NASA’s Lucy mission struggles with solar array issue after launching to space


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission that will fly by eight ancient asteroids launched early Saturday morning, but not everything went according to plan once the Lucy spacecraft reached space.

After Lucy successfully separated from the rocket, it deployed both solar arrays. However, NASA only received confirmation that one of the solar arrays fully unfurled and latched. The second array partially opened and did not latch to the spacecraft.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus. They are designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids within the orbit of Jupiter.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division, during a press conference last week.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously.”

Currently, the team says the Lucy spacecraft is healthy.

“The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed,” according to an update from NASA. “That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.”

Since the partial solar array deployment, Lucy has been in safe mode and only running essential functions, but it transitioned to cruise mode on Tuesday.

“This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth,” according to the agency. “The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.”

The team confirmed that Lucy was able to fire its thrusters to turn the spacecraft using the current configuration of the solar arrays. It will continue making small thruster firings to help manage the spacecraft’s momentum, which was already planned, according to NASA.

The solar array issue has led to a temporary postponement of deploying the instrument pointing platform on the spacecraft, but all other post-launch activities are going according to plan. This platform holds the mission’s scientific instruments, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer.

The team will assess if there are any other long-term implications as they look at the other scheduled activities for Lucy. Currently, no adjustments to the spacecraft’s trajectory will be needed until December.

Lucy is on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations created from previous research about the asteroids. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission struggles with solar array issue after launching to space


After Lucy successfully separated from the rocket, it deployed both solar arrays. However, NASA only received confirmation that one of the solar arrays fully unfurled and latched. The second array partially opened and did not latch to the spacecraft.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus. They are designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids within the orbit of Jupiter.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division, during a press conference last week.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously.”

Currently, the team says the Lucy spacecraft is healthy.

“The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed,” according to an update from NASA. “That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.”

Since the partial solar array deployment, Lucy has been in safe mode and only running essential functions, but it transitioned to cruise mode on Tuesday.

“This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth,” according to the agency. “The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.”

The team confirmed that Lucy was able to fire its thrusters to turn the spacecraft using the current configuration of the solar arrays. It will continue making small thruster firings to help manage the spacecraft’s momentum, which was already planned, according to NASA.

The solar array issue has led to a temporary postponement of deploying the instrument pointing platform on the spacecraft, but all other post-launch activities are going according to plan. This platform holds the mission’s scientific instruments, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer.

NASA's Lucy mission carries Amanda Gorman poem, Beatles lyrics to space

The team will assess if there are any other long-term implications as they look at the other scheduled activities for Lucy. Currently, no adjustments to the spacecraft’s trajectory will be needed until December.

Lucy is on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations created from previous research about the asteroids. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission has launched to explore never-before-seen asteroids


CNN

By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission that will fly by a total of eight ancient asteroids has launched on its ambitious journey.

Weather conditions were greater than 90% favorable Saturday morning when the Lucy mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. ET. The launch team confirmed that they received a signal from the spacecraft confirming it was safe and healthy just after 7 a.m. ET and that Lucy successfully deployed its impressive solar arrays.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

“At the heart of Lucy is the science and how it’s going to talk to us about the Trojans,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“It’s so important to go observe them because these asteroids tell us about a chapter of our own story — in this case, the history when the outer planets were forming in the solar system,” Zurbuchen said. “I’m still amazed by the fact that if you pick up a rock or you look at one of those planetary bodies and you add science to it, it turns into a history book.”

Visiting mysterious asteroids

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The Trojans “are held there by the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, so if you put an object there early in the solar system’s history, it’s been stable forever,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These things really are the fossils of what planets formed from.”

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Iliad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

Eurybates was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope found that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“One of the really surprising things about the Trojans when we started to study them from the ground is just how different they are from one another,” Levison said. ” So if you want to understand what this population is telling us about how the planets formed, you need to understand that diversity and that’s what Lucy is intended to do.”

