This Week at NASA | Prepping for Orion Landing Tests; Next Mars Rover; more
NASA and the U.S. Navy were busy recently, preparing for tests scheduled off the coast of San Diego, California. Crews will run through the procedures to recover NASA’s Orion spacecraft from the ocean, following its water landing from deep space missions. Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations are all involved in the recovery effort. Also, Mars 2020 rover and beyond, Opportunity: 25 miles and counting, Updated K-Rex rover, Automated Transfer Vehicle launch and NASA Technology Days.
NASA and the U.S. Navy were busy recently – preparing for tests scheduled off the coast of San Diego, California. Crews will run through the procedures to recover NASA’s Orion spacecraft from the ocean, following its water landing from deep space missions. Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations are all involved in the recovery effort.
During a July 31 briefing at NASA headquarters, agency officials announced that seven science instruments, out of fifty-eight proposed, have been selected to be part of the next rover NASA will send to Mars in 2020. The Mars 2020 rover will be a new version of the Curiosity rover currently operating on Mars – with more sophisticated hardware to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations, including geological assessments, potential habitability of the current environment and directly searching for signs of past life on the Red Planet — something no previous Mars mission has done.
NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover now holds the off-Earth roving distance record after surpassing 25 miles of driving on the Red Planet since 2004. A 157-foot drive on July 27 put Opportunity’s odometer at 25-point-zero-one miles. The previous record was held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 rover, on the moon. Opportunity, Curiosity and the planned Mars 2020 rover are part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which also will prepare for a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.
The Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center recently conducted the first field test of the newly updated K-REX rover, in the Basalt Hills near California’s Central Valley. The testing, funded by NASA’s Space Technology, Science and Human Exploration and Operations mission directorates is designed to prepare for future NASA robotic exploration missions, including improved mobility over difficult terrain and remote control technologies.
The European Space Agency launched its fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station from Kourou, French Guiana on July 29. The ATV-5 cargo spacecraft, named George Lemaitre (ZHORJ Luh-MAH-truh) after the 20th century Belgian astronomer, is scheduled to complete its two-week journey to the ISS on August 12 – with some 7 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 40 crew onboard ISS. The first flight of an ATV was in March 2008.
NASA has been out in the community, using Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – or STEM, to stimulate young minds just in time for back-to-school. Langley Research Center’s recent Technology Day at the Virginia Air & Space Center featured more than two-dozen exhibits showcasing Langley’s technology development in support of NASA’s deep space exploration, science, and aeronautics missions.
Meanwhile, a similar event hosted by Glenn Research Center at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center featured NASA Chief Technologist David Miller, astronaut Doug Wheelock and Glenn Center Director Jim Free. It included presentations about the important role of Glenn technology in the past success of the Apollo program and how technology will enable NASA to make the next giant leap in spaceflight — sending astronauts to Mars.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …
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