samedi 11 août 2012

NASA Curiosity Mars Rover Installing Smarts for Driving










NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

Aug. 11, 2012


This mosaic image shows part of the left side of NASA's Curiosity rover and two blast marks from the descent stage's rocket engines. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will spend its first weekend on Mars transitioning to software better suited for tasks ahead, such as driving and using its strong robotic arm.

The rover's "brain transplant," which will occur during a series of steps Aug. 10 through Aug. 13, will install a new version of software on both of the rover's redundant main computers. This software for Mars surface operations was uploaded to the rover's memory during the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's flight from Earth.

"We designed the mission from the start to be able to upgrade the software as needed for different phases of the mission," said Ben Cichy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., chief software engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. "The flight software version Curiosity currently is using was really focused on landing the vehicle. It includes many capabilities we just don't need any more. It gives us basic capabilities for operating the rover on the surface, but we have planned all along to switch over after landing to a version of flight software that is really optimized for surface operations."

 Witnessing the Descent Stage Crash

Now You See an Impact Plume, Now You Don't

Images above: These alternating views taken by the Hazard-Avoidance cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover show evidence for an impact plume created when the rover's sky crane fell to the Martian surface. The sky crane helped the rover gently land on Mars before flying away and crashing in a planned maneuver. The view flips between images taken about 45 minutes apart. The image taken earlier shows evidence for the "blob" thought to be the impact plume; by the time the later image was taken, the blob had disappeared. These images are from the rover's rear Hazard-Avoidance cameras. They are one-quarter of full resolution (256 by 256 pixels). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

A key capability in the new version is image processing to check for obstacles. This allows for longer drives by giving the rover more autonomy to identify and avoid potential hazards and drive along a safe path the rover identifies for itself. Other new capabilities facilitate use of the tools at the end of the rover's robotic arm.

MSL Curiosity landing & dropping on Mars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While Curiosity is completing the software transition, the mission's science team is continuing to analyze images that the rover has taken of its surroundings inside Gale Crater. Researchers are discussing which features in the scene to investigate after a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and characteristics of the landing site.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 10:31:45 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6), which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light.

video
Curiosity Rover Update - Surface Operations Begin. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site at 4.59 degrees south, 137.44 degrees east, places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Mars Science Laboratory is a project of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The mission is managed by JPL. Curiosity was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / JPL / Guy Webster.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

jeudi 9 août 2012

Curiosity Sends 1st Color Panorama of Gale Crater












NASA - Mars Science Laboratory patch.

August 10, 2012

 Gale Crater Vista, in Glorious Color (click on the image for enlarge)

Image above: This is the first 360-degree panorama in color of the Gale Crater landing site taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

The first images from Curiosity's color Mast Camera, or Mastcam, have been received by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The 130 low-resolution thumbnails, which were received Thursday morning, provide scientists and engineers of NASA's newest Mars rover their first color, horizon-to-horizon glimpse of Gale Crater.

"After a year in cold storage, where it endured the rigors of launch, the deep space cruise to Mars and everything that went on during landing, it is great to see our camera is working as planned," said Mike Malin, principal investigator of the Mastcam instrument from Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "As engaging as this color panorama is, it is important to note this is only one-eighth the potential resolution of images from this camera."

Mount Sharp on the Horizon. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity team also continued to downlink high-resolution black-and-white images from its Navigation Camera, or Navcam. These individual images have been stitched together to provide a high-resolution Navcam panorama, including a glimpse of the rover's deck. Evident on some portions of the deck are some small Martian pebbles.

"The latest Navcam images show us that the rocket engines on our descent stage kicked up some material from the surface of Mars, several pieces which ended up on our rover's deck," said Mike Watkins, mission manager for Curiosity from JPL. "These small pebbles we currently see are up to about 1 centimeter [0.4 inch] in size and should pose no problems for mission operations. It will be interesting to see how long our hitchhikers stick around."

Curiosity's color panorama of Gale Crater is online at: http://1.usa.gov/P7VsUw . Additional images from Curiosity are available at: http://1.usa.gov/MfiyD0 .

