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Space News,Notes (2020)

Discussion in 'GatorTail Pub' started by gatorjjh, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  2. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  3. vaxcardinal

    vaxcardinal GC Hall of Fame

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  4. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  5. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  6. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  7. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  8. LakeGator

    LakeGator Mostly Harmless Moderator

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    This article describes the achievements of yesterday’s launch, SpaceX Falcon 9 breaks NASA Shuttle reuse record, catches full rocket nosecone. The headline, as seems to be common today, is misleading in that it compares the cycle time of a booster versus an entire space shuttle.
     
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  9. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    as newspapers (and magazines) lay off senior folks, including headline writers the quality has fallen off, more typos more missing sentences and headlines that fit but don't capture the essence of the piece
     
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  10. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    Sentinel
    Mars rover launch
    Ancient life on Red Planet?

    Perseverance leaving Florida with crew hoping to test technology that could pave way for travel to planet
    The Perseverance rover, above, is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral on Thursday between 7:50 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, below. (Photos by Gregg Newton/Getty-AFP)
    By Caroline Glenn
    In early March, when out of thousands of name ideas for NASA’s new Mars rover 13-year-old Alexander Mather’s suggestion of “Perseverance” was chosen, no one foresaw the prescient message it would carry as the coronavirus pandemic capsized American life.
    “We as humans evolved as creatures who can learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh,” Alexander, a seventh-grader from Virginia, read aloud from his winning essay, with no way of knowing that COVID-19 would soon begin to take hold in the United States. “We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation, but as humans will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”
    With that desire at its core, Perseverance will soon be on its way to Mars to look for signs of ancient life and test technology that could one day be used to send astronauts to the Red Planet. The rover, about the size of a car, will collect samples that for the first time will be brought back to Earth by a spacecraft sent to gather them, building upon discoveries of NASA’s past rovers that found Mars could have once supported life.
    Perseverance is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral on Thursday between 7:50 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and is one of three spacecraft launching to Mars this summer. Two others have already launched: the Hope Orbiter from the United Arab Emirates that will observe the planet’s atmosphere and weather, and China’s Tianwen-1 lander and rover.
    The U.S. mission has had to be delayed three times, first to July 20 because of a faulty crane, then to July 22 to address a potential contamination issue and then to Thursday because of a problem with a liquid oxygen sensor line.
    And as the window closes to get the American rover en route, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t let up and many of the agency’s teams have had to work from home to try to prevent the spread. They have only until Aug. 11 to launch Perseverance, otherwise the next window occurs in 2022.
    “The time when we are working three shifts a day, 24-by-seven trying to finish up the final assembly, put the clean flight hardware on, do all the final testing and make sure that we are ready to go — that’s right when we were hit by the by the pandemic,” said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where Perseverance was built.
    If this week’s launch is successful, it will take about six and a half months for Perseverance to reach Mars, where it will attempt to land on the planet’s Jezero crater, a 28-mile-wide surface that billions of years ago was the location of a now dried-up river.
    Scientists believe the river’s delta may contain traces of previous life. The crater is also one of the most well understood regions of Mars, said Katie Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist at JPL, making it a prime spot to land.
    Still, landing the rover without damaging it is one of the most difficult parts of the mission, said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at JPL. The rover must slow to a halt from 12,000 mph, and once it’s broken through to Mars’ atmosphere there are about “seven minutes of terror” during which teams back on Earth cannot communicate with it.
    “There is absolutely no interaction with the spacecraft during that period of time,” Wallace said. “It has to do that entire process itself. It has to understand where it is from a navigation perspective, it has to know when to jettison the crew stage and deploy the parachute, it has to understand where it is in Jezero.”
    To do this, the rover will take pictures of Mars as it approaches the surface and compare the photos to a computerized map. If it’s heading toward a dangerous spot, the rover can divert somewhere else. It will also deploy a parachute and use heat shields to help it slow down and then the descent stage will lower the rover onto the surface. Once it’s touched down, the tether between the rover and descent stage will be cut and the stage will fly away. “Our hearts will still be beating hard when we get to that part of the mission,” Wallace said. “It’s the first time we have ever been able to see a spacecraft land on another planet.”
    Once on the ground, the spacecraft, which weighs about 2,300 pounds, will begin searching for possible “biosignatures” of past organisms. The rover will “sleep” to conserve power at night and go looking during the day, mostly autonomously.
    “What we’re looking for are really the patterns and textures where we have a hard time explaining how that could have formed without the influence of life,” Stack Morgan said. “Our bar is high for the identification of a sign of life on another planet, as it should be, because we don’t want to make that discovery lightly. But at the same time … I think we also have to open our minds to the possibilities of what life could look like on another planet.”
    The rover will drill for 43 samples and collect them in tubes that it will then leave on the planet’s surface to be collected by a future mission in 2026. Ken Farley, Mars 2020 project scientist based at Caltech, said the tubes are “one of the cleanest things that’s ever been built,” in order to ensure scientists don’t mistake matter that originated from Earth as Martian.
    “Scientists have wanted a sample of Mars to study for generations. We have meteorites on Earth that came from Mars, but it’s not the same as getting an actual sample of pristine Mars rocks and soil to study,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Even now, NASA continues to study moon samples brought back by the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.”
    Underneath the rover, a small, autonomous helicopter named “Ingenuity” will be stored that will for the first time test powered flight on another planet. The helicopter, which was named by Vaneeza Rupani, an 11th-grader from Alabama, weighs less than 4 pounds. If it’s successful, it could be used to explore more of the planet’s surface.
    The mission will also test a piece of technology that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, a tool that could be used for life support systems for future crewed missions to the planet.
    Testing these technologies is intertwined with the NASA’s mission to send astronauts to the moon by 2024 and eventually to Mars. “All of these robotic precursor missions are leading up something that I think is even more magnificent,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, “and that is to a day when we plant an American flag on Mars.”
    Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Email the reporter at cglenn@orlandosentinel.com and follow on Twitter @bycarolineglenn .

