Past Highlights

Curiosity Rover Takes “Selfie” After Completing First Martian Year

TIME (6/23, Goldberg, 24.1M) reports NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover took a “selfie” to celebrate its first Martian year on the planet. One year on Mars is equal to 687 Earth days.

Mars Rover Continues Mission Toward Mount Sharp

Ken Kremer at Universe Today (6/22, 18K) writes about NASA’s Curiosity mission, which is traveling across the floor of Mars’ Gale Crater toward “Mount Sharp on an expedition in search of the chemical ingredients of life that could support Martian microbes if they ever existed.” …

Christopher McKay Develops “Extreme Checklist” For Habitable Planets

 New Scientist (6/9, Grossman, 329K) reports that Christopher McKay of the Ames Research Center has developed an “expanded checklist” of the types of planets that could host life. The new checklist was based on “the extremes that life can endure” here on Earth.

SOFIA Gaining New Instrument

Britt Rawcliffe at Spaceflight Insider (6/5) wrote that the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is getting a new instrument called the Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph (EXES), which stated testing back in April. SOFIA program scientist Pamela Marcum said that the addition of the instrument will give SOFIA an “unprecedented ability to study celestial objects at wavelengths unavailable from ground-based telescopes.”

Kepler Telescope Has Already Found Candidate Planets Under K2 Campaign

Discovery News (6/5, Klotz, 252K) reports that Thomas Barclay of the Ames Research Center said that in just the first nine days of the Kepler telescopes new observational campaign, K2, which has restored the telescope’s observational capabilities after losing two reaction wheels, “three more candidate planets, all around the size of Jupiter, circling relatively bright stars,” have been discovered.

SOFIA Declared Operational

Flight Global (6/3, 2K) reports that NASA declared that the Stratospheric Observatory of Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope is now operational, a milestone which comes several months after Obama Administration released its 2015 budget that “effectively” grounds the program.

Kepler Telescope Resumes Scientific Observations

Spaceflight Now (6/3, Clark, 3K) reports that starting May 30, the Kepler telescope has been taking new scientific observations under the “K2” extension plan, which is allowing the telescope to operate on only two out of four functioning reaction wheels. under this “new lease on life,” the telescope will undertake nine observational campaigns over the next two years.

LRO Images LADEE At The Moon

LRO Images LADEE At The Moon. Spaceflight Now (1/30, Clark, 3K) reports that on Wednesday, NASA released an image of the LADEE spacecraft taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The article describes how LRO operators were able to capture the image on January 14.

Teachers Picked For SOFIA Ambassadors Program

Teachers Picked For SOFIA Ambassadors Program. TheAlternativePress (1/24) reported on the selection of Chatham, New Jersey high school science teacher Margaret Holzer through a “rigorous peer-reviewed process” to participate in SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program.

NASA Rover Results Include First Age Measurement on Mars and Help for Human Exploration

NASA's Curiosity rover is providing vital insight about Mars' past and current environments that will aid plans for future robotic and human missions.

http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/december/nasa-rover-results-include-first...

NASA Update - Curiosity Out of Safe Mode

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

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

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.

Researchers Using NASA’s Kepler Telescope Say Galaxy May Have 40 Billion Habitable Planets

NBC Nightly NewsVideo (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.” 

Sandford and Group Achievement Award for the Hayabusa Sample Transport and Curation Team

Dr. Sandford was a Co-investigator on the Japanese Hayabusa asteroid sample return mission and was one of the two US Sample Scientists on the mission.

Sandford and Group Achievement Award for the Stardust Interstellar Preliminary Examination Team

Dr. Sandford was part of an international team of scientists that has been working for several years to find interstellar dust candidates in the Stardust interstellar aerogel collectors. 

Dr. Chris McKay Lays Out Potential Paths For Changing Mars’ Ecosystem

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.

Curiosity Finds “Surprising” Amounts Of Water, Perchlorate On Mars

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.

Curiosity’s Methane Result Causing Reexamination Of Previous Data

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.