JPL News-Month in Review, NASA -Climate Change, May 2022

JPL News-Month in Review, NASA-Climate Change, May 2022

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory <jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov>

 EARTH

California Field Campaign Helping Scientists Protect Diverse Ecosystems
Above Santa Barbara County, the Surface Biology and Geology High-Frequency Time Series, or SHIFT, campaign collects data to understand land and aquatic ecosystems. Read More

EARTH.

California Field Campaign Helping Scientists Protect Diverse Ecosystems

A research plane collecting spectral imaging data of vegetation on land and in the ocean as part of the SHIFT campaign flies just off the Central Coast of California near Point Conception and the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in February. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Full Image Details

The SHIFT campaign uses a research plane carrying the AVIRIS-NG instrument to collect data on the function, health, and resilience of plant communities in the 640-square-mile (1,656-square-kilometer) area of Santa Barbara County and the nearby ocean shown in this annotated map. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Full Image Details

RELATED NEWS 

CLIMATE CHANGE.

NASA’s EMIT Will Map Tiny Dust Particles to Study Big Climate Impacts

EARTH.

NASA Finds New Way to Monitor Underground Water Loss

EARTH.

International Sea Level Satellite Takes Over From Predecessor

CLIMATE CHANGE.

Thawing Permafrost Could Leach Microbes, Chemicals Into Environment

CLIMATE CHANGE

NASA Finds Each State Has Its Own Climatic Threshold for Flu Outbreaks

EARTH.

California Fire Led to Spike in Bacteria, Cloudiness in Coastal Waters

EARTH.

NASA Supports Research to Advance Earth Science

CLIMATE CHANGE

Sea Level to Rise up to a Foot by 2050, Interagency Report Finds

WEATHER
Clusters of Weather Extremes Will Increase Risks to Corn Crops, Society
To assess how climate warming will change risks such as crop failures and wildfires, it’s necessary to look at how the risks are likely to interact. Read More

WEATHER.

New Space-Based Weather Instruments Start Gathering Data

MARS

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Scouts Ridgeline for Perseverance Science Team

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter scouted this ridgeline near the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater because it is of interest to Perseverance rover scientists. Enlarged at right is a close-up of one of the ridgeline’s rocky outcrops. The image was captured on April 23, during the rotorcraft’s 27th flight.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-mars-helicopter-scouts-ridgeline-for-perseverance-science-team

 

MARS
NASA’s Mars Helicopter Spots Gear That Helped Perseverance Rover Land
Eyeing some of the components that enabled the rover to get safely to the Martian surface could provide valuable insights for future missions. Read More

This image of Perseverance’s backshell and parachute was collected by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 26th flight on April 19, 2022.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details

MARS.

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Spots Gear That Helped Perseverance Rover Land

This image of Perseverance’s backshell and supersonic parachute was captured by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 26th flight on Mars on April 19, 2022.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details 

SOLAR SYSTEM
Greenland Ice, Jupiter Moon Share Similar Feature
Parallel ice ridges, a common feature on Jupiter’s moon Europa, are found on Greenland’s ice sheet – and could bode well for Europa’s potential habitability. Read More

 The surface geology of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa is on display in this view made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

SOLAR SYSTEM.

Greenland Ice, Jupiter Moon Share Similar Feature

A double ridge cutting across the surface of Europa is seen in this mosaic of two images taken by NASA’s Galileo during the spacecraft’s close flyby on Feb. 20, 1997. Analysis of a similar feature in Greenland suggests shallow liquid water may be ubiquitous across the Jovian moon’s icy shell.

Credit: NASA/JPL/ASU

SOLAR SYSTEM
NASA Extends Exploration for 8 Planetary Science Missions

An illustration shows our solar system (not to scale).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Among the missions are InSight, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, and Curiosity, all of which have been critical to expanding our understanding of the Red Planet. Read More

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasa-extends-exploration-for-8-planetary-science-missions

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars

April 20, 2022

The Mastcam-Z camera recorded video of Phobos, one of the Red Planet’s two moons, to study how its orbit is changing over time.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera to shoot video of Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, eclipsing the Sun. It’s the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI Full Image Details

NASA’s Perseveranc

MARS.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Video of Solar Eclipse on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Sees Solar Eclipse on Mars

Apr 20, 2022           NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera system to shoot video of Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, eclipsing the Sun. It’s the most zoomed-in, highest frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface. Several Mars rovers have observed Phobos crossing in front of the Sun over the past 18 years. Spirit and Opportunity made the first observations back in 2004; Curiosity in 2019 was the first to record video of the event. Each time these eclipses are observed, they allow scientists to measure subtle shifts in Phobos’ orbit over time. The moon’s tidal forces pull on the deep interior of the Red Planet, as well as its crust and mantle; studying how much Phobos shifts over time reveals something about how resistant the crust and mantle are, and thus what kinds of materials they’re made of. The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/SSI

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Arrives at Delta for New Science Campaign

April 19, 2022

MARS.

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Arrives at Delta for New Science Campaign

The expanse of Jezero Crater’s river delta is shown in this panorama of 64 stitched-together images taken by the Mastcam-Z system on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on April 11, 2022, the 406th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS Full Image Details

This image of the parachute that helped deliver NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover to the Martian surface was taken by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument on April 6, 2022.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Full Image Details

“The delta at Jezero Crater pr

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-perseverance-rover-arrives-at-delta-for-new-science-campaign

MARS.

What Sounds Captured by NASA’s Perseverane Rover Reveal About Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Puff, Whir, Zap Sounds from Mars

Apr 1, 2022  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Listen closely to new sounds from Mars recorded by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, including puffs and pings from a rover tool, light Martian wind, the whirring of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, and laser zaps. Most of the sounds – best heard through headphones with the sound up – were recorded using the microphone belonging to Perseverance’s SuperCam instrument, mounted on the head of the rover’s mast. Other sounds, including the puffs and pings from the rover’s Gaseous Dust Removal Tool, or gDRT, blowing shavings off rock faces, were recorded by another microphone mounted on the chassis of the rover. A new study based on recordings made by the rover reveals that the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth and that, mostly, a deep silence prevails in the much thinner atmosphere. For more information on the study go to: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/what-so… For more about Perseverance go to mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ and nasa.gov/perseverance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS/LANL/CNES/IRAP

This illustration indicates the placement of Perseverance’s two microphones. The microphone on the mast is part of the SuperCam science instrument. The microphone on the side of the rover was intended to capture the sounds of entry, descent, and landing for public engagement.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details

 

JPL LIFE

NASA Wins 3 Webby Awards, 5 People’s Voice Awards for 2022

April 27, 2022

The awards are the highest honor for online communications.

Credit: Webby Awards

The JPL-managed NASA’s Global Climate Change and Solar System Exploration sites, along with JPL’s virtual tour, are among the winners.

 Read More

JPL LIFE

JPL Commits to First-Ever Space Industry Diversity Pledge
Interim Director Larry James joined 22 executives in a commitment to significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups by 2030. Read More

Inclusion is a JPL core value.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Interim Director Larry James joined 22 executives in a commitment to significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups by 2030.

Twenty-three space industry executives, including Larry James, interim director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, gathered at the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on April 5 to pledge their commitment to advancing diversity across the collective workforce in coming years.

The executives signed the “Space Workforce 2030” pledge, the first-ever space industry commitment of its kind to “significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups.” Each company will agree to annual reporting of data on diversity in our collective technical workforce, a regular cadence of exchanges of best practices, and work with universities to increase the number of diverse and underrepresented students graduating ready to join the space industry.

“We’re excited to be a part of this industry initiative and continuing to lead the way in growing our diverse and inclusive workforce,” said James. “We know that these qualities lead to stronger teams and innovative solutions – key things we need here at JPL as we tackle the toughest challenges in science and engineering.”

Cozette Hart, JPL’s director for human resources, is proud of JPL’s partnership in this effort.

“We’ve shared JPL DEI data in our annual report, so the unification and commitment of our industry to broaden this work is an extremely positive step for all of us,” said Hart.

Neela Rajendra, the Lab’s manager of diversity, equity, and inclusion, acknowledged the importance of being part of a cohort of other aerospace organizations where companies can identify trends and learn from each other.

“This is industry-specific and even more powerful,” she said. “There’s a recognition that if we can advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for the industry as a whole, we’ll all benefit from it.”

Collaboration also helps JPL refine its diversity focus areas as the Lab continues to develop its strategic plan, Rajendra added.

By signing the pledge, the companies vow to accomplish the following by 2030:

  • Significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups in our collective technical workforce.
  • Significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups who hold senior leadership positions in our collective technical workforce.
  • Work with universities to increase the percentages of women and students from underrepresented groups receiving aerospace engineering degrees to levels commensurate with overall engineering programs.
  • Sponsor K-12 programs that collectively reach over 5 million underrepresented students annually.
  • Meet twice a year at the working level to exchange best practices on strengthening diversity recruitment, STEM education outreach, and representation at leadership levels.
  • Seek like-minded leaders and organizations to join this effort.

“This effort links to the DEI recruitment efforts already in place at JPL,” shared Hart. “In partnership with these companies and our universities, colleges, and organizations such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), etc., we will be implementing even more opportunities for current and potential employees in the future.”

“Essentially, we’re committing to continuing the focus on our talent pipeline and really supporting future employees,” said Rajendra. “It’s about ensuring that all students and future talent have the opportunity to join the technical fields in aerospace regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or self-identity.”

Find the full list of “Space Workforce 2030” signatories below:

  • Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Intelligence & Space
  • Payam Banazadeh, CEO at Capella Space
  • Peter Beck, CEO at Rocket Lab
  • Tory Bruno, CEO at United Launch Alliance
  • Jim Chilton, senior VP of Space & Launch at Boeing
  • Michael Colglazier, CEO at Virgin Galactic
  • Eileen Drake, CEO and president of AeroJet Rocketdyne
  • Tim Ellis, CEO at Relativity Space
  • John Gedmark, CEO at Astranis Space Technologies
  • Steve Isakowitz, CEO at The Aerospace Corporation
  • Larry James, acting director at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Daniel Jablonsky, CEO at Maxar Technologies
  • Dave Kaufman, president of Ball Aerospace
  • Chris Kemp, CEO at Astra
  • Robert Lightfoot, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space
  • Will Marshall, CEO at Planet
  • Dan Piemont, president of ABL Space Systems
  • Peter Platzer, CEO at Spire Global
  • John Serafini, CEO at HawkEye 360
  • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX
  • Melanie Stricklan, CEO at Slingshot Aerospace
  • Amela Wilson, CEO at Nanoracks
  • Tom Wilson, president of Space Systems at Northrop Grumman

News Media Contact

Matthew Segal

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-8307

matthew.j.segal@jpl.nasa.gov

2022-052

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STARS AND GALAXIES
Webb Telescope’s Coldest Instrument Reaches Operating Temperature
With help from a cryocooler, the Mid-Infrared Instrument has dropped down to just a few degrees above the lowest temperature matter can reach and is ready for calibration. Read More

In this illustration, the multilayered sunshield on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope stretches out beneath the observatory’s honeycomb mirror. The sunshield is the first step in cooling down Webb’s infrared instruments, but the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) requires additional help to reach its operating temperature.

Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

STARS AND GALAXIES.