    Ancient life on Red Planet?
     
  12. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    Astronauts could splash down Sunday despite forecast storm
    By Caroline Glenn
    Orlando Sentinel
    Despite a tropical storm forecast to trudge over Florida this weekend, NASA and SpaceX on Wednesday were still moving forward with plans to bring home American Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on Sunday.
    The two astronauts, who on May 31 launched to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, are scheduled to splash down in their Crew Dragon capsule off the coast of Florida around 2:48 p.m. It’ll be the first water landing of astronauts in 45 years, since the last Apollo mission in 1975.
    Cape Canaveral, Daytona, Jacksonville, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa are the seven sites that were chosen for potential splashdown spots, with the capsule landing in either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.
    “Everybody remains ‘go’ for return,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday after a return flight readiness review earlier in the day.
    Behnken and Hurley have been in space for about two months, following their historic launch from Cape Canaveral that drew tens of thousands of people to Brevard County. It was the first time in nearly a decade that astronauts had launched from American soil, a major feat in NASA’s goal to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2024.
    Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said over the next few days teams will be closely monitoring the weather and if necessary agencies can postpone Behnken and Hurley’s return. Their stay at the ISS had initially been planned to last anywhere between one and four months.
    Stich said there are some weather restrictions that could cause NASA to delay the splashdown, including wind speed and wave height. There also can’t be any rain or lightning in the area where the astronauts come down.
    As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Florida remains in the path of what’s expected to become Tropical Storm Isaias, although it’s too soon to tell what impact it will have on the Sunshine State.
    “If this tropical cyclone moves into the area and really has bad weather across multiple sites for multiple days, then the beauty of this vehicle is we can stay docked to the space station,” Stich said. Once the capsule undocks, there are about three days’ worth of supplies on board.
    If the mission proceeds this weekend, immediately after splashdown, two boats will arrive to check the capsule and then a recovery ship will hoist it on board and open the hatch for the Behnken and Hurley. A helicopter will also be on standby in case of emergency.
    “Bringing a spaceship home, that’s a really big deal and it’s very important. It’s part of that sacred honor that we have for ensuring that we bring Bob and Doug back home to their families, to their kids and making sure they’re safe,” said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management for SpaceX.
    Want more space news? Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Email the reporter at cglenn@orlandosentinel.com and follow on Twitter @bycarolineglenn .
     
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  13. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    Mars Rover Launch
    Perseverance begins mission

