NASA has begun field tests, in an Arizona meteor crater, of a mobile Wi-Fi system that could allow astronauts on manned planetary exploration missions to easily deploy wireless data connectivity, similar to the wireless technology used by many people to connect their laptops and other mobile devices to the Internet. Mars explorers might carry wireless-enabled personal computers while on extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) for collecting and exchanging data and information with eachother, the lander, and mission control on Earth.
NASA's second Mars Exploration Rover successfully sent signals to Earth during its bouncy landing and after it came to rest on one of the three side petals of its four-sided lander. Mission engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received the first signal from Opportunity on the ground at 9:05 p.m. Pacific Standard Time Saturday via the NASA Deep Space Network, which was listening with antennas in California and Australia. Opportunity landed in a region called Meridiani Planum, halfway around the planet from the Gusev Crater site where its twin rover, Spirit, landed three weeks ago. Earlier today, mission managers reported progress in understanding and dealing with communications and computer problems on Spirit.
Historic space images taken by NASA's Lunar Orbiters in the 1960s are now available in digital form on the internet. Thanks to modern scanning technology and processing methods developed by the USGS, these important images can now be viewed by everyone at a NASA-funded web site established by the USGS Astrogeology Program in Flagstaff, Arizona where mapping of planets continues to be a primary function.
Continue reading "Historic Lunar Images Revived"
NASA's Spirit rover has successfully driven to its first target on
Mars, a football-sized rock that scientists have dubbed Adirondack. The
Mars Exploration Rover flight team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., plans to send commands to Spirit early Tuesday to
examine Adirondack with a microscope and two instruments that reveal
the composition of rocks, said JPL's Dr. Mark Adler, Spirit mission
manager. The instruments are the Mössbauer spectrometer and the alpha
particle X-ray spectrometer.
This close-up look at a patch of martian soil is the sharpest image ever taken of another planet. The picture was captured by the microscopic imager located on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's instrument deployment device, or "arm." Scientists liken the alien soil to clumpy cocoa powder. The upper left corner of the soil patch is illuminated by direct sunlight and thus appears brighter. The actual size of the patch is about 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) across.
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This image from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit's rear hazard identification camera shows the rover's hind view of the lander platform, its nest for the past 12 sols, or martian days. The rover is approximately 1 meter (3 feet) in front of the airbag-cushioned lander, facing northwest. Note the tracks left in the martian soil by the rovers' wheels, all six of which have rolled off the lander. This is the first time the rover has touched martian soil.
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More: JPL - Spirit Rolls All Six Wheels onto Martian Soil
In a move designed to align the agency with the new exploration agenda outlined yesterday
by President George W. Bush, NASA Deputy Administrator Frederick D. Gregory announced a
comprehensive restructuring of the offices within Headquarters in Washington.
The restructuring creates a new Office of Exploration Systems and an Office of Aeronautics.
Exploration Systems will set priorities for space vehicle research and direct the
identification, development and validation of space flight systems, including the
newly proposed "crew exploration vehicle."
White House photo by Eric Draper
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More: Whitehouse - Transcript and photos of speech
NASA's Spirit has begun pivoting atop its lander platform on Mars,
and the robot's human partners have announced plans to send it toward a
crater, then toward some hills, during the mission.
Determining exactly where the spacecraft landed, in the context of
images taken from orbit, has given planners a useful map of the
vicinity. After Spirit drives off its lander and examines nearby soil
and rocks, the scientists and engineers managing it from NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., intend to tell it to head for
a crater that is about 250 meters (about 270 yards) northeast of the
This latest color "postcard from Mars," taken on Sol 5 by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, looks to the north. The apparent slope of the horizon is due to the several-degree tilt of the lander deck. On the left, the circular topographic feature dubbed Sleepy Hollow can be seen along with dark markings that may be surface disturbances caused by the airbag-encased lander as it bounced and rolled to rest. A dust-coated airbag is prominent in the foreground, and a dune-like object that has piqued the interest of the science team with its dark, possibly armored top coating, can be seen on the right.
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With Spirit landing safely on Mars Saturday night the NASA and the
USGS Astrogeology team of scientists at the Pasadena mission
headquarters are in high spirits. In a landmark moment, the small space
rover landed on the surface of the Red Planet -- beginning what
scientists hope to be a time of great discovery. "Our mood couldn't be
better," said Lisa Gaddis, chief scientist for the Flagstaff team.
"We're now all happily settling down to (hopefully) many weeks of
working on Mars."
This mosaic image taken by the navigation camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has been reprocessed to project a clear overhead view of the rover on the surface of Mars.
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USGS Astrogeology scientists left Friday and today for California, where they will work on NASA's Mars Exploration
Rover project. Spirit is scheduled to land on Mars at 9:35 p.m. Arizona time today, and four of 20 USGS members from
Flagstaff who have worked on the mission will arrive at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.