A feat of engineering

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

It took a team of more than 500 engineers and scientists to conceptualize and build the spacecraft, said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously, and it happens about one hour after launch.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

The instruments will enable the science team to search for satellites around these asteroids as well as craters on their surfaces, which can help determine their ages as well as the origin and evolution of the asteroids.

Lucy will fly by the asteroids at about 15,000 miles per hour (6,705 meters per second), about four times slower than when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto and the distant object Arrokoth, said Hal Weaver, principal investigator for Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Lucy will also be about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away from each asteroid during its flyby, as opposed to around 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) away from the Arrokoth flyby, which means the Trojan images will have four times better resolution.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the team plans to propose an extended mission to explore more Trojans. The spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission has launched to explore never-before-seen asteroids


Weather conditions were greater than 90% favorable Saturday morning when the Lucy mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. ET. The launch team confirmed that they received a signal from the spacecraft confirming it was safe and healthy just after 7 a.m. ET and that Lucy successfully deployed its impressive solar arrays.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

“At the heart of Lucy is the science and how it’s going to talk to us about the Trojans,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

A photo from Lucy's successful launch early Saturday morning.

“It’s so important to go observe them because these asteroids tell us about a chapter of our own story — in this case, the history when the outer planets were forming in the solar system,” Zurbuchen said. “I’m still amazed by the fact that if you pick up a rock or you look at one of those planetary bodies and you add science to it, it turns into a history book.”

Visiting mysterious asteroids

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

Fastest orbiting asteroid found in our solar system

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

This graphic shows Lucy's impressive trajectory to reach the asteroids over 12 years.
The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The Trojans “are held there by the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, so if you put an object there early in the solar system’s history, it’s been stable forever,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These things really are the fossils of what planets formed from.”

How did Lucy, our early human ancestor, die 3 million years ago?

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Iliad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

NASA's Lucy mission will explore seven Trojan asteroids.
This illustration shows the binary asteroid Patroclus/Menoetius, Eurybates, Orus, Leucus, Polymele and the main belt asteroid DonaldJohanson.

Eurybates was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope found that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“One of the really surprising things about the Trojans when we started to study them from the ground is just how different they are from one another,” Levison said. ” So if you want to understand what this population is telling us about how the planets formed, you need to understand that diversity and that’s what Lucy is intended to do.”

A feat of engineering

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

It took a team of more than 500 engineers and scientists to conceptualize and build the spacecraft, said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA spacecraft carrying history-making asteroid sample now heading toward Earth

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously, and it happens about one hour after launch.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

The nearly assembled Lucy spacecraft is shown in late 2020.

The instruments will enable the science team to search for satellites around these asteroids as well as craters on their surfaces, which can help determine their ages as well as the origin and evolution of the asteroids.

Lucy will fly by the asteroids at about 15,000 miles per hour (6,705 meters per second), about four times slower than when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto and the distant object Arrokoth, said Hal Weaver, principal investigator for Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
This long exposure image, taken over 2 minutes and 30 seconds, captures the beauty of the early morning launch.
Lucy will also be about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away from each asteroid during its flyby, as opposed to around 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) away from the Arrokoth flyby, which means the Trojan images will have four times better resolution.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the team plans to propose an extended mission to explore more Trojans. The spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission has launched to explore never-before-seen asteroids


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission that will fly by a total of eight ancient asteroids has launched on its ambitious journey.

Weather conditions were greater than 90% favorable Saturday morning when the Lucy mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. ET.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

“At the heart of Lucy is the science and how it’s going to talk to us about the Trojans,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“It’s so important to go observe them because these asteroids tell us about a chapter of our own story — in this case, the history when the outer planets were forming in the solar system,” Zurbuchen said. “I’m still amazed by the fact that if you pick up a rock or you look at one of those planetary bodies and you add science to it, it turns into a history book.”

Visiting mysterious asteroids

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The Trojans “are held there by the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, so if you put an object there early in the solar system’s history, it’s been stable forever,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These things really are the fossils of what planets formed from.”

