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NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable programme of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities"

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NASA image.
NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars. Pixabay
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NASA’s new head, Jim Bridenstine, has defended the new agency directive to return astronauts to the Moon, saying that the mission will not derail the US goal of becoming the first country to put humans on Mars.

“Our return to the surface of the Moon will allow us to prove and advance technologies that will…(enable) us to land the first Americans on the Red Planet,” the NASA Administrator said on Wednesday during his keynote address at the “Humans to Mars” summit in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump in December 2017 signed a change in national space policy that provides for a US-led integrated programme with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars.
Mars. Pixabay

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable programme of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities”.

In his first major address as NASA administrator, Bridenstine, however, did not disclose any new initiatives by NASA to send humans to the Red Planet, Space.com reported.

Mars and the moon will be complementary initiatives, said Bridenstine, who was sworn in as administrator three weeks ago after NASA went 15 months without a permanent leader.

Also Read: NASA Spacecraft Finds New Type of Magnetic Explosion

“If some of you are concerned that the coming focus is the moon, don’t be,” Bridenstine said.

“We’re doing both the Moon and Mars in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other,” he added. (IANS)

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home

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NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars
NASA Curiosity Rover Gets its Drilling Groove Back on Mars. Pixabay

After a mechanical problem took NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s drill offline in December 2016, it has now successfully tested a new drilling method on the Red Planet, making a 50-millimetre deep hole in a target called “Duluth”, NASA has said.

Engineers working with the Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them.

On May 20, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The new technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill’s bit extended out past two stabiliser posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks.

It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home.

“The team used tremendous ingenuity to devise a new drilling technique and implement it on another planet,” said Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steve Lee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“Those are two vital inches of innovation from 60 million miles away. We’re thrilled that the result was so successful,” Lee said.

Drilling is a vitally important part of Curiosity’s capabilities to study Mars.

Inside the rover are two laboratories that are able to conduct chemical and mineralogical analyses of rock and soil samples.

The samples are acquired from Gale Crater, which the rover has been exploring since 2012.

“We’ve been developing this new drilling technique for over a year, but our job isn’t done once a sample has been collected on Mars,” said JPL’s Tom Green, a systems engineer who helped develop and test Curiosity’s new drilling method.

Also Read: NASA Probe to ‘Touch’ the Sun Will Carry 1.1 mn Names

“With each new test, we closely examine the data to look for improvements we can make and then head back to our test bed to iterate on the process.”

There’s also the next step to work on — delivering the rock sample from the drill bit to the two laboratories inside the rover.

As soon as this Friday, the Curiosity team will test a new process for delivering samples into the rover’s laboratories, NASA said. (IANS)

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