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Mars Opportunity rover ends 15-year mission

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019

Still image of Opportunity rover | NASA/JPL via Reuters

Scientists announced Wednesday (February 13) that the Mars Opportunity Rover has officially ended its illustrious 15-year career of scientific exploration. NASA lost touch with ‘Oppy’ on June 10, 2018 following a global dust storm. There has been no communication since.

Scientists had expressed optimism that Opportunity would survive but, the sustained duration of inactivity led the scientific team to end the rover’s historic mission. The Opportunity rover was built to operate for three months but has thrived on Mars since January 2004, giving scientists volumes of data to study and learn more about Mars than anticipated.

The massive dust storm last year coated solar panels that powered the the rover, preventing the six-wheeled robotic explorer from generating the electricity necessary to needed to operate. — Reuters

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Philippine Team wins 2018 NASA Space Apps Challenge

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Philippine Team iNON bags first prize in the 2018 NASA Space Apps Challenge Galactic Impact category.  Team iNON members include (left-right): Matthew Concubierta, Revbrain Martin, Marie Jeddah Legaspi, and Julius Czar Torreda.

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Out of the 1,395 teams around the world, Philippine team iNON won first place in the 2018 NASA Space App Challenge Best Galactic Impact category with their ISDApp, an app that communicates crucial information about real-time weather and sea conditions to fisher folks.

Using NASA Globe observer data, the app will be able to provide life-saving weather information to fisherfolk’s cellphones without the use of internet.

U.S Ambassador to the Philippnes, Sung Kim congratulated the five-man team composed of Matthew Concubierta, Revbrain Martin, Marie Jeddah Legaspi, Leandro de Guzman and Julius Czar Torreda, for their achievement.

“I am deeply impressed by team iNON’s fantastic achievement in defeating teams from around the world to win first place in the Galactic Impact category of the NASA Space Apps Challenge.  They can inspire other Filipino youth to develop innovative solutions to problems in their own communities,” Ambassador Kim said.

Team Leader, Legaspi explained the importance of the said app which, according to him, “is a simple solution with an important purpose, which we believe helped it swim to success.  This is proof that even technology needs a heart.” — Aileen Cerrudo

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NASA’s Voyager 2 enters interstellar space

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

 

 

Animation of Voyager 2 probe in space | NASA-JPL HANDOUT via REUTERS

NASA announced on Monday (December 10) that the second of its two Voyager probes had entered interstellar space.

Data obtained from Voyager 2 found that the spacecraft exited the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun, known as the heliosphere on November 5. Voyager 1 crossed the same boundary in 2012.

Voyager Project scientist Dr. Ed Stone said that the two Voyagers crossed at different points of the heliosphere, giving scientists a variety of data to analyze.

Suzanne Dodd, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Director for the Interplanetary Network Directorate, said the Voyagers are ageing, requiring scientists to turn off some onboard instruments to keep them operating. But she said she hoped they could go on for another nine years.

Voyager 2 is currently 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth and information takes about 16.5 hours to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. — Reuters

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NASA’s InSight spacecraft lands on Mars

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2018

 

Photo of Mars | NASA via REUTERS

NASA’s InSight spacecraft landed on Mars on Monday.

Employees of Lockheed Martin, the builders of the InSight spacecraft, gathered for a Mars landing. The success rate for such endeavors over the years is just 40 percent.

“Landing on Mars is very hard. We’ve done everything. We have prepared the team, prepared the spacecraft, but now we need a little bit of luck on our side as well,” said Beth Buck, mission operations program manager of Lockheed Martin.

It’s a complicated and risky process as all kinds of things may have gone wrong. The spacecraft, out of touch with Earth, slowed from 21,000 kilometers per hour when it hit Mars’ surface seven minutes later.

Using a robotic arm, InSight has deployed a high-tech seismometer built by the French space agency to listen for Martian earthquakes as well as a self-hammering nail with heat sensors built by the German space agency that will dig five meters deep into the surface to gauge the planet’s internal temperature, all to better understanding a place that’s been much less geologically active than Earth.

“So we’re trying to understand that connection. We’re trying to understand a body that’s smaller, a body that although it was formed 4.5 billion years ago along with Earth, it has formed differently,” said Tim Linn, the entry, descent and landing manager of the Insight lander at Lockheed Martin.

Shortly after the landing, InSight beamed back a photo of Mars. Information gathered during this mission could be useful when humans travel to the planet in the future. — Reuters

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