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Iliad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

Eurybates was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope found that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“One of the really surprising things about the Trojans when we started to study them from the ground is just how different they are from one another,” Levison said. ” So if you want to understand what this population is telling us about how the planets formed, you need to understand that diversity and that’s what Lucy is intended to do.”

A feat of engineering

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

It took a team of more than 500 engineers and scientists to conceptualize and build the spacecraft, said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously, and it happens about one hour after launch.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

The instruments will enable the science team to search for satellites around these asteroids as well as craters on their surfaces, which can help determine their ages as well as the origin and evolution of the asteroids.

Lucy will fly by the asteroids at about 15,000 miles per hour (6,705 meters per second), about four times slower than when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto and the distant object Arrokoth, said Hal Weaver, principal investigator for Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Lucy will also be about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away from each asteroid during its flyby, as opposed to around 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) away from the Arrokoth flyby, which means the Trojan images will have four times better resolution.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the team plans to propose an extended mission to explore more Trojans. The spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission is ready to launch and explore never-before-seen asteroids


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission to fly by a total of eight ancient asteroids is ready for launch.

Weather conditions will be 90% favorable on the morning of October 16, when the Lucy mission is set to leave Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. ET. If it doesn’t launch at that time, the window for liftoff remains open for 75 minutes.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

“At the heart of Lucy is the science and how it’s going to talk to us about the Trojans,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“It’s so important to go observe them because these asteroids tell us about a chapter of our own story — in this case, the history when the outer planets were forming in the solar system,” Zurbuchen said. “I’m still amazed by the fact that if you pick up a rock or you look at one of those planetary bodies and you add science to it, it turns into a history book.”

Visiting mysterious asteroids

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The Trojans “are held there by the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, so if you put an object there early in the solar system’s history, it’s been stable forever,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These things really are the fossils of what planets formed from.”

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Iliad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

Eurybates is not one of the Trojans, but it was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope found that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“One of the really surprising things about the Trojans when we started to study them from the ground is just how different they are from one another,” Levison said. ” So if you want to understand what this population is telling us about how the planets formed, you need to understand that diversity and that’s what Lucy is intended to do.”

A feat of engineering

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

It took a team of more than 500 engineers and scientists to conceptualize and build the spacecraft, said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously, and it happens about one hour after launch.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

The instruments will enable the science team to search for moons around these asteroids as well as craters on their surfaces, which can help determine their ages as well as the origin and evolution of the asteroids.

Lucy will fly by the asteroids at about 15,000 miles per hour (6,705 meters per second), about four times slower than when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto and the distant object Arrokoth, said Hal Weaver, principal investigator for Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Lucy will also be about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away from each asteroid during its flyby, as opposed to around 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) away from the Arrokoth flyby, which means the Trojan images will have four times better resolution.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the team plans to propose an extended mission to explore more Trojans. The spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission is ready to launch and explore never-before-seen asteroids


Weather conditions will be 90% favorable on the morning of October 16, when the Lucy mission is set to leave Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m. ET. If it doesn’t launch at that time, the window for liftoff remains open for 75 minutes.

Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms, which have never been observed. The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

So far, our only glimpses of the Trojans have been artist renderings or animations. Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of what these asteroids look like.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

“At the heart of Lucy is the science and how it’s going to talk to us about the Trojans,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“It’s so important to go observe them because these asteroids tell us about a chapter of our own story — in this case, the history when the outer planets were forming in the solar system,” Zurbuchen said. “I’m still amazed by the fact that if you pick up a rock or you look at one of those planetary bodies and you add science to it, it turns into a history book.”

Visiting mysterious asteroids

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

Fastest orbiting asteroid found in our solar system

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

This graphic shows Lucy's impressive trajectory to reach the asteroids over 12 years.
The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

The Trojans “are held there by the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, so if you put an object there early in the solar system’s history, it’s been stable forever,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These things really are the fossils of what planets formed from.”

How did Lucy, our early human ancestor, die 3 million years ago?

