Category: Space

Nick Hague Completes First Spacewalk : NASA astronaut Nick Hague completed the first spacewalk of his career on Friday, March 22, 2019. He and fellow astronaut Anne McClain worked on a set of battery upgrades for six hours and 39 minutes, on the International Space Station’s starboard truss. (via NASA)

Space Shuttle Atlantis launching (desktop/laptop)

Click the image to download the correct size for your desktop or laptop in high resolution

SpaceX – CRS-19 Dragon Mission patch.

Dec. 5, 2019

Image above: SpaceX launches its 19th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station at 12:29 p.m. EST Dec. 5, 2019, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Image Credit: NASA TV.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station after launching at 12:29 p.m. EST Thursday. Dragon will deliver more than 5,700 pounds of NASA cargo and science investigations, including studies of malting barley in microgravity, the spread of fire, and bone and muscle loss.

The spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to arrive at the orbital outpost on Sunday, Dec. 8. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival at the space station will begin at 4:30 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

SpaceX CRS-19 launch & Falcon 9 first stage landing

Dragon will join three other spacecraft currently at the station. Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Dragon with NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan acting as a backup. NASA’s Jessica Meir will assist the duo by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. Coverage of robotic installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 8 a.m.

This delivery, SpaceX’s 19th cargo flight to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, will support dozens of new and existing investigations. NASA’s research and development work aboard the space station contributes to the agency’s deep space exploration plans, including future Moon and Mars missions.

Image above: Dragon’s solar arrays deploy following spacecraft separation from the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on SpaceX’s 19th Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station on Dec. 5, 2019. Photo credit: NASA.

Here are details about some of the scientific investigations Dragon is delivering:

A Better Picture of Earth’s Surface

The Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) is a next-generation, hyperspectral Earth imaging system. Every material on Earth’s surface – rocks, soil, vegetation, snow/ice and human-made objects – has a unique reflectance spectrum. HISUI provides space-based observations for tasks such as resource exploration and applications in agriculture, forestry and other environmental areas.

Malting Barley in Microgravity

Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity tests an automated malting procedure and compares malt produced in space and on the ground for genetic and structural changes. Understanding how barley responds to microgravity could identify ways to adapt it for nutritional use on long-duration spaceflights.

Spread of Fire

The Confined Combustion investigation examines the behavior of flames as they spreads in differently shaped confined spaces in microgravity. Studying flames in microgravity gives researchers a better look at the underlying physics and basic principles of combustion by removing gravity from the equation.

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong

Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks

NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations providing opportunities for U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments and products that improve life on Earth. Conducting science aboard the orbiting laboratory will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.

For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. As a global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

NASA TV: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7476

Malting ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7911

Confined Combustion: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7886

Studying flames in microgravity: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/combustion-research-microgravity-clean-burning-fuel-space-station/

Rodent Research-19 (RR-19): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=8075

Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL): https://sspd.gsfc.nasa.gov/rell.html

Moon and Mars: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

Commercial Resupply: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/launch/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Related articles:

SpaceX Gears Up for Second CRS-19 Launch Attempt
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/12/spacex-gears-up-for-second-crs-19.html

Radiation rotifer
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/12/radiation-rotifer.html

For more information about the International Space Station, its research, and crew, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/station

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Karen Northon/Kathryn Hambleton/JSC/Courtney Beasley/SciNews.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch
Full article

Photo

Kennedy Space Center FL (UPI) Dec 05, 2019

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched into a bright Florida sky Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the company’s 19th cargo mission to the International Space Station.

The rocket, lifting off at 12:29 p.m., carried 5,700 pounds of supplies, experiments and a new version of the CIMON robot designed to interact with astronauts. The onboard robot is designed to float in the space s
Full article

Boston MA (SPX) Dec 06, 2019

Just a year ago, the National Science Foundation-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, was picking up whispers of gravitational waves every month or so. Now, a new addition to the system is enabling the instruments to detect these ripples in space-time nearly every week.

Since the start of LIGO’s third operating run in April, a new instrument known as a quant
Full article

Tempe AZ (SPX) Dec 03, 2019

For the first time, scientists have developed a method to monitor carbon emissions from tropical forests at an unprecedented level of detail. The approach will provide the basis for developing a rapid and cost-effective operational carbon monitoring system, making it possible to quantify the economic cost of deforestation as forests are converted from carbon sinks to sources. The study was publi
Full article

Huntsville AL (SPX) Dec 05, 2019

Aerojet Rocketdyne has finished a series of subscale propulsion-system test firings as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) effort to develop a ground-launched hypersonic missile for tactical use.

DARPA recently announced completion of the preliminary design review for its Operational Fires (OpFires) program, which is developing a two-stage missile capable of engagin
Full article

Photo

NASA – OSIRIS-REx Mission patch.