What’s Up – May 2022

April 29, 2022

What are some skywatching highlights in May 2022? May provides some great planet spotting, including a conjunction of Jupiter a conjunction of Jupiter and Mars.

Read More

What are some skywatching highlights in May 2022? May provides some great planet spotting, including a close conjunction of Jupiter and Mars. At mid-month, a total eclipse of the Moon should delight skywatchers across the Americas, Europe, and Africa. And all month long, the Coma star cluster (aka, the Coma Berenices star cluster, or Melotte 111) is a great target for binoculars in the evening.

What’s Up: May 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA

Apr 29, 2022  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What are some skywatching highlights in May 2022? May provides some great planet spotting, including a close conjunction of Jupiter and Mars. At mid-month, a total eclipse of the Moon should delight skywatchers across the Americas, Europe, and Africa. And all month long, the Coma star cluster (aka, the Coma Berenices star cluster, or Melotte 111) is a great target for binoculars in the evening. YouTube Full Description (i.e., “Show More”) 0:00 Intro 0:11 Planet-spotting opportunities 1:02 Lunar eclipse 2:27 The Coma star cluster 3:33 May Moon phases Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch….

Chapters

Intro

0:00

Planet-spotting opportunities

0:11

Lunar eclipse

1:02

The Coma star cluster

2:27

May Moon phases

3:33

Transcript:

What’s Up for May? The planets of dusk and dawn, a lunar eclipse, and the Coma star cluster.

May begins and ends with a couple of great planet-spotting opportunities. On May 2nd, look to the west about 45 minutes after sunset to find Mercury about 10 degrees off the horizon, accompanied by a slim crescent moon. Just to the south of the Moon is brilliant red giant star Aldebaran, which should be roughly the same brightness as Mercury. (And by the way, this is the only chance to spot a naked-eye planet in the early evening until August.)

Then in the last week of May, you can watch each morning as Jupiter and Mars get increasingly close in the predawn sky. Their morning meetup culminates in a close conjunction that you can watch on the 28th through the 30th, where they’ll be separated by barely the width of the full moon. Should look incredible with binoculars, where you can also see Jupiter’s largest moons.

Skywatchers in the Western Hemisphere can look forward to a total lunar eclipse in mid-May. The event will be visible across the Americas, Europe, and Africa – basically anywhere the Moon is above the horizon at the time.

The visible part of the eclipse begins about 10:30pm U.S. Eastern time on May 15th, with totality starting an hour later and lasting for about an hour and a half. Those in the Eastern U.S. will see the eclipse start with the Moon well above the horizon. For the Central U.S., the eclipse starts about an hour and a half after dark, with the Moon relatively low in the sky. On the West coast of the U.S., the Moon rises with totality beginning or already underway, so you’ll want to find a clear view toward the southeast if viewing from there.

Now, lunar eclipses are the ones that are safe to look at directly with your eyes, binoculars, or a telescope (unlike solar eclipses).

The Moon takes on a dim, reddish hue during the period of totality. Even though the Moon is fully immersed in Earth’s shadow at that time, red wavelengths of sunlight filter through Earth’s atmosphere and fall onto the Moon’s surface. One way to think of this is that a total lunar eclipse shows us a projection of all the sunrises and sunsets happening on the planet at that moment.

So check your local details for this eclipse, and find lots more eclipse info from NASA at the address on your screen.

Finally in May, a really nice target for binoculars: the Coma star cluster. This loose, open star cluster displays 40 or 50 stars spread over a region of sky about three finger-widths wide. The brightest stars in the cluster form a distinctive Y shape, as seen here.

The Coma star cluster is located about 300 light years away, making it the second closest open cluster to Earth after the Hyades cluster in Taurus.

To find the Coma star cluster, look southward for the constellation Leo. It can be easiest to start from the Big Dipper, toward the north, and use the two “pointer stars” on the end which always point you toward Leo. Once you’ve identified Leo, the Coma star cluster is about 15 degrees to the east of the triangle of stars representing the lion’s hindquarters. It’s relatively easy to find with binoculars, even under light-polluted urban skies – as long as it’s clear out.

So here’s wishing you clear skies for finding the Coma star cluster and any other wonders you discover in the night sky in May.

Here are the phases of the Moon for May.

Stay up to date with all of NASA’s missions to explore the solar system and beyond at nasa.gov. I’m Preston Dyches from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and that’s What’s Up for this month.

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NASA Image of the Day, JPL News Month in Review, Total Solar Eclipse, and Announces 2021 Class of Astronaut Candidates, Part 1

NASA Image of the Day, JPL News Month in Review, Total Solar Eclipse, and Announces 2021 Class of Astronaut Candidates, Part 1

NASA Image of the Day

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Thursday, December 2, 2021, MONTH IN REVIEW 

What’s UP – December 2021,

Are Water Plumes Spraying from Europa? NASA’s Europa Clipper Is on the Case, Nov 30, 2021

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Sends a Picture Postcard from Mars, Nov 23, 2021

New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler’s Total Count, Nov 22, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Captures Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter, Nov 18, 2021

One Year from Launch: US-European Satellite to Track World’s Water, Nov 17, 2021

Twin of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Begins Terrain Tests, Nov 17, 2021

Live Feed of the Dec. 4, 2021 Total Solar Eclipse

Streamed live 23 hours ago 12.3.2021  NASA

NASA Announces 2021 Class of Astronaut Candidates

Streamed live on Dec 6, 2021  NASA

NASA Image of the Day

Snoopy to Fly Aboard Artemis I

Snoopy, the Zero G Indicator for the Artemis I mission, was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 2 2021.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft onboard from Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The IXPE spacecraft is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars. Launch occurred at 1:00 a.m. EST. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft onboard from Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

Observing a Dark Nebula

This stunning image captures a small region on the edge of the inky Coalsack Nebula, aldwell

Exploring the Secrets of the Universe

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches on the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) mission from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6) spacecraft hosts NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and the NASA-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph (UVSC) Pathfinder. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Lifts Off!

NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD, launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Eclipse Over Antarctica

This image of our home planet shows how Earth looked from more than 950,000 miles, or 1.5 million kilometers, away during the total solar eclipse visible in Antarctica on Dec. 4, 2021

Become a Flight Director … And Perhaps a Legend

Christopher Kraft, flight director during Project Mercury, works at his console inside the Flight Control area at Mercury Mission Control.

Photographing Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its black-and-white navigation cameras to capture panoramas of this scene at two times of day on Nov. 16, 2021

Eagle, Omega Nebula, Trifid, and Lagoon: Four Famous Nebulae

These four nebulae are known for their breathtaking beauty: the Eagle Nebula (which contains the Pillars of Creation), the Omega Nebula, the Trifid Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula

GMT312_ISS_Flyaround_Part2_1087

Dragons-Eye View

As the Crew-2 mission departed the International Space Station aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour, the crew snapped this image of the station.

Hubble’s View of Planetary Nebula Reveals Complex Structure

NGC 6891 is a bright, asymmetrical planetary nebula in the constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin

Black Hole Collision May Have Exploded with Light

This artist’s concept shows a supermassive black hole surrounded by a disk of gas

Hubble Witnesses Shock Wave of Colliding Gases in Running Man Nebula

Mounded, luminous clouds of gas and dust glow in this Hubble image of a Herbig-Haro object known as HH 45.

Stay Tuned for DART!

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory <jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov> 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

MONTH IN REVIEW

 

 

 

What’s Up – December 2021
December 2021 skywatching highlights: A string of sunset planets, a chance to spy 2021’s brightest comet, and the annual Geminid meteor shower won’t be completely squashed by a bright Moon.
› Watch now

What are some skywatching highlights in December 2021? See three planets after sunset, but say goodbye to Venus as the “Evening Star” at the end of the month. Then have a hunt for newly discovered Comet Leonard in the early morning through mid-month. Finally, get up early on Dec. 14 to watch for Geminid meteors after local moonset, around 2 a.m.

Transcript:

What’s Up for December? Your early evening highlights, a chance to catch a comet, and the annual Geminid meteors.

On December 6th through the 10th, look westward following sunset for the Moon visiting Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter in turn. The Moon’s crescent fills out as it appears higher in the sky each evening over the course of the week.

Enjoy the view of dazzling Venus as the “evening star” while it lasts, though. Our cloud-covered neighbor planet will sink ever closer to the horizon during the month, disappearing for most of us by New Years’. It’ll reappear in late January as a morning planet preceding the sunrise, and won’t be back in evening skies until December of next year.

Next in December, there’s a recently discovered comet on its way into the inner solar system that might be worth trying to observe. It’s known as Comet Leonard, and it will be at its closest to Earth on December 12th, just a couple of weeks before it reaches its closest distance from the Sun.

Now, comets are notoriously difficult to predict in terms of brightness and visibility. Comet Leonard is predicted to peak at a brightness that will probably require binoculars to spot it. There’s a chance it could be bright enough to see with the unaided eye, but again, with comets, you really never know.

In the first couple of weeks of December, Comet Leonard can be found in the east before sunrise, passing between Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper. It approaches the horizon right around the time of its closest approach to Earth, meaning it’ll likely be brighter but more challenging to observe. It then switches over to being an evening object after around Dec. 14th, for just a little while after the Sun sets – as it begins its long haul outward from the Sun again, progressively fading in brightness.

Finally, the Geminid meteors are a highlight of December skies each year. This year’s meteor shower peaks overnight on December 13th and 14th. Apart from the weather, the phase of the Moon is usually the main factor in whether a meteor shower will have good viewing any given year. This year, the Moon will be almost 80% full at the peak of the Geminids, which isn’t ideal. However, that bright Moon will set somewhere around 2 a.m. wherever you’re located, leaving a couple of hours for meteor watching before dawn.

The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini, which you’ll find high in the west. Now while most annual meteor showers are caused by Earth passing through trails of dust-sized particles of comet debris, the Geminids are one of the few meteor showers that are caused by debris from an asteroid that crosses Earth’s orbit – in this case, one called Phaethon.

Recently, NASA scientists shared findings that suggest the difference between an asteroid and a comet might be less clear than we realized, with fizzing sodium on Phaethon playing the same role as vaporizing ice on comets.

And whether you catch a glimpse of Comet Leonard, or meteors from Asteroid Phaethon, both are reminders of the deep connections between Earth and the rest of the solar system that we discover because we look outward, and we explore.

Here are the phases of the Moon for December. You can catch up on all of NASA’s missions to explore the solar system and beyond at nasa.gov. I’m Preston Dyches from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and that’s What’s Up for this month.

What’s Up: December 2021 Skywatching Tips from NASA  3:19

Dec 2, 2021  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What are some skywatching highlights in December 2021? See three planets after sunset, but say goodbye to Venus as the “Evening Star” at the end of the month. Then have a hunt for newly discovered Comet Leonard in the early morning through mid-month. Finally, get up early on Dec. 14 to watch for Geminid meteors after local moonset, around 2 a.m. Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up….

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videos/whats-up-december-2021?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

 

Are Water Plumes Spraying from Europa? NASA’s Europa Clipper Is on the Case

Nov 30, 2021

This triptych image shows views of Jupiter’s moon Europa as taken by various NASA spacecraft, including Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and Galileo.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details

Finding plumes at Europa is an exciting prospect, but scientists warn it’ll be tricky, even from up close.

