Mars Stories June 30

The window for launching from Earth to Mars opens on July 17. NASA planned to use the date to launch its newest Mars rover Perseverance tasked with finding signs of past life on Mars.

NASA associate administrator Steve Jurczyk shared on June 9, however, that the earliest date launch partner United Launch Alliance can lift off is July 20. The launch date slipped back another two days on June 24 following a “ground support systems issue identified during the packing of the spacecraft into protective fairings that go on top of the rocket.”

As of June 30, however, the current launch target is no earlier than July 30. The original launch target extended through August 5, although NASA and ULA believe they can launch as late as August 15 if needed.

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Mars Stories June 11

NASA signed a contract this month with the company that will design its Gateway housing module. The lunar orbiting outpost is intended to be used in NASA’s Artemis program. The Orbital Science Corporation, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space, was awarded a $187 million contract to work on the project. 

The Gateway is an advanced lunar outpost that will be essential to the Artemis program in the future. The program aims to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024. NASA’s agreement with Orbital Science Corporation foresees that the Gateway’s preliminary design will be presented and revised by the end of this year.

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Mars Stories June 8

NASA is planning to send its Perseverance rover to Mars as soon as next month with four major goals. Whether you’re just learning about Mars exploration for the first time or could use a refresher, follow along below for a map and details of every successful, failed, and future Mars landing attempt ahead of the next exciting NASA launch.

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Current launch target:Thursday, July 30, at 750 a.m. EDT with August 15 deadline extension

Mars 2020 is the next big mission for NASA after sending the first astronauts to the space station on a SpaceX rocket. In July, NASA’s newest Mars rover named ‘Perseverance’ will launch for Mars from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

From studying signs of past life on Mars to preparing for human life, the new Mars rover will have four long-term science goals once it reaches Martian soil:

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Mars Stories March 6

My interest in SpaceX’s Starship mega rocket has been limited so far because the company is still in the build-it-and-blow-it-up phase of assembly, but I have to admit there’s something alluring about huge rockets from any company.

Eric Berger has an in-depth profile on Ars Technica that looks at what exactly Elon Musk’s rocket company is working on with Starship:

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Mars Stories March 5

Curiosity isn’t the only Martian rover making headlines this week. NASA will soon reveal the name of its next Mars rover at a special event held today at 1:30 p.m. ET.

NASA opened name submissions to K-12 students in U.S. public, private, and home schools last August before choosing nine finalists. The agency then conducted an online poll to let the public vote on their favorite name among the top finishers:

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Mars Stories March 4

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab at the California Institute of Technology has shared a gigantic new view from Mars, courtesy of NASA’s Curiosity rover.

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Mars Stories February 24

NASA’s InSight Mars lander touched down one year ago after a six month journey from Earth to the Red Planet. Today six papers were published with a year of science learned through year one of the lander mission.

A new understanding of Mars is beginning to emerge, thanks to the first year of NASA’s InSight lander mission. Findings described in a set of six papers published today reveal a planet alive with quakes, dust devils and strange magnetic pulses.

Five of the papers were published in Nature. An additional paper in Nature Geoscience details the InSight spacecraft’s landing site, a shallow crater nicknamed “Homestead hollow” in a region called Elysium Planitia.

InSight is equipped to detect Mars quakes, wind speed, air pressure, and more.

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