THIS WEEK @NASA: Parker Solar Probe, Testing Orion Recovery Tools, How Mars 2020 Will Land

By  //  November 9, 2018

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ABOVE VIDEO: An update on our mission to the Sun, preparations continue for Orion’s upcoming flight test, and a science chat about two upcoming out-of-this-world encounters … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Parker Solar Probe Reports Good Status After Close Solar Approach

Signals from our Parker Solar Probe indicate the spacecraft is alive and well after skimming by the Sun at just 15 million miles from our star’s surface.

A status beacon sent on Nov. 7 indicates all instruments are running and collecting science data.

Parker will study the Sun’s corona to solve long standing mysteries, and should help improve forecasts of space weather which can affect spacecraft and astronauts in orbit as well as communications on Earth.

European-Built Service Module Arrives for Orion’s First Moon Mission

Our Kennedy Space Center, in Florida received the European Service Module for our Orion spacecraft from Germany on Nov. 6.

The service module will propel, power and cool Orion during Exploration Mission-1, Orion’s first uncrewed flight test with our Space Launch System rocket that will demonstrate our capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.

NASA and the European Space Agency will participate in a Nov. 16 event at Kennedy to mark the arrival of the service module. That event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website at 9 a.m. eastern standard time.

Testing Orion Recovery Tools for Deep Space Exploration Missions

We teamed with the U.S. Navy and others for the seventh in a series of tests off the California coast, to verify and validate procedures and hardware needed to recover Orion, after it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean when it returns from deep space exploration missions.

A test version of Orion was used to evaluate recovery operations in various conditions. There are two more recovery tests planned for this series.

Bridenstine Delivers Keynote at NatGeo Mars Event

On Nov. 5, our administrator, Jim Bridenstine gave keynote remarks at National Geographic Society Headquarters in Washington, D.C, before a showing of the Project Mars Competition’s short films and National Geographic’s Mars series. During his remarks, Bridenstine talked about our InSight mission – scheduled to land on the Red Planet Nov. 26.

NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine:
“This InSight lander is critical to a future human exploration activity on the surface of Mars. What we’re going to be able to do is create a 3-D image of what’s happening inside Mars and ultimately, how that could jeopardize human astronauts in the future.”

NASA Science Chat on Two Upcoming Out-of-this-World Encounters

A Nov. 7 Science Chat focused on upcoming encounters for two of our planetary missions — OSIRIS-REx, and New Horizons. OSIRIS-REx, our first asteroid sample return mission, will arrive at asteroid Bennu on Dec. 3, and then deliver a sample from the asteroid to Earth in September 2023. On New Year’s Day, 2019, our New Horizons spacecraft will make the farthest space probe flyby in history when it encounters Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule, which is approximately four billion miles from Earth. You can see the entire episode at go.nasa.gov/smallworldschat

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How Mars 2020 Will Land

These flight cable harnesses, assembled at our Langley Research Center in Virginia, will be used by the Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Instrumentation 2, or MEDLI2 during our Mars 2020 mission’s entry through the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

MEDLI2 will measure pressure, temperature, heat flux and radiation on the capsule that encloses the Mars 2020 rover.

For an interactive look at how the mission will land, check out go.nasa.gov/mars2020landing

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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