Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 28th, 2021

Deep Space Extra will not run Monday in observance of Memorial Day. 

We will return on Tuesday, June 1.


In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Ingenuity helicopter weathers a challenging flight on Mars. Congress asks the Government Accountability Office to investigate NASA cybersecurity.


Space Science
Ingenuity perseveres through stressful sixth flight (5/27): May 22 marked the sixth flight of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. During the flight, an error in the small aircraft’s navigation system caused it to twist and turn unexpectedly. Nonetheless, Ingenuity managed to land safely within several feet of its intended landing zone. Delivered by NASA’s Perseverance rover on February 18, Ingenuity will continue the operational phase of a mission to scout out sample collection sites for the rover.

NASA’s MOXIE experiment is making oxygen on Mars
Wired (5/28): MOXIE, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, a device aboard the Perseverance rover, is extracting small amounts of oxygen from the Martian atmosphere (which is 96 percent carbon dioxide) through a process called electrolysis. This weekend, MOXIE will run the oxygen-grabbing process for the third time since the rover landed in February, each time producing enough for a human to breathe for about 10 or 15 minutes. That doesn’t seem like much, but the ultimate goal is to scale MOXIE up into an automated system that will produce breathable oxygen for a human crew and be used for the return flight.

Next New Frontiers mission will retain same set of destinations (5/26): A delay of up to two years in the next New Frontiers planetary science mission competition won’t change its potential destinations. NASA announced May 12 it was delaying the release of a draft announcement of opportunity for the fifth New Frontiers mission from this October to as late as October 2023. The agency said that the costs of missions currently in peak development and COVID-related challenges forced NASA to delay the competition. Next New Frontiers missions include concepts ranging from lunar sample return to missions to Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus.


Other News

State of NASA address by Administrator Nelson, June 2, 2021, dc/virtual, 3:00 pm et (5/27): NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will make his first address to the NASA workforce on June 2 at 3:00 p.m. EDT from the James Webb auditorium at NASA HQ. The “State of NASA” event will feature Nelson and other NASA officials, who will talk about a human return to the Moon through the Artemis program, climate science missions, and more. In recent years, NASA officials have conducted State of NASA events along with the release of the agency’s fiscal year budget request. The budget briefing will instead happen today after the White House’s full FY2022 budget request is released:

Congress asks GAO to investigate NASA cybersecurity (5/28): The bipartisan leadership of the House Science Committee has asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate NASA’s cybersecurity activities amid growing concerns about hacking of government computer systems. In a May 27 letter, the top Democrats and Republicans of the committee requested the GAO investigate the “cybersecurity risks to the sensitive data” associated with major NASA programs. That includes comparing NASA’s activities to leading cybersecurity practices and identifying additional practices the agency should adopt.

Japan will send a transforming robot ball to the Moon to test lunar rover tech (5/27): Japan plans to deploy a baseball-sized rover to explore the Moon’s surface in 2022. The Japanese company ispace will deliver the small rover to the Moon for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) using the HAKUTO-R lander. JAXA will use the rover to snap pictures of the Moon and collect data on lunar dust.

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