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Engineers install heat shield on NASA's Parker Probe

Engineers install heat shield on NASA's Parker Probe

Science
July 6 (UPI) -- For the first time in months, the Parker Solar probe is fully integrated. Engineers have reinstalled the spacecraft's next-generation heat shield, NASA announced this week. For NASA's Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft tasked with studying the sun, protection from extreme heat is obviously essential. The Thermal Protection System will provide that essential shielding. The protective layer was installed last fall but was removed shortly afterwards. In the months since, the shield and spacecraft have been subjected to a series of intensive tests. On its mission to study the sun's corona, the probe will fly within 4 million miles of the sun. The outside of the heat shield will reach 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, but its insides, instruments included, will never get hotter than 85 ...
More delay, cost for NASA's next-generation space telescope

More delay, cost for NASA's next-generation space telescope

Technology
NASA's next-generation space telescope has been delayed yet again at a staggering cost of $ 1 million a day. For the third time in less than a year, the space agency announced a lengthy postponement Wednesday for the James Webb Space Telescope . The observatory will now fly no earlier than 2021; until last fall, it was on the books for a 2018 launch. The telescope's overall cost is now expected to reach nearly $ 10 billion. Development cost alone will exceed the $ 8 billion cap set by Congress by more than $ 800 million, and require reauthorization. An independent review board cites worker error and embedded hardware problems for much of the escalating costs and delays. In a vibration test of the telescope earlier this year in California by prime contractor Northrop Grumman, dozens of lo...
Peggy Whitson, NASA's most experienced astronaut, retires

Peggy Whitson, NASA's most experienced astronaut, retires

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- After nearly four decades with NASA, including 22 years as an astronaut, Peggy Whitson is leaving the space agency. Her retirement is effective Friday, NASA announced. "It's been the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream of being a @NASA Astronaut," Whitson wrote on Twitter. "Thank you to the #NASAVillage and all who have supported me along the way. As I reminisce on my many treasured memories, it's safe to say my journey at NASA has been out of this world!" Whitson ends her career with multiple records to her name, including most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut -- 665 days. She has also conducted more spacewalks, 10, than any other female astronaut. "Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a news re...
ULA rocket launches NASA's Mars lander

ULA rocket launches NASA's Mars lander

Science
May 5 (UPI) -- NASA's newest Mars mission, the InSight lander, blasted off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:05 a.m. PT (7:05 a.m. ET).A two-stage Atlas V 401 rocket carried the lander and its instruments into space. Because InSight is slightly smaller than typical Mars-bound spacecraft, United Launch Alliance was able to deploy a smaller, lighter rocket.Saturday's blastoff marked the first time a planetary mission has launched from the West Coast. Putting a spacecraft into a Mars-bound trajectory from the Pacific side of the United States requires a bit more thrust, and thus, a bit more fuel.But the smaller, lighter rocket and payload can go farther and faster without expending too much fuel.In all, it will take about six months for InSight to reach Mars. InSight is a lande...
Nasa's InSight mission will target 'Marsquakes'

Nasa's InSight mission will target 'Marsquakes'

Science
The American space agency is set to launch its latest mission to Mars. InSight will be the first probe to focus its investigations predominantly on the interior of the Red Planet. The static lander will put seismometers on the surface - including sensors from the UK - to feel for "Marsquakes". These tremors should reveal how the underground rock is layered - data that can be compared with Earth to shed further light on the formation of the planets 4.6 billion years ago."As seismic waves travel through [Mars] they pick up information along the way; as they travel through different rocks," explained Dr Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator. "And all those wiggles you see on seismograms - scientists understand how to pull that information out. After we've gotten many, many Marsquake...