In 2005, images of a brilliant watery plume erupting from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus captivated the world. The giant column of vapor, ice particles, and organic molecules spraying from the moon’s south polar region suggested that there’s a liquid water ocean below Enceladus’ ice shell and confirmed the moon is geologically active. The plume also thrust Enceladus and other worlds in the outer solar system, with no atmospheres and far from the heat of the Sun, toward the top of NASA’s list of places to search for signs of life.

Scientists now are preparing for a mission to another ice-covered ocean world with possible plumes: Jupiter’s moon Europa. Scheduled to launch in 2024, NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will study the moon from its deep interior to its surface to determine whether it has ingredients that make it a viable home for life.

This composite image shows suspected plumes of water vapor erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa. The image of the plume was made from data collected by NASA’s Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph in 2014. The image of Europa itself is made from data from NASA’s Galileo and Voyager missions. Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center Full Image Details

Like Enceladus, Europa is geologically dynamic, meaning both ice-covered moons generate heat inside as their solid layers stretch and flex from the gravitational tug-of-war with their host planets and neighboring moons. This, instead of heat from the Sun, keeps subsurface water from freezing. The heat may also help produce or circulate life’s chemical building blocks at their seafloors, including carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

But that’s where the similarities end.

“A lot of people think Europa is going to be Enceladus 2.0, with plumes constantly spraying from the surface,” said Lynnae Quick, a member of the science team behind Clipper’s Europa Imaging System (EIS) cameras. “But we can’t look at it that way; Europa is a totally different beast,” said Quick, who’s based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Evidence suggests Europa may vent water from its subsurface just like Enceladus. For example, scientists using NASA’s Galileo spacecraftNASA’s Hubble Telescope, and large Earth-based telescopes have reported detections of faint water plumes or their chemical components at Europa.

But no one is certain. “We’re still in the space where there’s really intriguing evidence, but none of it is a slam dunk,” said Matthew McKay Hedman, a member of Europa Clipper’s Mapping Imaging Spectrometer for Europa (MISE) science team and associate professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Idaho.

This image of the water jets at Saturn’s moon Enceladus was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 27, 2005. Enceladus is backlit by the Sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Full Image Details

Scientists are drawn to plumes for a couple of reasons. First, they’re undeniably cool: “We’re scientists, but we’re also human,” said Shawn Brooks, who is working with Europa Clipper’s Europa Ultraviolet Spectrograph (Europa-UVS) science team and is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

But more practically, Brooks said, plumes offer scientists easier access to Europa’s interior. “It all comes down to whether Europa is habitable, and that comes down to having some understanding of what is happening below the surface, which we can’t reach yet,” he said.

In other words, the magic of Europa, an archetype for a potentially habitable world, is hidden from view deep within the moon. Compared to Enceladus, which is the size of Texas, Europa is about a quarter of Earth’s size, or a bit smaller than Earth’s moon. And evidence suggests Europa has a much deeper saltwater ocean than Enceladus, possibly 40 to 100 miles (about 60 to 160 kilometers) deep, which means it could contain about twice as much water as Earth’s oceans. Some scientists hypothesize that Europa’s ocean could be reacting with superheated rocks below its seafloor, possibly through hydrothermal vents. On Earth, such areas are hotbeds of chemical activity that nourishes innumerable creatures.

Scientists say there also could be large pockets of melted water in Europa’s ice shell, which are more likely than the ocean to be the source of plumes. These pockets could produce cozy habitats for organisms as well.

Because it’s much closer to Jupiter than Enceladus is to Saturn, more heat is generated at Europa from friction produced as it circles its host planet. Given that internal heat stimulates geological activity on rocky worlds, Europa is expected to have more extensive geology than Enceladus. Some scientists predict that Europa has plate tectonics that shift and recycle the icy blocks making up the moon’s surface. If so, Europa could be circulating nutrients produced on the surface by radiation from Jupiter, such as oxygen, to pockets of liquid in the ice shell or perhaps to the ocean itself. Through Europa Clipper, scientists will have a chance to test some of their predictions by analyzing the chemical makeup of plumes or the traces they may leave on the surface.

Scientists warn that Europan plumes, even if they’re there, could be hard to detect even from close-up. They may be sporadic, and they may be small and thin, given that Europa’s gravity, which is much stronger than Enceladus’, likely would keep these water plumes close to the surface. That’s a drastic departure from Enceladus’ spectacular vapor column: It’s always on and bigger than the moon itself, spraying icy particles hundreds of miles above the surface. “Even if they’re there, Europa’s plumes may not be that photogenic,” Hedman said.

Though Europa Clipper scientists are devising a variety of creative strategies to find active plumes when the spacecraft begins exploring Europa in 2031, they’re not relying on them to understand what’s going on inside the moon. “We don’t have to catch one for a successful mission,” Quick said.

Quick added that every instrument aboard Clipper can contribute evidence of habitable conditions below the surface, regardless of active plumes.

A few examples of how the science team will search for potential plumes include Europa Clipper’s camera suite, EIS. It will scout for plumes near Europa’s surface partly by looking for their silhouettes at Europa’s limb, or edge, when the moon is illuminated by the light of Jupiter as it passes in front of the planet. EIS will snap photos of plumes should they appear, as well as plume deposits that might be visible on the surface. The Europa-UVS will also strive to detect plumes in ultraviolet light, including at the edge of the moon when Europa passes in front of nearby stars, and can measure the chemical makeup of such plumes. A thermal camera, the Europa Thermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS), will look for hotspots on the surface that may be evidence of active or recent eruptions.

The Europa Clipper team is set to succeed whether or not researchers find plumes at Europa, though many scientists hope for a spectacular water show to enrich the mission and our understanding of Europa. “I do suspect Europa is active and letting some material escape,” Hedman said. “But I expect that when we actually get to understand how it’s doing that, it’s not going to be what anyone expected.”

More About the Mission

Missions such as Europa Clipper contribute to the field of astrobiology, the interdisciplinary research on the variables and conditions of distant worlds that could harbor life as we know it. While Europa Clipper is not a life-detection mission, it will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Europa and investigate whether the icy moon, with its subsurface ocean, has the capability to support life. Understanding Europa’s habitability will help scientists better understand how life developed on Earth and the potential for finding life beyond our planet.

Managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, executes program management of the Europa Clipper mission.

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/are-water-plumes-spraying-from-europa-nasas-europa-clipper-is-on-the-case?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

More information about Europa can be found here:

europa.nasa.gov

News Media Contact

Gretchen McCartney

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-6215

gretchen.p.mccartney@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

Written by Lonnie Shekhtman

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

2021-233

 

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Sends a Picture Postcard From Mars
An artistic interpretation of Curiosity’s view high up on a Martian mountain was created by mission team members who were stunned by the sweeping landscape.
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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Sends a Picture Postcard From Mars

Nov 23, 2021

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its navigation cameras to capture panoramas of this scene. Blue, orange, and green color was added to a combination of the panoramas for an artistic interpretation of the scene.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details

An artistic interpretation of Curiosity’s view high up on a Martian mountain was created by mission team members who were stunned by the sweeping landscape.

NASA’s Curiosity rover captured a remarkable image from its most recent perch on the side of Mars’ Mount Sharp. The mission team was so inspired by the beauty of the landscape, they combined two versions of the black-and-white images from different times of the day and added colors to create a rare postcard from the Red Planet.

Curiosity captures a 360-degree view of its surroundings with its black-and-white navigation cameras each time it completes a drive. To make the resulting panorama easier to send to Earth, the rover keeps it in a compressed, low-quality format. But when the rover team saw the view from Curiosity’s most recent stopping point, the scene was just too pretty not to capture it in the highest quality that the navigation cameras are capable of.

Many of the rover’s most stunning panoramas are from the color Mastcam instrument, which has far higher resolution than the navigation cameras. That’s why the team added colors of their own to this latest image. The blue, orange, and green tints are not what the human eye would see; instead, they represent the scene as viewed at different times of day.

On Nov. 16, 2021 (the 3,299th Martian day, or sol, of the mission), engineers commanded Curiosity to take two sets of mosaics, or composite images, capturing the scene at 8:30 a.m. and again at 4:10 p.m. local Mars time. The two times of day provided contrasting lighting conditions that brought out a variety of landscape details. The team then combined the two scenes in an artistic re-creation that includes elements from the morning scene in blue, the afternoon scene in orange, and a combination of both in green.

At the center of the image is the view back down Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain that Curiosity has been driving up since 2014. Rounded hills can be seen in the distance at center-right; Curiosity got a closer view of these back in July, when the rover started to see intriguing changes in the landscape. A field of sand ripples known as the “Sands of Forvie” stretches a quarter- to a half-mile (400 to 800 meters) away.

At the far right of the panorama is the craggy “Rafael Navarro Mountain,” named after a Curiosity team scientist who passed away earlier this year. Poking up behind it is the upper part of Mount Sharp, far above the area Curiosity is exploring. Mount Sharp lies inside Gale Crater, a 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) basin formed by an ancient impact; Gale Crater’s distant rim stands 7,500 feet tall (2.3 kilometers), and is visible on the horizon about 18 to 25 miles away (30 to 40 kilometers).

The Curiosity mission is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California.

For more information, please visit the following links:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-curiosity-rover-sends-a-picture-postcard-from-mars?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/home/

and

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

News Media Contact

Andrew Good

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-2433

andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2021-232

New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler’s Total Count
Scientists have added a whopping 301 newly confirmed exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally.
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New Deep Learning Method Adds 301 Planets to Kepler’s Total Count

Nov 22, 2021

Over 4,5000 planets have been found around other stars, but scientists expect that our galaxy contains millions of planets. There are multiple methods for detecting these small, faint bodies around much larger, bright stars.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists have added a whopping 301 newly confirmed exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally.

Scientists recently added a whopping 301 newly validated exoplanets to the total exoplanet tally. The throng of planets is the latest to join the 4,569 already validated planets orbiting a multitude of distant stars. How did scientists discover such a huge number of planets, seemingly all at once? The answer lies with a new deep neural network called ExoMiner.

When a planet crosses directly between us and its star, we see the star dim slightly because the planet is blocking out a portion of the light. This is one method scientists use to find exoplanets. They make a plot called a light curve with the brightness of the star versus time. Using this plot, scientists can see what percentage of the star’s light the planet blocks and how long it takes the planet to cross the disk of the star.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Deep neural networks are machine learning methods that automatically learn a task when provided with enough data. ExoMiner is a new deep neural network that leverages NASA’s Supercomputer, Pleiades, and can distinguish real exoplanets from different types of imposters, or “false positives.” Its design is inspired by various tests and properties human experts use to confirm new exoplanets. And it learns by using past confirmed exoplanets and false positive cases.

ExoMiner supplements people who are pros at combing through data and deciphering what is and isn’t a planet. Specifically, data gathered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft and K2, its follow-on mission. For missions like Kepler, with thousands of stars in its field of view, each holding the possibility to host multiple potential exoplanets, it’s a hugely time-consuming task to pore over massive datasets. ExoMiner solves this dilemma.

NASA’s Eyes on Exoplanets shows the location of over 4,500 planets around other stars outside our solar system. Users can also see information about the physical features of the planets (where known) and the stars they orbit. View the full interactive experience at Eyes on Exoplanets.

