MAVEN and UAE’s Hope mission will provide very powerful combination of Mars science measurements

 Sarah Amiri, deputy project manager of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mars Mission, speaks during a ceremony to unveil the mission on May 6, 2015 in Dubai. The Hope mission aims to provide a global picture of the Martian atmosphere.  (Image credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Sarah Amiri, deputy project manager of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Mars Mission, speaks during a ceremony to unveil the mission on May 6, 2015 in Dubai. The Hope mission aims to provide a global picture of the Martian atmosphere.
(Image credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

On May 7th, 2015 the University of Colorado announced a partnership agreement with the United Arab Emirates on a 2021 Mars Mission.

A mission to study dynamic changes in the atmosphere of Mars over days and seasons led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) involves the University of Colorado Boulder as the leading U.S. scientific-academic partner.

The complete announcement, including The UAE’s U.S. scientific-academic partners also include the University of California, Berkeley, and Arizona State University, here.

MAVEN and UAE’s Hope mission will provide very powerful combination of Mars science measurements

In an interview with Forbes‪#‎MAVEN‬ principal investigator and Hope mission co-investigator, Bruce Jakosky, offered some insight into how the two missions will complement each other.

“The UAE Space Agency has been very consistent in that they don’t want to do a technology demonstration mission,” said Jakosky. “They want to contribute substantively to the world’s exploration and understanding of Mars.”

“The Hope science measurements will make a valuable contribution by themselves,” he added. “And if MAVEN is still operating when ‪#‎Hope‬ gets there, the combination will be very powerful.”

The complete article in Forbes is here.

STS-125 Launch of Final Hubble Servicing Mission – 6 Year Anniversary

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Marking the end of an era, spacewalkers Andrew Feustel and John Grunsfeld removed the no-longer-needed COSTAR corrective optics package from the Hubble Space Telescope today and replaced it with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, an $88 million state-of-the-art instrument designed to study the large-scale structure of the universe.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, comprised two instruments, one of which was developed in conjunction with CASA University of Colorado Boulder and UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab. The detector and electronics package were built here at our lab. The full article on the COS instrument installation is found here.

A video of the launch courtesy of spaceflightnow:

 

Star Explosion is Lopsided, Finds NASA’s NuSTAR

The still unraveling remains of supernova 1987A are shown here in this image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The bright ring consists of material ejected from the dying star before it detonated. The ring is being lit up by the explosion's shock wave.Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

The still unraveling remains of supernova 1987A are shown here in this image taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The bright ring consists of material ejected from the dying star before it detonated. The ring is being lit up by the explosion’s shock wave.Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has found evidence that a massive star exploded in a lopsided fashion, sending ejected material flying in one direction and the core of the star in the other.

The findings offer the best proof yet that star explosions of this type, called Type II or core-collapse supernovae, are inherently asymmetrical, a phenomenon that had been difficult to prove before now.

The complete story, courtesy of Caltech, can be found here.

NASA’s NuSTAR Captures Possible ‘Screams’ from Zombie Stars

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We detected what some might call the X-rays howls of zombie stars! Translation for astronomers: NuSTAR detected a surplus of high-energy X-ray emission in the center of our galaxy, which might be coming from a population of compact, dead stars.

Peering into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has spotted a mysterious glow of high-energy X-rays that, according to scientists, could be the “howls” of dead stars as they feed on stellar companions.

The complete story courtesy of NuSTAR Satellite and Caltech is here.

Traffic Around Mars Gets Busy

NASA's MAVEN Mission to Mars Timeline Photo

NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars Timeline Photo

NASA has beefed up a process of traffic monitoring, communication and maneuver planning to ensure that ‪#‎Mars‬ orbiters do not approach each other too closely.

Last year’s addition of two new spacecraft orbiting Mars brought the census of active Mars orbiters to five, the most ever. MAVEN and ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission joined the 2003 Mars Express from the ESA – European Space Agency and two from NASA: the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the 2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The newly enhanced collision-avoidance process also tracks the approximate location of NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, a 1997 orbiter that is no longer working.

It’s not just the total number that matters, but also the types of orbits missions use for achieving their science goals. ‪#‎MAVEN‬, which reached Mars on Sept. 21, 2014, studies the upper atmosphere. It flies an elongated orbit, sometimes farther from Mars than NASA’s other orbiters and sometimes closer to Mars, so it crosses altitudes occupied by those orbiters. For safety, NASA also monitors positions of ESA’s and India’s orbiters, which both fly elongated orbits.

Article Courtesy of NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars

Read the full feature, here:

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Goddard

MAVEN enters second deep-dip campaign

Photo Credit NASA's MAVEN Mission to Mars Timeline

Photo Credit NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars Timeline

MAVEN’s primary mission includes five 5-day “deep-dip” campaigns, in which the periapsis (lowest point in the orbit) is lowered from about 93 miles (150 km) to about 77 miles (125 km). The current campaign is scheduled to coincide with the periapsis of the spacecraft crossing Mars’ equator into the southern hemisphere for the first time.
At an altitude of 77 miles (125 km), Mars’ atmosphere is around 30 times more dense than it is at MAVEN’s nominal science mapping periapsis of 93 miles (150 km). To accommodate for the increase in atmospheric density, the spacecraft’s solar panels are bent at a 20° angle, which shifts the center of air pressure away from the center of gravity, providing self-stabilization.

The “deep dip” campaigns will provide data from the boundary where Mars’ upper and lower atmospheres meet—also referred to as the “homopause”—enabling the spacecraft to sample the entire upper atmosphere of Mars.

How will ICON get launched?

Pegasus Launch Aircraft

Credit Orbital ATK

The aircraft that air-launches the Pegasus rocket has been repainted with new livery to mark the recent corporate merge that formed Orbital ATK.

The L-1011 jet, named Stargazer, carries the light-class Pegasus launchers to an altitude of 39,000 feet and releases the booster to fire into space.

Pegasus has flown 42 times and the 32 using the XL version. The rocket weighs 51,000 pounds, stretches 55 feet long and is comprised of three solid-fueled stages for boosting small satellites into orbit. Launches have occurred from California, Virginia, Florida, the Canary Islands and the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Pegasus Launch

Image Credit Orbita ATK

Stargazer was delivered to Air Canada in March 1974. It was purchased by Orbital ATK in 1992 and modified as the Pegasus launch platform.With the push of a button in the Stargazer’s cockpit by the co-pilot, the rocket is cast free to fall for five seconds, dropping 300 feet below the aircraft while traveling at Mach 0.82. During the plunge, the onboard flight computer will sense the rocket’s separation from the carrier jet and issues a command to release the safety inhibits in preparation for ignition.

The first stage solid-fueled motor of Pegasus is lit at T+plus 5 seconds to begin the powered journey to orbit. The rocket’s heritage includes deploying over 70 satellites since 1990 for NASA, commercial customers and the U.S. military.

Pegasus celebrated the 25th anniversary of its maiden launch on April 5.

Two more Pegasus flights are on the NASA manifest for 2016 and 2017. The first will launch eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft into orbit from Florida and the second will carry the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, to space from the Marshall Islands.

MAVEN completes 1,000 Orbits around Mars

Maven 1000 Orbits

MAVEN completed 1,000 orbits around the Red Planet on April 6, 2015, four-and-a-half months into its one-year primary mission.

MAVEN is in its science-mapping orbit and has been taking data since the start of its primary mission on Nov. 16, 2014. The furthest point (apoapsis) in the spacecraft’s elliptical orbit has been 6,500 kilometers (4,039 miles) and the closest (periapsis) 130 kilometers (81 miles) above the ‪#‎Martian‬surface.