After years of planning and months of travel, the journey of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will culminate with a challenging entry, descent, and landing event on August 5that will take just a few minutes to complete. But for those in mission control, those final moments—from the time of the spacecraft's entry into the Martian atmosphere to the Curiosity rover's final landing on the Red Planet—will undoubtedly feel like a lifetime.
Since launching in November 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) has been traveling full steam ahead on a journey that will traverse over 350 million miles, ending on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. Tucked into a spacecraft for safekeeping during flight, MSL contains a rover named Curiosity. Here are some facts about Curiosity and the mission.
After journeying more than 340 million miles over the course of eight months, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)—the most capable robotic mission ever sent to the Red Planet—is quickly approaching its destination. The spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the evening of August 5. A feature-length story about this Mission to Mars appears in the Summer issue of E&S magazine.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have developed a new type of amplifier for boosting electrical signals. The device can be used for everything from studying stars, galaxies, and black holes to exploring the quantum world and developing quantum computers.
NASA's NuSTAR space telescope has taken its first image, snapping a shot of the high-energy X rays from a black hole in the constellation Cygnus. NuSTAR—short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array—was launched on June 13, and is the first telescope that can focus high-energy X rays. It will explore black holes, the dense remnants of dead stars, energetic cosmic explosions, and even our very own sun.
This morning, NASA's NuSTAR telescope was launched into the low-Earth orbit from which it will begin exploring the high-energy X-ray universe to uncover the secrets of black holes, the dense remnants of dead stars, energetic cosmic explosions, and even our very own sun.
Increased confidence in the landing technology aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft has enabled NASA to narrow the ellipse where its newest Mars rover plans to touch down on the Red Planet. Upon landing, at around 10:31 p.m. PDT on August 5, the rover will be much closer than originally planned to the primary science target—a layered mountain called Mount Sharp in honor of the late Caltech geologist Robert Sharp (BS '34, MS '35).
Caltech has taken over operation from NASA of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a space telescope that for the last nine years has been surveying the cosmos in ultraviolet light. In this first agreement of its kind, NASA is lending the telescope to Caltech, which has led the mission and will continue operating and managing it through the support of private funders.
Last year, images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured sand dunes and ripples moving across the surface of Mars—observations that challenged previously held beliefs that there was not a lot of movement on the red planet's surface. Now, technology developed by a team at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has allowed scientists to measure these activities for the very first time.