“Unlike other exoplanet-detecting machine learning programs, ExoMiner isn’t a black box – there is no mystery as to why it decides something is a planet or not,” said Jon Jenkins, exoplanet scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “We can easily explain which features in the data lead ExoMiner to reject or confirm a planet.”

What is the difference between a confirmed and validated exoplanet? A planet is “confirmed,” when different observation techniques reveal features that can only be explained by a planet. A planet is “validated” using statistics – meaning how likely or unlikely it is to be a planet based on the data.

In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, the team at Ames shows how ExoMiner discovered the 301 planets using data from the remaining set of possible planets – or candidates – in the Kepler Archive. All 301 machine-validated planets were originally detected by the Kepler Science Operations Center pipeline and promoted to planet candidate status by the Kepler Science Office. But until ExoMiner, no one was able to validate them as planets.

The paper also demonstrates how ExoMiner is more precise and consistent in ruling out false positives and better able to reveal the genuine signatures of planets orbiting their parent stars – all while giving scientists the ability to see in detail what led ExoMiner to its conclusion.

“When ExoMiner says something is a planet, you can be sure it’s a planet,” added Hamed Valizadegan, ExoMiner project lead and machine learning manager with the Universities Space Research Association at Ames. “ExoMiner is highly accurate and in some ways more reliable than both existing machine classifiers and the human experts it’s meant to emulate because of the biases that come with human labeling.”

None of the newly confirmed planets are believed to be Earth-like or in the habitable zone of their parent stars. But they do share similar characteristics to the overall population of confirmed exoplanets in our galactic neighborhood.

“These 301 discoveries help us better understand planets and solar systems beyond our own, and what makes ours so unique,” said Jenkins.

As the search for more exoplanets continues – with missions using transit photometry such as NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, and the European Space Agency’s upcoming PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars, or PLATO, mission – ExoMiner will have more opportunities to prove it’s up to the task.

“Now that we’ve trained ExoMiner using Kepler data, with a little fine-tuning, we can transfer that learning to other missions, including TESS, which we’re currently working on,” said Valizadegan. “There’s room to grow.”

NASA Ames managed the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information, please visit the following links:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/new-deep-learning-method-adds-301-planets-to-keplers-total-count?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

News Media Contact

Rachel Hoover

650-604-4789

rachel.hoover@nasa.gov

Calla Cofield

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

626-808-2469

calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

2021-231

NASA’s Perseverance Captures Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter
Recently downlinked imagery of a September flight has allowed the rover imaging team to put together a video of rotorcraft performing to near-perfection.
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Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter

Nov 18, 2021

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s Flight 13: Zoomed-In View From Perseverance

Unlisted

Nov 17, 2021  JPLraw

Video from the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover captures a closeup view of the 13th flight of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, on Sept. 4, 2021. For more information about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ nasa.gov/perseverance Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Recently downlinked imagery of a September flight has allowed the rover imaging team to put together a video of rotorcraft performing to near-perfection.

Video from the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover captures a closeup view of the 13th flight of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, on Sept. 4, 2021.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Video footage from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s 13th flight on Sept. 4 provides the most detailed look yet of the rotorcraft in action.

Ingenuity is currently prepping for its 16th flight, scheduled to take place no earlier than Saturday, Nov. 20, but the 160.5-second Flight 13 stands out as one of Ingenuity’s most complicated. It involved flying into varied terrain within the “Séítah” geological feature and taking images of an outcrop from multiple angles for the rover team. Acquired from an altitude of 26 feet (8 meters), the images complement those collected during Flight 12, providing valuable insight for Perseverance scientists and rover drivers.

Captured by the rover’s two-camera Mastcam-Z, one video clip of Flight 13 shows a majority of the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft’s flight profile. The other provides a closeup of takeoff and landing, which was acquired as part of a science observation intended to measure the dust plumes generated by the helicopter.

“The value of Mastcam-Z really shines through with these video clips,” said Justin Maki, deputy principal investigator for the Mastcam-Z instrument at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Even at 300 meters [328 yards] away, we get a magnificent closeup of takeoff and landing through Mastcam-Z’s ‘right eye.’ And while the helicopter is little more than a speck in the wide view taken through the ‘left eye,’ it gives viewers a good feel for the size of the environment that Ingenuity is exploring.”

Video footage from the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover provides a big-picture perspective of the 13th flight of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, on Sept. 4, 2021.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

During takeoff, Ingenuity kicks up a small plume of dust that the right camera, or “eye,” captures moving to the right of the helicopter during ascent. After its initial climb to planned maximum altitude of 26 feet (8 meters), the helicopter performs a small pirouette to line up its color camera for scouting. Then Ingenuity pitches over, allowing the rotors’ thrust to begin moving it horizontally through the thin Martian air before moving offscreen. Later, the rotorcraft returns and lands in the vicinity of where it took off. The team targeted a different landing spot – about 39 feet (12 meters) from takeoff – to avoid a ripple of sand it landed on at the completion of Flight 12.

Though the view from Mastcam-Z’s left eye shows less of the helicopter and more of Mars than the right, the wide angle provides a glimpse of the unique way that the Ingenuity team programmed the flight to ensure success.

“We took off from the crater floor and flew over an elevated ridgeline before dipping into Séítah,” said Ingenuity Chief Pilot Håvard Grip of JPL. “Since the helicopter’s navigation filter prefers flat terrain, we programmed in a waypoint near the ridgeline, where the helicopter slows down and hovers for a moment. Our flight simulations indicated that this little ‘breather’ would help the helicopter keep track of its heading in spite of the significant terrain variations. It does the same on the way back. It’s awesome to actually get to see this occur, and it reinforces the accuracy of our modeling and our understanding of how to best operate Ingenuity.”

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s 13th Flight: Wide-Angle Video From Perseverance (Annotated)

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Nov 17, 2021  JPLraw

Video footage from the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover provides a big-picture perspective of the 13th flight of the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, on Sept. 4, 2021. For more information about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ nasa.gov/perseverance Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

The wide-angle view also shows how Ingenuity maintains altitude during the flight. After an initial ascent to 26 feet (8 meters) altitude, the helicopter’s laser altimeter notes a change in elevation of the terrain below as it heads northeast toward the ridgeline. Ingenuity automatically adjusts, climbing slightly as it approaches the ridge and then descending to remain 26 feet (8 meters) above the undulating surface. Once it flies to the right, out of view, Ingenuity collects 10 images of the rocky outcrop with its color camera before heading back into frame and returning to land in the targeted location.

After Flight 13, Ingenuity went quiet in October, along with NASA’s other Mars spacecraft during Mars solar conjunction, when the Red Planet and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, precluding most communications. Following conjunction, Ingenuity performed a short experimental flight test before undertaking Flight 15, which began the multi-flight journey back to the vicinity of “Wright Brothers Field,” its starting point back in April.

More About Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages the operations demonstration activity during its extended mission for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Martin Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

More About Perseverance

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more information, please visit the following links:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-perseverance-captures-challenging-flight-by-mars-helicopter?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

For more about Perseverance:

mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

and

nasa.gov/perseverance

News Media Contact

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011

agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2021-230

One Year From Launch: US-European Satellite to Track World’s Water
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography spacecraft enters the home stretch as an international team prepares this next-generation satellite for launch in 2022.
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Satellite to Track World’s Water

Nov 17, 2021

Engineers integrate separate parts of the SWOT satellite into one in a clean room facility in Cannes, France.

Credit: Thales Alenia Space

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography spacecraft enters the home stretch as an international team prepares this next-generation satellite for launch in 2022.

An international team of engineers and technicians has finished assembling a next-generation satellite that will make the first global survey of Earth’s surface water and study fine-scale ocean currents. The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission is just a year out from launch, and the final set of tests on the spacecraft have started.

SWOT is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the United Kingdom Space Agency (UK Space Agency). The SUV-size satellite will collect data on the height of Earth’s salt- and fresh water – including oceans, lakes, and rivers – enabling researchers to track the volume and location of water around the world.

“SWOT will be our first global snapshot of all surface water that we have now, how the water moves around the planet, and what happens to it in a new climate.”

Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, SWOT Program Scientist

SWOT will help to measure the effects of climate change on the planet’s water, such as the processes by which small, swirling ocean currents absorb excess heat, moisture, and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The mission’s measurements will also aid in following how much water flows into and out of the planet’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, as well as regional shifts in sea level.

“SWOT will be our first global snapshot of all surface water that we have now, how the water moves around the planet, and what happens to it in a new climate,” said Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, SWOT program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

A team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California shipped the scientific heart of the satellite to Cannes, France, in June. Ever since, they’ve been working with colleagues from CNES and the French space agency’s contractor, Thales Alenia Space, to connect the part of the spacecraft holding the science instruments to the rest of the satellite and ensure that the electrical connections function properly.

“The best part has been seeing two complex systems that were built across the world from each other by different teams come together and work,” said JPL’s Said Kaki, the deputy project manager for SWOT. Kaki, along with an initial team of about 25 people from JPL, followed the mission’s science instruments to France in June. There are certain tests and procedures that the team needs to conduct in person, so they are living and working thousands of miles from home until the SWOT satellite is shipped to its launch site at Vandenberg Space Force Base in Central California in September 2022.

“Being far away from home for so long is not always easy, but luckily, I’m surrounded by amazing coworkers,” Nacer Chahat, the JPL payload system engineer for the mission, said from Cannes. He has been onsite overseeing the spacecraft testing and helping to troubleshoot any challenges that arise.

Testing Phase

The next six months or so will involve three phases of testing to make sure the satellite will be able to survive the rigors of launch and the harsh environment of space. Engineers and technicians will attach the satellite to a device called a shake table, which simulates the intense vibrations and rattling of launch. Then the spacecraft will move into an acoustic chamber to bombard it with high-decibel sounds similar to those of blastoff. Next, they’ll move SWOT into a chamber that mimics the temperature swings and vacuum of space. Last but not least, engineers will put the satellite through additional tests to make sure its systems can withstand any electromagnetic interference, including signals from various parts of the spacecraft and from other satellites.

“After that, we button up the spacecraft and ship it to the launch site,” said Kaki. At Vandenberg, the team will put the finishing touches on the satellite to ready it for launch, which is scheduled for no earlier than November 2022.

The mission’s science team is also in full swing, preparing for when the spacecraft is in orbit. Researchers are using simulated data to put their analytic tools through their paces, as well as prepping for the period right after launch called “calibration and validation.” This is when researchers compare data from the satellite with measurements taken on the ground in order to ensure the science instruments are collecting data properly and measuring what they’re supposed to be measuring.

The international nature of the mission means that, like the engineering team, the science team spans continents. “The best part of my job as the mission’s project scientist is being able to work with a large international research team with diverse interests and backgrounds in oceanography and hydrology,” said Lee-Lueng Fu, the JPL project scientist for SWOT. “This experience has broadened the horizon of my scientific career even after 40 years of devotion to Earth research.”

More About the Mission

SWOT is being jointly developed by NASA and CNES, with contributions from the CSA and the UK Space Agency. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, leads the U.S. component of the project. For the flight system payload, NASA is providing the Ka-band Radar Interferometer (KaRIn) instrument, a GPS science receiver, a laser retroreflector, and a two-beam microwave radiometer. CNES is providing the Doppler Orbitography and Radioposition Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) system, nadir altimeter, the KaRIn RF subsystem (with support from the UK Space Agency), the platform, and ground control segment. CSA is providing the KaRIn high-power transmitter assembly. NASA is providing associated launch services.

For more information, please visit the following links:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/one-year-from-launch-us-european-satellite-to-track-worlds-water?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

To learn more about the mission, visit:

https://swot.jpl.nasa.gov/

Check Our Planet’s Vital Signs With NASA’s Eyes on the Earth

News Media Contact

Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649

jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

2021-229

Twin of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Begins Terrain Tests
OPTIMISM, the full-scale engineering model of Perseverance, begins a series of rigorous tests to assess the risk of potential driving hazards on the surface of the Red Planet.
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Twin of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Begins Terrain Tests

Nov 17, 2021

Updated with new features, the twin of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover arrives at JPL’s Mars Yard garage on October 29, 2021.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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OPTIMISM, the full-scale engineering model of Perseverance, begins a series of rigorous tests to assess the risk of potential driving hazards on the surface of the Red Planet.

On a recent day in November, the car-size rover rolled slowly forward, then stopped, perched on the threshold of a Martian landscape. But this rover, named OPTIMISM, wasn’t on the Red Planet. And the landscape was a boulder-strewn mock-up of the real Mars – the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

OPTIMISM, a twin of the Perseverance rover that is exploring Jezero Crater on Mars, will perform a crucial job in the weeks ahead: navigating the Mars Yard’s slopes and hazards, drilling sample cores from boulders, and storing the samples in metal tubes – just like Perseverance is doing in its hunt for signs of ancient microbial life. Short for Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars, OPTIMISM is more generically known as a vehicle system test bed, and the recently upgraded rover begins testing out new equipment for the first time this month.

The tests help ensure that OPTIMISM’s twin on Mars can safely execute the commands sent by controllers on Earth. They also could potentially reveal unexpected problems Perseverance might encounter.

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“The size and shape of rocks in the visual field – will they turn into obstacles or not?” said Bryan Martin, the flight software and test beds manager at JPL. “We test a lot of that, figure out what kinds of things to avoid. What we have safely traversed around here has informed rover drivers in planning their traverses on Mars. We’ve done so much testing on the ground we can be confident in it. It works.”

About as long as a doubles tennis court and twice as wide, the Mars Yard has served as a testing ground for many a fully-engineered rover twin – from the engineering model of the very first, tiny Sojourner that landed on Mars in 1997 to the Spirit and Opportunity missions that began in 2004 to the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers exploring Mars today.

In each case, a rover double has scaled slopes, dodged obstacles, or helped rover planners puzzle out new paths on the simulated patch of Mars. OPTIMISM first rolled out into the Mars Yard in September 2020, when it conducted mobility tests.

But it recently received some key updates to match features available on Perseverance, including additional mobility software and the bulk of the exquisitely complex sample caching system. And while the team has already performed tests using the coring drill at the end of OPTIMISM’s robotic arm, they’ll be testing the newly installed Adaptive Caching Assembly for the first time in the Mars Yard. The assembly on Perseverance is responsible for storing rock and sediment samples. Some or all of these initial samples could be among those returned to Earth by a future mission.

“Now we can do it end-to-end in the test bed,” said the Vehicle System Ted Bed systems engineering lead, Jose G. Trujillo-Rojas. “Drill into the rock, collect the core sample, and now we have the mechanism responsible to cache that sample in the cylinder.”

And if problems arise on Perseverance on Mars, OPTIMISM can be used as a platform to figure out what went wrong and also how to fix it.

Twin Twins

On this November day, a heavy-duty vehicle transported OPTIMISM from a JPL test lab to the Mars Yard garage. Recently expanded, the structure also provides shelter to one of Curiosity’s Earthly counterparts: MAGGIE, or Mars Automated Giant Gizmo for Integrated Engineering. A second Curiosity double, a skeletal version called “Scarecrow” that lacks a computer brain, is housed in a separate shed in the Mars Yard.

MAGGIE would be joining OPTIMISM in the Mars Yard garage in the days ahead.

Engineering models of the Curiosity Mars rover (foreground) and the Perseverance Mars rover share space in the garage at JPL’s Mars Yard.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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But, for now, the test-bed crew was focused on OPTIMISM. “Straight 5 meters forward: Ready?” Leann Bowen, a test bed engineer, called out from a computer console inside the garage.

“All right, bring her home, Leann,” Trujillo-Rojas said.

With a whine of electric motors, OPTIMISM crept forward on its six metal wheels, stopping right on the mark on the garage’s concrete floor as members of the test-bed team looked on in their white lab coats. Through a wide-open door ahead of the rover, the Mars Yard beckoned.

Drilling core samples from terrestrial rocks in the Mars Yard and sealing them in metal tubes is not as straightforward as it might sound. JPL’s Mars team provides a variety of rock types for OPTIMISM to drill through, since the exact nature of the rock Perseverance will encounter often can’t be known in advance. Terrain is a variable, too: One previous test with the robotic arm involved parking the rover on a slope, then instructing it to drill.

“There was a possibility that the rover might slip,” Trujillo-Rojas said. “We wanted to test that first here on Earth before sending instructions to the rover on Mars. That was scary, because you can imagine if you drill this way, and the rover slightly slipped back, the drill could have gotten stuck.”

OPTIMISM drilled the core successfully, suggesting Perseverance also could pull off drilling on a slope if required.

Test Drive

With longer drives in Perseverance’s near future, another job for the Earth-bound twin will involve presenting new challenges to the rover’s autonomous navigation system, or AutoNav. Perseverance uses a powerful computer to make 3D maps using rover images of the terrain ahead, and uses those maps to plan its drive with minimal human assistance.

In Mars Yard tests, the twin rover might pause as it “thinks through” several possible choices – or even decides, unexpectedly, to avoid obstacles altogether and just go around.

“Seeing the rover autonomously move in the Mars Yard, you kind of get that sense of being connected to the rover on Mars,” he said. “It gives you that visual connection.”

Of course, OPTIMISM and its human team must contend with environmental factors very different from those encountered by Perseverance, which is built for freezing temperatures and intense radiation. Earth’s stronger gravity required OPTIMISM’s metal wheels to be thicker than its Martian counterpart’s. And its electronics sometimes must be cooled to avoid damage from Southern California’s summer temperatures – the opposite of the problem caused by deep cold on Mars.

“On Mars, we try to keep the rover warm,” Trujillo-Rojas said. “Here, we’re trying to keep it cool.”

Deer, bobcats, tarantulas, even occasional snakes, find their way into the Mars Yard. Wildfire in the region can fill the air with smoke. And testing and staffing schedules had to contend with COVID-19.

“We’ve been through a lot of challenges with this rover,” he said. “As soon as we were going to start building it, with hands-on integration, the pandemic happened. And then we had rains, and we got a lot of fire. We had to leave the lab – smoky!”

Now, a revamped OPTIMISM is ready to get back to work.

“It’s a big milestone for our team,” Trujillo-Rojas said.

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more information, please visit the following links:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/twin-of-nasas-perseverance-mars-rover-begins-terrain-tests?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211202-13

For more about Perseverance:

mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

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nasa.gov/perseverance

Where Is Perseverance Right Now?

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News Media Contact

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818-393-9011 / 818-393-2433

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Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

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Written by Pat Brennan

2021-228

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Live Feed of the Dec. 4, 2021 Total Solar Eclipse

Streamed live 23 hours ago 12.3.2021  NASA

Weather permitting, NASA TV will air a view of the Dec. 4, 2021, total solar eclipse from Union Glacier, Antarctica. The stream will start at 1:30 a.m. EST (06:30 UTC) and end at 3:37 a.m. EST (08:47 UTC). Totality begins at 2:44 a.m. EST (07:44 UTC). This stream is provided courtesy of Theo Boris and Christian Lockwood of the JM Pasachoff Antarctic Expedition. For more details about this total solar eclipse, visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/dec-4-20…. (The stream will not have audio from the source.)

NASA Announces 2021 Class of Astronaut Candidates

Streamed live on Dec 6, 2021  NASA

After evaluating more than 12,000 applications, we’ll introduce our 2021 astronaut candidates live at a ceremony at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. After completing training, these women and men could be eligible for a variety of flight assignments including missions on and around the Moon under Artemis. The astronaut candidates will join NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Johnson Center Director Vanessa Wyche, and Flight Operations Director Norm Knight on stage at the event. More info: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/na…

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NASA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory News – Month in Review – October 2021 

NASA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory News – Month in Review – October 2021 

JPL News – Month in Review

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory <jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov>

Friday, October 1, 2021

MONTH IN REVIEW

What’s Up – October 2021
What are some skywatching highlights in October? See several groupings of the Moon, planets, and stars at sunrise and sunset. Then get to know two bright stars that take turns with Polaris as North Star over thousands of years. Plus, Oct. 16 is International Observe the Moon Night!
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NASA’s Mars Fleet Lies Low With Sun Between Earth and Red Planet
The missions will continue collecting data about the Red Planet, though engineers back on Earth will stop sending commands to them until mid-October.
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  NASA’s Perseverance Rover Cameras Capture Mars Like Never Before
Scientists tap into an array of imagers aboard the six-wheeled explorer to get a big picture of the Red Planet.
› Read the full story

NASA’s InSight Finds Three Big Marsquakes, Thanks to Solar-Panel Dusting
The lander cleared enough dust from one solar panel to keep its seismometer on through the summer, allowing scientists to study the three biggest quakes they’ve seen on Mars.
› Read the full story

NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final
Led by NASA JPL, Team CoSTAR will participate in the SubT final this week to demonstrate multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments.
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NASA’s Delta-X Helps With Disaster Response in Wake of Hurricane Ida
Researchers flying a radar instrument over coastal wetlands in Louisiana helped with monitoring oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico.
› Read the full story

Solar Electric Propulsion Makes NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Go
Futuristic electric thrusters emitting a cool blue glow will guide the Psyche spacecraft through deep space to a metal-rich asteroid.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Captures a Mars Rock Feature in 3D
The rotorcraft captures nuances of rocky outcrop during aerial reconnaissance.
› Read the full story

Take a 3D Spin on Mars and Track NASA’s Perseverance Rover
Two interactive web experiences let you explore the Martian surface, as seen by cameras aboard the rover and orbiters flying overhead.
› Read the full story

Justin Simon Shepherds Perseverance Through First Phase of Martian Rock Sampling
The Johnson Space Center scientist was tasked with helping guide the way for mission’s first cored Mars rock sample.
› Read the full story

NASA Confirms Thousands of Massive, Ancient Volcanic Eruptions on Mars
Scientists found evidence that a region of northern Mars called Arabia Terra experienced thousands of “super eruptions,” the biggest volcanic eruptions known, over a 500-million-year period.
› Read the full story

Visionary Tech Concepts Could Pioneer the Future in Space
Dozens of concepts are being presented at this year’s NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium, including eight led by technologists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects Puzzle Pieces of Mars’ History
The rocks it has analyzed for sample collection are helping the team better understand a past marked by volcanic activity and water.
› Read the full story

Mars Perseverance Team Members to Be Recognized at Hispanic Heritage Awards
The three award recipients – Diana Trujillo, Christina Hernandez, and Clara O’Farrell – are engineers from the NASA rover team.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects First Mars Rock Sample
The rock core is now enclosed in an airtight titanium sample tube, and will be available for retrieval in the future.
› Read the full story

Planetary Radar Observes 1,000th Near-Earth Asteroid Since 1968
Seven days after this historic milestone, a massive antenna at NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone complex imaged another, far larger object.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Successfully Cores Its First Rock
Perseverance will obtain additional imagery of the sample tube before potentially completing the process of collecting its first scientifically-selected Mars sample.
› Read the full story

Improving Food Security Through Capacity Building
Millions of people suffer from food insecurity around the globe. With the help of Earth-observing satellites, the NASA-USAID SERVIR project is hoping to reduce that number.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Deep Space Network Looks to the Future
The DSN is being upgraded to communicate with more spacecraft than ever before and to accommodate evolving mission needs.
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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Cameras Capture Mars Like Never Before

Sep 23, 2021

Using its WATSON camera, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took this selfie over a rock nicknamed “Rochette,” on Sept.10, 2021, the 198th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Two holes can be seen where the rover used its robotic arm to drill rock core samples.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Scientists tap into an array of imagers aboard the six-wheeled explorer to get a big picture of the Red Planet.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has been exploring Jezero Crater for more than 217 Earth days (211 Martian days, or sols), and the dusty rocks there are beginning to tell their story – about a volatile young Mars flowing with lava and water.