A Set of Blast Marks in Color, Left Side. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Mission engineers devoted part of their third Martian day, or "Sol 3," to checking the status of four of Curiosity's science instruments after their long trip. The rover's Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, Chemistry and Mineralogy analyzer, Sample Analysis at Mars, and Dynamic of Albedo Neutrons instruments were each energized and went through a preliminary checkout. The team also performed a check on the rover's second flight computer.

Even before landing, the mission's science team began the process of creating a geological map of about 150 square miles (about 390 square kilometers) within Gale Crater that includes the landing area.

"It is important to understand the geological context around Curiosity," said Dawn Sumner of the University of California, Davis, a member of the Curiosity science team. "We want to choose a route to Mount Sharp that makes good progress toward the destination while allowing important science observations along the way."

A Set of Blast Marks in Color, Right Side. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The mapping project divided the area into 151 quadrangles of about one square mile (about 2.6 square kilometers) each. Curiosity landed in the quadrangle called Yellowknife. Yellowknife is the city in northern Canada that was the starting point for many of the great geological expeditions to map the oldest rocks in North America.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

video
 Up, Down and All Around Curiosity

Video above: This movie begins with an expansive 360-degree view from NASA's Curiosity rover, showing the surrounding terrain within Gale Crater, then zooms in on the rover's deck. The full-resolution images were taken by the rover's Navigation camera. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity". Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / JPL / DC Agle / Guy Webster.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

mercredi 8 août 2012

Curiosity Continues Checking Herself Out; Takes Self Portrait












NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

August 9, 2012

 Curiosity Looks Away from the Sun

Image above: This is the first image taken by the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. It shows the shadow of the rover's now-upright mast in the center, and the arm's shadow at left. The arm itself can be seen in the foreground. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

After waking up to the rousing refrains of the Beatles' "Good Morning Good Morning," a healthy Curiosity continued checking out her systems and returning amazing imagery. The Sol 2 morning and afternoon UHF communications passes from NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft provided significant new data, including spectacular full-frame images of the Mars Science Laboratory's descent through the Martian atmosphere by Curiosity's Mars Descent Imager (MARDI) instrument. Other imagery included full-frame views from the rover's navigation cameras, or Navcams, looking at the rim of Gale Crater; the first, lower-resolution thumbnail 360-degree view of Curiosity's new surroundings in Gale Crater; deck pan images of the rover herself; and images of the Martian surface next to the rover. Another image set, courtesy of the Context Camera, or CTX, aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, has pinpointed the final resting spots of the six, 55-pound (25-kilogram) entry ballast masses. These tungsten masses impacted the Martian surface at high speed, about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from Curiosity's landing location.

Curiosity's New Home

Image above: This imagery is being released in association with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. This is a temporary caption to be replaced as soon as more information is available. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The rover's high-gain antenna was successfully pointed toward Earth. Its 3.6-foot-tall (1.1-meter) remote sensing mast was deployed, and range of motion was successfully tested. Surface radiation data were acquired from the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument but have not yet been downlinked. Curiosity's temperatures are running a bit warmer than expected; however, the flight team believes this is because Gale Crater is simply a bit warmer than originally predicted.

Plans for Sol 3 include assessing the performance of the high-gain antenna; uplinking files for the upcoming transition of Curiosity's flight software to the surface-optimized version R10 on Sol 5; Radiation Assessment Detector instrument observations; and Mastcam calibration target and 360-degree color panorama images. In addition, the rover's Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), Chemistry & Mineralogy Analyzer (CheMin), Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), and Dynamic Albedo Neutrons (DAN) instruments will be checked out.

Rocket Thrusters Expose Bedrock

Image above: This is a close-up view of a zone where the soil at Curiosity's landing site was blown away by the thrusters on the rover's descent stage. The excavation of the soil reveals probable bedrock outcrop. This is important because it shows the shallow depth of the soil in this area. The area surrounding the zones of excavation shows abundant small rocks that may form a pavement-like layer above harder bedrock. This full-resolution image was taken by the rover's Navigation camera. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

Mars Science Laboratory rover "Curiosity" description. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Curiosity's latest images are available at: http://1.usa.gov/MfiyD0

For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

Image (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / JPL / Guy Webster / D.C. Agle.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

mardi 7 août 2012

Orbiter Images NASA's Latest Additions to Martian Landscape














NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) patch / NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

Aug. 7, 2012

Late Monday night, an image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover and the components that helped it survive its seven-minute ordeal from space to its present location in Mars' Gale Crater.