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Iliad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

NASA's Lucy mission will explore seven Trojan asteroids.
This illustration shows the binary asteroid Patroclus/Menoetius, Eurybates, Orus, Leucus, Polymele and the main belt asteroid DonaldJohanson.

Eurybates is not one of the Trojans, but it was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope found that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“One of the really surprising things about the Trojans when we started to study them from the ground is just how different they are from one another,” Levison said. ” So if you want to understand what this population is telling us about how the planets formed, you need to understand that diversity and that’s what Lucy is intended to do.”

A feat of engineering

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

It took a team of more than 500 engineers and scientists to conceptualize and build the spacecraft, said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

NASA spacecraft carrying history-making asteroid sample now heading toward Earth

“Lucy will be NASA’s first mission to travel this far away from the sun without nuclear power,” said Joan Salute, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Planetary Science Division.”In order to generate enough energy, Lucy has two very large circular solar arrays that open up like Chinese fans. These open up autonomously and simultaneously, and it happens about one hour after launch.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

The nearly assembled Lucy spacecraft is shown in late 2020.

The instruments will enable the science team to search for moons around these asteroids as well as craters on their surfaces, which can help determine their ages as well as the origin and evolution of the asteroids.

Lucy will fly by the asteroids at about 15,000 miles per hour (6,705 meters per second), about four times slower than when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto and the distant object Arrokoth, said Hal Weaver, principal investigator for Lucy’s L’LORRI instrument at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
Lucy will also be about 600 miles (965 kilometers) away from each asteroid during its flyby, as opposed to around 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) away from the Arrokoth flyby, which means the Trojan images will have four times better resolution.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the team plans to propose an extended mission to explore more Trojans. The spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.



Source link

NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the earliest ‘fossils’ of the solar system


By Ashley Strickland, CNN

The first NASA mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid swarms is getting ready to launch.

The Lucy mission has passed all of its prelaunch tests and is set to leave Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at around 5:30 a.m. ET on October 16.

The Trojan asteroids, which borrow their name from Greek mythology, orbit the sun in two swarms — one that’s ahead of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, and a second one that lags behind it.

Lucy is the first spacecraft designed to visit and observe these asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system. The mission will help researchers effectively peer back in time to learn how the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Lucy’s 12-year mission could also help scientists learn how our planets ended up in their current spots.

There are about 7,000 Trojan asteroids, and the largest is 160 miles (250 kilometers) across. The asteroids represent the leftover material still hanging around after the giant planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, formed. Even though they share an orbit with Jupiter, the asteroids are still very distant from the planet itself — almost as far away as Jupiter is from the sun, according to NASA.

“With Lucy, we’re going to eight never-before-seen asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft,” said Tom Statler, Lucy project scientist at NASA Headquarters, in a statement. “This is a fantastic opportunity for discovery as we probe into our solar system’s distant past.”

The spacecraft is set to fly by an asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then it will explore seven of the Trojans. Over the course of its mission, Lucy will end up swinging back to Earth’s orbit three separate times for gravity assists that can slingshot it on the right path. That will make Lucy the first spacecraft to travel to Jupiter and return to Earth.

“Launching a spacecraft is almost like sending a child off to college — you’ve done what you can for them to get them ready for that next big step on their own,” said Hal Levison, the principal investigator of the Lucy mission, based at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, in a statement.

The mission borrows its name from the Lucy fossil, the remains of an ancient human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The skeleton has helped researchers piece together aspects of human evolution, and the NASA Lucy team members hope their mission will achieve a similar feat regarding the history of our solar system.

“We view these objects as being the fossils of planet formation,” Levison said.

Both the fossil and the mission are a nod to the Beatles tune, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which is why the logo for the Lucy mission includes a diamond.

The Lucy spacecraft is more than 46 feet (14 meters) from tip to tip, largely due to its giant solar panels — each about the width of a school bus — designed to keep up a power supply to the spacecraft’s instruments. But Lucy also has fuel to help it execute some skilled maneuvers on the way to the asteroids.

Over 12 years, Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles (6,437,376,000 kilometers) moving at about 400,000 miles per hour (17,881.6 meters per second).