That story, stretching billions of years into the past, is unfolding thanks in large part to the seven powerful science cameras aboard Perseverance. Able to home in on small features from great distances, take in vast sweeps of Martian landscape, and magnify tiny rock granules, these specialized cameras also help the rover team determine which rock samples offer the best chance to learn whether microscopic life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Altogether, some 800 scientists and engineers around the world make up the larger Perseverance team. That includes smaller teams, from a few dozen to as many as 100, for each of the rover’s cameras and instruments. And the teams behind the cameras must coordinate each decision about what to image.

“The imaging cameras are a huge piece of everything,” said Vivian Sun, the co-lead for Perseverance’s first science campaign at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “We use a lot of them every single day for science. They’re absolutely mission-critical.”

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-perseverance-rover-cameras-capture-mars-like-never-before?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nasajpl&utm_content=monthly20211001-19

Mars Report: Update on NASA’s Perseverance Rover SHERLOC Instrument (September 23rd, 2021)

Sep 23, 2021  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has been hard at work using the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) instrument to help determine the best rocks to sample and look for signs of ancient life. Mounted on the rover’s robotic arm, SHERLOC is the only instrument that can directly detect organics, which are building blocks for life. Because it characterizes the chemical composition of rocks, SHERLOC can also help scientists understand whether any of the rocks formed in an ancient habitable environment. SHERLOC features spectrometers, a laser, and cameras, including WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering). WATSON is a color camera that takes close-up images of rock grains and surface textures. This video provides an instrument update by Eva Scheller, one of the science team members from Caltech. For more information on Perseverance, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Watch as Caltech’s Eva Scheller, a member of the Perseverance science team, provides a snapshot of the rover’s SHERLOC science instrument. Mounted on the rover’s robotic arm, SHERLOC features spectrometers, a laser, and cameras, including WATSON, which takes close-up images of rock grains and surface textures.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The storytelling began soon after Perseverance landed in February, and the stunning images have been stacking up as the multiple cameras conduct their scientific investigations. Here’s how they work, along with a sampling of what some have found so far:

The Big Picture

Perseverance’s two navigation cameras – among nine engineering cameras – support the rover’s autonomous driving capability. And at each stop, the rover first employs those two cameras to get the lay of the land with a 360-degree view.

Perseverance looks back with one of its navigation cameras toward its tracks on July 1, 2021 (the 130th sol, or Martian day, of its mission), after driving autonomously 358 feet (109 meters) – its longest autonomous drive to date. The image has been processed to enhance the contrast.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Full Image Details

“The navigation camera data is really useful to have those images to do a targeted science follow-up with higher-resolution instruments such as SuperCam and Mastcam-Z,” Sun said.

Perseverance’s six hazard avoidance cameras, or Hazcams, include two pairs in front (with only a single pair in use at any one time) to help avoid trouble spots and to place the rover’s robotic arm on targets; the two rear Hazcams provide images to help place the rover in the context of the broader landscape.

Mastcam-Z, a pair of “eyes” on the rover’s mast, is built for the big picture: panoramic color shots, including 3D images, with zoom capability. It can also capture high-definition video.

Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera system to create this enhanced-color panorama, which scientists used to look for rock-sampling sites. The panorama is stitched together from 70 individual images taken on July 28, 2021, the 155th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Full Image Details

Jim Bell at Arizona State University leads the Mastcam-Z team, which has been working at high speed to produce images for the larger group. “Part of our job on this mission has been a sort of triage,” he said. “We can swing through vast swaths of real estate and do some quick assessment of geology, of color. That has been helping the team figure out where to target instruments.”

Color is key: Mastcam-Z images allow scientists to make links between features seen from orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and what they see on the ground.

The instrument also functions as a low-resolution spectrometer, dividing the light it captures into 11 colors. Scientists can analyze the colors for clues about the composition of the material giving off the light, helping them decide which features to zoom in on with the mission’s true spectrometers.

For instance, there’s a well-known series of images from March 17. It shows a wide escarpment, aka the “Delta Scarp,” that is part of a fan-shaped river delta that formed in the crater long ago. After Mastcam-Z provided the broad view, the mission turned to SuperCam for a closer look.

The Long View

This image of an escarpment, or scarp – a long, steep slope – along the delta of Mars’ Jezero Crater was generated using data from the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument. The inset image at top is a close-up provided by the Remote Microscopic Imager, which is part of the SuperCam instrument.

Credit: RMI: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS/ASU/MSSSMastcam-Z: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Full Image Details

Scientists use SuperCam to study mineralogy and chemistry, and to seek evidence of ancient microbial life. Perched near Mastcam-Z on Perseverance’s mast, it includes the Remote Micro-Imager, or RMI, which can zoom in on features the size of a softball from more than a mile away.

Once Mastcam-Z provided images of the scarp, the SuperCam RMI homed in on a corner of it, providing close-ups that were later stitched together for a more revealing view.

To Roger Wiens, principal investigator for SuperCam at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, these images spoke volumes about Mars’ ancient past, when the atmosphere was thick enough, and warm enough, to allow water to flow on the surface.

“This is showing huge boulders,” he said. “That means there had to have been some huge flash flooding that occurred that washed boulders down the riverbed into this delta formation.”

The chock-a-block layers told him even more.

“These large boulders are partway down the delta formation,” Wiens said. “If the lakebed was full, you would find these at the very top. So the lake wasn’t full at the time the flash flood happened. Overall, it may be indicating an unstable climate. Perhaps we didn’t always have this very placid, calm, habitable place that we might have liked for raising some micro-organisms.”

In addition, scientists have picked up signs of igneous rock that formed from lava or magma on the crater floor during this early period. That could mean not only flowing water, but flowing lava, before, during, or after the time that the lake itself formed.

These clues are crucial to the mission’s search for signs of ancient Martian life and potentially habitable environments. To that end, the rover is taking samples of Martian rock and sediment that future missions could return to Earth for in-depth study.

The (Really) Close-up

Perseverance took this close-up of a rock target nicknamed “Foux” using its WATSON camera on July 11, 2021, the 139th Martian day, r sol, of the mission. The area within the camera is roughly 1.4 by 1 inches (3.5 centimeters by 2.6 centimeters).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Full Image Details

A variety of Perseverance’s cameras assist in the selection of those samples, including WATSON (the Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering).

Located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, WATSON provides extreme closeups of rock and sediment, zeroing in on the variety, size, shape, and color of tiny grains – as well as the “cement” between them – in those materials. Such information can lend insight into Mars’ history as well as the geological context of potential samples.

WATSON also helps engineers position the rover’s drill for extracting rock core samples and produces images of where the sample came from.

The imager partners with SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), which includes an Autofocus and Contextual Imager (ACI), the rover’s highest-resolution camera. SHERLOC uses an ultraviolet laser to identify certain minerals in rock and sediment, while PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), also on the robotic arm, uses X-rays to determine the chemical composition. These cameras, working in concert with WATSON, have helped capture geologic data – including signs of that igneous rock on the crater floor – with a precision that has surprised scientists.

“We’re getting really cool spectra of materials formed in aqueous [watery] environments – for example sulfate and carbonate,” said Luther Beegle, SHERLOC’s principal investigator at JPL.

Engineers also use WATSON to check on the rover’s systems and undercarriage – and to take Perseverance selfies (here’s how).

Beegle says not just the strong performance of the imaging instruments, but their ability to endure the harsh environment on the Martian surface, gives him confidence in Perseverance’s chances for major discoveries.

“Once we get over closer to the delta, where there should be really good preservation potential for signs of life, we’ve got a really good chance of seeing something if it’s there,” he said.

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance:

mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

nasa.gov/perseverance

More About Perseverance

Where Is Perseverance Right Now?

Explore With Perseverance in 3D

‘AR’ Mobile App Features 3D NASA Spacecraft

NASA’s Mars Rover Drivers Need Your Help

News Media Contact

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011 / 818-393-2433

agle@jpl.nasa.gov / andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana Johnson

NASA Headquarters, Washington

301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501

karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

Written by Pat Brennan

2021-199

For more information, please following the link:

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Mars Perseverance Team Members to Be Recognized at Hispanic Heritage Awards

Sep 08, 2021

From left to right: Diana Trujillo, Christina Hernandez, and Clara O’Farrell are engineers with NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover team.

Credit: Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The three award recipients – Diana Trujillo, Christina Hernandez, and Clara O’Farrell – are engineers from the NASA rover team.

Three Latina engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California are the 2021 recipients of STEM Awards from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. They will be honored for their significant roles in the agency’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission during the 34th Hispanic Heritage Awards broadcast on PBS Oct. 8, joined by Carlos Santana, Ivy Queen, and others.

NASA JPL recipients are:

  • Christina Hernandez began her work at JPL in the Natural Space Environments group and as mission assurance manager on STABLE (Sub arcsecond Telescope and Balloon Experiment). Her Mars-related work began with impact assessment to keep Mars spacecraft safe during the Comet Siding Spring event. As a payload systems engineer for Perseverance, she has worked on three of its seven science instruments. Her work on the rover’s PIXL (short for Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry) will help scientists hunt for signs of ancient microbial life by taking super-close images of rock and soil textures and using its X-ray spectrometer to identify chemical elements within them.
  • Clara O’Farrell, who is originally from Argentina, moved to the U.S. on her 19th birthday to start college. She studied aerospace engineering at Princeton and completed a doctoral degree at Caltech with research on fluid dynamics of jellyfish swimming. After joining JPL in 2013, she began her work on parachutes, aerodynamics, and trajectory simulation for Mars entry, descent, and landing. Her accomplishments as a guidance and control engineer include certifying a supersonic parachute to land Perseverance via supersonic sounding rocket tests.
  • Diana Trujillo, an aerospace engineer, is currently Technical Group Supervisor for Sequence Planning and Execution and a Tactical Mission Lead for Perseverance. Born and raised in Colombia, Trujillo immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17 to pursue her dream of working for NASA. While enrolled in English-as-a-second-language courses, she also worked full time to support her studies in community college and later the University of Florida and University of Maryland. Diana has held several roles for NASA and JPL, including Mars Curiosity Mission Lead, Deputy Project System Engineer, and Deputy Team Chief of Engineering Operations on Curiosity. Trujillo has also been active in sharing the excitement and opportunities of STEM with the public. She created and hosted #JuntosPerseveramos, NASA’s first-ever Spanish-language live broadcast of a major mission milestone (Perseverance landing on Mars), attracting millions of viewers worldwide.

