Far, Far Away in the Sky: New Horizons Kuiper Belt Flyby Object Officially Named ‘Arrokoth’

In a fitting tribute to the farthest flyby ever conducted by spacecraft, the Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 has been officially named Arrokoth, a Native American term meaning “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language. 

With consent from Powhatan Tribal elders and representatives, NASA’s New Horizons team – whose spacecraft performed the record-breaking reconnaissance of Arrokoth four billion miles from Earth – proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union and Minor Planets Center, the international authority for naming Kuiper Belt objects. The name was announced at a ceremony today at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

“The name ‘Arrokoth’ reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own,” said Alan Stern,...

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With Mars Methane Mystery Unsolved, Curiosity Serves Scientists a New One: Oxygen

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.

Over the course of three Mars years (or nearly six Earth years) an instrument in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) portable chemistry lab inside the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover inhaled the air of Gale Crater and analyzed its composition. The results SAM spit out confirmed the makeup of the Martian atmosphere at the surface: 95% by volume of carbon dioxide (CO2), 2.6% molecular nitrogen (N2), 1...

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How the International Space Station is Helping Us Get to the Moon

The International Space Station is a stepping stone for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. As the only place for conducting long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects living organisms, especially humans, as well as testing technologies to allow humans to work at the Moon, the space station serves as a unique asset in the effort establish a sustainable presence at the Moon. Missions to the Moon will include a combination of time aboard the Gateway, on the lunar surface, and in multiple spacecraft including Orion and the human landing system. The skills and technologies developed to explore the Moon will help build the capabilities needed for future missions to Mars...

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Crew Explores Space Biology, Reviews Particle Detector Repair

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan waters plants on the station
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan watered plants earlier this week to help NASA learn how to provide fresh food for crews on long-term space missions.

The six residents living aboard the International Space Station are busy today ensuring advanced microgravity research continues to provide benefits for citizens on Earth and in space. The Expedition 61 crew is also brushing up on repair techniques for a cosmic particle detector attached to the outside of the orbiting lab.

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch juggled an array of life science activities throughout Thursday. Meir cared for plants for a new field of botany research exploring how to provide fresh food for long-term space crews. Meir later swapped out a failed computer hard drive that supports combustion experime...

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pacesuits, Science and Maintenance on Crew Schedule Today

Spacewalkers Jessica Meir and Christina Koch pose with their Expedition 61 crewmates
NASA astronauts Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch (right) are suited up and ready to go on the first all-woman spacewalk and posing with their Expedition 61 crewmates.

The Expedition 61 crew tackled a variety of maintenance jobs and microgravity science onboard the International Space Station today. The orbital residents are also gearing up for the departure of a Japanese cargo ship and more spacewalks tentatively scheduled for November.

Flight Engineer Christina Koch continued loading trash and obsolete gear in Japan’s resupply ship before stowing spacewalk tools and hardware today. Commander Luca Parmitano began his day getting up to speed on future spacewalks planned for the repair of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer...

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NASA Prepares for Green Run Testing, Practices Lifting SLS Core Stage


Credits: NASA/SSC

NASA cleared a milestone in preparation for Green Run testing of its Space Launch System (SLS) core stage with an Aug. 23/24 lift and installation of the core stage pathfinder simulator onto the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The lift and installation of the core stage pathfinder – a size and weight replica of the SLS core stage – is helping teams at Stennis prepare for the Green Run test series. For this test of the new core stage, Stennis will lift the flight core stage for Artemis 1, the first SLS mission into the stand. SLS and the new Orion spacecraft being built are the foundation for NASA’s Artemis Program, which will send the first woman and next man to walk on the Moon by 2024.

The lift of the core stage pathfinder, Part 1

Credits: NASA/SSC

Stennis modifi...

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NASA Gets a Rare Look at a Rocky Exoplanet’s Surface

This artist's illustration depicts the exoplanet LHS 3844b

This artist’s illustration depicts the exoplanet LHS 3844b, which is 1.3 times the mass of Earth and orbits an M dwarf star. The planet’s surface may be covered mostly in dark lava rock, with no apparent atmosphere, according to observations by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

A new study using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provides a rare glimpse of conditions on the surface of a rocky planet orbiting a star beyond the Sun. The study, published today in the journal Nature, shows that the planet’s surface may resemble those of Earth’s Moon or Mercury: The planet likely has little to no atmosphere and could be covered in the same cooled volcanic material found in the dark areas of the Moon’s surface, called mare.

Discovered in 201...

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