NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project received confirmation from Mars Sunday (Nov. 10) that the Curiosity rover has successfully transitioned back into nominal surface operations mode. Curiosity had been in safe mode since Nov. 7, when an unexpected software reboot (also known as a warm reset) occurred during a communications pass with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Mission science planning will resume tomorrow, and Curiosity science operations will recommence on Thursday. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/jpl/msl20131112.html#.UoKwuKVU47g
Borucki Said He Is “Satisfied” By Kepler.The Discover Magazine (11/11, Powell, 314K), in an article titled “Kepler Spacecraft’s Successors Are Lining Up to Find Another Earth” for its December 2013 issue, reported Kepler is not currently hunting planets, Bill Borucki of the Ames Research Center said he has “a feeling of satisfaction” about the mission, adding, “The worry before we launched was that there were very few planets. That’s not true.
Engineers Outline K2 Plan To Restart Kepler Telescope Observations. New Scientist (11/8, Becker, 18K) reports engineers at the Kepler Science Conference II outlined the “K2” plan, which would use a “helpful push from the sun” to allow the Kepler telescope to once again search for more exoplanets.
NBC Nightly News (11/5, story 9, 0:25, Williams, 7.86M) reported, “Well, good news for travelers, when we have all decided we have once and for all trashed planet Earth, a new analysis from NASA says there could be as many as 40 billion habitable earth size planets out there in the galaxy, the nearest place that could be considered to be truly hospitable to humans, is 12 light years away, visible to the naked eye at night but a long trip any way you look at it.”
McKay Lays Out Potential Paths For Changing Mars’ Ecosystem. Ray Villard at Discovery News (10/24, 598K) writes a concept proposed by Ames Research Center’s Chris McKay called planetary ecosynthesis, which could make Mars more habitable for humans or restore Mars’ ecosystem if native life is discovered.
The Christian Science Monitor (9/27, Spotts, 540K) reports on five new papers about what the Curiosity rover found during its first 100 days on Mars. It found that liquid water was present in Gale Crater, answering the “overarching question” of whether Mars was habitable at one period in time.
The Washington Post (9/23, Achenbach, 4.28M) continues coverage of how the Curiosity rover found no trace of methane on Mars. Michael Mumma of the Goddard Space Flight Center said his team is reviewing their data since they previously had detected the gas.
Following the successful launch and activation of the LADEE spacecraft, the Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVS) instrument was powered for the first time on Sep 14, 2013. UVS was activated and ran through a series of “dark calibrations”. These calibrations make measurements of the noise on the instruments sensor while the instruments telescope door is still closed. The measurements are compared to similar measurements made just prior to launch to insure the instrument is in good health.
The BBC News (9/16, Amos, 1.62M) reports continued coverage of the “intense science” the Curiosity rover will conduct now that it arrived at its first waypoint. While the rover is still “many months” away from its ultimate destination of Mount Sharp, the article notes that operators are “delighted” by how Curiosity is handling.
NASA Continues Celebrations Of Curiosity Rover.Coverage continues of the one-year anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars. Compared to the previous day, coverage has expanded to included two and a half minutes of coverage on national TV broadcasts.
SPACE (7/25, Wall) reports on Sunday, the Curiosity rover traveled 329 feet, more than doubling the previous one-day travel record of 161 feet. Paolo Bellutta of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “What enabled us to drive so far on Sol 340 was starting at a high point and also having Mastcam images giving us the size of rocks so we could be sure they were not hazards. ...
Darlene Lim organized a tour of Ames for 25 visitors (20 kids, 5 adults) from the Inn Vision Shelter Network on Monday, July 1. The tour took the group to the VMS, Exploration Encounter, 80x120 USAF Wind Tunnel, and the iRG Mars yard (Code TI).
Charlie Bolden recently approved the using the 2.4-m telescope
assets given to NASA for the WFIRST mission that was the #1 large space
mission priority of the 2010 decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics.
In addition to a wide field imaging instrument, this version of WFIRST
will have a coronagraphic instrument for exoplanet imaging and
spectroscopy. It is very important to improve the technological readiness
of this exoplanet instrument, so the NASA exoplanet program manager (G.
The mid-infrared camera (FORCAST) for the Stratospheric
Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has been undergoing line operations
and commissioning flights in preparation to support Cycle 1 science which
begins later this month. NASA Ames Research Center researcher Kimberly Ennico
has been supporting the grism (or spectroscopic) mode during the line
operations and commissioning flights.
Collaborating with a group of Spanish Astronomers, members of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Laboratory group found strong evidence for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Utilizing the wealth of PAH spectra available in the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database, they analyzed data obtained by NASA's spacecraft Cassini.
The AP (6/6, Chang) reports, “Ten months after Curiosity’s daring Mars landing, the NASA rover is finally about to pack up and head toward the base” of Mount Sharp, a “much-hyped drive” that has been put off for “discoveries and longer-than-expected scientific studies.” The rover is still expected to spend a few more weeks in its current position before beginning the trek. According to the article, these delays and detours have “paid off” scientifically.