“Congratulations to Christina, Clara, and Diana on receiving this prestigious STEM award,” said Dr. Jim Green, NASA’s chief scientist. “Each of them was integral to the planning, development, and successful landing of our Mars Perseverance rover. Our Mars Perseverance mission will advance NASA’s quest to explore past habitability of the Red Planet. Because of the hard work and dedication of our team, we can now look for past microbial life through the collection of core rock and soil samples and test technologies that will pave the way for future human exploration of Mars. Thank you to the Hispanic Heritage Foundation for their consideration and for this outstanding recognition of our extremely talented, diverse, and inspirational NASA workforce.”

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In the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s news release, the organization’s president and CEO, Jose Antonio Tijerino, said, “As leaders in the STEM space, these inspirational Latinas demonstrate the great vision and value proposition our community presents America. These engineers also represent role models for aspiring Latinx engineers in expanding human knowledge and scientific discovery.”

The Hispanic Heritage Awards are produced by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and were created by the White House in 1988 to commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in America. The awards are among the highest honors by Latinos for Latinos and are supported by 40 national Hispanic-serving institutions. The Foundation’s programs focus on education, workforce, and social impact through the lens of leadership.

More information at: https://www.hispanicheritage.org.

To learn more about Perseverance, visit:

https://nasa.gov/perseverance

and

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

News Media Contact

DC Agle / Andrew Good

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

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2021-188

For more information, please following the link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/mars-perseverance-team-members-to-be-recognized-at-hispanic-heritage-awards

Delta-X Oil Slick Radar Signal in Gulf of Mexico

Sep 20, 2021

An oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Ida – a high-end Category 4 when it made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Aug. 29, 2021 – appears as a green trail in the inset false-color graphic provided by NASA’s Delta-X project, while the surrounding seawater appears orange. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regularly monitors U.S. coastal waters for potential spills and noticed slicks that appeared just off the coast after the hurricane. They were able to use this information from Delta-X to corroborate other data they had about oil slicks in the area (satellite image in the second inset picture). The blue-green swath crossing from the Gulf of Mexico over the Louisiana coast denotes the flight path of the Delta-X radar instrument on Sept. 1, just before 11:30 a.m. CDT.

Charged with studying the Mississippi River Delta, Delta-X was gearing up to collect data on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands when Hurricane Ida barreled ashore in late August. The storm damaged buildings and infrastructure alike, resulting in power outages, flooding, and oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil tends to smooth out the bumps on the ocean’s surface, which results in a distinct radar signal that the Delta-X mission was able to pick out of their data. Delta-X added flight paths to their planned schedule – with the support of NASA’s Applied Science Disaster Program – in order to collect information over the gulf in areas of interest to NOAA.

Delta-X is studying two wetlands – the Atchafalaya and Terrebonne Basins – by land, boat, and air to quantify water and sediment flow as well as vegetation growth. While the Atchafalaya Basin has been gaining land through sediment accumulation, Terrebonne Basin, which is right next to the Atchafalaya, has been rapidly losing land. The data collected by the project will be applied to models used to forecast which areas of the delta are likely to gain or lose land under various sea level rise, river flow, and watershed management scenarios.

The mission uses several instruments to collect its data. Affixed to the bottom of a Gulfstream-III airplane, one of those instruments, the all-weather Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), bounces radar signals off of Earth’s surface, forming a kind of image of a particular area. Repeated images of the same regions, captured at different times, enable researchers to detect changes in those areas, such as fluctuating water levels beneath the vegetation as the tides move in and out of these wetlands. In addition to radar measurements, teams from Caltech, Louisiana State University, Florida International University, and other collaborating institutions gather water and vegetation samples – among other data – by boat, other airborne sensors, and from instruments on the ground.

Funded by NASA’s Earth Venture Suborbital (EVS-3) program, Delta-X is managed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. Fall 2021 was Delta-X’s last scheduled field campaign, although the five-year mission will run through the end of 2023.

To learn more about the Delta-X mission, visit: https://deltax.jpl.nasa.gov

Hurricane Ida, August 27, 2021

Oct 07, 2021

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/hurricane-ida-august-27-2021

On August 27, 2021 Ida crossed over Cuba as a Category 1 Storm. 48 hours later the storm intensified to a Category 4 before making landfall on the coast of Louisiana. The storm was the second most destructive storm to ever make landfall on the Louisiana coast with sustained winds over 150 mph (240 km/h).

The rapid intensification process that the storm system underwent is not well understood. Satellite images such as this are helpful as scientists attempt to understand new weather patterns that are emerging with Global Climate Change.

Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress, ECOSTRESS’s primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like wildfires, heat waves, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station’s unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.

The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.

For more information, please following the link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/delta-x-oil-slick-radar-signal-in-gulf-of-mexico

July 2021 Heat Wave Surface Temperature

Jul 15, 2021

Click here for movie

Collecting temperature readings in the atmosphere and at the surface, NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the agency’s Aqua satellite captured the progression of a slow-moving heat dome across the southwestern U.S. from July 1 to July 12, 2021. The animation of the AIRS data shows surface air temperature anomalies – values above or below long-term averages. The hottest areas, shown in pink, experienced surface air temperatures more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.6 degrees Celsius) above average. Surface air temperature is something that people directly feel when they are outside.

AIRS, in conjunction with the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU), senses emitted infrared and microwave radiation from Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at the planet’s weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations down to Earth’s surface. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations, and many other atmospheric phenomena. Launched into Earth orbit in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments fly aboard NASA’s Aqua spacecraft and are managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of Caltech.

More information about AIRS can be found at https://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.

For more information, please following the link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/july-2021-heat-wave-surface-temperature

ECOSTRESS Views 2021 Northern California Dixie Fire

Jul 29, 2021

Click here for animation

NASA’s ECOSTRESS captured data over Northern California’s Dixie Fire, which had ballooned to over 220,000 acres as of July 29, 2021. In the data visualization, the red areas show the hottest pixels – and fire movement – from July 15 to July 24. The most heavily affected areas are south of Lake Almanor in Plumas County.

Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress from the vantage point of the International Space Station, ECOSTRESS’s primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like wildfires, heat waves, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station’s unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.

The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.

For more information, please following the link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ecostress-views-2021-northern-california-dixie-fire

ECOSTRESS Views 2021 Southern Oregon Bootleg Fire

Jul 29, 2021

Click here for animation

NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) is aiding in the fight against fires in the Western U.S. As of July 27, 2021, the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon had ballooned to more than 410,000 acres, damaging hundreds of buildings and vehicles in its path.

ECOSTRESS measures surface temperature from the vantage point of the International Space Station. Researchers of the RADR-Fire team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been experimenting with ECOSTRESS data as part of a new tool now being implemented for first responders like the U.S. Forest Service.

In the visualization, ECOSTRESS is tracking the movement of the Bootleg Fire between July 7 and July and identifying its proximity to critical infrastructure — areas in red represent the hottest pixels ECOSTRESS detected. The extreme heat in those areas indicates the fire front, or where resources are most needed.

Tasked with detecting plant water use and stress, ECOSTRESS’s primary mission is to measure the temperature of plants heating up as they run out of water. But it can also measure and track heat-related phenomena like wildfires, heat waves, and volcanoes. ECOSTRESS observations have a spatial resolution of about 77 by 77 yards (70 by 70 meters), which enables researchers to study surface-temperature conditions down to the size of a football field. Due to the space station’s unique orbit, the mission can acquire images of the same regions at different times of the day, as opposed to crossing over each area at the same time of day like satellites in other orbits do. This is advantageous when monitoring plant stress in the same area throughout the day, for example.

The ECOSTRESS mission launched to the space station on June 29, 2018. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the mission for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is an Earth Venture Instrument mission; the program is managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

More information about ECOSTRESS is available here: https://ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov/.

For more information, please following the link:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ecostress-views-2021-southern-oregon-bootleg-fire

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory- JPL News – Month in Review, Mars Report on NASA’s Perseverance Rover SuperCam Instrument, SpaceCast Weekly, Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard Blue Origin rocket, Neil deGrasse Tyson-CNN, and Velshi-MSNBC

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory- JPL News – Month in Review, Mars Report on NASA’s Perseverance Rover SuperCam Instrument, SpaceCast Weekly, Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard Blue Origin rocket, Neil deGrasse Tyson-CNN, and Velshi-MSNBC

 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory <jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov>JPL News – Month in Review Jul 1, 2021

 Mars Report: Update on NASA’s Perseverance Rover SuperCam Instrument

SpaceCast Weekly – July 16, 2021, NASA Video  

 Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard Blue Origin rocket, Streamed live on Jul 20, 2021,  CBS News

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains significance of Richard Branson’s space flight, Jul 10, 2021  CNN

Velshi: We Can Focus on Climate Change & Still Marvel At Space Travel, Jul 17, 2021  MSNBC

NASA’s Self-Driving Perseverance Mars Rover ‘Takes the Wheel’
The agency’s newest rover is trekking across the Martian landscape using a newly enhanced auto-navigation system.
› Read the full story

First You See It, Then You Don’t: Scientists Closer to Explaining Mars Methane Mystery
Why do some science instruments detect the gas on the Red Planet while others don’t?
› Read the full story
Watch (and Hear) How NASA’s Perseverance Rover Took Its First Selfie
The historic image of the rover beside the Mars Helicopter proved to be one of the most complex rover selfies ever taken. Video, with bonus audio, sheds light on the process.
› Read the full story
Study Looks More Closely at Mars’ Underground Water Signals
A new paper finds more radar signals suggesting the presence of subsurface ‘lakes,’ but many are in areas too cold for water to remain liquid.
› Read the full story

My Favorite Martian Image: Jezero Crater’s ‘Delta Scarp’
A Perseverance rover scientist’s favorite shot from the young Mars mission provides a new angle on an old and intriguing surface feature.
› Read the full story

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins Its First Science Campaign on Mars
The six-wheeled scientist is heading south to explore Jezero Crater’s lakebed in search of signs of ancient microbial life.
› Read the full story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrtzK-q2Yzk&list=PLTiv_XWHnOZpDDRIMGNxDTAORJVK2RS7I

 

Mars Report: Update on NASA’s Perseverance Rover SuperCam Instrument
This video provides an instrument update by Hemani Kalucha, one of the SuperCam operations team members from Caltech.
› Watch now
NASA’s InSight Mars Lander Gets a Power Boost
The spacecraft successfully cleared some dust off its solar panels, helping to raise its energy and delay when it will need to switch off its science instruments.
› Read the full story

This message was sent to ingpeaceproject@gmail.com from jplnewsroom@jpl.nasa.gov

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The End of One Drive by Perseverance on the Floor of Jezero Crater

Jul 21, 2021

This image of a Martian vista in Jezero Crater, made from smaller individual images, was taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover on July 3, 2021 (the 131th sol, or Martian day, of its mission). The rover’s tracks from its autonomous drive that day are visible on the right. The images that compose the larger mosaic came from the rover’s Navigation Cameras and were processed to enhance the contrast.