December 6, 2019

Image above: This view of asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 6, 2019, was created by combining two images taken by the NavCam 1 imager aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft: a short exposure image, which shows the asteroid clearly, and a long-exposure image (five seconds), which shows the particles clearly. Other image-processing techniques were also applied, such as cropping and adjusting the brightness and contrast of each layer. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin.

Shortly after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu, an unexpected discovery by the mission’s science team revealed that the asteroid could be active, or consistently discharging particles into space. The ongoing examination of Bennu – and its sample that will eventually be returned to Earth – could potentially shed light on why this intriguing phenomenon is occurring.

The OSIRIS-REx team first observed a particle-ejection event in images captured by the spacecraft’s navigation cameras taken on Jan. 6, just a week after the spacecraft entered its first orbit around Bennu. At first glance, the particles appeared to be stars behind the asteroid, but on closer examination, the team realized that the asteroid was ejecting material from its surface. After concluding that these particles did not compromise the spacecraft’s safety, the mission began dedicated observations in order to fully document the activity.

Bennu’s Mysterious Particles

Video above: This animation illustrates the modeled trajectories of particles that were ejected from Bennu’s surface on January 19. After ejecting from the asteroid’s surface, the particles either briefly orbited Bennu and fell back to its surface or escaped away from Bennu and into space.

“Among Bennu’s many surprises, the particle ejections sparked our curiosity, and we’ve spent the last several months investigating this mystery,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “This is a great opportunity to expand our knowledge of how asteroids behave.”

After studying the results of the observations, the mission team released their findings in a Science paper published Dec. 6. The team observed the three largest particle-ejection events on Jan. 6 and 19, and Feb. 11, and concluded that the events originated from different locations on Bennu’s surface. The first event originated in the southern hemisphere, and the second and third events occurred near the equator. All three events took place in the late afternoon on Bennu.

The team found that, after ejection from the asteroid’s surface, the particles either briefly orbited Bennu and fell back to its surface or escaped from Bennu into space. The observed particles traveled up to 10 feet (3 meters) per second, and measured from smaller than an inch up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) in size. Approximately 200 particles were observed during the largest event, which took place on Jan. 6.

The team investigated a wide variety of possible mechanisms that may have caused the ejection events and narrowed the list to three candidates: meteoroid impacts, thermal stress fracturing and released water vapor.

Meteoroid impacts are common in the deep space neighborhood of Bennu, and it is possible that these small fragments of space rock could be hitting Bennu where OSIRIS-REx is not observing it, shaking loose particles with the momentum of their impact.

OSIRIS-Rex orbiting Bennu. Image Credit: NASA

The team also determined that thermal fracturing is another reasonable explanation. Bennu’s surface temperatures vary drastically over its 4.3-hour rotation period. Although it is extremely cold during the night hours, the asteroid’s surface warms significantly in the mid-afternoon, which is when the three major events occurred. As a result of this temperature change, rocks may begin to crack and break down, and eventually particles could be ejected from the surface. This cycle is known as thermal stress fracturing.

Water release may also explain the asteroid’s activity. When Bennu’s water-locked clays are heated, the water could begin to release and create pressure. It is possible that as pressure builds in cracks and pores in boulders where absorbed water is released, the surface could become agitated, causing particles to erupt.

But nature does not always allow for simple explanations. “It could be that more than one of these possible mechanisms are at play,” said Steve Chesley, an author on the paper and Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “For example, thermal fracturing could be chopping the surface material into small pieces, making it far easier for meteoroid impacts to launch pebbles into space.”

If thermal fracturing, meteoroid impacts or both are in fact the causes of these ejection events, then this phenomenon is likely happening on all small asteroids, as they all experience these mechanisms. However, if water release is the cause of these ejection events, then this phenomenon would be specific to asteroids that contain water-bearing minerals, like Bennu.

Bennu’s activity presents larger opportunities once a sample is collected and returned to Earth for study. Many of the ejected particles are small enough to be collected by the spacecraft’s sampling mechanism, meaning that the returned sample may possibly contain some material that was ejected and returned to Bennu’s surface. Determining that a particular particle had been ejected and returned to Bennu might be a scientific feat similar to finding a needle in a haystack. The material returned to Earth from Bennu, however, will almost certainly increase our understanding of asteroids and the ways they are both different and similar, even as the particle-ejection phenomenon continues to be a mystery whose clues we’ll also return home with in the form of data and further material for study.

Sample collection is scheduled for summer 2020, and the sample will be delivered to Earth in September 2023.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona in Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Related article & link:

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx in the Midst of Site Selection
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/12/nasas-osiris-rex-in-midst-of-site.html

OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer): http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/osiris-rex/index.html

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Alana Johnson/JPL/DC Agle/Greenbelt, Md./Nancy Neal-Jones.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch
Full article