"This latest image is another demonstration of the invaluable assistance the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team and its sister team with the Mars Odyssey orbiter have provided the Curiosity rover during our early days on the Red Planet," said Mike Watkins, mission manager for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "The image not only satisfies our curiosity, it can provide important information on how these vital components performed during entry, descent and landing, and exactly locate the rover's touchdown site within Gale Crater."

Scene of a Martian Landing

Image above: The four main pieces of hardware that arrived on Mars with NASA's Curiosity rover were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image about 24 hours after landing. The large, reduced-scale image points out the strewn hardware: the heat shield was the first piece to hit the ground, followed by the back shell attached to the parachute, then the rover itself touched down, and finally, after cables were cut, the sky crane flew away to the northwest and crashed. Relatively dark areas in all four spots are from disturbances of the bright dust on Mars, revealing the darker material below the surface dust. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) image of Curiosity and its parachute, back shell, heat shield and descent stage can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/OXjKz6

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover is in the center of the image. To the right, approximately 4,900 feet away, lies the heat shield, which protected the rover from 3,800-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures encountered during its fiery descent. On the lower left, about 2,020 feet away, are the parachute and back shell. The parachute has a constructed diameter of 71 feet and an inflated diameter of 51 feet. The back shell remains connected to the chute via 80, 165-foot-long suspension lines. To the upper-left, approximately 2,100 feet away from the rover, is a discoloration of the Mars surface consistent with what would have resulted when the rocket-powered Sky Crane impacted the surface.

"This is the first of what I imagine will be many portraits HiRISE will be taking of Curiosity on the surface of Mars," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at JPL. "The image was taken Monday at about 10:30 p.m. Pacific when MRO was at an altitude of about 186 miles and we are getting resolution on the surface down to 1.3 feet per pixel."

As more of Curiosity's instruments are coming online, more "first images" are being downlinked from the rover's 17 cameras. The latest to come in is from the Mars Hand Lens Imager or MAHLI. The focusable color camera is located on the tool-bearing turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. Researchers will use it for magnified, close-up views of rocks and soils and also for wider scenes of the ground, the landscape or even the rover.

"It is great to have our first MAHLI image under our belt," said Ken Edgett, principal investigator for MAHLI from Malin Space Science in San Diego. "We tested the focus mechanism and imager and the whole system is looking good. We are looking forward to getting up close and personal with Mars."

Curiosity's First Color Image of the Martian Landscape

Image above: This view of the landscape to the north of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the afternoon of the first day after landing. (The team calls this day Sol 1, which is the first Martian day of operations; Sol 1 began on Aug. 6, 2012.) Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems.

In the distance, the image shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. The image is murky because the MAHLI's removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover's terminal descent. Images taken without the dust cover in place are expected during checkout of the robotic arm in coming weeks.

The first MAHLI image, taken with the dust-coated clear plastic cover over the lens, is available at: http://go.nasa.gov/Qb3l6U

Gale Crater. Image credit: NASA

The team plans for Curiosity checkout Tuesday include raising the rover's mast and continued testing of the high-gain antenna.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop which is located at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) "Curiosity". Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona in Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Exploration Rover projects are managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, built the orbiter.

For more information on NASA's Curiosity mission,visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl

For more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter,visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

Images (mentioned) Text, Credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

MSG-3, Europe’s latest weather satellite, delivers first image










Eumetsat - MSG-3 logo.

7 August 2012


Image above: MSG-3 first image of Earth, acquired on 7 August 2012 by its Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI).

Today, the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) instrument on MSG-3 captured its first image of the Earth. This demonstrates that Europe’s latest geostationary weather satellite, launched on 5 July, is performing well and is on its way to taking over operational service after six months of commissioning.

The European Space Agency (ESA) was responsible for the initial operations after launch (the so-called launch and early orbit phase) of MSG-3 and handed over the satellite to EUMETSAT on 16 July.

