The Earth is not enough – Berkeley Bespoke does NASA

 Berkeley Bespoke reports on the latest from Space

Berkley Bespoke was invited to visit The Jet Propulsion Laboratory – a unique national research facility that carries out robotic space and Earth science missions. JPL helped open the Space Age by developing America’s first Earth-orbiting science satellite, creating the first successful interplanetary spacecraft, and sending robotic missions to study all the planets in the solar system as well as asteroids, comets and Earth’s moon. In addition to its missions, JPL developed and manages NASA’s Deep Space Network, a worldwide system of antennas that communicates with interplanetary spacecraft.

Today JPL continues its world-leading innovation, implementing programs in planetary exploration, Earth science, space-based astronomy and technology development, while applying its capabilities to technical and scientific problems of national significance. JPL technology developed to enable new missions is also applied on Earth to benefit our everyday lives.

 

MARS Helicopter to Fly on NASA’s Next Red Planet Rover Mission

The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.

“NASA has a proud history of firsts,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The idea of a helicopter flying the skies of another planet is thrilling. The Mars Helicopter holds much promise for our future science, discovery, and exploration missions to Mars.”

The helicopter also contains built-in capabilities needed for operation at Mars, including solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights. But before the helicopter can fly at Mars it has to get there. It will do so attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover.

Mars 2020 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.

The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers. Scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in sealed tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface for potential return to Earth on a future Mars mission.


What’s the latest news from Mars? We had an insight tour to share all about it, importantly that NASA’s Curiosity rover drilled through Mars’ surface to produce the first rock sample in over a year. Engineers have been working to restore the rover’s drill since December 2016. Using a new percussive drilling technique Curiosity bored a hole about 2 inches deep. Now engineers will work on getting the samples from the drill bit to the two laboratories inside the rover.

Arina Sprynz

What’s Up for June? Arina Sprynz shares the latest about Jupiter and Venus at sunset, Mars, Saturn, and Vesta until dawn.

First up is Venus. It reaches its highest sunset altitude for the year this month and sets more than two hours after sunset. You can’t miss Jupiter, only a month after its opposition–when Earth was directly between Jupiter and the Sun. The best time to observe Jupiter through a telescope is 10:30 p.m. at the beginning of the month and as soon as it’s dark by the end of the month. Just aim your binoculars at the bright planet for a view including the four Galilean moons.

Saturn is at opposition June 27th, when it and the Sun are on opposite sides of Earth. It rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Great Saturn viewing will last several more months. The best views this month will be just after midnight. All year, the rings have been tilted wide open-almost 26 degrees wide this month-giving us a great view of Saturn’s distinctive rings. The tilt offers us a view of the north polar region, so exquisitely imaged by the Cassini spacecraft.

Near Saturn, the brightest asteroid-Vesta-is so bright that it can be seen with your unaided eye. It will be visible for several months. A detailed star chart will help you pick out the asteroid from the stars. The summer Milky way provides a glittery backdrop.

Finally, Mars grows dramatically in brightness and size this month and is visible by 10:30 p.m. by month end. The best views are in the early morning hours. Earth’s closest approach with Mars is only a month away. It’s the closest Mars has been to us since 2003.