NASA has some good news from Mars two weeks before its newest rover is set to land on the planet — they'll be able to listen to the landing after all. The aging Odyssey orbiter is now properly in place and will relay landing data immediately, as originally planned.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently released the much-watched "Seven Minutes of Terror" video, which describes the harrowing descent to the Red Planet that the Mars rover Curiosity will undergo on August 5. Now, from the same lab, comes a look at the chemical tools Curiosity will use to search for signs that Mars could have once sustained life.
Like an athlete performing his final pre-Olympic drills, the Mars rover Curiosity is flexing its landing systems, preparing for its nail-biting landing on Mars in just two and a half weeks. Today, the IMUs are being configured.
Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut, died today in La Jolla, Calif., after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ride was a doctoral candidate in physics at Stanford University in 1977 when she answered an ad placed by NASA seeking astronauts. She flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983, becoming not only America's first woman in space, but at 32 years of age, also the youngest American to have traveled in space at that time. She left NASA in 1987, spending much of her time thereafter encouraging students--especially young women--to pursue careers in science and engineering. She was 61.
NASA’s inflatable heat shield took another big step forward early this morning when its Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) came screaming through the atmosphere and splashed down in the Atlantic after spending 15 minutes undergoing the intense heat and pressure of atmospheric reentry. Launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the IRVE-3 mission further demonstrated that an inflatable heat shield can protect a space capsule as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds.
All eyes will be on the new Mars rover Curiosity when it lands in just over two weeks, but lest we forget, NASA’s indefatigable Mars rover Opportunity is still rolling along, too. The rover has driven about 22 miles, which prompted some Olympic-minded NASA people to realize the rover is nearing marathon distance. It will be the first interplanetary marathon.
Scott Maxwell stared at his bedroom ceiling in the hours after his first drive, restless with excitement. All systems were go, and he'd sent the commands by the time he left the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Now he was supposed to sleep before his next shift on Mars time. But he knew that on the fourth planet from the sun, the Spirit rover's wheels had started to move.
"I was thinking that at that moment, there is a robot on another planet, doing what I told it to do. I could not imagine going to sleep," Maxwell recalls. "It just blew my mind. And I still think it's amazing that what I do with my day job is reach out my hand across 100 million miles across of empty space, and move something on another planet."
While NASA waits with bated breath for the Curiosity rover’s arrival on the Martian surface, engineers at NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are already at work testing a new lunar rover designed to seek out water and other natural resources closer to home. The rover payload, known as the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction (RESOLVE), is designed to spend nine days prospecting for water resources on the moon sometime in the future.
NASA will lose the signal from its brand-new Mars rover one minute before it touches down on the Red Planet in three weeks, project managers say. This won’t affect the rover’s autonomous airdrop descent, but it could make for some harrowing moments as engineers wait for the long-distance beep signifying Curiosity is safely home.
NASA's newest Mars rover, Curiosity, is just a few weeks away from its nail-biting landing, soaring to the surface and dropping via hovercrane. A new Kinect-based game unveiled today lets you land it yourself, using your own movement to maneuver Curiosity through the landing called "seven minutes of terror."