The first image is a joint achievement by ESA, EUMETSAT, and the European space industry. For its mandatory programmes, EUMETSAT relies on ESA for the development of new satellites and the procurement of recurrent satellites like MSG-3. This cooperation model has made Europe a world leader in satellite meteorology by making best use of the respective expertise of the two agencies. 

About Meteosat Second Generation

MSG is a joint programme undertaken by ESA and EUMETSAT. ESA is responsible for the development of satellites fulfilling user and system requirements defined by EUMETSAT and of the procurement of recurrent satellites on its behalf. ESA also performs the Launch and Early Orbit Phase operations required to place the spacecraft in geostationary orbit, before handing it over to EUMETSAT for exploitation.

EUMETSAT develops all ground systems required to deliver products and services to users and to respond to their evolving needs, procures launch services and operates the full system for the benefit of users.

MSG-3 satellite

MSG-3 is the third in a series of four satellites introduced in 2002. These spin-stabilised satellites carry the primary Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager, or SEVIRI. The prime contractor for the MSG satellites is Thales Alenia Space, with the SEVIRI instrument built by Astrium.

SEVIRI delivers enhanced weather coverage over Europe and Africa in order to improve very short range forecasts, in particular for rapidly developing thunder storms or fog. It scans Earth’s surface and atmosphere every 15 minutes in 12 different wavelengths, to track cloud development.

SEVIRI can pick out features as small as a kilometre across in the visible bands, and three kilometres in the infrared.

In addition to its weather-watching mission and collection of climate records, MSG-3 has two secondary payloads.

The Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget sensor measures both the amount of solar energy that is reflected back into space and the infrared energy radiated by the Earth system, to better understand climate processes.

A Search & Rescue transponder will turn the satellite into a relay for distress signals from emergency beacons.

MSG-3 satellite description

The MSG satellites were built in Cannes, France, by a European industrial team led by Thales Alenia Space, France. More than 50 subcontractors from 13 European countries are involved.

The last of the series, MSG-4, is planned for launch in 2015.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 19 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 17 are Member States of the EU. ESA has Cooperation Agreements with nine other Member States of the EU and is negotiating an Agreement with the one remaining (Bulgaria). Poland is in the process of becoming ESA’s 20th Member State. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today it launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

About EUMETSAT

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 26 European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and five Cooperating States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, and Serbia).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8 and -9 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.

Metop-A, the first European polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, was launched in October 2006 and has been delivering operational data since 15 May 2007.

The Jason-2 ocean altimetry satellite, launched on 20 June 2008, added monitoring of sea state, ocean currents and sea level change to the missions EUMETSAT conducts.

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and the global climate.

Related links:
Eumetsat: http://www.eumetsat.int/

Meteosat Second Generation: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/MSG/index.html

Images, Text, Credits: ESA / Eumetsat.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

An incident occurred during the launch of Proton-M with the Briz-M and the spacecraft Express-MD2 and Telkom-3












ROSCOSMOS logo.

07/08/2012

A technical problem on the second stage (Briz-M) of the Proton-M to compromise the orbit of communications satellites of the Republic of Belarus spacecraft Express-MD2 and Telkom-3.

Briz-M Cutaway

August 7 during the breeding parent block (RB, the Briz-M spacecraft and 2) was not detected in the transfer orbit. The signal from the headunit (GB) was adopted with an emergency intermediate orbit.

According to preliminary information, the inclusion of cruise propulsion system (PS), RB, the  was the estimated time. Shutdown control occurred in 7 seconds instead of the estimated 18 minutes 5 seconds.


GB means accompanied by Air Troops and Space Defense and Space Agency. Conducted an analysis of the situation.

Original text in Russian: http://www.federalspace.ru/main.php?id=2&nid=19396

Images, Text, Credits: Press Service of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos PAO) / Khrunichev / Translation: Orbiter.ch.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

New Mars Rover Beams Back Images Showing Its Descent














NASA - MSL Curiosity / Entry / Descent / Landing patch.

August 7, 2012


This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The image was obtained by the Mars Descent Imager instrument known as MARDI and shows the 15-foot (4.5-meter) diameter heat shield when it was about 50 feet (16 meters) from the spacecraft. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS.

Earlier today, just hours after NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars, a select group of images taken by the onboard Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI, were beamed back to Earth. The 297 color, low-resolution images, provide a glimpse of the rover's descent into Gale Crater. They are a preview of the approximately 1,504 images of descent currently held in the rover's onboard memory. When put together in highest resolution, the resulting video is expected to depict the rover's descent from the moment the entry system's heat shield is released through touchdown.


This color thumbnail image was obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover during its descent to the surface of Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS.

"The image sequence received so far indicates Curiosity had, as expected, a very exciting ride to the surface," said Mike Malin, imaging scientist for the Mars Science Lab mission from Malin Space Systems in San Diego. "But as dramatic as they are, there is real other-world importance to obtaining them. These images will help the mission scientists interpret the rover's surroundings, the rover drivers in planning for future drives across the surface, as well as assist engineers in their design of forthcoming landing systems for Mars or other worlds."

The image of the heat shield falling away is online at: http://1.usa.gov/RSVufL.

video
Curiosity's Descent

This stop-motion video shows 297 frames from the Mars Descent Imager aboard NASA's Curiosity rover as it descended to the surface of Mars. These thumbnail images were received on Earth on Aug. 6, 2012, and cover the last two and a half minutes of descent. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

The MARDI camera is located on the chassis of the Curiosity rover. Just before the heat shield fell away, MARDI began its imaging task. The images selected for early downlink to Earth were taken at different points in Curiosity's final descent toward the surface. One of the earliest images shows the entry vehicle's heat shield 50 feet (15 meters) and falling away after separating from the vehicle three seconds before. A set of images demonstrates some of the gyrations Curiosity went through while on the parachute. Another remarkable set of images depicts the final moments leading up to landing, where the exhaust from four of the descent stage's 742 pounds of thrust rockets billow up dust from the Martian surface.

"A good comparison is to that grainy onboard film from Apollo 11 when they were about to land on the moon," said Malin.

Those MARDI images downlinked so far are low-resolution thumbnails, 192 by 144 pixels. In the months ahead, as communications between rover and Earth become more robust, full-frame images 1,600 by 1,200 pixels in size, are expected to provide the most complete and dramatic imagery of a planetary landing in the history of exploration.


This image shows one of the first views from NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (early morning hours Aug. 6 EDT, Mount Sharp in background). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

The mission also released a higher-resolution Hazcam image of their target, the mountain in the middle of Gale Crater informally titled Mount Sharp.

The new image, taken by Curiosity's black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras - or Hazcams - can be found at: http://1.usa.gov/OLB3B5.

Curiosity, NASA's latest contribution to the Martian landscape, landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (05:32 on Aug. 6, EDT) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall inside Gale Crater, 96 miles in diameter.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, provided MARDI, as well as three other cameras on Curiosity.

Curiosity's First Color Image of the Martian Landscape


This view of the landscape to the north of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the afternoon of the first day after landing. (The team calls this day Sol 1, which is the first Martian day of operations; Sol 1 began on Aug. 6, 2012.). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Malin Space Science Systems.

In the distance, the image shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. The image is murky because the MAHLI's removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover's terminal descent. Images taken without the dust cover in place are expected during checkout of the robotic arm in coming weeks.

The MAHLI is located on the turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. At the time the MAHLI Sol 1 image was acquired, the robotic arm was in its stowed position. It has been stowed since the rover was packaged for its Nov. 26, 2011, launch.

The MAHLI has a transparent dust cover. This image was acquired with the dust cover closed. The cover will not be opened until more than a week after the landing.

When the robotic arm, turret, and MAHLI are stowed, the MAHLI is in a position that is rotated 30 degrees relative to the rover deck. The MAHLI image shown here has been rotated to correct for that tilt, so that the sky is "up" and the ground is "down".

When the robotic arm, turret, and MAHLI are stowed, the MAHLI is looking out from the front left side of the rover. This is much like the view from the driver's side of cars sold in the USA.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity. This means it can, as shown here, also obtain pictures of the Martian landscape.

For more information on the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

Curiosity latest images: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/gallery-indexEvents.html

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity

Images (mentioned), Video (Mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / Steve Cole / JPL / Guy Webster / D.C. Agle.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

lundi 6 août 2012

From the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch made ​​carrier rocket Proton-M with the spacecraft Express-MD2 and Telkom-3












ROSCOSMOS logo.

08/06/2012

 Proton-M rocket lifted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan today

A Proton-M rocket lifted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan today, August 6th 2012, at 19:31 UTC carrying the Telkom 3 and Express MD2 communication satellites.

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 Launch of Proton-M Carrying Telkom 3 and Express MD

August 6 to 23 hours 31 minutes. MSK with the launcher platform 24 81 Baikonur calculations starting enterprises of rocket and space launch industry in Russia is made of a space rocket Proton-M with the upper block (RB), the Briz-M and the spacecraft Express-MD2 and Telcom-3

Proton-M / Breeze-M System Trajectory

In accordance with cyclogram flight department staff holds the head unit from the third stage rocket. At the estimated time of first inclusion holds engine booster Briz-M and the elimination of GB on the reference orbit.

Telkom 3 communication satellite

Express MD2 communication satellite

Original text in Russian: http://www.federalspace.ru/main.php?id=2&nid=19395

Images, Video, Text, Credits: Press Service of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos PAO) / Roscomos TV / Khrunichev / Translation: Orbiter.ch.

Regards, Orbiter.ch

NASA's Curiosity Rover Caught in the Act of Landing












NASA - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) patch.

August 6, 2012


Image above: NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona.

An image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance orbiter captured the Curiosity rover still connected to its 51-foot-wide (almost 16 meter) parachute as it descended towards its landing site at Gale Crater.

"If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "When you consider that we have been working on this sequence since March and had to upload commands to the spacecraft about 72 hours prior to the image being taken, you begin to realize how challenging this picture was to obtain."


Image above: Curiosity and its parachute are in the center of the white box; the inset image is a cutout of the rover stretched to avoid saturation. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona.

The image of Curiosity on its parachute can be found at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/pia15978b.html

The image was taken while MRO was 211 miles (340 kilometers) away from the parachuting rover. Curiosity and its rocket-propelled backpack, contained within the conical-shaped back shell, had yet to be deployed. At the time, Curiosity was about two miles (three kilometers) above the Martian surface.

"Guess you could consider us the closest thing to paparazzi on Mars," said Milkovich. "We definitely caught NASA's newest celebrity in the act."

Curiosity, NASA's latest contribution to the Martian landscape, landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 on Aug. 6, EDT) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall inside Gale Crater, 96 miles in diameter.

In other Curiosity news, one part of the rover team at the JPL continues to analyze the data from last night's landing while another continues to prepare the one-ton mobile laboratory for its future explorations of Gale Crater. One key assignment given to Curiosity for its first full day on Mars is to raise its high-gain antenna. Using this antenna will increase the data rate at which the rover can communicate directly with Earth. The mission will use relays to orbiters as the primary method for sending data home, because that method is much more energy-efficient for the rover.


Image above: The green diamond shows approximately where NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars, a region about 2 kilometers northeast of its target in the center of the estimated landing region (blue ellipse). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance. Later in the mission, the rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance to layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Curiosity Flying Over Mars


Image above: NASA's Curiosity rover and its parachute were spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Curiosity descended to the surface on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera captured this image of Curiosity while the orbiter was listening to transmissions from the rover. Curiosity and its parachute are in the small white box at center. The rover is descending toward the etched plains just north of the sand dunes that fringe "Mt. Sharp." From the perspective of the orbiter, the parachute and Curiosity are flying at an angle relative to the surface, so the landing site does not appear directly below the rover.

The parachute appears fully inflated and performing perfectly. Details in the parachute, such as the band gap at the edges and the central hole, are clearly seen. The cords connecting the parachute to the back shell cannot be seen, although they were seen in the image of NASA's Phoenix lander descending, perhaps due to the difference in lighting angles. The bright spot on the back shell containing Curiosity might be a specular reflection off of a shiny area. Curiosity was released from the back shell sometime after this image was acquired.

This view is from an observation made by HiRISE targeted to the expected location of Curiosity about one minute prior to landing. It was captured in HiRISE CCD RED1, near the eastern edge of the swath width (there is a RED0 at the very edge). This means that the rover was a bit further east or downrange than predicted. The image scale is 13.2 inches (33.6 centimeters) per pixel . Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Arizona.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

For more information on the mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and the Mars Exploration Rover Project are managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiter. For more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, see http://www.nasa.gov/mro .

Images (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA / Dwayne Brown / Steve Cole / JPL / Guy Webster / D.C. Agle.

Cheers, Orbiter.ch

ESA spacecraft records crucial NASA signals from Mars












ESA - Mars Express Mission patch.

6 August 2012

This morning at 7:14 CEST, ESA’s Mars Express acquired signals from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory as it delivered the car-sized Curiosity rover onto the Red planet’s surface. ESA’s New Norcia tracking station also picked up signals directly from the NASA mission, 248 million km away at Mars.

A key step was completed today in ESA's ongoing support to NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. Signals recorded by Mars Express during MSL’s entry and descent were successfully received at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.

Curiosity's first view of Mars

The open-loop recording of radio Doppler and signal spectrum transmitted by the NASA mission were stored on Mars Express and then downloaded to Earth starting at 08:15 CEST.

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Animation: Mars Express tracks NASA MSL

The recorded signals were transferred to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for analysis immediately upon receipt at ESOC. Similar direct-to-Earth recordings made at ESA’s New Norcia ground station in Australia were also sent to NASA. 

Curiosity’s descent was also tracked by NASA’s own Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft; confirmation of touchdown was provided by Odyssey directly to NASA at 07:31 CEST.

ESA welcomes new friend at Mars

"Congratulations to our NASA colleagues on a hugely successful landing,” said Paolo Ferri, ESA’s Head of Solar and Planetary Mission Operations. “The Mars Express team welcomes a new friend in the neighbourhood."

Mars Express picked up MSL signals about 10 minutes before it entered the atmosphere, travelling at 21 000 km/h, for its critical descent and landing phase.

ESOC control room

“We tracked MSL for about 28 minutes then lost contact as expected just a few moments before Curiosity’s touchdown in Gale Crater,” said Michel Denis, Mars Express Spacecraft Operations Manager.

“NASA now have this valuable data and everyone here is delighted to have helped support Curiosity’s arrival at Mars.”

The signal recordings made by Mars Express and New Norcia station include information on MSL’s velocity and direction. They record the sequential critical events during descent, including parachute deployment, heat shield separation and rover separation.

They will prove valuable to scientists as they reconstruct MSL’s descent profile, helping to improve and refine models of the martian atmosphere and assess landing accuracy.

The signals recorded by Mars Express will be automatically downloaded two more times later today via New Norcia and ESA’s Cebreros station, in Spain, to ensure redundancy.

ESA’s first step in continuing Curiosity support

In the coming weeks, Mars Express and the operations team at ESOC will perform several data relay overflights during the first phases of Curiosity’s mission on the surface of Mars.

New Norcia antenna

Then, ESA will offer a standby capability to provide dedicated support at short notice, if requested by NASA, by relaying data from Curiosity to Earth.

This could become necessary if Odyssey or MRO were to experience any technical problems, for example.

ESA’s tracking station network can support NASA missions, due in part to long-standing technical and operational cooperation between the two agencies.

“Supporting Curiosity is an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation not only on Earth but also in deep space,” said Manfred Warhaut, ESA’s Head of Mission Operations.

“No one likes going to Mars on their own; it takes cooperation and partnership to reduce risk and boost scientific return on investment.”

More information:

NASA MSL mission at JPL: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

NASA - Mars Science Laboratory: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html

Relays from Mars demonstrate international interplanetary networking: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM5S9W4QWD_exploring_0.html

ESA and NASA extend ties with major new cross-support agreement: http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM5BCT4LZE_index_0.html

Designing the interplanetary web: http://www.esa.int/esaHS/SEMM5IHWP0H_index_0.html

Mars Express: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/index.html

Mars Express blog: http://blogs.esa.int/mex

Mars Webcam: http://www.esa.int/vmc

Images, Animation, Text, Credits: ESA / J. Mai / NASA.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

Curiosity Lands on Mars!










NASA - Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) patch.

August 6, 2012

The car-size, one-ton rover Curiosity touched down on Mars at 1:31 a.m. EDT Monday.

Curiosity - Robot Geologist and Chemist in One!

The landing marks the beginning of a two-year prime mission to investigate one of the most intriguing places on Mars.

Landing report:

07:15 (CET) - Curiosity Sheds Its Cruise Stage

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory carrying the Curiosity rover has separated from the cruise stage that carried it from Earth to the Red Planet. The rover, snug between a protective back shell and heat shield, is about 10 minutes away from  entering the Martian atmosphere and about 17 minutes away from landing. Thrusters on the back shell are orienting the spacecraft so the heat shield faces forward in preparation for entering the atmosphere. At this stage, the Mars Science Laboratory Entry,  Descent and Landing Instrument (MEDLI) suite begins taking measurements related to the performance of the heat shield that will aid in the design of future missions.


Image above: This artist's still shows how NASA's Curiosity rover will communicate with Earth during landing. As the rover descends to the surface of Mars, it will send out two different types of data: basic radio-frequency tones that go directly to Earth (pink dashes) and more complex UHF radio data (blue circles) that require relaying by orbiters. NASA's Odyssey orbiter will pick up the UHF signal and relay it immediately back to Earth, while NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will record the UHF data and play it back to Earth at a later time. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

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 Communicating with Curiosity

07:25 (CET) - Sailing Through the Martian Atmosphere

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory has entered the Martian atmosphere. The top of Mars' atmosphere is a gradual transition to interplanetary space, not a sharp boundary. In addition, the entry point is not directly above the landing site. While  descending from that altitude to the surface, the spacecraft will also be traveling eastward relative to the Mars surface, covering a ground-track distance of about 390 miles (about 630 kilometers) between the atmospheric entry point and the touchdown target.  Two tungsten weights will be released to shift the spacecraft's center of mass and give it the lift it needs to fly through the atmosphere.

07:29 (CET) - Parachute Pops Open

The parachute guiding NASA's Mars Science Laboratory to the surface of Mars has opened. At this point, the rover has already slowed down considerably due to friction with the atmosphere. The parachute, which is 51 feet (nearly 16 meters)  in diameter, deploys about 254 seconds after entry, at an altitude of about 7 miles (11 kilometers) and a velocity of about 900 mph (about 405 meters per second).

Gale Crater: New Home of Mars Rover Curiosity

This view of Gale is a mosaic of observations made in the visible-light portion of the spectrum by the Thermal Emission Imaging System camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.

07:32 (CET) - Curiosity Lands on Mars

Rover delivered by skycrane

NASA's Curiosity rover has landed on Mars! Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the "sky crane" maneuver. When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords  were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon -- about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crater. The time at JPL's mission control is about 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 PDT (early morning EDT).


Image above: Explosion of joy in the control room after the successful landing of Curiosity on Mars.

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Seven Minutes of Terror!

First images sent by Curiosity

Curiosity first image

It once was one small step... now it's six big wheels. Here's a look at one of them on the soil of Mars!

Second image sent by Curiosity

Here's a better picture where you can see Curiosity shadow in Gale Crater on Mars.

Seventeen Cameras on Curiosity


This graphic shows the locations of the cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover. The rover's mast features seven cameras: the Remote Micro Imager, part of the Chemistry and Camera suite; four black-and-white Navigation Cameras (two on the left and two on the right) and two color Mast Cameras (Mastcams). The left Mastcam has a 34-millimeter lens and the right Mastcam has a 100-millimeter lens. There is one camera on the end of a robotic arm that is stowed in this graphic; it is called the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

There are nine cameras hard-mounted to the rover: two pairs of black-and-white Hazard Avoidance Cameras in the front, another two pair mounted to the rear of the rover, (dashed arrows in the graphic) and the color Mars Descent Imager (MARDI).

The landing will end a 36-week flight from Earth and begin at two-year prime mission on Mars. Researchers will use Curiosity's 10 science instruments to investigate whether Martian environmental conditions have ever been favorable for microbial life.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

Images, Videos, Text, Credits: NASA / NASA TV / JPL-Caltech.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch