Thursday July 18, 2019
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Mars Curiosity Rover Returns Back to Work: NASA

The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer

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NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

Besides over two weeks of scientific operations, NASA Mars Curiosity rover has conducted its longest drive since experiencing a memory anomaly two months ago, pushing its total odometry to over 20 kilometers.

The rover is now located at the Red Planet’s Lake Orcadie, a site where NASA previously attempted to drill into the grey rock.

NASA had previously attempted to get rock samples using Curiosity’s drill at these sites. However, the rover’s instrument did not penetrate far enough into the bedrock to generate sufficient samples.

On Tuesday, Curiosity made a 60-metre trip to this old site.

With this latest drive, the Curiosity mission is back to business, NASA said in a statement, adding that the next drilling event will take place some time later this week.

“At this point, we’re confident we’ll be getting back to full operations, but it’s too early to say how soon,” said Steven Lee of JPL, Curiosity’s deputy project manager.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar
On Tuesday, Curiosity made a 60-metre trip to this old site. Flickr

Working on memory anomaly issue, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California had commanded the rover to switch to its second computer called the Side-A computer.

The switch will enable engineers conduct a detailed diagnosis of a technical issue that has prevented the rover’s active computer (Side B) from storing scienctific and some key engineering data since September 15, NASA said.

“We are operating on Side A starting today, but it could take us time to fully understand the root cause of the issue and devise workarounds for the memory on Side B.

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The computer swap will allow data and event records to be stored on the Side-A computer.

“We spent the last week checking out Side A and preparing it for the swap,” Lee said.

“It’s certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to. But our plan is to switch back to Side B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilise its larger memory size.” (IANS)

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Incredible Full Moon Falls on 50th Anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night

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Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The moon is seen during a lunar eclipse known as the "Super Blood Wolf Moon," in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 21, 2019. VOA

The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena.

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night, and will be visible in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The only region that will miss out on viewing the eclipse entirely is North America.

A lunar eclipse occurs when there is an alignment of the moon, the sun and the Earth. It can only happen during a full moon, because that is the only time the moon can be directly opposite of the sun in Earth’s sky.

The upcoming alignment will result in a partial lunar eclipse because the moon will be slightly askew from a direct line with Earth’s shadow.

Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena. Pixabay

This lunar eclipse will come two weeks after a total eclipse of the sun was visible over South America. This follows a typical astronomical pattern of lunar eclipses occurring within two weeks of a solar eclipse.

The last lunar eclipse took place in January 2019 and was visible from both Americas as well as parts of Europe and Africa. The next lunar eclipse will not take place until next year, however all four eclipses in 2020 will only be penumbral eclipses, which are much weaker than partial or full eclipses.

During penumbral eclipses, the moon passes through the weakest shadow cast by Earth and often does not visibly darken to the naked eye.

There won’t be another total lunar eclipse until May 2021.

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Apollo anniversary

Tuesday’s lunar eclipse will be seen by stargazers at different times around the globe. Viewers in South America will be the first to see Earth’s shadow touch the moon’s surface when the moon is rising in the sky around sunset July 16, while watchers in Asia and Australia will see the moon in eclipse as it sets around sunrise July 17.

Interestingly, this celestial event falls on the anniversary of another lunar happening: July 16 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 rocket launch, which first landed humans on the moon. (VOA)