close
  • chevron_right

    Tune in for NASA’s first planetary defense test

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 17:10 · 1 minute

The DART spacecraft is prepared for launch.

Enlarge / The DART spacecraft is prepared for launch. (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman )

Monday will see NASA's first attempt at real-world testing of a technology that it hopes can protect the Earth from the dangers posed by impacts from large asteroids. The Double Asteroid Redirect Test, or DART, will smash a spacecraft into a small asteroid called Dimorphos at 7:14 pm US Eastern time in the expectation that the impact will alter Dimorphos' orbit around the nearby large asteroid Didymos. If successful, then we can have some confidence that we can alter the orbit of small objects that pose a threat of colliding with Earth, sending them off into orbits where they no longer create a risk of catastrophic impact.

There are still things that can go wrong. As we detailed earlier , the camera on DART won't even be able to resolve its target until under two hours prior to the collision, and the final trajectory to impact will be handled by its on-board software, rather than controllers on Earth.

NASA will be hosting pre- and post-impact briefings for the press, which Ars will be attending, so expect updates later today. One option if you want to watch for yourself is coverage on NASA TV, which will start at 6 pm US Eastern.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    NASA makes the call to protect its Artemis I mission from Hurricane Ian

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 15:58

Photo of SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Enlarge / The fully stacked Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft will roll back to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Monday night. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

After delaying a final decision for two days, NASA on Monday made the call to roll its massive Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The space agency took this precautionary step as the storm Ian intensified into a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea and remained on track to move into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

"Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area," NASA said in a blog post . "The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    NASA cancels Artemis I launch attempt, but will delay roll back decision

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 4 days ago - 15:35

Photo of SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Enlarge / NASA's Space Launch System rocket may be rolling back to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Sunday night, or maybe not. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

NASA on Saturday announced that it will no longer attempt to launch its Artemis I mission on Tuesday, September 27, as Tropical Storm Ian continues developing in the Caribbean Sea.

Instead of preparing the massive Space Launch System rocket for liftoff in three days, teams at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will instead start to configure the ground systems and vehicle for a potential roll back to a large hangar, the Vehicle Assembly Building. Sheltering inside this building would protect the $4 billion rocket and Orion spacecraft from any foul weather due to Ian.

Earlier, NASA had said it would make a decision by Saturday afternoon on whether to roll the Artemis I mission back inside the hangar. However, in its announcement on Saturday the agency said it would now make that decision on Sunday.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    NASA seems to be in full “send it” mode for the Artemis I mission

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 21:06 · 1 minute

Storm clouds threaten the Space Launch System rocket earlier this year.

Enlarge / Storm clouds threaten the Space Launch System rocket earlier this year. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

On Friday afternoon, senior officials at NASA joined a teleconference to speak with reporters about the current plan to launch the Artemis I mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the third attempt to get the massive Space Launch System rocket off the ground and boost the Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit for an approximately 40-day uncrewed test flight before returning to Earth.

The rocket is ready, officials said. During fueling tests and launch attempts NASA has been bedeviled by hydrogen propellant leaks, as the tiny molecule is difficult to handle and constrain at super-chilled temperatures. However, following a longer-than-expected, but ultimately successful propellant loading test on Wednesday, NASA engineers expressed confidence in their revamped fueling procedures.

NASA has also reached an accord with US Space Force officials to extend the battery life for the rocket's onboard flight termination system. This left only weather as a potential constraint to a planned launch attempt for Tuesday, September 27, at 11:37 am EST (15:37 UTC). The problem is that weather now poses a significant threat to the schedule due to a tropical depression that will likely track toward Florida in the coming days. There is an 80 percent chance of unacceptable weather during the launch window.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    New JWST image reveals full glory of Neptune, its moons, and rings

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 7 days ago - 13:18

Webb captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons: Galatea, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Proteus, Larissa, and Triton. Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton, dominates this Webb portrait of Neptune as a very bright point of light sporting diffraction spikes.

