NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) likely to bring astronauts closer to Mars

The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B (KDP-B) was conducted in July and formally approved by the agency on August 15

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Aerial View of NASA. Wikimedia
  • The agency plans to announce the specific asteroid selected for the mission no earlier than 2019, approximately a year before launching the robotic spacecraft
  • NASA has identified three valid asteroids for the mission so far: Itokawa, Bennu and 2008 EV5
  • The robotic component of the ARM will demonstrate the world’s most advanced and most efficient solar electric propulsion system as it travels to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA)

August 16, 2016: US space agency NASA has approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment, in its bid to send a manned flight to Mars.

ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

For ARM, a robotic spacecraft will capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars.

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“There, astronauts will be able to select, extract, collect and return samples from the multi-ton asteroid mass, and conduct other human-robotic and spacecraft operations in the proving ground that will validate concepts for NASA’s journey to Mars,” NASA said in a statement.

The option to retrieve a boulder from an asteroid will have a direct impact on planning for future human missions to deep space and begin a new era of spaceflight.

The 'Option A' was to deploy a container large enough to capture a free-flying asteroid up to 8 m (26 ft) in diameter. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
The ‘Option A’ was to deploy a container large enough to capture a free-flying asteroid up to 8 m (26 ft) in diameter. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The agency plans to announce the specific asteroid selected for the mission no earlier than 2019, approximately a year before launching the robotic spacecraft.

NASA has identified three valid asteroids for the mission so far: Itokawa, Bennu and 2008 EV5.

The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B (KDP-B) was conducted in July and formally approved by the agency on August 15.

“This is an exciting milestone for the Asteroid Redirect Mission. Not only is ARM leveraging agency-wide capabilities, it will test a number of new technologies already in development,” saidNASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

The robotic ARM will demonstrate advanced, high-power, high-throughput solar electric propulsion and advanced autonomous high-speed proximity operations at a low-gravity planetary body.

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It will also showcase touchdown and liftoff with a multi-ton mass from a low-gravity planetary body and astronaut activities for sample selection, extraction, containment, and return – all key components of future in-space operations for human missions to Mars.

Before beginning its trip to lunar orbit, the ARM spacecraft will demonstrate a widely supported asteroid deflection technique called a gravity tractor.

The spacecraft plus the mass of the captured boulder will create a small gravitational attraction to alter the orbit of the large asteroid.

The robotic component of the ARM will demonstrate the world’s most advanced and most efficient solar electric propulsion system as it travels to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA).

NEAs are asteroids that are fewer than 121 million miles from the Sun at the closest point in their orbit. (IANS)

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NASA, SpaceX Postpone Historic Astronauts Launch Due to Bad Weather

The launch was delayed due to unfavourable weather in the flight path according to SpaceX

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NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space. Pixabay

NASA and SpaceX postponed historic launch of two astronauts to space from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday due to bad weather.

“Due to the weather conditions, the launch is scrubbing,” NASA tweeted, Xinhua reported.

SpaceX said the launch was delayed due to unfavourable weather in the flight path.

rocket-launch-NASA
The next launch opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, May 30. Pixabay

The next launch opportunity is scheduled on Saturday, May 30.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft and veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS).

It will be the first time since 2011 that American astronauts launch on an American rocket from American soil to the ISS. (IANS)

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New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

The names of 1,000 of the COVID-19 victims were published on the front page of New York Times

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New York Times
The New York Times dedicated its front page to the names of COVID-19 victims. Pixabay

The New York Times has devoted its entire front page to the names of 1,000 of the COVID-19 victims as the US approaches nearly 100,000 virus deaths, the current highest in the world as suggested by COVID-19 Information & Resources.

The Sunday edition’s front page comprises a simple list of names and personal details taken from obituaries around the US, the BBC reported.

The headline is “US deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss”, with a sub-heading that reads: “They were not simply names on a list. They were us.”

New York state, the epicentre of the US coronavirus pandemic, has recorded 385,000 confirmed cases, with 23,195 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

New York Times
Newspaper article titled “A New Physics Based on Einstein” published in ”The New York Times” on November 25, 1919. Wikimedia Commons

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New York City accounts for 197,000 infections and 16,149 fatalities.

As of Sunday, the US registered the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 1,622,670 and 97,087, respectively. (IANS)

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Moon Mission: NASA Seeking Healthy US Citizens For 8-Month Isolation

NASA is looking for candidates between the ages of 30 and 55

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NASA
NASA is looking for healthy individuals for their study on isolation for 8 months. Pixabay

NASA is seeking US citizens for an eight-month study on social isolation in preparation for missions to Mars and the moon.

The international space agency is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.

Participants will be staying in a lab located in Moscow, and they will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars that will have crew members from different nations.

NASA is looking for highly motivated and healthy individuals between the ages of 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian. They must also have an MS., PhD, MD. or have completed military officer training.

The space agency will consider other participants with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications such as military or professional experience.

They will study the psychological and physiological effects astronauts are likely to face as a result of isolation on long missions.

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NASA is also looking for people who are fluent in both English and Russian. Pixabay

According to NASA, participants will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars.

A small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months conducting scientific research, using virtual reality and performing robotic operations among a number of other tasks during the lunar mission.

The research is being done to study the effects of isolation and confinement as participants work to complete simulated space missions.

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Results from ground-based missions like this help NASA prepare for the real-life challenges of space exploration and provide important scientific data to solve some of these problems and to develop countermeasures.

Participants will be compensated, and there are varying levels of pay depending on whether you’re associated with NASA.

This study builds on a four-month study conducted in 2019. The SIRIUS-19 analog mission had six participants — two US citizens and four Russians — isolated in a metal habitat that acted as their spacecraft, lunar lander and home. (IANS)