A human-made object has reached the space between the stars for the second time only in history. NASA’s Voyager 2 has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun. Its twin, Voyager 1, crossed this boundary in 2012, but Voyager 2 has a working instrument that will provide first-of-its-kind observations of the nature of this gateway into interstellar space, which means its slightly more than 11 billion miles from Earth. Mission operators still can communicate with Voyager 2 as it enters this new phase of its journey, but the information it transmits – moving at the speed of light – takes about 16.5 hours to travel back to Earth – light traveling from the Sun takes eight minutes to reach our planet. Read more for another video and additional information.
NASA has just released a new audio file, captured by the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport InSight lander, which touched down on Mars just 10 days ago, of the first ever “sounds” of Martian winds on the Red Planet. The lander’s sensors captured a haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind, which were estimated to being between 10 to 15 mph on December 1st, from northwest to southeast, consistent with the direction of dust devil streaks in the landing area. Read more for another video and additional information.
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), a 3D-printed, AI robot created to help astronauts, has made its debut aboard the International Space Station. Featuring a cartoon-like face that interacts with astronauts, with the first being German Alexander Gerst, whom he will help conduct experiments. The 11-pound robot was developed by Airbus and IBM, the latter who, created the Watson AI. To start, it will work with Gerst three times on three different tasks – an experiment with crystals, working together to solve a Rubik’s cube and perform a complex medical experiment – totaling around three hours of work. Read more for another video and additional information.
Photo credit: DM
NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered a mysterious shiny rock, officially named “Little Colonsay,” which could be gold, or more than likely, just a meteorite. The team will use its MastCam system to get better images, since it provides multiple spectra and true-color imaging with two cameras. The cameras can take true-color images at 1600×1200 pixels and up to 10 frames per second hardware-compressed video at 720p (1280×720). “One of the samples that we try to get a better look at is ‘Little Colonsay’. The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny. But looks can deceive, and proof will only come from the chemistry. Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again,” said NASA. Read more for the full-photo and a bonus video.
NASA’s latest spacecraft, the InSight Lander, is comfortably settling into life on Mars by recharging its batteries and taking stunning photos. This robotic mining device will eventually dig into the surface of the red planet, and to begin the process, it opened its solar panels on schedule Monday night. It’s scheduled to begin operations on the Martian surface and start deploying instruments over the next few days, while its mechanical arm continues to take pictures of the surface so JPL engineers can use to decide where to place the instruments. Read more for another video and additional information.
NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), a mechanical three-legged, one-armed mining spacecraft, successfully landed on Mars Monday afternoon, finishing one journey It will be the first mission to drill deeper into Mars as well as investigate if there are “Marsquakes.” The lander will open its solar panels after it waits for dust to literally clear approximately 4-hours after touching down. Read more for a live stream and additional information.
NASA’s Mars InSight lander launced from Vandenberg Air Force Base back in May, and is scheduled to land just north of the Martian equator around 3 p.m. EST on Nov. 26. While Insight won’t be able to move about on Mars like the Curiosity Rover, it will be using a suite of instruments and a seven-foot-long robotic arm to drill up to 16-feet below the surface at its landing site, Elysium Planitia. Its ultimate goal is to compare the interior of Mars to that of Earth so researchers can better understand how these rocky worlds formed billions of years ago. Read more for another mission overview video and additional information.
NASA and Lockheed Martin’s X-59 QueSST aims to revolutionize supersonic flight by making it quieter. This aircraft will be able to fly from London to New York in just three hours, and NASA is currently testing the technology over the Texas Gulf Coast in hopes that the ‘sonic thump’ will be ‘no louder than a car door closing.’ During the test, two FA-18 fighter jets climbed to 55,000 feet and then dived to replicate the ‘sonic thump’. Read more for two additional videos and information.
NASA recently tested their all-new Ignition Overpressure Protection and Sound Suppression Water Deluge System at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39B for its new Space Launch System (SLS). This test created a giant 2-million liter (450,000 gallon) water fountain in just over a minute. “When the mobile launcher is sitting on its pad surface mount mechanisms, the rest of the Ignition Over-Pressure/Sound Suppression System is connected to the pad supply headers and the water will flow through supply piping and exit through the nozzles…[as the water subsides], it flows into the flame trench and onto the east pad surface before finding its way to the east and west holding ponds through channels, called water flumes, or off the pad surface through the water drains and trenches,” said Nick Moss, NASA’s pad deputy project manager. Read more for another video on the SLS and additional information.
Photo credit: Peta Pixel
Nikon’s D5 is no entry level camera by any means, but just how much does it cost to ship to the International Space Station? The number might astound you. For starters, it costs $10,000 per pound when transporting things to the ISS, and the camera (3.11-pounds), along with a $500 Nikon 1.4x teleconverter (0.4-pounds) and $16,300 Nikon 800mm f/5.6E lens (10.10-pounds) totals $23,300, at 13.61-pounds. At the very low end, it costs NASA $136,100 to ship this camera kit without any packaging or accessories. Read more for another video and additional information.