A critical preflight test for Artemis I …
The first trip to space for a NASA astronaut …
And new Webb Space Telescope images of neighbors in our solar system … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!
A Critical Preflight Artemis I Demonstration Test
On September 21, teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center conducted a cryogenic demonstration test with the Space Launch System, or SLS rocket for NASA’s upcoming uncrewed Artemis I flight test around the Moon. The demonstration test was designed to allow teams to confirm the repair of a hydrogen leak that cropped up during a previous launch attempt in early September, evaluate updated procedures for loading the rocket with propellant, and conduct additional evaluations. Keep up with the latest Artemis I updates on NASA’s Artemis blog.
NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio Launches to the Space Station
Also on September 21, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from Kazakhstan with two other members of the station’s Expedition 68 crew. Later that same day, they docked to the station’s Rassvet module and were welcomed aboard by the Expedition 67 crew, including NASA’s Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins. This is Rubio’s first spaceflight.
Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades
NASA’s Webb Space Telescope’s first image of Neptune includes the clearest view of Neptune’s rings since the images Voyager 2 captured during its 1989 flyby of the distant planet. Webb also captured seven of Neptune’s 14 known moons including Triton, which orbits Neptune in an unusual retrograde, or backward direction. Additional studies by Webb of both Triton and Neptune are planned in the coming year.
Webb’s First Observations of The Red Planet
The Webb Space Telescope recently used its infrared capability to capture its first images and spectra of Mars. Images of the planet’s eastern hemisphere captured by Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera show surface features, such as craters and dust layers, as well as thermal emission, or light given off by the planet as it loses heat. Meanwhile, data from the telescope’s first near-infrared spectrum of Mars could give astronomers additional details about the planet’s surface and about its atmosphere.
InSight “Hears” Its First Meteoroid Impacts on Mars
That strange noise is what a space rock crashing into Mars sounds like to NASA’s InSight lander. InSight detected seismic waves from four meteoroid impacts on the Red Planet in 2020 and 2021. This includes an impact on September 5, 2021, that made these craters (see image above). Not only are these the first impacts detected by InSight’s seismometer since the spacecraft landed in 2018, but they also mark the first time seismic and acoustic waves from an impact have been detected on Mars.
DART Uses Jupiter and Europa to Test Navigation System
NASA’s DART spacecraft is on track to intentionally crash into the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos on September 26. The views in this composite image of the Jupiter system were captured during recent testing with the spacecraft’s imager and guidance systems to target and track Jupiter’s moon Europa as it emerged from behind the planet, similar to how Dimorphos will visually separate from Didymos, the larger asteroid it orbits. DART, the world’s first planetary defense test mission, is designed to deflect and alter the course of an asteroid should one ever be discovered that is a threat to Earth. Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos is a threat to Earth.
That’s what’s up this week @NASA …