Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 31st, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has started to deploy the Ingenuity helicopter ahead of the first-ever attempt at a powered flight on another world. New signs of bipartisan support for space policy emerge.


Human Space Exploration

NASA analyzes navigation needs of Artemis Moon missions
GPS World (3/29): NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is leading efforts to develop the navigational technologies that will be needed by the agency and its partners as they work to establish a sustained human presence at the Moon over the 2020s. NASA will use upcoming Artemis missions to test proven capabilities, as well as to try novel technologies.


Space Science

Perseverance rover begins steps to deploy Mars helicopter (3/30): In a slow, step-by-step deployment that is projected to take around six days, the Ingenuity helicopter is detaching from the Perseverance rover. The aircraft could make the first powered flight on another world as soon as next week in an experiment that could allow aerial scouts in future missions to reach locations beyond the range covered by ground-based vehicles. As of today, all of Ingenuity’s four landing legs have been deployed from Perseverance.

The ‘USS Jellyfish’ emits strange radio waves from a distant galaxy cluster
Science News (3/26): Australian scientists are attempting to unravel a curious set of radio emissions from a galactic cluster 340 million light years away that resemble a mega jellyfish. The galaxy’s unusual shape and radio spectrum tell a tale of intergalactic gas washing over galaxies and gently revving up electrons spewed out by gargantuan black holes long ago. The findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal.


Other News

White House space is one area where Biden and Trump agree (3/30): In a sign of bipartisan support for space, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the Biden and Trump administrations share common ground on national space policy, including future human deep space exploration, a Space Force, and most recently the continuation of the National Space Council. Support of space by the Biden Administration should become clearer as the White House issues its FY2022 budget request for NASA and other agencies, reportedly set to be released this week.

Space Industry relieved to see the National Space Council retained
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration and Acting CEO Andrew Allen in the News (3/30): The Biden Administration’s decision to keep the National Space Council has won approval from the space industry. The action is seen as the latest sign that the White House is contemplating continuation in the space policy realm. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (CDSE) issued a statement yesterday supporting the decision. “A whole-of-government approach through a body such as the Space Council, with clear objectives stemming from the White House and informed by the broader community, will provide the necessary forum to ensure the continued coordination of space policy,” said Andrew Allen, CDSE’s Acting President and CEO.

SpaceX crashes another Starship prototype (3/30): SpaceX’s latest Starship test flight from south Texas went awry early Tuesday. After rising to an altitude of about six miles and maneuvering as though it was preparing to land, the SN11 prototype descended and broke apart before it could touch down, possibly due to an issue with one of the rocket engines. It was the fourth loss of a Starship test vehicle since early December.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir talk about 2024 voyage to the Moon
ABC News (3/30): It was two ago years ago that Koch and Meir joined outside the International Space Station (ISS) for the first all-female spacewalk. In December, the two veteran astronauts were among 18 named by NASA to train for future missions to the Moon. Koch and Meir discuss the benefits to science, education, a future economy, and the exploration of Mars.

China launches second Gaofen-12 Earth observation satellite (3/31): China launched a high resolution Earth observation satellite late Tuesday, one that may be for military as well as civilian use.

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