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Earliest Launch Opportunity for NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 Mission is Aug. 3   On July 29, 2021, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance NASA and Boeing have elected to stand down from Friday’s launch attempt of the agency’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission. Currently, the earliest available launch opportunity is 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3. The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival. Launch preparations will resume following a final decision from the International Space Station and Commercial Crew Program teams for the next opportunity to send S...

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NASA’s Webb to Explore a Neighboring, Dusty Planetary System Researchers will use NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to study Beta Pictoris, an intriguing young planetary system that sports at least two planets, a jumble of smaller, rocky bodies, and a dusty disk. Their goals include gaining a better understanding of the structures and properties of the dust to better interpret what is happening in the system. Since it’s only about 63 light-years away and chock full of dust, it appears bright in infrared light – and that means there is a lot of information for Webb to gather.   A debris disk, which includes comets, asteroids, rocks of various sizes, and plenty of dust, orbits the star Beta Pictoris, which is blocked at the center of this 2012 image by a coronagraph aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. This is the visible-light view of the system. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will view Beta Pictoris in infrared light, both using its coron...

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Hubble Finds First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon's surface sublimates -- that is, turns from solid to gas. Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy.   This image presents Jupiter's moon Ganymede as seen by the NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1996. Ganymede is located half a billion miles (over 600 million km) away, and Hubble can follow changes on the moon and reveal other characteristics at ultraviolet and near-infrared wavelengths. Astronomers have now used new and archival datasets from Hubble to reveal evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede for the first time, which is present due to the thermal escape of water vapor from the moon's icy surface. Previous r...

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NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars

Friday, July 23rd 2021 09:13 AM

NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars   Clouds drift over the dome-covered seismometer, known as SEIS, belonging to NASA's InSight lander, on Mars. › Full image and caption Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Three papers published today share new details on the crust, mantle, and molten core of the Red Planet. Before NASA’s InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars in 2018, the rovers and orbiters studying the Red Planet concentrated on its surface. The stationary lander’s seismometer has changed that, revealing details about the planet’s deep interior for the first time. Three papers based on the seismometer’s data were published today in Science, providing details on the depth and composition of Mars’ crust, mantle, and core, including confirmation that the planet’s center is molten. Earth’s outer core is molten, while its inner core is solid; scientists will continue to use InSight’s data to determine whether the...

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NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample

Thursday, July 22nd 2021 09:11 AM

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample   A light-colored “paver stone” like the ones seen in this mosaic will be the likely target for first sampling by the Perseverance rover. The image was taken on July 8, 2021, in the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit at Jezero Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS   This image shows part of the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit where Perseverance rover will hunt for a suitable first sample target. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS   This annotated image depicts the area within the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit that Perseverance rover will hunt for a suitable first sample target. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS The six-wheeler’s science campaign has laid the groundwork for the mission’s next major milestone. NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample...

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Signs of Life on Mars? NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins the Hunt 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). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech After testing a bristling array of instruments on its robotic arm, NASA’s latest Mars rover gets down to business: probing rocks and dust for evidence of past life. NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has begun its search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. Flexing its 7-foot (2-meter) mechanical arm, the rover is testing the sensitive detectors it carries, capturing their first science readings. Along with analyzing rocks using X-rays and ultraviolet light, the six-wheeled scientist will zoom in for closeups of tiny segments of rock surfaces that might show evidence of past microbial activity.   WATSON Views &lsq...

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Hubble Returns to Full Science Observations and Releases New Images NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, exploring the universe near and far. The science instruments have returned to full operation, following recovery from a computer anomaly that suspended the telescope’s observations for more than a month.   These images, from a program led by Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington in Seattle, demonstrate Hubble's return to full science operations. [Left] ARP-MADORE2115-273 is a rarely observed example of a pair of interacting galaxies in the southern hemisphere. [Right] ARP-MADORE0002-503 is a large spiral galaxy with unusual, extended spiral arms. While most disk galaxies have an even number of spiral arms, this one has three. Credits: Science: NASA, ESA, STScI, Julianne Dalcanton (UW) Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI) Science observations restarted the afternoon of Saturday, July 17. The telescope’s targets this past weekend...

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NASA to Brief Early Science From Perseverance Mars Rover   This illustration depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover studying rocks with its robotic arm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Full Image Details Panelists will discuss the rover’s recently started science campaign and groundwork for its next major milestone. NASA will hold a virtual media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT) Wednesday, July 21, to discuss early science results from the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover and its preparations to collect the first-ever Martian samples for planned return to Earth. The briefing will originate from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is managed. It will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website and livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including JPL’s YouTube and Facebook channels. Briefing participants include: -     &n...

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'Best meteor shower of the year' | When to see the Perseids The Perseids are considered "the best meteor shower of the year," with 50-100 meteors every hour during its peak, according to NASA. WASHINGTON — One of the year's most exciting celestial shows is getting underway. The Perseid meteor shower peaks in mid-August, but the annual event is considered to be active starting on July 14, according to NASA. It's considered "the best meteor shower of the year," with 50-100 meteors able to be seen every hour during the warm summertime peak, the space agency explains on its website. This year, the Perseid meteor shower is projected to peak around August 11, 12. The Perseids appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which is where the event gets its name, but tracking down the constellation isn't necessary because the meteors will appear throughout the sky. These particular meteors are the result of space debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which orbits our sun every...

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How to view Pluto at opposition this week

Thursday, July 15th 2021 09:18 AM

How to view Pluto at opposition this week   Prior to New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto in 2015, the best images of the dwarf planet (left) and its moon Charon (right) were taken by the Hubble Space Telescope — and they resolved little more than blurry bright and dark patches. Fortunately, New Horizons brought these features into crisp view. On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons probe swept within 7,700 miles (12,400 kilometers) of Pluto’s surface. With the flyby, features that the Hubble Space Telescope previously saw as fuzzy spots suddenly resolved into broad canyons, flowing ice, expansive craters, mountains of frozen water, and a giant glacier only 10 million years old. The spacecraft proved that Pluto is still a geologically active world, but it also provided a list of questions that will take scientists decades to answer. Still, researchers aren’t the only ones entranced by the wondrous world of Pluto — amateur astronomers across the globe are eager...

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