Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 19th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Perseverance rover reached Mars on Thursday, opening a new door for Red Planet exploration. A cargo mission is set to launch to the International Space Station on Saturday.


Human Space Exploration

Starliner test flight slips to early April
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance (2/18): The Starliner’s spacecraft Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 launch, previously scheduled for March 25, is now targeted for no earlier than April 2. The delay will allow time to replace hardware damaged during processing of the spacecraft. 


Space Science

NASA’s Perseverance rover makes successful Mars landing to renew search for extinct life (2/18): NASA’s Perseverance rover joins a legacy of NASA Mars missions that have revolutionized the Earth’s understanding of its Red Planet neighbor. Nothing less is expected from the new rover as it collects surface samples from Jezero Crater for eventual return to Earth. In addition, Perseverance’s early activities include moving to a site for test flights of the small drone-like helicopter called Ingenuity that the rover brought along to Mars.

White House, Congress praise NASA’s Mars Perseverance landing (2/18): President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and key members of Congress involved in authorization and appropriations of NASA were among those praising the agency on Thursday following the landing of the Perseverance rover. “Congratulations to NASA and everyone whose hard work made Perseverance’s historic landing possible,” said Biden via Twitter. Data from NASA’s Perseverance rover that it had successfully landed at Jezero Crater was received on Thursday at 3:55 p.m. EST, as expected. If you missed the action, offers a small collection of video recordings that capture the responses of those most closely involved.

Report calls for revamped cost-conscious vision for Mars exploration (2/18): With NASA’s Perseverance rover now on Mars, the science community is ready to press ahead with efforts to solve the mysteries of the Red Planet’s past. Perseverance will gather samples of surface materials for return to Earth to address the issue of whether Mars once hosted some form of life. A report from NASA’s Mars Architecture Strategy Working Group (MASWG) urges that efforts to investigate the diversity of early Martian environments, ice deposits, and climate variability not be overlooked by the rover’s other science goals.


Other News

NG-15 Cygnus set to send new experiments to the Space Station
Coalition Members in the News – Nanoracks, Northrop Grumman (2/18): Northrop Grumman’s 15th NASA-contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled to launch from the Wallops Island Flight Facility on Saturday at 12:36 p.m. EST. The Cygnus spacecraft will deliver 8,200 pounds of cargo that includes a radiation monitor to be evaluated for future Artemis astronaut missions, and technologies for cultivating artificial retinas for transplant in humans. The 15th Cygnus spacecraft is named for African American mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped to make possible NASA’s early human spaceflight missions.

Before and After: Satellite captures Texas power outage from space (2/18): Images from above the Earth show the effect of power outages across Texas this week. The satellite images show bright city lights across the state before the storm, and the significantly dimmer image during the storm and outages on February 16, 2021.

USSPACECOM to sign MOA with NASA including cooperation on planetary defense (2/18): NASA and U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) plan to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) within the next few months focusing on protecting Earth from asteroids and comets. Lt. Gen. John Shaw, Deputy Commander of USSPACECOM said this MOA would be more operationally focused than the agreement NASA signed with the Space Force, which is more about capabilities.

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