    Liftoff successfully kicks off journey to scout out signs of life on planet
    The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Perseverance rover launches Thursday from Cape Canaveral. If all goes well, the rover will touch down on the Martian surface in February.
    (Orlando Sentinel ) By Caroline Glenn
    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — America’s Mars Perseverance rover launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral, the start of an 11-year quest to discover if the Red Planet ever harbored life.
    Liftoff came right on schedule at 7:50 a.m., just a few minutes after NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California reported feeling minor shakes from a small earthquake. There was a brief issue communicating with the spacecraft after launch, but it was resolved, NASA said.
    The $2.7 billion Perseverance mission rode atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, and if all goes well, the rover will touch down on the Martian surface in February and begin scouting out signs of ancient life.
    “For me, that’s what it’s about. That question,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for the science mission directorate. “… A question that for thousands of years philosophers have asked, scientists have asked … and that is, is there life out there?”
    Perseverance is one of three spacecraft that launched to Mars this summer. Two others were the Hope Orbiter from the United Arab Emirates and China’s Tianwen-1 lander and rover. They’ll build upon discoveries of past missions that found Mars could have once supported life.
    The U.S launch had to be delayed three times, and if it didn’t lift off by Aug. 11, the mission would have been postponed until 2022 when there is another window as Earth and Mars align. Delaying it again would have cost NASA about $500 million.
    In the lead-up to Thursday’s launch, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine talked about the new meaning the name of the rover took on once the coronavirus began to spread across the nation.
    The pandemic threatened to interrupt the launch, but teams “persevered,” he said, with some working from home during the most critical points of the mission when the rover was going through final testing. The rover itself was cleaned relentlessly.
    “The public wants to see the United States of America and our international partners do stunning things, and we have a history of doing amazing things in the most challenging times. And this is no different,” Bridenstine said.
    Perseverance will for the first time gather rock samples that will be brought back for Earthlings to study. For the samples to make it back to Earth, America and Europe have devised a complex and lengthy return mission that will send up a yet-to-be-developed lander, rover, orbiter and small rocket.
    The hopeful return date for the samples is 2031. Only then will scientists possibly be able to determine whether anything ever lived on Mars.
    As for Alexander Mather, the 13-year-old from Virginia who named the rover in a nationwide contest, he’s a believer.
    “I’m not one of those people who believes in superstitious crop circles and stuff, but in my opinion, there’s so much space in the universe there’s no way we’re the only ones,” he said at a Kennedy Space Center news conference this week. “There’s got to be something or someone else out there. Even if it’s just microbes.”
    Collecting the samples
    Perseverance will land in Mars’ Jezero crater, a 28-mile-wide part of the planet that billions of years ago was home to a now dried-up river that could hold traces of ancient life. Visiting that jagged part of the planet is possible because of a special navigation system that can help the rover avoid dangerous spots.
    “We know from other studies, other rovers and orbiters that is a key time in Mars history, when it transitioned from being a warmer, wetter environment at the surface with nice neutral water to being more acidic waters, and then eventually drying out and rusting and turning red like we see it today,” Chris Herd, a sample return scientist who works at the University of Alberta in Canada, said of the crater.
    The rover is loaded with experiments, including a small helicopter named Ingenuity that will conduct the first rotorcraft flight on another planet, a modern-day “Wright Brothers moment,” NASA says.
    Swatches of spacesuit materials are on board to see how they hold up on Mars, as well as a tool that can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. Other tools will collect data about the planet’s weather to help predict dangerous dust storms and shoot a ground-penetrating laser to help figure out what kind of landing gear human missions need.
    The rover’s main objective will be to drill for samples that contain possible “biosignatures” of old life, with enough tubes to hold 43 samples. Going 0.1 mph, it can self-drive 656 feet a day looking and traverse obstacles about a foot high.
    To ensure the titanium sample tubes haven’t been contaminated on Earth, NASA’s planetary protection officer Lisa Pratt said they’ve been flame-sterilized and handled in ultra-clean rooms.
    The rover will take photos and measurements of the samples and keep them until NASA determines the best spot to leave them on the surface. And unlike the Mars Curiosity rover that ground up rock samples and left them on Mars, these samples will be mostly whole.
    Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said NASA will be able to preserve the samples for decades, allowing scientists in the future to study them to answer questions “we haven’t even thought of yet.”
    Waiting to analyze
    In 2026, NASA will launch on a two-year journey a lander to bring the samples back, opting for a different and much longer route than it took for Perseverance to avoid arriving in the middle of winter when storms are prevalent.
    But even after NASA lands back on Mars, analyzing the samples left behind won’t be instantaneous work. It’ll be three years until they make it to Earth, a mission NASA and the European Space Agency will work together on.
    David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration for the European Space Agency, said its portion of the return mission will total about 1.5 billion Euros, or about $1.8 billion. NASA estimated its part will cost up to $3 billion.
    In 2028, a lander will arrive on the Mars surface and with it a small NASA rocket and a European rover that will collect the sample tubes and take them back to the lander to then be transferred into a special container within the rocket.
    Then in 2029, the rocket, which is only about 9 feet tall and 2 feet wide, will lift off from the Mars surface.
    Meanwhile, a European orbiter also scheduled to launch in 2026 will have made its way to Mars in time for the rocket to toss over the soccer ball-sized container with the samples.
    The orbiter will catch it and eventually jettison it toward Earth. Both the orbiter and the fetch rover will be developed by Airbus-France.
    NASA expects the samples to land in Utah no earlier than 2031.
    If signs of life are found, NASA officials said they anticipate it would forever transform the way humans see themselves.
    “I think there would be no bigger discovery in the history of humanity than finding life that is not on our own world,” Bridenstine said.
    Want more space news? Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Email the reporter at cglenn@orlandosentinel.com and follow on Twitter @bycarolineglenn .
     
