Successful Landing of Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover – Historic Next Step in Mars Exploration

The successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, early Monday morning marks a significant and historic achievement on the way to the eventual human exploration of Mars.

“Curiosity’s successful landing demonstrates the feasibility of delivering ever-heavier payloads to the martian surface, and paves the way for future missions to land, gather samples and return them to Earth,” said Paul E. Damphousse, NSS Executive Director. “The ongoing successes of these unmanned data-gathering missions will ultimately lead to manned Mars missions, thus bringing us ever closer to the realization of NSS’s vision – people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”

The MSL mission is not only about getting bigger and better equipment safely to the Martian surface. Curiosity is carrying the most technologically advanced instruments ever sent to Mars. This equipment is specifically designed to obtain samples from the rocks and soil and analyze their formation, structure and chemical composition in its onboard laboratory to determine whether the chemical building blocks of life exist and whether the Martian environment was capable of supporting life in the past.

The data gathered by Curiosity has the potential of greatly expanding our understanding of how life evolves in other planetary environments – in turn leading to increased knowledge, not only about the ability of planets outside our own solar system to sustain life, but also about what resources may be available on Mars that can be used to support and enable human exploration and settlement of it and other planets.

Mars is calling: Be part of the conversation!

NASA is busy replanning the future Mars Exploration Program — and wants to hear from you!

NASA has opened a forum for public input on its Mars Exploration Program, the purpose of which is to achieve high-priority science goals and address the challenges of sending humans to Mars, all within an environment of very constrained budgets. NASA is inviting the Mars exploration community and all interested people, regardless of educational or professional background, to engage in a conversation about the future of Mars exploration.

The NASA Mars Forum can be found at:

http://mars.ideascale.com

You first need to register to submit questions or comments. After registering, wait for the email where you submit your password. Then login and submit a question or comment. You can also agree or disagree with a statement already posted.

This dialogue on Mars will only be open for participation until July 1, 2012.

NASA Events And Future Forum Mark 50 Years Of Americans In Orbit

Feb. 16, 2012

WASHINGTON — Feb. 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the day in 1962 when U.S. Sen. John Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first U.S. orbital. In the next two weeks, NASA Television will broadcast a series of live events and special programming to commemorate 50 years of Americans in orbit, including the premiere of a new documentary and special interactive online features.

Here is a list of scheduled activities, all of which will be broadcast on NASA Television:

  • Thursday, Feb. 16
  • 8-8:30 p.m.: Premiere of “Friendship 7: 50th Anniversary of Americans in Orbit” on NASA TV, a documentary on Glenn’s historic mission featuring new interviews with Glenn and fellow Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter.
  • Friday, Feb. 17
  • 10-11 a.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter, the first two Americans to orbit Earth, will join NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana for a presentation about NASA’s past, present and future. The event is open to employees at the space center in Florida.
  • 3-3:30 p.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter will conduct a news conference in the Mercury Mission Control exhibit of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18
  • 6:30 p.m. EST: Glenn and Carpenter will participate in “On the Shoulders of Giants,” a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex honoring all who made NASA’s Project Mercury possible. The program will include remarks from Cabana, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and astronaut Steve Robinson, who flew with Glenn on his second trip into orbit on space shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission in 1998.
  • Monday, Feb. 20
  • 1:30-3:15 p.m. EST: Glenn and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will speak live with the crew on board the International Space Station to kick off the agency’s two-day Future Forum at Ohio State University in Columbus. Glenn also will participate in a panel session, “Learning from the Past to Innovate for the Future,” at the event.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21
  • 3-3:15 p.m. EST: Glenn will deliver closing remarks at the NASA Future Forum.
  • Friday, March 2
  • 1-2 p.m. EST: Glenn will deliver the keynote address at “Celebrating John Glenn’s Legacy: 50 Years of Americans in Orbit” a special event hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., in Cleveland. The tribute will be included in a Tweetup which the research center is hosting for its Twitter followers on the same day.

An interactive online feature about the Mercury program and Glenn’s flight is available on the agency’s Internet homepage at:
http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/glenn50/

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Atlantis – And Then There Were None

Atlantis Reentry
Atlantis Reentry as seen from the International Space Station
Image Credit: NASA

Atlantis Cockpit View of Dawn and Kennedy Space Center
Atlantis Cockpit View of Kennedy Space Center
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis Approach to the Runway
Atlantis Approach to the Runway
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis Touchdown
Atlantis Touchdown at Kennedy Space Center
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis and Crew
Atlantis, Astronaut Crew, and Ground Crew.
Image Credit: NASA

Official landing times:

Mission Elapsed Times (MET):

Main Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:27:56 – 9:57:00 am UTC
Nose Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:28:16 – 9:57:20 am UTC
Wheel Stop: MET 12/18:28:50 – 9:57:54 am UTC

High resolution images of Atlantis are now on nasa.gov.

Craters on Vesta

Vesta Craters
Craters on Vesta
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of the protoplanet Vesta with its framing camera on July 18, 2011. It was taken from a distance of about 10,500 kilometers. The smallest detail visible is about 2.0 km.

In August, Dawn will begin sending images from its high resolution camera.