How We Spent Our Summer – NASA Solar System Exploration

The summer of 2022 has been busy for us here at NASA. Although we didn’t go to the beach, one of our space probes got some serious sunbathing. We’ve made great progress on a new spacecraft that will fly over an ocean we think is deep inside an icy moon. One of our robots spent the summer picking up rocks on Mars, and another had a big birthday. Oh, and check out some of our favorite summer photos from our new space telescope. This is how we spent the summer of 22.

An illustration of the Parker Solar Probe flying close to the Sun. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its 12th close approach to the Sun on June 1, 2022, less than 8.5 million kilometers from the solar surface. (Do not worry, we packed sunscreen!)

LEARN MORE: Parker Solar Probe | our sun | NASA Space Space: All About the Sun

Europa Clipper bodywork

Engineers and technicians inspect the main body of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman | Learn more about this picture

It’s not exactly a beach body, but the main body of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft was delivered in June to the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. Over the next two years, JPL engineers and technicians will finish assembling the craft by hand before testing it to make sure it can withstand the trip to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.

LEARN MORE: European Clipper | Europe | NASA Space: All About Europa | Ocean Worlds Resources


An illustration showing how the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft impacted the surface of asteroid Bennu as it touched down and collected a sample. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab | See the video

After analyzing data gathered when NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected a sample of asteroid Bennu in October 2020Scientists have learned something amazing: the spacecraft would have sunk into Bennu if it hadn’t fired its thrusters to roll back immediately after catching dust and rocks on the asteroid’s surface.

It turns out that the particles that make up Bennu’s exterior are so loose and loosely bound together that if a person walked on Bennu, they would feel very little resistance, much like stepping into a pit of plastic balls which are popular playgrounds. for kids – and big kids too.

LEARN MORE: Bennu | OSIRIS-REX | Asteroids

Perseverance Rock Core

NASA’s Mars Perseverance took this image of a sample inside its drill bit. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Learn more about this picture

NASA’s Perseverance rover did some serious rock collecting on Mars this summer, taking its first sample of the delta at its landing site, Jezero Crater. Since arriving in the delta, Perseverance has been testing different rocks to see if they are a good candidate for the first core sample in the area. The first rocks the mission team considered fractured too easily or had surfaces too rough to safely place the rover’s drill.

The best candidate was a rock named Skinner Ridge. How did he get this name? The rover is currently in an area of ​​the delta called the Shenandoah Quadrangle, named after the US national park in Virginia. Skinner Ridge, Thornton Gap and Swift Run are all components of Shenandoah.

LEARN MORE: Perseverance | March | NASA Space Space: All About Mars | Mars Resources

Webb Deep Field

This image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope shows galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago, with many more galaxies ahead and behind the cluster. This field was also imaged by Webb’s Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), which observes light in the mid-infrared. Credit: NASA, ESA, ASC, STScI | Learn more about this picture

NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope has provided the deepest, sharpest images of the distant universe to date. Webb’s first deep-field image is of a cluster of galaxies called SMACS 0723. It’s teeming with thousands of galaxies, including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared.

LEARN MORE: Gallery of early Webb images | About Webb

Moon Cave

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera has photographed the Marius Hills pit on the Moon three times, each time in very different lighting. The central panel, with the Sun above, gives scientists an unobstructed view of the floor of the Marius Hills pit. The Marius pit is approximately 110 feet (34 meters) deep and approximately 215 feet by 295 feet (65 meters by 90 meters) wide. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University | Learn more about these images

NASA-funded scientists have discovered shadowy pit locations on the Moon that still hover around a comfortable 63 degrees F (about 17 C) using NASA data. Lunar reconnaissance orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and computer modelling.

The pits and caves they could lead to would make thermally stable sites for lunar exploration compared to other parts of the Moon’s surface, which can heat up to 260 degrees F (about 127 C) during the day. and cool to minus 280 F (about minus 173 C) overnight.

Lunar exploration is part of NASA’s goal to explore and understand the unknown in space, and to inspire and benefit humanity. With his Artemis programNASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon. Artemis Ischeduled to launch no earlier than August 29, 2022, will be the first integrated test of the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS), and ground systems at Kennedy Space Center.

LEARN MORE: earth moon | Learn more about Earth’s Moon | NASA Space Space: All About Earth’s Moon | Mission Artemis 1 | Artemis Blog

After being installed outside the international space stationNASA investigation of the source of mineral dust on the Earth’s surface (TRANSMIT) provided its first view of Earth. The milestone, called “first light,” occurred at 7:51 p.m. PDT (10:51 p.m. EDT) on July 27, 2022, as the space station passed over Western Australia.

Developed by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), EMIT will map the composition of mineral dust from dry regions of the Earth to help scientists better understand how dust affects climate warming and cooling. The instrument works by measuring the hundreds of wavelengths of light reflected from materials on Earth.

LEARN MORE: TRANSMIT | Earth | NASA Space Space: All About Earth | NASA Global Climate Change

Jupiter swirls

Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS | Image processing by Brian Swift © CC BY | Learn more about this picture

As NASA’s Juno mission completed its 43rd close flyby of Jupiter on July 5, 2022, its JunoCam instrument captured this startling view of vortices — hurricane-like spiraling wind patterns — near the planet’s north pole. These powerful storms can measure more than 50 kilometers in height and hundreds of kilometers in diameter. Understanding how they form is key to understanding Jupiter’s atmosphere, as well as the fluid dynamics and cloud chemistry that create the planet’s other atmospheric features.

A NASA citizen science project, Jovian Vortex Hunter, is asking for help from volunteer members of the public to spot and help categorize vortices and other atmospheric phenomena visible in JunoCam photos of Jupiter. By July 2022, 2,404 volunteers had completed 376,725 classifications using the Jovian Vortex Hunter Project Website.

LEARN MORE: Juno | Jupiter | NASA Space Space: All About Jupiter | Jupiterian resources

Basic sample

A self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the rover at a sampling site called “Duluth” on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS | Learn more about this picture

On August 5, 2012, a jetpack lowered NASA’s Curiosity rover onto the Red Planet, beginning the SUV-sized explorer’s search for evidence that, billions of years ago, Mars had the conditions necessary to sustain microscopic life.

Being 10 years old is important. We couldn’t send a cake, so we made a poster to celebrate. You can Click here to get a copy.

LEARN MORE: Curiosity | March | NASA Space Space: All About Mars | Mars Resources

Traveler Illustration

An illustration depicting one of NASA’s Voyager twin spacecraft. The two Voyagers entered interstellar space – the space outside the heliosphere of our Sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | Learn more about this picture

NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 twin spacecraft are daringly going where nothing on Earth has gone before. Since their launches in 1977, they have each traveled much farther from Earth and the Sun than Pluto. On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 made history by entering interstellar space, the region between the stars. Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space on November 5, 2018.

Every spacecraft has put a lot of miles on its odometer. Voyager 1 is more than 14.5 billion miles (22.5 billion kilometers) from Earth, speeding around 38,000 mph (61,000 km/h). Voyager 2 has traveled more than 12 billion miles (319 billion kilometers).

If you are going to travel very far, you need some tunes. Every Voyager has a gold record featuring Earth’s greatest hits – sounds and images selected to depict the diversity of life and culture on the home planet.

Although the Voyagers cannot send selfies from deep space, the two spaceships are still texting – send home scientific information about their surroundings via NASA’s Deep Space Network, or DSN.

LEARN MORE: Traveler | Mission status | Follow Traveler on Twitter | go interstellar | Deep Space Network

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