The spacecraft NASA deliberately crashed into an asteroid last month succeeded in nudging the rocky moonlet from its natural path into a faster orbit, marking the first time humanity has altered the motion of a celestial body, the U.S. space agency announced on Tuesday.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter will attempt to take flight on the Red Planet early Monday morning, and you’ll be able to watch live as the NASA team tracks this historic test from mission control.
Should the four legs of this tiny 4-pound (1.8 kg) helicopter leave the Martian surface, it will become the first time that NASA—or any other space agency—has successfully attained powered controlled flight on an alien planet. Success would introduce an entirely new dimension to exploring the Red Planet.
You can watch the live stream below starting at around 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT) on Monday April 12. NASA hasn’t said yet when images or even video of the flight attempt will be available, but we’re hoping for later on Monday.
NASA has delayed the launch of its first-ever planetary defense mission aimed at deflecting potentially hazardous asteroids from colliding with Earth.
The mission, called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will send a spacecraft to test crash into the near-Earth binary asteroid system called Didymos, in 2022. NASA announced Feb. 17 that this year’s primary launch window of July 21 to Aug. 24 is no longer an option. Instead, the space agency is targeting a backup window that opens Nov. 24 and runs to Feb. 15, 2022, according to a statement from NASA.
The decision to postpone the launch was made by NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) senior leadership following a risk assessment of the DART project schedule. Delaying the launch of the mission will not affect the spacecraft’s arrival at its target, which is slated for October 2022, NASA officials said.
NASA fired up the core stage of its massive new rocket — the Space Launch System (SLS) — on Saturday (Jan. 16) in a critical test that ended prematurely when the booster’s engines shut down earlier than planned.
Smoke and flames billowed from the four RS-25 engines that power the behemoth rocket’s core booster, a centerpiece of NASA’s Artemis moon program, as it roared to life atop a test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Ignition occurred at 5:27 EST (2227 GMT), with 700,000 gallons (2.6 million liters) of cryogenic fuel flowing through the engines as they roared for just over 1 minute, much shorter than planned.
The test was supposed to run for 485 seconds (or just over 8 minutes), which is the amount of time the engines will burn during flight. Following engine ignition, the four RS-25 engines fired for just over 60 seconds, NASA said.
“Not everything went according to script today,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said late Saturday after the test. “But we got a lot of great data, a lot of great information.”
The SLS core booster will help launch NASA’s Artemis 1 mission to the moon.
Europe will provide a habitat module and a refueling module for the Gateway outpost.
NASA’s moon-orbiting space station just got a new high-profile partner.
The European Space Agency (ESA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Tuesday (Oct. 27) formalizing its collaboration on Gateway, a planned outpost in lunar orbit that NASA sees as key to its Artemis program of crewed moon exploration.
Under this new agreement, ESA will provide Gateway with a habitation module and a refueling module, both of which the European agency will operate once the hardware is up and running. ESA contributions will also include two additional service modules for NASA’s Orion capsule, the spacecraft that will launch Artemis astronauts from Earth atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rockets.
NASA announced it has discovered water on the sunlit surface of the moon.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”
Casey Honniball, lead author of the other study, said there are between 100 and 400 parts per million of water, or “roughly the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of lunar soil.”
The study led by Honniball found the presence of water directly on the surface, while Hayne’s study speculated that water may be trapped in “small spatial scales” all over the surface of the moon.
The asteroid is in a horrible orbit and has a 1% chance of striking Earth in just eight years. And — thank goodness — it doesn’t really exist.
It’s a fictitious asteroid that’s the focus of a realistic exercise devised for scientists and engineers from around the world who are attending the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference being held this week outside Washington, D.C.
A real asteroid of this size, should it ever hit the planet, could wipe out an entire city.
“This is a threat that could happen, even though it’s extremely unlikely,” says Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who created this realistic simulation. “Our goal here is to go through all of the steps that we would have to go through.”
He says a lot has been learned from three previous drills held at past international conferences and from other asteroid exercises that have been separately conducted by officials at NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Astronomers tend to be patient people. When it comes to stars, much of what they examine happened millions of years ago, and when it comes to space probes, even pre-launch prep can take a decade or more.
But they are getting impatient about launching an infrared space telescope called NEOCam. It has a very specific mission: Spotting near-Earth objects—astronomical bodies, most commonly asteroids, whose orbits around the sun could pass close to Earth and potentially collide with our planet, some of which could damage or destroy civilization itself.
It’s not speculative; a major meteoric impact is inevitable, and we need to keep a better eye on the solar system.