THIS WEEK @NASA: Tracking Upcoming Mars Rover Landing, Newest Space Station Flight Directors

By  //  February 13, 2021

Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: Tracking our next Mars landing, the science on the next station resupply mission, and the newest space station flight directors … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Tracking the Mars 2020 Mission

After nearly seven months and 300 million miles, our Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter arrive at the Red Planet on Feb. 18.

Perseverance will use its suite of instruments to search for signs of ancient microbial life, and test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.

“The rover exemplifies the spirit of exploration as it pulls on science technology and human exploration to work to advance our goals in many areas. And Perseverance, by its very name, describes the human spirit that gets us there.”—Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Assoc. Administrator, Science

You can track the home stretch of the spacecraft’s journey to Mars at, and watch landing day coverage on NASA TV and on our website starting at 2:15 p.m. EST.

Science on Next Cygnus Resupply Mission

The research and technology on the next Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station includes an experiment to study manufacturing artificial retinas in space, an investigation using worms that could help us better understand muscle weakening that astronauts experience in microgravity, a radiation detection system for use on our first Artemis mission to the Moon with astronauts, and more. Launch is targeted for no earlier than Feb. 20 from our Wallops Flight Facility.

New Space Station Flight Directors

NASA’s four newest additions to its 2021 flight director’s class are Diane Dailey, Chloe Mehring, Fiona Turett, and Brandon Lloyd. After a rigorous training program that includes technical knowledge and leadership skills, they will work in Mission Control at our Johnson Space Center overseeing human spaceflight missions to, from, and aboard the International Space Station, as well as lunar missions for NASA’s Artemis program.

Cabin Checks on Orion for Artemis II

Technicians at our Kennedy Space Center are prepping our Orion spacecraft to manage oxygen flow and cabin pressure for astronauts inside the capsule on our Artemis II mission, the first flight to carry astronauts to the Moon aboard Orion. The mission will help pave the way for sustainable exploration at the Moon and future missions to Mars.

Update on Trojan Asteroids Mission

The spacecraft for our Lucy mission received its third and final scientific instrument. The mission, targeted for launch this October, will be the first to explore the Trojan asteroids — a population of small bodies that share an orbit with Jupiter. This last instrument, named, “L’Ralph,” is actually two instruments in one that will help Lucy determine the composition of the Trojan asteroids, and provide insight into the early history of our solar system.

Celebrating Black History Month

On Feb. 10, we featured a virtual Black History Month event on NASA TV and the agency’s website focused on the impact of African American Leadership in NASA. NASA is proud to observe this and other months throughout the year during which we celebrate diverse individuals and their contributions to our agency and to our nation.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA