Category: Announcements

Taking a Closer Look at Orion After Successful Flight Test

Engineers across the country have been busy taking a closer look at NASA's Orion spacecraft and the data it produced during its successful flight test in December 2014. Inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Orion was lifted using a special crane for removal of its heat shield on Feb. 13, 2015. In the background, technicians move the heat shield on a work stand. The spacecraft’s heat shield protected Orion as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere at searing temperatures. Removing the back shell allows the team to get a closer look at Orion’s systems to see how they fared during the trip to space. The heat shield was removed in preparation for shipment to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where special equipment will be used to remove its ablative material. From there, the heat shield will be shipped to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where it will be outfitted on a test article for water impact testing.

Meanwhile, NASA and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for Orion, continue to take a look at the data the flight test produced to validate pre-flight models and improve the spacecraft’s design. Analysis of data obtained during its two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission Dec. 5 will provide engineers detailed information on how the spacecraft fared.

Photo Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann via NASA http://ift.tt/1GjNJtF Amazing.

Ceres Seen From NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000) kilometers from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity at about 4:39 a.m. PST (7:39 a.m. EST) Friday, March 6.

This image of Ceres was taken by the Dawn spacecraft on March 1, just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored world. The image shows Ceres as a crescent, mostly in shadow because the spacecraft's trajectory put it on a side of Ceres that faces away from the sun until mid-April. When Dawn emerges from Ceres' dark side, it will deliver ever-sharper images as it spirals to lower orbits around the planet.

The image was obtained at a distance of about 30,000 miles (about 48,000 kilometers) at a sun-Ceres-spacecraft angle, or phase angle, of 123 degrees. Image scale on Ceres is 1.9 miles (2.9 kilometers) per pixel. Ceres has an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 kilometers).

Dawn's mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgments, http://ift.tt/1ALN8zu.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA via NASA http://ift.tt/18XdC8i Amazing.