Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft makes key maneuver

Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft makes key maneuver | Fox News: " A Jupiter-bound spacecraft successfully fired its engine Thursday in the first of two crucial maneuvers intended to bring it toward Earth for a momentum-gathering fly-by.

NASA officials said the Juno spacecraft, which is about 300 million miles from earth, fired its main engine for just short of 30 minutes.

Along with another engine firing set for next week, the maneuver is intended to direct Juno toward Earth's orbit for a 2013 fly-by, where it will use the planet's gravity to accelerate toward the outer solar system.

Launched last year, Juno is zooming toward an encounter with the giant gas planet in 2016."

Atlas V lifts NASA radiation belt probes to orbit

Pat Corkery / ULA
Atlas V lifts NASA radiation belt probes to orbit | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com: " A two-year mission to study Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts is under way after a successful launch this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Twin NASA probes were deployed about 80 minutes and 90 minutes after their 4:05 a.m. blastoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, prompting cheers from the launch team.

"I’m very happy to report we have two healthy spacecraft on orbit," Rick Fitzgerald, mission project manager from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a post-launch press conference."

NASA Mars Curiosity rover starts rolling to Glenelg Intrigue - latimes.com

NASA Mars Curiosity rover starts rolling to Glenelg Intrigue - latimes.com: "NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is on the move toward a key point of interest -- a spot about a quarter-mile southeast of its landing site that may become the rover’s first drill target.

That spot, called Glenelg Intrigue, lies at the confluence of three different types of terrain -- and scientists working on the Mars Science Laboratory mission plan to use Curiosity to investigate what sort of geological history brings such different types of rocky material together.

One of the three types, which looks to be layered bedrock, is likely to be a potential target for the rover's drill, a tool that can bore into rock in order to take samples and analyze them in the robot's chemical belly.

The rover set out Tuesday, covering 52 feet eastward. The trip to Glenelg would be the rover’s first extended driving journey: previous rover drives lasted a matter of several feet."

SpaceX to Launch Station Resupply Mission in October

NASA: SpaceX Missions to Space Station to Resume in October - US News and World Report: "NASA announced late last week that SpaceX, the private company that became the first non-governmental entity to fly to the International Space Station, will launch the first of its 12 planned resupply missions in October.

The announcement means NASA is comfortable with SpaceX using its Dragon vehicle for unmanned missions to the station. The agency said SpaceX's progress represents "progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years.""

NASA gets set for yearlong stays in orbit

NASA gets set for yearlong stays in orbit - Technology & science - Space - NBCNews.com: "NASA will shortly announce plans to double the mission duration of some astronaut expeditions to the International Space Station, NBC News has learned. Beginning as early as 2015, some of the astronauts and cosmonauts sent into orbit will remain there not the usual six months, but for a full year.
In Houston last week, NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries acknowledged that the project was under study but said it was still only a proposal. "All we can say is that we are exploring possibilities," he said in an Aug. 21 email. "There have been no formal decisions made, and it is premature to speculate what the outcome might be."
But sources familiar with NASA's plans say the preparations for such a mission are much more advanced than this description suggests. Specific mission dates and crew candidates are already being assessed. The sources discussed the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not yet due to be announced publicly."

Satellites Track Isaac as it Approaches Gulf Coast

National Hurricane Center Website

Tropical Storm, Hurricane Isaac Satellite Tracking } 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season News & Updates | LiveScience: "While Gulf Coast residents have been warily watching the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac, NASA satellites have been tracking the storm's path and development from above. The latest satellite data show that Isaac is consolidating, a mark of a strengthening storm.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard NASA's Aqua satellite acts like an "infrared eye" for storm watchers providing temperature data on Isaac's clouds and the ocean waters around the storm. Cloud temperatures can indicate whether a storm is strengthening or weakening, and knowing the temperature of the surrounding oceans helps forecasters know whether the storm is moving into an environment that will fuel it farther."

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012

Armstrong on the surface of the moon: NASA 
NASA - Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012: "Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, has died, following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.

Armstrong's words "That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," spoken on July 20, 1969, as he became the first person ever to step onto another planetary body, instantly became a part of history.

Those few words from the Sea of Tranquillity were the climactic fulfillment of the efforts and hopes of millions of people and the expenditure of billions of dollars. A plaque on one of the lander's legs that concluded "We came in peace for all mankind," further emphasized that Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin were there as representatives of all humans.

Armstrong is survived by his wife, two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

"Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time," President Barack Obama said via Twitter. "Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step.""

Mars Curiosity rover first drive

Mars Curiosity rover first drive; Ray Bradbury landing - latimes.com: "After two weeks of taking stock of its surroundings, the Mars Curiosity rover has taken its first "baby steps" and sent back images of its first tracks, NASA officials said Wednesday.

Engineers sent the commands Tuesday night for this first drive, which took about 16 minutes -- mostly spent taking pictures, said lead rover driver Matt Heverly. During the test, the rover moved forward about 4½ meters, turned 120 degrees in place and then backed up 2½ meters -- ending up about 6 meters, or roughly 20 feet, from its landing spot. As it moved forward, its boxy head turned from side to side, taking shots of its wheels in the process."

New NASA Mission to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars

InSight Lander - NASA
NASA - New NASA Mission to Take First Look Deep Inside Mars: " NASA has selected a new mission, set to launch in 2016, that will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars to see why the Red Planet evolved so differently from Earth as one of our solar system's rocky planets.

The new mission, named InSight, will place instruments on the Martian surface to investigate whether the core of Mars is solid or liquid like Earth's and why Mars' crust is not divided into tectonic plates that drift like Earth's. Detailed knowledge of the interior of Mars in comparison to Earth will help scientists understand better how terrestrial planets form and evolve.

"The exploration of Mars is a top priority for NASA, and the selection of InSight ensures we will continue to unlock the mysteries of the Red Planet and lay the groundwork for a future human mission there," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The recent successful landing of the Curiosity rover has galvanized public interest in space exploration and today's announcement makes clear there are more exciting Mars missions to come." "

Mars Curiosity Rover Fires Laser, Zaps Rock (Pew, Pew!)

Mars Curiosity Rover Fires Laser, Zaps Rock (Pew, Pew!): "After getting its bearings on the Red Planet over the past two weeks, the Mars Curiosity rover on Sunday provided fans with a little action courtesy of its very own laser.
Over the weekend, the rover fired its laser for the first time on Mars in order to blast a fist-sized rock known as "Coronation." Curiosity used is Chemistry and Camera instrument, dubbed ChemCam, to hit Coronation with 30 laser pulses in a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than 1 million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab."

How NASA is guiding Mars rover Curiosity to move

Business Line : News / Science : How NASA is guiding Mars rover Curiosity to move:

The landing of Curiosity on Mars and breathtaking pictures it is beaming back to the earth is fascinating. We all heard that a NASA team is remotely controlling the car-sized rover as it moves ahead on the Red Planet. The time lag is 14 minutes to get a signal from the rover that is 35.2 crore miles away.

But what if the rover faces a ditch or a rough patch? It is wise enough to send a signal back home, but it will take 14 minutes for it to reach the NASA team. It will take some more time for them to analyse the issue and send directions. It could be too late for the rover.

The NASA team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which controls the rover, has taken a cue from video gamers to plot a path for the rover. On average, the team tests a 40-metre path to test and then guide the rover to a safe drive.

The team is using 3D Vision glasses developed by the chipmaker NVIDIA to see Mars in 3D and plan the rover path in a game-like environment virtually. The team devised a plan to address the challenge."