Perseverance has been exploring the floor of Jezero since it landed on Feb. 18, 2021.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

Perseverance Rover Camera View of Long Autonomous Drive

Jul 21, 2021

Click here for animation

This video from July 1, 2021 (the 130th sol, or Martian day, of its mission), shows scenes from the longest autonomous drive yet for NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which landed on Feb. 18, 2021. At the beginning of the traverse on Sol 130, the rover’s engineers manually drove past NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Then the rover began driving autonomously, avoiding hazards and traveling 358 feet (109 meters) on its own.

One of the rover’s Navigation Cameras took the images about once every 16 feet (5 meters). They were processed to enhance the contrast.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

Perseverance Scouts First Sampling Location

Jul 21, 2021

CONTEXT IMAGE

This image shows the area on Mars from which NASA’s Perseverance rover will collect its first rock sample. Scientists are particularly interested in the flat stones that appear light-colored (informally called “paver rocks”). The Perseverance team has nicknamed this area in Mars’ Jezero Crater the “Crater Floor Fractured Rough” area.

The 28 individual images that were combined to make the larger main image were taken by the rover’s Mastcam-Z right-eye camera on July 8, 2021 (the 136th sol, or Martian day, of the mission). The images have been calibrated and are presented in natural color, simulating the approximate view that we would see with our own eyes if we were there.

A second version (Figure 1) combines 56 individual images from the rover’s Mastcam-Z left-eye and right-eye cameras on the same day. The images have been calibrated and are presented as a natural color anaglyph (for red-blue glasses), simulating the approximate 3D and color view that we would see with our own eyes if we were there.

The Mastcam-Z investigation is led and operated by Arizona State University in Tempe, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Neils Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

Witness Tube in Perseverance Sample Caching System

Jul 21, 2021

Click here for animation

As part of its search for signs of ancient life on Mars, Perseverance is the first rover to bring a sample caching system to the Red Planet that will package promising samples for return to Earth by a future mission. This series of images shows NASA’s Perseverance rover inspecting and sealing a “witness” sample tube on June 21, 2021 (the 120th sol, or Martian day, of the mission), as it prepares to collect its first sample of Martian rock and sediment.

Witness tubes are similar to the sample tubes that will hold Martian rock and sediment, except they have been preloaded with a variety of materials that can capture molecular and particulate contaminants. They are opened on the Martian surface to “witness” the ambient environment near sample collection sites. With samples returned to Earth in the future, the witness tubes would show whether Earth contaminants were present during sample collection. Such information would help scientists tell which materials in the Martian samples may be of Earth origin.

The sampling system’s dedicated camera, the Cachecam, captured these images.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

SuperCam Image of Artuby

Jul 21, 2021


Figure 1


Figure 2

Click on images for larger versions
NASA’s Perseverance rover took these zoomed-in images of a layered outcrop (just below center of image) nicknamed “Artuby” on June 17, 2021 (the 116th sol, or Martian Day, of its mission), from a little more than a third of a mile (615 meters) away. This mosaic is made up of three images taken by the Remote Microscopic Imager (RMI), part of the rover’s SuperCam instrument. Each circular image has a field of view of 37.73 feet (11.50 meters) at this distance. The images were combined using an algorithm that weights the image centers.

The outcrop shows evidence of being formed in an ancient lake. The feature is in the ‘Verdon’ quadrangle of Mars’ Jezero Crater, south of the landing site. Artuby is the name of a river in southern France.

One version (Figure 1) uses a Gaussian color stretch to make it easier to see differences among the colors. Another version (Figure 2) shows natural color, simulating the approximate view that we would see with our own eyes if we were on Mars.

Perseverance has been exploring the floor of Jezero Crater since it landed on Feb. 18, 2021.

SuperCam is led by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the instrument’s Body Unit was developed. That part of the instrument includes several spectrometers as well as control electronics and software.

The Mast Unit, including the RMI used for these images, was developed and built by several laboratories of the CNRS (the French research center) and French universities under the contracting authority of Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES, the French space agency).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ and nasa.gov/perseverance

Perseverance Looks Back After a Long Autonomous Drive

Jul 21, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover looks back toward its tracks on July 1, 2021 (the 130th sol, or Martian day, of its mission), after driving autonomously 358 feet (109 meters) – its longest autonomous drive to date. Taken by one of the rover’s Navigation Cameras, the image has been processed to enhance the contrast.

Perseverance has been exploring the floor of Jezero Crater since it landed on Feb. 18, 2021.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

An Expanse for Perseverance to Explore

Jul 21, 2021

Figure 1

Figure 2


Figure 3
Click on images for larger versions

This wide view of Mars’ Jezero Crater was taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover on July 15, 2021 (the 143rd sol, or Martian day, of its mission). The rover has driven nearly a mile (1.5 kilometers) south of its landing site, “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” into a region the team has nicknamed the “Crater Floor Fractured Rough” unit. The stones that appear light-colored and flat in this image (Figure 1) are informally referred to as the “paver rocks” and will be the first type from which Perseverance will collect a sample for planned return to Earth by subsequent missions. Small hills to the south of the rover and the sloping inner walls of the Jezero Crater rim fill the distant background of this view.

Five images from the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument were calibrated and combined to make this mosaic. One version (main image), presented in natural color, simulates the approximate view that we would see with our own eyes if we were there. Another version (Figure 2) is presented in enhanced color to exaggerate the subtle red, green, and blue color differences among the materials in this scene.

A third version (Figure 3) combines the five images from both the left and right Mastcam-Z cameras into an anaglyph (for red-blue glasses) that simulate a 3D view of the scene in enhanced color.

Perseverance has been exploring the floor of Jezero since landing on Feb. 18, 2021.

The Mastcam-Z investigation is led and operated by Arizona State University in Tempe, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Neils Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

How Perseverance Thinks While Driving

Jul 21, 2021

Click here for animation

This engineering animation shows how NASA’s Perseverance rover analyzed the Martian landscape and autonomously steered around a hazard for the first time on Mars. The rover built a 3D map of its surroundings using its stereo cameras, generated a set of candidate paths to the goal, and selected the fastest one that is free of obstacles.

This drive took place on June 23, 2021 (the 122nd sol, or Martian day, of its mission).

Perseverance has been exploring the floor of Jezero Crater since it landed on Feb. 18, 2021.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and manages operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

Perseverance’s Arm Over Paver Rocks

Jul 20, 2021

Click here for animation

The robotic arm on NASA’s Perseverance rover reached out to examine rocks in an area on Mars nicknamed the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” area in this image captured on July 10, 2021 (the 138th sol, or Martian day, of its mission). The image was taken by one of the rover’s hazard cameras. An additional set of images from July 10-12 have been compiled into a GIF.

Scientists are particularly interested in the flat rocks that appear light in color (nicknamed “paver rocks”). This image was processed to enhance contrast.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

WATSON Views Foux

Jul 20, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took this close-up of a rock target nicknamed “Foux” using its WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera, part of the SHERLOC instrument on the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The image was taken July 11, 2021, the 139th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The area within the camera is roughly 1.4 by 1 inches (3.5 centimeters by 2.6 centimeters).

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and manages operations of Perseverance and Ingenuity for the agency. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. WATSON was built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego and is operated jointly by MSSS and JPL.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

PIXL’s First Chemical Maps

Jul 20, 2021

This data shows chemicals detected within a single rock on Mars by the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), one of the instruments on the end of the robotic arm aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. PIXL allows scientists to study where specific chemicals can be found within an area as small as a postage stamp.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

Jul 22, 2021

The Little (Mars) Helicopter That Could

Ingenuity, the helicopter that arrived on the Red Planet on the Mars Perseverance rover, has made nine flights on Mars. Ingenuity’s historic achievement is the first powered helicopter flight on a terrestrial body other than Earth.

According to Håvard F. Grip, Ingenuity Chief Pilot, and Ken Williford, Perseverance Deputy Project Scientist, Flight 9, which occurred in July 2021, was unlike the flights that came before it. It broke our records for flight duration and cruise speed, and it nearly quadrupled the distance flown between two airfields. But what really set the flight apart was the terrain that Ingenuity had to negotiate during its 2 minutes and 46 seconds in the air – an area called “Séítah” that would be difficult to traverse with a ground vehicle like the Perseverance rover. This flight was also explicitly designed to have science value by providing the first close view of major science targets that the rover will not reach for quite some time.

But the Mars Perseverance team didn’t do it alone. A team of helicopter experts from our Ames Research Center in California assisted the Ingenuity team in making sure the technology demonstrator had the best chance for success in flying in the super thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. Learn more.

This image was captured by Mars Perseverance rover using its Left Mastcam-Z Camera, composed of a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast, on Jun. 15, 2021 (Sol 114).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Last Updated: Jul 22, 2021

Editor: Yvette Smith

Tags:  Aeronautics, Image of the Day, Mars

For more information, please visit the following link:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/images/index.html

Mission Galleries

View images from our missions exploring the universe and our home planet. For a list of all missions, visit the missions A-Z page.

SpaceCast Weekly – July 16, 2021

Jul 16, 2021  NASA Video   29:01 mins

SpaceCast Weekly is a NASA Television broadcast from the Johnson Space Center in Houston featuring stories about NASA’s work in human spaceflight, including the International Space Station and its crews and scientific research activities, and the development of Orion and the Space Launch System, the next generation American spacecraft being built to take humans farther into space than they’ve ever gone before.

Jeff Bezos launches to space aboard Blue Origin rocket

Streamed live on Jul 20, 2021  CBS News

Jeff Bezos launched into space on Tuesday on the New Shepard rocket built by his company, Blue Origin. Bezos was joined by his brother Mark and two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space. CBSN is CBS News’ 24/7 digital streaming news service featuring live, anchored coverage available for free across all platforms. Launched in November 2014, the service is a premier destination for breaking news and original storytelling from the deep bench of CBS News correspondents and reporters. CBSN features the top stories of the day as well as deep dives into key issues facing the nation and the world. CBSN has also expanded to launch local news streaming services in major markets across the country. CBSN is currently available on CBSNews.com and the CBS News app across more than 20 platforms, as well as the Paramount+ subscription service. Subscribe to the CBS News YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/cbsnews? Watch CBSN live: http://cbsn.ws/1PlLpZ7c? Download the CBS News app: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8? Follow CBS News on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbsnews/? Like CBS News on Facebook: http://facebook.com/cbsnews? Follow CBS News on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbsnews? Subscribe to our newsletters: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T? Try Paramount+ free: https://bit.ly/2OiW1kZ For video licensing inquiries, contact: licensing@veritone.com

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains significance of Richard Branson’s space flight

Jul 10, 2021  CNN

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains what Richard Branson’s space flight could mean for the future of space tourism. #CNN #News

Velshi: We Can Focus On Climate Change & Still Marvel At Space Travel

Jul 17, 2021  MSNBC

There are valid criticisms of the commercial space industry. But let’s separate the criticisms of Bezos, Branson, and Musk from the remarkable achievements we are witnessing. Where the critics are wrong is in thinking last week’s Virgin Galactic launch and next week’s Blue Origin launch aren’t important and meaningful advances. I share your sense of urgency about social justice, democracy, climate change, public education, poverty eradication and higher wages. We can fix all of those things and still marvel at a space launch and dream about traveling to space or being the engineers, scientists and pilots who get us there.» Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc

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