Lucy will specifically visit these asteroids, all named for heroes you might recognize from Homer’s “The Illiad”: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius.

Though it’s not one of the Trojans, Eurybates was chosen because it’s the largest remnant of an ancient massive collision, meaning that it could reveal a look at what’s inside an asteroid. Observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the small asteroid named Queta is a satellite of Eurybates.

Each of the asteroids Lucy will fly by differ in size and color.

“Amazingly, many of these mysterious worlds have been altered very little in the 4.6 billion years since they first formed,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.The relatively pristine state makes comets, asteroids and some meteorites wonderful storytellers that have preserved clues they can share with us about conditions in the early solar system.”

Lucy will use three science instruments to study the asteroids, including color and black-and-white cameras, a thermometer, and an infrared imaging spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroids’ surface materials. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth using its antenna, which also can be used to help determine the masses of the asteroids.

Once the Lucy mission has finished, the spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit that retraces the path of its exploration between Earth and Jupiter, and it won’t have a chance of colliding with either for over 100,000 years. Eventually, if the orbit does grow unstable, it will likely head on a doomed mission to the sun or get kicked out of our solar system.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.



Source link

A billionaire self-funded the first all-tourist mission to space. Here’s everything you need to know


This mission, dubbed Inspiration4, is the first orbital mission in the history of spaceflight to be staffed entirely by tourists or otherwise non-astronauts.

Launch is slated for Wednesday between 8:02 pm and 1:02 am ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida, though forecasters are keeping a close eye out for storms that could impact the mission.

The three-day journey will see the quartet free-flying through Earth’s orbit, whipping around the planet once every 90 minutes while the passengers float, buoyed by microgravity, and take in panoramic views of our home planet. To cap off the journey, their spacecraft will dive back into the atmosphere for a fiery re-entry and splash down off the coast of Florida. And yes, for all three days in space, the passengers will all have to share a special zero-gravity-friendly toilet located near the top of the capsule. No showering will be available, and crew will all have to sleep in the same reclining seats they will ride in during launch.

This is far from the first time civilians have traveled to space. Though NASA has been averse to signing up non-astronauts for routine missions after the death of Christa McAuliffe, a New Jersey school teacher who was killed in the Challenger disaster in 1986, a cohort of wealthy thrill-seekers paid their own way to the International Space Station in the 2000s through a company called Space Adventures. American investment management billionaire Dennis Tito became the first to self-fund a trip in 2001 with his eight-day stay on the International Space Station, and six others came after him. They all booked rides alongside professional astronauts on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

This mission, however, has been billed as the beginning of a new era of space travel in which average people, rather than government-selected astronauts and the occasional deep-pocketed adventurer, carry the mantle of space exploration.

But to be clear, we are still a long way from that reality, and this trip is still far from “average.” It’s a custom, one-off mission financed by a billionaire founder of a payment processing company, and though pricing details have not been made public, it likely cost upward of $200 million. (According to one government report, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule costs roughly $55 million per seat.)

Here’s a rundown of what’s happening and why it matters.

The passengers: A billionaire, a cancer survivor, a geologist and a raffle winner

  • Jared Isaacman, 38, the billionaire founder of payment processing company Shift4, who is also personally financing this entire mission
  • Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old cancer survivor who now works as a physician assistant at St. Jude, the hospital where she was treated, in Memphis, Tennessee. She’ll be the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space, and she’ll serve as the flight’s chief medical officer. St. Jude selected Arceneaux for this mission as Isaacman’s request, according to a Netflix documentary, and, at the time, she said she was so unfamiliar with space travel that she asked if she would be traveling to the moon, unaware that humans have not set foot on the moon in 50 years.
  • Sian Proctor, 51, a geologist and educator who was selected for a seat on this mission through a post on social media in which she highlights her space-related artwork and entrepreneurial spirit. She’ll be only the fourth Black woman from the US to travel to orbit.
  • Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Seattle-based Lockheed Martin employee and former camp counselor at Alabama’s famed Space Camp. He won his seat through a raffle he entered by donating to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, though he wasn’t the official winner. His friend snagged the seat and, after deciding not to go, transferred it to him.
Left to right: Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, Chris Sembroski.
Isaacman — who will become the third billionaire to self-fund a trip to space in the past three months and the first to buy a trip to orbit on a SpaceX capsule — is billing this mission as one that he hopes will inspire would-be space adventureres, hence the missions’s name, Inspiration4. He’s also using it as the centerpiece for a $200 million fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, $100 million of which he donated personally and the rest he is hoping to raise through online donations and an upcoming auction.