  14. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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    Astronauts face final leg of SpaceX test flight: coming home


    Astronauts to splash down for first time in 45 years — but in Gulf
    By Caroline Glenn

    Two very special mementos will splash down on Earth with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who, if schedules hold, will return home Sunday after two months in space.
    NASA set splashdown for 2:41 p.m. off the coast of Pensacola in the Gulf of Mexico, far from the projected path of Hurricane Isaias that’s forecast to travel up Florida’s east coast. The coast near Panama City is the alternate site.
    “Teams will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the potential splashdown sites,’’ a NASA statement said.
    One of the items coming home from the International Space Station is a small American flag that flew on the first and last shuttle missions, first in 1981 with John Young and Bob Crippen on Columbia and then in 2011 with Hurley himself on Atlantis. Hurley has waited almost a decade to retrieve it, with well wishes from then-President Barack Obama who during a call years ago offered “good luck to whoever grabs that flag.”
    Commander Chris Cassidy, the only American on board the ISS before his two compatriots arrived in May, said the flag “has deep, deep space history, getting deeper as this flag will return to Earth with the Crew Dragon guys and spend a little bit of time on Earth and very soon make a trip to the moon.”
    “Doug, the flag’s all yours,” Cassidy said from the ISS on Saturday, passing it to him.
    The other item is a pink-and-aqua, sparkly stuffed dinosaur named Tremor, an item Behnken and Hurley’s young sons picked for them to take on their trip. The tiny token is part of a long tradition of astronauts bringing into space something that, once it starts floating, tells them they’ve hit zero-g.
    “For Jack and Theo, Tremor the apatosaurus is headed home soon,” Behnken said.
    At publication time, the Crew Dragon capsule had yet to undock from the ISS, an event set for 7:34 p.m. Saturday. SpaceX and NASA said they would confer 2½ hours before the undocking to make sure conditions to leave were safe.
    The splashdown will be the first water landing of astronauts in 45 years, since the last Apollo mission in 1975. Hurley and Benhken wouldn’t concede any nerves, saying they were confident ground teams were watching the weather and that they would not leave the ISS without a safe spot to come home.
    “We don’t control the weather, and we know we can stay up here longer,” Behnken said. “There’s more chow. And I know the space station program has got more work we can do.”
    Immediately after splashdown, two boats will arrive to check the capsule and then a recovery ship will hoist it on board and open the hatch for the Behnken and Hurley. A helicopter will also be on standby in case of emergency.
    “The water landing portion of it is pretty challenging from a physiological standpoint after coming back from micro-gravity on the order of one to two months,” Hurley said, noting that inside the capsule there will be bags and towels in case either of the two astronauts gets sick.
    If their return is delayed, there’s a second opportunity to undock Sunday and splash down Monday. If the crew undocks and then the weather worsens, there are enough supplies on board to last them three days.
    Behnken and Hurley have been in space for about two months, following their historic launch from Cape Canaveral aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
    It was the first time in nearly a decade that astronauts launched from American soil, a major feat in NASA’s goal to send a crewed mission to the moon by 2024.
    They joined Cassidy and Russia’s Ivan Vagnerand and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been at the Space Station since April after launching from Kazakhstan aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket. And since then, they’ve tested the livability of the Crew Dragon capsule and performed several spacewalks to do upgrades to the ISS.
    Even after a successful launch and docking in May, though, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he didn’t want to celebrate too soon.
    “The return is more dangerous in some ways than the ascent,” Musk said on a previous call. “So we don’t want to declare victory yet. We need to bring them home safely.”
    Want more space news? Follow Go For Launch on Facebook. Email the reporter at cglenn@orlandosentinel.com
    and follow on Twitter @bycarolineglenn .
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
  15. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

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  16. LakeGator

    LakeGator Mostly Harmless Moderator

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    For the record, the Dragon has splashed down near Pensacola successfully.
     
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  17. 62gator

    62gator GC Hall of Fame

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    Splashdown, just awesome! Incredible space achievement.

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  18. 62gator

    62gator GC Hall of Fame

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