.

The largest crater on the Moon reveals secrets about its early history (2/17): The Moon’s South Pole Aitken Basin is a large impact site that formed an estimated 4.3 billion years ago, or early in the history of the solar system. A team of experts led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center believes the 1,200-mile-wide Aitkin Basin deserves detailed study to better determine when and how the Moon formed and the differences between its near and far sides. The findings are published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.



How Mars became the prize for a new space race and why China is hellbent on winning it via the Conversation (2/17): The cosmos along with cyberspace has become China’s choice to establish national security and economic dominance, according to an assessment from Steffi Paladini of the Birmingham City University, whose focus is economics and global security.


Other News

NASA delays launch of planetary defense mission (2/17): NASA is pushing back plans for the launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, a planetary defense demonstration, from the initial launch window of July 21 to August 24, to a backup window that opens November 24 and extends to February 15, 2022. The change is linked to further work required to prepare the mission camera and delays in delivery of the solar arrays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Krispy Kreme’s limited-edition Mars doughnut to celebrate NASA’s February 18 rover landing
New York Daily News (2/16): Krispy Kreme will offer a Mars Doughnut on Thursday to mark the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing. The chocolate caramel pastry sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs is designed to resemble the appearance of the Red Planet.

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