Enlarge / Webb captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons: Galatea, Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Proteus, Larissa, and Triton. Neptune’s large and unusual moon, Triton, dominates this Webb portrait of Neptune as a very bright point of light sporting diffraction spikes. (credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

Scientists are wasting no time in pointing the powerful new James Webb Space Telescope all over the Universe, as well as into our own backyard. Recently, astronomers took data on the eighth planet from the Sun in our Solar System, Neptune. NASA released the first images of this world on Wednesday.

The third-largest planet in our Solar System, Neptune often appears bright blue in images due to the presence of gaseous methane. The Webb telescope, however, observes light in the infrared portion of the spectrum, so its "Near-Infrared Camera" photos show a ghostly white planet. This is because the methane in Neptune's atmosphere absorbs reddish and infrared light.

In the new view of Neptune, the exception to this is the planet's high-altitude methane ice clouds, which reflect sunlight before it can be absorbed by the methane. These appear as brilliant, bright features, NASA says.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    Set a calendar alert: NASA to broadcast first asteroid redirect on Monday

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 20 September - 20:28 · 1 minute

Image of a solar-powered spacecraft approaching an asteroid.

Enlarge / An artist's conception of DART's electronics in the last moments before they suffer catastrophic failure. (credit: NASA )

This coming Monday, NASA will broadcast its first attempt to modify the orbit of an asteroid, a capability that will be essential if we detect an asteroid that poses a threat of colliding with Earth. The planetary defense effort is focused on a craft called DART, for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which will target a small asteroid called Dimorphos that orbits the larger 65803 Didymos, forming a binary system. If all goes according to plan, DART will direct itself to a head-on collision that slows Dimorphos, altering its orbit around Didymos. NASA has repeatedly emphasized that there's no way for either asteroid or any material released by the collision to pose a threat to Earth.

Ars will be at the mission control center in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) for the planned collision, which will also be broadcast live on NASA's YouTube channels. While we'll know immediately whether the collision occurred as planned, it may take several months before we're certain that Dimorphos' orbit was successfully modified.

To get you ready for Monday's festivities, we've put together a background on the DART mission and the planned follow-up observations.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    In a bid to expand its Moon business, Intuitive Machines will go public

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 16 September - 12:17

A rendering of Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lander on the surface of the Moon.

Enlarge / A rendering of Intuitive Machines' Nova-C lander on the surface of the Moon. (credit: Intuitive Machines)

A company building spacecraft to land on the Moon announced Friday that it will go public as it seeks to expand the services it provides in the lunar environment.

Intuitive Machines, based in Houston, said it will combine with a special purpose acquisition company named Inflection Point Acquisition Corp. The transaction will close in about four months, with the new company named Intuitive Machines and trading on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol LUNR.

Steve Altemus, co-founder, president, and CEO of Intuitive Machines, said going public would raise between $100 million and $400 million in new capital for the company, which would have an equity value of about $1 billion.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    As summer turns to fall, ULA still waiting for its BE-4 rocket engines

    news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 13 September - 13:29

Photograph of BE-4 "flight engine no. 2" on Blue Origin's test stand in Texas, as shared on Twitter by ULA chief executive Tory Bruno on August 26, 2022.

Enlarge / Photograph of BE-4 "flight engine no. 2" on Blue Origin's test stand in Texas, as shared on Twitter by ULA chief executive Tory Bruno on August 26, 2022. (credit: Tory Bruno/Twitter )

Blue Origin shipped the first "flight" version of its BE-4 rocket engine to Texas for acceptance testing six weeks ago. These tests, scheduled to take less than a month, marked the final step before Blue Origin delivered the much-anticipated rocket engines to its customer, United Launch Alliance. A second flight engine followed the first out of the factory in mid-August.

These were hopeful signs for United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is using two of the large liquid oxygen-methane engines to power its new heavy lift Vulcan rocket. At the urging of the US Department of Defense, ULA has been pressing hard to make a 2022 launch date debut.

However, neither of these flight engines have yet been shipped from Texas to ULA's rocket factory in northern Alabama. There, ULA is eagerly awaiting the engines for pre-launch processing and installation onto the rocket.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments