NASA

Climate & Environment
New NASA satellite images reveal disappearance of St. Patrick Bay ice caps
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020.
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020. Credit: NSIDC (Reproduction)

Recent NASA satellite images show the disappearance of two Canadian ice caps, known as St. Patrick Bay ice caps, northeast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. A 2017 published paper by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) had predicted the melting of the ice caps within five years. Current images show the ice caps have completely vanished.

"When I first visited those ice caps, they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape," Mark Serreze, the director of the NSIDC, said in a statement. "We’ve long known that as climate change takes hold, the effects would be especially pronounced in the Arctic. But the death of those two little caps that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that’s left are some photographs and a lot of memories."

Science • Space
SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
Credit: @NASA, via Twitter

Doug and Bob are back on planet Earth. The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down safely at 2:48 PM EDT in the Gulf of Mexico. Sunday's splashdown marked NASA's first water landing since 1975.

Science • Space
SpaceX Crew Dragon departed and headed home
SpaceX Crew Dragon departed and headed home
Credit: SpaceX (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Bob and Doug are getting ready for splashdown. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule successfully undocked from the ISS on Saturday night at 7:35 PM EDT. NASA's astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley had been in Space since May, joining NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian Russian astronauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

If the weather and sea conditions in the Gulf of Mexico remain favorable, splashdown will be at 2:48 PM EDT on Sunday.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon in preparation to return to Earth
Personnel from NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force practicing recovery operations for the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Personnel from NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force practicing recovery operations for the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Credit: SpaceX / Public domain

Bob and Doug are coming home. SpaceX's Crew Dragon will undock from the ISS at 7:34 PM EDT on August 1. Splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City is expected at around 2:42 PM EDT on August 2.

A final decision on whether to proceed with the mission will be made approximately six hours before undocking and will largely depend on weather conditions and Hurricane Isais, which is currently headed towards Florida.

Science • Space
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Credit: Twitter Reproduction (Public Domain)

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbour. Perseverance was the third of three Mars missions to launch in the space of just ten days, after the United Arab Emirates’ Mars Hope orbiter, and China’s Tianwen-1.

The six-wheeled rover is on a path to intercept Mars in February next year, and when it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch date postponed to Oct. 31
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a new official launch date: October 31, 2021. NASA announced a delay of JWST in early June but hadn't given a new date then. The delay is due to technical difficulties and the impact of COVID-19.

In a statement released by NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, described Webb as the "world's most complex space observatory", adding NASA had "worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic."

Zurbuchen reassured that "the team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year."

Science • Space
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is scheduled for July 30th launch date
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

Soon it will be "go for launch" for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. On July 30, NASA's new Mars rover will go on its seven-month-long journey to the Red Planet. The launch had been postponed a couple of times because of technical difficulties and setbacks related to COVID-19.

Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater where it will search for "signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."

Science • Space
"Just keep roving, roving, roving" – NASA's Curiosity is taking a mile-long Mars road trip this summer
Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance.
Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is going on a road trip this summer. Curiosity has already started it's mile-long trip to a part of Mount Sharp called the "sulfate-bearing unit" where it will search for "clues how climate on Mars and its prospects for life changed nearly 3 billion years ago."

Curiosity travels with a speed between 82 to 328 feet per hour. The rover will complete part of the trip on autopilot but can't make the trip "entirely without humans in the loop." According to Matt Gildner, the lead rover driver at JPL, Curiosity has "the ability to make simple decisions along the way to avoid large rocks or risky terrain" and it only stops if it doesn't have enough information to complete a drive on its own."

Science • Space
Mars rover delayed again, launch no earlier than end of July
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover.
In this image, taken on June 13, 2019, engineers at JPL install the starboard legs and wheels — otherwise known as the mobility suspension — on the Mars 2020 rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The launch of NASA's next Mars rover has been delayed once again. This time the delay is due to "a liquid oxygen sensor line presented off-nominal data during the wet dress rehearsal, and additional time is needed for the team to inspect and evaluate." NASA expects the rover to launch no earlier than July 30.

Science • Space
Another delay in launch of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019.
In a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers observed the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 rover on Dec. 17, 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech / Public domain

Perseverance's launch has been delayed by two days to July 22. The announcement came after engineers found issues with ground support equipment but both the spacecraft and vehicle "remain healthy."

In an official statement, the agency wrote: "NASA and United Launch Alliance are now targeting Wednesday, July 22, for launch of the Mars 2020 mission due to a processing delay encountered during encapsulation activities of the spacecraft. Additional time was needed to resolve a contamination concern in the ground support lines in NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF)."

Science • Space
NASA headquarters to be renamed after its first female African American engineer, Mary W. Jackson
Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of segregation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations.
Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of segregation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations. Credit: NASA

When Mary W. Jackson started working for NASA in 1958, she was the first female African American engineer at the agency and now, 62 years later, the NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. will be named after her. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, was a key figure in influencing the hiring and promotion of women at NASA and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019.

Jim Bridenstine announced the renaming of the agency's headquarters building on Wednesday and praised Jackson's time at the agency: "Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology."

Science • Space
Rocket Lab carries payload for NASA and NRO into orbit
Rocket Lap - Electron Rocket Launch
Rocket Lap - Electron Rocket Launch Credit: Screenshot Rocket Lab YouTube

The spacetravel company Rocket Lab has successfully resumed its operations and carried a payload for NASA, the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office and the University of New South Wales Canberra into orbit. Being pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Electron rocket has been successfully launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

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Kathy Lueders named as NASA's new head of Human Spaceflight Office
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020 Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Director of NASA's Commercial Crew Program Kathy Lueders has been named as the next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who announced Lueders' promotion on Friday, spoke highly of her: "Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024."

Science • Space
Pittsburg-based Astrobotic awared US$200 million by NASA to deliver VIPER to moon
VIPER will  be tasked to prospect for natural lunar resources, especially water ice within a permanently shadowed region near the lunar south pole.
VIPER will be tasked to prospect for natural lunar resources, especially water ice within a permanently shadowed region near the lunar south pole. Credit: NASA / Public domain

VIPER is going to roam the moon soon. Today, Pittsburg-based lunar logistics service provider Astrobotic was awarded US$200 million by NASA to send the rover to the moon in 2023. VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, is going to explore the lunar surface, mapping its resources and looking for water ice. Under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services private companies will be paid to send payloads to the moon.

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch postponed due to COVID-19
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on yet another industry. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was supposed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope with improved infrared resolution and a broader range of astronomical and cosmological investigation in March 2021, but due to the ramifications of COVID-19, the launch was postponed. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, told the Space Studies Board of National Academies that the pandemic had slowed down the work on the spacecraft, making the March 2021 launch date impossible. A new launch date has yet to be announced.

Science • Space
SpaceX's Crew Dragon will return to Earth with astronauts Behnken and Hurley
Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right) at crew extraction rehearsal from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon
Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken (right) at crew extraction rehearsal from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls / Public domain

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will return to Earth from the ISS on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft in August. Their exact return date will depend on numerous factors such as weather conditions, the astronauts' work progress onboard ISS as well as the overall condition and performance of Crew Dragon.

Science • Space
Kathy Sullivan: First American woman who walked in space successfully dove to lowest point on earth
Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former astronaut and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at a panel discussion in 2013
Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former astronaut and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at a panel discussion in 2013 Credit: ENERGY.GOV / Public domain

Kathy Sullivan, age 68, a former NASA astronaut on multiple missions with the Space Shuttle and the first American woman to walk in space has successfully completed a mission to the lowest point on earth. By doing that she has become the first woman to reach the lowest point on earth, Challenger Deep inside the Mariana Trench around 10,9km below the surface. Sullivan is also the only person in the world to walk in space and reach the lowest point on earth.

Science • Space
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule docked with space station at 14:16(UTC)
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule docked with space station at 14:16(UTC)
Credit: SpaceX (Reproduction)

The Dragon capsule docked at the International Space Station at 14:16(UTC), slightly ahead of schedule, 422km above the border between northern China and Mongolia. The completion of the docking procedure happened at 14:30(UTC).

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NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 capsule set to dock with space station at 14:30(UTC)
Astrounauts Bob Behnken (far) and Doug Hurley (near)
Astrounauts Bob Behnken (far) and Doug Hurley (near) Credit: NASA (Public Domain)

The Dragon capsule launched yesterday from Cape Canaveral will dock to the International Space Station at 14:30(UTC). Although astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are on board, the docking procedure should be fully automated.

Science • Space
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch successful
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission launch
NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission launch Credit: NASA via YouTube Livestream

The SpaceX Demo-2 mission launch was successful. The Falcon 9 rocket landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship.

NASA Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken on board the Crew Dragon is on a 19-hour flight to the International Space Station and are expected to dock with ISS on Sunday.

The astronauts will be staying for several months to perform duties and conduct experiments.