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      NASA decides not to launch two already-built asteroid probes

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 12 July, 2023 - 00:21 · 1 minute

    An artist's illustration of NASA's two Janus spacecraft as they would have appeared in space.

    Enlarge / An artist's illustration of NASA's two Janus spacecraft as they would have appeared in space. (credit: Lockheed Martin )

    Two small spacecraft should have now been cruising through the Solar System on the way to study unexplored asteroids, but after several years of development and nearly $50 million in expenditures, NASA announced Tuesday the probes will remain locked inside a Lockheed Martin factory in Colorado.

    That’s because the mission, called Janus, was supposed to launch last year as a piggyback payload on the same rocket with NASA’s much larger Psyche spacecraft , which will fly to a 140-mile-wide (225-kilometer) metal-rich asteroid—also named Psyche—for more than two years of close-up observations. Problems with software testing on the Psyche spacecraft prompted NASA managers to delay the launch by more than a year.

    An independent review board set up to analyze the reasons for the Psyche launch delay identified issues with the spacecraft’s software and weaknesses in the plan to test the software before Psyche’s launch. Digging deeper, the review panel determined that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Psyche mission, was encumbered by staffing and workforce problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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      Perseverance on Mars: Where it is, and what the next steps are

      John Timmer · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 19 February, 2021 - 00:57 · 1 minute

    Perseverance has landed about two kilometers from a delta system, shown in the upper left of this image.

    Enlarge / Perseverance has landed about two kilometers from a delta system, shown in the upper left of this image.

    In their first press conference following Perseverance's successful landing on Mars, NASA and JPL scientists revealed some information on where the rover landed and what to expect for the next several days and weeks as it begins its mission in earnest.

    Pics or it didn’t happen

    One of the first orders of business is getting some of the images, audio, and video taken during the landing back to Earth. For now, doing so requires using a low gain antenna to transmit data to some of the hardware in orbit around Mars. Jennifer Trosper, the Deputy Project Manager for the rover said that the Mars Odyssey orbiter should have a brief pass overhead within the next few hours, followed by the Mars Trace Gas orbiter, which will have a longer overflight and grab larger amounts of data. Matt Wallace, another Deputy Project Manager, said that should be enough to allow NASA to release video of the landing on Monday.

    Long term, however, communications will rely on a high-gain antenna that will allow direct communications with Earth. That will require pointing it, which means understanding the rover's current orientation on Mars' surface, which the team has inferred from the shadows cast in the first images sent down. Incidentally, those were taken with transparent lens caps on the Perseverance's navigation cameras, so we can expect better images once those are removed.

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      Perseverance rover has landed safely on Mars

      John Timmer · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 18 February, 2021 - 21:08

    Perseverance rover has landed safely on Mars


    NASA's Perseverance rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars, transmitting telemetry information and the first images of its landing site. A low-resolution driving camera image shows a field of dust-covered rocks, with the unmistakable shadow of the rover hardware. The images were so fresh that the dust kicked up by the landing was still settling in the early images.

    The landing came at the end of a cruise through interplanetary space and a dive through the Martian atmosphere, as the rover and its rocket-supported crane shed parachutes, a heat shield, and a lot of speed. It culminated in the skycrane gently lowering the rover to the surface before rocketing off to land at a safe distance.

    NASA refers to the landing protocol as "seven minutes of terror," due to its complicated, multi-stage nature , all of which is run under automated guidance. Adding to the tension, all of the outcomes will have already happened over 10 minutes ago by the time any indications of their success reaches Earth.

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