A Satellite and a Comet stroll into the Martian Atmosphere….


Comet Siding Spring is about to fly historically close to Mars. The encounter could spark Martian auroras, a meteor shower, and other unpredictable effects. Whatever happens, NASA’s fleet of Mars satellites, including MAVEN, will have a ringside seat.

With only six weeks left until MAVEN finishes its 9 month journey and enters an orbit around Mars, a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself. Comet Siding Spring will pass through the upper reaches of the martian atmosphere within a month of MAVEN reaching Mars. MAVEN’s primary mission goal is to study what is left of the martian atmosphere but as an added bonus the same scientific instruments will now have the opportunity to study how the comet will interact with the atmosphere, including potential aurora’s

Mars vs Comet Siding Spring

(Video credit: NASA)

Visit http://science.nasa.gov for more.

NuSTAR Celebrates Two Years in Space


Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, a premier black-hole hunter among other talents, has finished up its two-year prime mission, and will be moving onto its next phase, a two-year extension.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since NuSTAR launched,” said Fiona Harrison, the mission’s principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “We achieved all the mission science objectives and made some amazing discoveries I never would have predicted two years ago.”

The Space Sciences Lab has many ties to NuSTAR including Mission Ops and the fabrication of several of the instruments, which are detailed via the link above.

Solar Probe Plus – NASA’s “Mission to the Fires of Hell” Gets Larger Rocket


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory artist’s concept

In the July 28th edition of SpaceNews, Dan Leone of SpaceNews reports that it is announced that the Solar Probe Plus mission will change from the Atlas V launch vehicle to the Delta IV Rocket.

The Solar Probe Plus, a flagship heliophysics mission NASA expects to cost some $1.5 billion to build and launch around July 2018, needs a bigger rocket than United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5, according to a senior official at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where the solar observatory is being built.

Charles Townes turns 99

U.C. Berkeley Nobel Prize Winner and SSL Scientist Researcher, Professor Charles Townes will be turning 99 next week. Join the celebration! and help Dr. Townes celebrate this momentous Birthday milestone.

The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964 was divided, one half awarded to Charles Hard Townes, the other half jointly to Nicolay Gennadiyevich Basov and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle”.


You can also read the Berkeley NewsCenter article.

MAVEN Particle and Fields Instruments Monitor Space Weather at Mars


MAVEN Particles and Fields: Exploring the Solar Wind Beyond 1 A.U.

As part of its goal to explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and the solar wind, MAVEN is exploring propagation of the solar wind and solar energetic particles (SEPs) beyond 1 Astronomical Unit (149,597,871 kilometers or 92,955,807 miles) during its cruise to ‪#‎Mars‬.

Solar wind density compressions from stream interactions and interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) (left) and SEP events (right) are seen at the orbits of Earth and ‪#‎MAVEN‬.

Solar Wind Data.jpg

They show the combined effects of radial propagation and solar rotation, and features can be followed along the solar-wind spirals.

MAVEN observations are complementary to near-Earth assets, providing a valuable perspective on the structure of the solar wind.

The Particles and Fields package has demonstrated its ability to monitor space weather at Mars!

For additional information about the MAVEN Particles and Fields Package, visit: http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/science/instrument-package

Watch a video, MAVEN’s Particles and Fields Package: Studying the Solar Wind at Mars: http://youtu.be/o0TDUVeCzLE

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Goddard UC Berkeley University of Colorado Boulder

Did the Solar Wind Erode the Early Martian Atmosphere


The Martian climate remains one of the solar system’s biggest mysteries: although cold and dry today, myriad surface features on Mars carved by flowing water attest to a much warmer, wetter past. What caused this dramatic transition?

Scientists think that climate change on Mars may be due to solar wind erosion of the early atmosphere, and the MAVEN mission will test this hypothesis.

Project Manager David F. Mitchell discusses ‪#‎MAVEN‬ and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s role in sending it to the Red Planet.

MAVEN: Goddard Goes to Mars

(Video credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

100 Days to Mars Orbit Insertion for MAVEN

MAVEN 100 Days to MOI

Image credit: NASA – LASP

MAVEN is 100 days away from Mars Orbit Insertion

‪#‎Friggatriskaidekaphobia‬ is a fear of Friday the 13th. We on the MAVEN team prefer to celebrate the milestone of being 100 days out from September 21, 2014, when our upper atmospheric orbiter will rendezvous with the red planet and begin solving Mars’ climate mystery.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Update – Contact made with ISEE-3!


It’s official: ISEE-3, the 36-year-old satellite that NASA left for dead over a decade ago, is back in touch with humankind. This afternoon, a group of citizen scientists who raised almost $160,000 to fund the process of taking control of ISEE-3 announced that two-way contact has been established with the little satellite that could. So what’s next?

“Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft’s overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth,” explained the Reboot team in a triumphant comment released today. Contact was made at Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, where scientists collaborated with a worldwide network of like-minded space fans to fund and engineer the project.

Now comes the fun part: Getting ISEE-3 back to the business of studying space. We’ll have more updates as they come.

Posted by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmodo Thursday May 29th