NASA’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) and Aerojet Rocketdyne thruster successfully completed its first full-power test. It’s designed to be used by NASA’s Gateway lunar orbital outpost and on manned / unmanned deep-space missions, since the AEPS Hall thruster can run stably at power levels ranging from 4.2 kW to 12.5 kW. This is going to be a key component of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) module of Gateway, drawing 25 kW from the roll-out solar array (ROSA) assembly, which generates up to 60 kW. Read more for two videos and additional information.
If you’re unfamiliar with the transit of Mercury, this phenomenon takes place when the planet Mercury passes directly between the Sun and a superior planet, becoming visible against the solar disk. When this happens, Mercury appears as a tiny black dot moving across the disk of the Sun. The closest planet to the sun began its transit today at 7:35 a.m. EST and will continue its journey for approximately 5.5 hours. Read more for a livestream video and additional information.
NASA’s X-57 Maxwell is essentially an experimental aircraft designed to demonstrate technology to reduce fuel use, emissions, and noise. It’s based on a twin-engined Tecnam P2006T (conventional light aircraft with four-seats), but with distributed electric propulsion (DEP) wings, each containing electrically driven propellers. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Voyager 2 probe that blasted off from Earth on August 20, 1977 has become the second man-made object to exit the Solar System. It has transmitted signals from the edge of our solar system, which according to scientists, mean that it has entered interstellar space. The probe blasted off from Earth 16 days before its twin spacecraft, Voyager 1, but entered the interstellar medium six years later due to its slower trajectory, crossing the outer edge of the Sun’s protective bubble, known as the heliopause, on November 5, 2018. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is still investigating Central Butte, or to be more specific a little further up the side of the butte, and the goal is to characterize the different units that can be observed. The Geology (GEO) theme group planned both contact science and remote imaging science, while the team investigates contacts (i.e. boundaries) between what appear to be different units of bedrock here. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and M. Durbin (University of Washington)
Even though Halloween may be over for 2019, there are still several gems hidden in NASA’s Hubble archives, including this ghostly face that was formed by two galaxies. If you look closely, a pair of glowing eyes glares menacingly can be observed, but what you’re actually looking at is a massive head-on collision between two galaxies. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA captured an image on Oct. 8, 2014 of the active regions on the sun resembling something like a Jack-o’-lantern’s face. This spooky photo was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, which watches the sun at all times from its orbit in space. These active regions in this photograph appear brighter due to them emitting more light and energy than their surrounding areas. Read more for a NASA pumpkin carving contest video and additional information.
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently snapped a new selfie that was stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of its robotic arm. This is also the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment. The rover is currently analyzing the chemical composition of rock samples by powderizing them with the drill, then dropping the samples into a portable lab in its belly called Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM). Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA is sending a golf cart-sized robot to the South Pole of the Moon for an up-close view of the location and concentration of water ice in the region and for the first time ever. It’s called “VIPER” (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) and is set to roam several miles using its four science instruments — including a 1-meter drill — to sample various soil environments, with a delivery to the lunar surface planned for December 2022. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Mars 2020 is just one step closer to being space-ready, complete with a new arm and the ability stand on its own six wheels. It’s been relocated to the Simulator Building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for testing where engineers have removed the first, inner layer of protective, anti-static foil on the rover to prevent contamination on Mars. Next, they wiped down the last layer of foil with 70% isopropyl alcohol to prevent Earth material from contaminating the surface of the Red Planet. On October 8th, the Mars 2020 rover stood on its full weight using six legs and wheels for the first time ever. Read more for a video and additional information.