So far, a fundraiser has brought in $30 million of its $100 million goal.

How did all this happen?

Inspiration4 is entirely the brain child of Jared Isaacman and SpaceX.

Isaacman began flying single-engine prop planes recreationally in the mid-2000s and developed an insatiable thirst for going higher and faster, eventually moving into twin-engine planes, then jets, then military-grade aircraft that can zip past the speed of sound.

Jared Isaacman visits SpaceX and meets with Elon Musk prior to annoucing the mission in February 2021.

Each of Isaacman’s fellow passengers was selected in a different way: He asked St. Jude to select a cancer-survivor-turned-healthcare-provider, and the organization chose Arceneaux. Proctor won an online contest specifically for people who use Shift4, the payment platform Isaacman runs. And Sembroski was given his seat by a person who won a raffle for people who donated to St. Jude. (Sembroski also entered the raffle but was not the original winner.)

Isaacman told CNN Business that he sat down with SpaceX to hash out the flight profile. He specifically wanted the Crew Dragon to orbit higher than International Space Station, which is why the spacecraft will orbit about 350 miles above Earth — roughly 100 miles above where the space station orbits.

How risky is this?

Any time a spacecraft leaves Earth there are risks, and there are no perfect measurements for predicting them.

But NASA estimates Crew Dragon has a 1 in 270 chance of catastrophic failure, based on one metric the space agency uses. For comparison, NASA’s Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s to early 2000s ultimately logged a failure rate of about 1 in every 68 missions.

Because of the inherent risks of blasting a spacecraft more than 17,500 miles per hour — the speed that allows an object to enter Earth’s orbit — Inspiration4 is more dangerous than the brief, up-and-down suborbital jaunts made by billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.

How SpaceX and NASA overcame a bitter culture clash to bring back US astronaut launches
Apart from the many perils of the launch itself — in which rockets essentially use controlled explosions more powerful than most wartime bombs to drum up enough speed to rip away from gravity — there’s also the re-entry process. When returning from orbit, the Crew Dragon’s external temperatures can reach up to 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and astronauts can experience 4.5 Gs of force pushing them into their seats, all while the ever-thickening atmosphere whips around the capsule.

During a Netflix documentary about the Inspiration4 mission, Musk described a capsule going through reentry as “like a blazing meteor coming in.”

“And so it’s hard not to get vaporized,” he added.

After that the Crew Dragon then has to deploy parachutes to slow its descent and make a safe splashdown in the ocean before rescue ships can whisk the four passengers back to dry land.

Despite the risks, a former NASA chief and career safety officials have said the Crew Dragon is likely the safest crewed vehicle ever flown.

The vehicle: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon

All four passengers will spend the entire missions aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, a 13-foot-wide, gumdrop-shaped spacecraft that detaches from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket after reaching orbital speeds.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule was developed by Elon Musk’s rocketry company for the specific purpose of ferrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, which it did for the first time ever in May 2020.
Left to right: Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman.

Since then, SpaceX has launched two additional Crew Dragon missions for NASA.

SpaceX is allowed, however, to sell seats — or entire missions — to whoever the company chooses. Although NASA paid for much of the Crew Dragon’s development, under the terms of the deal between the federal agency and the company, SpaceX still technically owns and operates the vehicle and can use it for whatever commercial purposes it wishes.

Crew Dragon’s missions in the near future also include a mix of NASA-commissioned flights to the ISS and space tourism missions.

For this mission, the Crew Dragon will be retrofitted with a giant glass dome at the tip of the spacecraft specifically for the crew to soak in panoramic views of the cosmos.





Source link

UArizona Research Project to Monitor Health of SpaceX Inspiration4 Crew Members During Mission


College Researchers Designed Novel Molecular Diagnostics Technology to Monitor the Health of Four Crew Members during First All-Civilian Mission to Orbit

SpaceX Inspiration4 LogoSpace flight is not just for astronauts and rocket scientists anymore. SpaceX Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission, will make the dream of orbiting the Earth come true for a crew of civilians September 15. Researchers with the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, led by Frederic Zenhausern, PhD, MBA, will provide the first in-flight testing of multiple biomarkers of stress, inflammation and immunity measured in a zero gravity environment to monitor the health of the four-member crew.

The essential task of protecting humans from exposure to these hazards is critical to the prospect of future deep space exploration. Dr. Zenhausern and his team developed a novel technology that will monitor crew members’ response to measure stress, inflammation and immune levels during space flight through a blood droplet from a simple fingerstick or a saliva sample.

“Our development of advanced molecular diagnostics for multi-purpose indications of emerging infectious diseases, health performance or risks of environmental exposure must benefit all populations where possible,” said Dr. Zenhausern, director of the Center for Applied NanoBioscience and Medicine. “This Inspiration4 mission shares some operational requirements similar to a consumer health product to be performed at home or in low resources settings — which must be easy to use, minimally invasive, rapid and low cost.”

The VIFAS Technology
The VIFAS Technology

The Vertical Integrated Flow Assay System (VIFAS) technology uses blood or saliva deposited onto a test strip to perform rapid assessments of radiobiological effects on humans. The system provides precise measurements, including multiplex molecular diagnostics, to possible radiation exposure. The test strips have nanoporous membranes printed with arrays of reagents arranged in rows. When the assessments are completed, the spots in the array change color providing visual results within minutes.

Zenhausern and his team designed the VIFAS technology to assess a full range of biomarkers, from proteins to genes. While the Inspiration4 mission will take less than a week to complete, it will provide a unique opportunity to apply the VIFAS technology to help researchers study the molecular and physiological levels in the human body under extreme zero gravity conditions. This biomedical data will offer valuable insights and help inform the measures necessary to protect future astronaut crews in orbit during longer missions. 

Zero gravity and radiation experienced during space flight can have significant health consequences. Space radiation is risky to the human body, potentially causing damage to the DNA in cells. Radiation exposure may occur during deep-space missions and can increase the risk of long-term health consequences, such as cancer. Adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems may also occur. It is difficult to determine remotely the health consequences on the tissues and cells of crew members.

Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology
Ali Fattahi, PhD, Works with the VIFAS Technology

“As civilian space travel becomes more frequent and accessible, the university is well positioned to lead in the important, emerging field of aerospace biomedicine,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, PhD, the university’s senior vice president for Research and Innovation. “The new knowledge Dr. Zenhausern’s group will create through SpaceX Inspiration4 is really the tip of the iceberg toward a better understanding of in-flight health.”

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) funded the project, which is part of a research complement to be conducted during the multi-day journey. The Inspiration4 crew, commanded by Jared Isaacman, founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments, will contribute to the space biomedical community by participating in important scientific research during the mission.

If the VIFAS platform is validated by the Inspiration4 crew, it could provide a valuable blood and saliva analysis system to support the health and performance of future space crews. The biomedical samples collected during the Inspiration4 mission will become part of a biobank used for future collaborations by research teams at SpaceX, TRISH and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

“Innovation and problem-solving to improve health are at the core of what we do. That impact has been felt in Arizona, around the world and now for those in space,” said Guy Reed, MD, MS, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “This collaboration with TRISH, SpaceX and the Center for ANBM creates synergies that will help to protect humans against radiation injury and other hazards that they encounter during space travel. It will fuel the development of new therapies and preventive strategies for crew members and patients here on Earth and beyond.”



Source link