THIS WEEK @NASA: Green Run Hot Fire Test for Artemis I, Northrop Grumman Cygnus Spacecraft Leaves ISS

By  //  January 10, 2021

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Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: An update on the Green Run hot fire test for Artemis I, a commercial cargo spacecraft leaves the space station, and innovative ideas for exploring unexplored areas of the Moon … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Proceeding with Green Run Hot Fire Test for Artemis I

The Green Run hot fire test with the Space Launch System or SLS rocket’s core stage for our Artemis I mission, is now targeted for as early as Jan. 17.

The hot fire is the eighth and final scheduled test of the Green Run series and will see all four of the rocket’s engines fired to simulate a launch. We conducted the seventh test of the series – the wet dress rehearsal – on Dec. 20.

During that test the core stage tanks were loaded with more than 700,000 gallons of supercold propellant for the first time, and then drained. SLS will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a mission around the Moon on Artemis I.

Commercial Cargo Spacecraft Leaves Space Station

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft left the International Space Station on Jan. 6 – more than three months after delivering nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies, scientific investigations, and other cargo to the orbiting outpost. The Cygnus is named in memory of Kalpana Chawla a member of the STS-107 crew that was lost in the space shuttle Columbia accident.

Student Ideas for Exploring Unchartered Areas of Moon

During a virtual forum Jan. 6-7, university teams selected as finalists in NASA’s Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing or (BIG) Idea Challenge, presented innovative concepts for lunar payloads that could help NASA explore previously uncharted areas on the Moon. Some of these concepts could help our Artemis lunar exploration program study the Moon ahead of a human landing and help establish a sustained presence on the lunar surface.

Small Commercial Lunar Rover with Big Potential

Researchers at our Kennedy Space Center recently tested a new robotic CubeRover inside a massive bin of regolith rock and dust used to simulate the lunar surface. The shoebox-size rover built by Astrobotic Technology was funded by a NASA program that encourages commercial development of innovative technologies to fulfill agency needs. As is the case with small satellites, the rover’s standard size enables researchers and students to build and launch them on NASA missions designed to expand science, exploration, and commercial activity on the Moon.

Missions Approved to Explore Sun, Earth’s Aurora

NASA contributions to two recently approved heliophysics missions will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system. One is an international mission targeted for launch in 2026 that will use a next-generation solar-observing telescope to study how solar wind and material is released from the sun’s atmosphere. The other mission will use a trio of small satellites to study electric currents in Earth’s atmosphere linking aurora to the Earth’s magnetosphere. That mission will launch no earlier than June 2024.

SDO Data Provides New Details About Sunquakes

Data from our Solar Dynamics Observatory have led to new results about the workings of sunquakes – seismic activity seen as ripples on the Sun following a solar flare. Scientists have long suspected that sunquakes are driven by magnetic forces or heating of the outer atmosphere, where solar flares occur. But data captured by SDO in 2011 saw surface ripples of a sunquake emerging from deep beneath the solar surface, right after a flare occurred. Scientists now think that sunquake ripples are driven by a submerged source which is somehow triggered by solar flares in the atmosphere above.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA