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    • By NASA
      Curiosity Navigation Curiosity Mission Overview Where is Curiosity? Mission Updates Science Overview Instruments Highlights Exploration Goals News and Features Multimedia Curiosity Raw Images Mars Resources Mars Missions Mars Sample Return Mars Perseverance Rover Mars Curiosity Rover MAVEN Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Odyssey More Mars Missions All Planets Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto & Dwarf Planets 3 min read
      Sols 4243-4245: Exploring Stubblefield Canyon
      This image was taken by Left Navigation Camera onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 4241 (2024-07-11 20:34:05 UTC). Earth planning date: Friday, July 12, 2024
      Curiosity, now heading uphill from the Mammoth Lakes drill site, has focused on a very interesting exposure of conglomerate rocks, consisting of pebbles cemented together by a fine-grained matrix material. On Earth, conglomerate rock is associated with downhill flows of rock and soil mixtures, often in a water-rich environment, so our science team is excited to find similar rocks on Mars. 
      The local exposure of this unusual Martian deposit has been named “Stubblefield Canyon,” honoring the headwaters of the stream forming Rancheria Falls, which tumbles into Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy reservoir. All targets in this area of Mount Sharp are named after geological features near the town of Bishop, California, which sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the Owens Valley of California. Curiosity’s last drive ended at a detached, rubbly conglomerate slab, dubbed “Wishbone Lake” after a Y-shaped lake in upper Lamarck Lake Canyon near Mono Lake. The image above shows the Wishbone Lake slab of conglomerate rock in the rover workspace. Over the weekend, the team will investigate this target and image the surrounding terrain, collecting evidence about the formation of conglomerate rocks on Mars.
      On Wednesday, Curiosity successfully completed its MAHLI imaging of “Donohue Pass” and ChemCam laser spectroscopy of “Negit Island,” followed by a 3-meter drive (about 10 feet) to Wishbone Lake. During the current plan, APXS will analyze two pebbles within the Wishbone Lake slab, “Arrowhead Spire” and “Cattle Creek.” Arrowhead Spire honors a 100-foot vertical spike of granite near Yosemite Point, above Yosemite Valley. Cattle Creek is named for a stream that flows from a hanging valley into the Twin Lakes canyon near Bridgeport, California. MAHLI will image Cattle Creek, then do a 4×1 mosaic from a distance of 25 centimeters (about 10 inches) along the edges of Wishbone Lake, centered on the Arrowhead Spire pebble. ChemCam will take laser spectra of Arrowhead Spire, as well as the “Eocene Peak” matrix material target, named for an 11,500-foot peak in the Sawtooth Ridge along the northeastern boundary of Yosemite National Park.
      Using its telescopic RMI camera, ChemCam will image upper Gediz Vallis Ridge and a distant ridgeline along our future drive path. Mastcam will photograph the ChemCam laser targets, as well as interesting portions of the Stubblefield Canyon conglomerate exposure, the Mammoth Lakes drill site as seen from our new location, and an interesting linear ridge. On sol 4244, Curiosity will drive 20 meters (about 66 feet) along our path toward “Fairview Dome,” followed by post-drive imaging and AEGIS observations. Atmospheric studies during the current plan include a Navcam dust devil movie and large dust devil survey, early morning Navcam zenith and suprahorizon cloud movies, Navcam deck imaging, Navcam and Mastcam dust opacity measurements, and a late afternoon Mastcam sky survey. Next week, we expect to explore Fairview Dome, then resume our climb up Mount Sharp.
      Written by Deborah Padgett, Curiosity Operations Product Generation Subsystem Task Lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      Share








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    • By NASA
      Portrait of retired NASA astronaut Joe Engle wearing flight suit in front of an X-15 fighter circa 1963. Retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joe Engle died July 10, surrounded by his family at home in Houston. Among his many honors, he is the only astronaut to pilot both the X-15 and space shuttle. He was 91.
      Engle became an astronaut at age 32 while flying the X-15 for the U.S. Air Force, becoming the youngest pilot ever to qualify as an astronaut. When selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1966, he was the only person selected that was already engaged in spaceflight operations. He was the last surviving X-15 pilot.
      “A natural pilot, Gen. Joe Engle helped humanity’s dreams take flight – in the X-15 program, the Apollo Program, and as one of the first commanders in the Space Shuttle Program,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “He was one of the first astronauts I met at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. I’ll never forget his big smile, his warmth, and his courage. We all will miss him.” 
      Engle was born in Dickinson County, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, Lawrence, where he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. He received his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Course, earning his pilot wings in 1958.
      As a NASA astronaut, he supported the Apollo Program, and was backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 14. In 1977, he served as commander of the space shuttle Enterprise, which used a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft to release Enterprise for approach and landing tests. In November 1981, he commanded the second flight of the space shuttle Columbia. He was the first and only pilot to manually fly an aerospace vehicle from Mach 25 to landing. He accumulated the last of his 224 hours in space when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery in August 1985, one of the most challenging shuttle missions ever. On that mission the crew deployed three commercial satellites and retrieved, repaired, and redeployed another malfunctioning satellite that had been launched on a previous shuttle mission.
      “As we mourn the immense loss of Joe, we’re thankful for his notable contributions to the advancement of human spaceflight,” said Vanessa Wyche, center director, NASA Johnson. “Joe’s accomplishments and legacy of perseverance will continue to inspire and impact generations of explorers for years to come.” 
      Engle flew more than 180 different aircraft types and logged more than 14,000 flight hours. His military decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster. He has received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and Space Flight Medal, as well as the Harmon International Aviation Trophy, the Collier Trophy, the Goddard Space Trophy, the Gen.
      Thomas D. White Space Trophy, and the Kinchelow Experimental Test Pilot’s Trophy. In 1992, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor.
      “Joe Henry was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Blessed with natural piloting skills, General Joe, as he was known to many, was at his happiest in any cockpit. Always with a smile, he lived a fulfilled life as a proud American, U.S. Air Force pilot, astronaut, and Kansas Jayhawk,” said his wife, Jeanie Engle. “His passing leaves a tremendous loss in our hearts. We take comfort that he has joined Tom Stafford and George Abbey, two of the best friends anyone could ask for.”
      Learn more about Engle’s life as an astronaut and pilot:
      https://www.nasa.gov/aeronautics/the-x-15-the-pilot-and-the-space-shuttle/
      -end-
      Faith McKie / Cheryl Warner
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov
      Chelsey Ballarte / Courtney Beasley
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      281-483-5111
      chelsey.n.ballarte@nasa.gov / courtney.m.beasley@nasa.gov  
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      July 3, 2024
      RELEASE: J24-011
      Former Chief Astronaut Patrick Forrester NASA NASA astronaut Patrick G. Forrester retired June 29, after a career spanning 31 years of service and three spaceflights. He went on to become chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office, and most recently served as an advisor to the associate administrator for the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
      Forrester joined the agency in 1993 as an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and was selected to become an astronaut in 1996. He dedicated his early career to the assembly of the International Space Station, spending 40 days in space and completing four spacewalks totaling 25 hours and 30 minutes.
      “Pat’s dedication and commitment to the advancement of human space exploration over the past three decades has been an inspiration, not just to the Johnson workforce, but the Artemis generation as well,” said NASA’s Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche. “I want to extend my sincere gratitude to Pat for his outstanding contributions. His legacy will continue to impact the agency and the next generation of explorers for many years to come. Many congratulations to Pat; I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
      Forrester launched to the space station for the first time in August 2001 aboard space shuttle Discovery in support of STS-105. Forrester was the mission’s prime robotics operator, helping to install the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module that would help deliver 2.7 metric tons of supplies to the station. He flew again with STS-117 in June 2007 aboard space shuttle Atlantis, delivering the orbiting laboratory’s second starboard truss and its third set of solar arrays. His final spaceflight, STS-128 aboard Discovery, launched in August 2009. As prime robotics officer, Forrester again installed Leonardo and the crew transferred 18,000 pounds of supplies.
      Forrester continued to support the astronaut corps through numerous leadership positions, serving as technical assistant to the director of Flight Crew Operations. He was a crew representative of robotics development on the space station and shuttle training and onboard crew procedures. Forrester also held the role of spacecraft communicator, or CAPCOM, for both station and shuttle missions.
      In 2017, Forrester became chief of the Astronaut Office, overseeing the first flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and helping develop the initial architecture for the agency’s Artemis campaign. In 2020, he stepped down from his chief position, handing over to NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman.
      “Pat’s leadership was instrumental during a time where NASA was just starting to launch our astronauts from American soil again,” said Norm Knight, director of flight operations at NASA Johnson. “I admire his courage, his tenacity, and his character during such a dynamic time in our history, and I thank him for laying a strong foundation, not just in his role as chief astronaut, but through his career in human spaceflight. To me, he is a mentor and a friend, and I wish him all the best.”
      At the time of his retirement, Forrester supported the Space Operations Mission Directorate, serving as the director of the Cross-Directorate Technical Integration Office and an adviser to the directorate’s associate administrator and fellow NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox.
      “Pat is an incredible leader who has provided invaluable service to NASA’s astronaut corps and human spaceflight during his career,” said Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for space operations at NASA. “In the Space Operations Mission Directorate, his influence will be felt long after his departure as we continue to work every day in low Earth orbit and prepare for the future near Earth, at the Moon, Mars and into the solar system.”
      An El Paso, Texas, native, Forrester earned a bachelor of science degree in applied sciences and engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, and a master of science in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. A retired colonel in the U.S. Army, Forrester logged more than 5,300 hours of flight time in over 50 different aircraft as an operational aviator and test pilot, retiring in 2005.
      “It has been an honor to serve our nation as a member of the NASA family. Many of the stories I will tell for the rest of my life will be related to my experiences here,” said Forrester. “I look forward to watching my friends and colleagues circle the Moon and eventually land on its surface – with the help of all those serving faithfully on the ground. I am forever grateful.”
      Read Forrester’s full biography at:
      https://go.nasa.gov/45NnfUA
      -end-
      Chelsey Ballarte
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      281-483-5111
      chelsey.n.ballarte@nasa.gov
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Curiosity Navigation Curiosity Mission Overview Where is Curiosity? Mission Updates Science Overview Instruments Highlights Exploration Goals News and Features Multimedia Curiosity Raw Images Mars Resources Mars Missions Mars Sample Return Mars Perseverance Rover Mars Curiosity Rover MAVEN Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mars Odyssey More Mars Missions All Planets Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto & Dwarf Planets 5 min read
      Sols 4232-4233: Going For a Ride, Anyone?
      This image shows some of the sand ripples we spot all around the rover between the rocks. It was taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 4225 (2024-06-25 01:10:39 UTC). Earth planning date: Monday, July 1, 2024
      Have you ever wondered what it might look like to ride along with the rover? Probably not as much as we have here on the planning team, where we are looking at the images on a daily basis. I always wish I could walk around there myself, or drive around in a vehicle, maybe. As you likely know, we don’t even get video, “just” images. But of course those images are stunning and the landscape is unique and – apart from being scientifically interesting – so very, very beautiful. And some cameras record images so often that it’s actually possible to create the impression of a movie. The front hazard camera is among them. And that can create a stunning impression of looking out of the front window! If you want to see that for yourself, you can! If you go to the NASA interactive tool called “Eyes on the Solar System” there is a Curiosity Rover feature that allows you to do just that: simulate a drive between waypoints and look out of the window, which is the front hazard camera. Here is the link to “Experience Curiosity.” The drive there is a while back, but the landscape is just so fascinating, I can watch and rewatch that any number of times!
      Now, after reminiscing about the past, what did we do today? First of all: change all plans we ever had. We don’t have – as scheduled – the SAM data on Earth just yet. But we have a good portion of the sample still in the drill, and if SAM gets their data and wants to do more analysis with that sample, then we can’t move the arm as we originally had planned. Why didn’t we consider that to begin with? Normally, there isn’t enough sample for all the analysis; you may have seen this blog post: “Sols 4118-4119: Can I Have a Second Serving, Please? Oh, Me Too!” But it’s the sample that dictates how much we get to begin with, and how much we need, which only becomes clear as the data come in. And there is an unusually lucky combination here that would avoid us having to drill a second hole for getting the second helping. Instead, we just sit here carefully holding the arm still so we do not lose sample. That saves a lot of rover resources. But then, once we had settled how we adjust to keeping our current position, we also learnt that the uplink time might shift from the original slot we had been allocated to a later one… And all of this with a pretty new-to-the-role Science Operations Working Group (SOWG) chair (me) and a similarly new Geology and Mineralogy theme group science lead. Well, we managed, with lots of help from the great team around us.
      Those sudden-change planning days are so tricky because there is so much more to remember. It’s not, “This is what we came to do…,” and it had been carefully pre-planned, and it is all in the notes. Instead, the pre-planning preparation doesn’t fit the new reality anymore, and all that work has to be redone. So we have to do all the pre-planning work, and the actual planning work, and sometimes also account for some “if… then…” scenarios in the same amount of time we usually have to do the planning on the basis of all the pre-planning work. 
      Sounds stressful? Yes, I can tell you it is!
      Once we had changed all the skeleton plans, the team got very excited about the extra time. This is such an interesting area, there are rocks that are almost white, there are darker rocks, very interesting sand features with beautiful ripples, so much to look at! Mars has much to offer here, so the team got to work swiftly and the plan filled up with a great set of observations. ChemCam used LIBS on the target “Tower Peak,” which is one of those white-ish rocks, and on “Quarry Peak.” Mastcam delivers all the pictures to go along with these two activities and gets its own science, too. These are mainly so-called “change detection” images, where the same area is pictured repeatedly to see what particles might move in the time between the two images. ChemCam uses its long-distance imaging capability to add to the stunning images they are getting from faraway rocks. They have two mosaics on a target called “Edge Bench.” There is also a lot of atmospheric science in the plan; looking for dust devils and the opacity of the atmosphere are just two examples. REMS and DAN are also active throughout, to assess the wind, and the water underground, respectively. And as if that weren’t enough, CheMin also performs another night of analysis. We get to uplink a full plan, and we’ll see what the data say and what decisions we’ll make for next Wednesday.
      Written by Susanne Schwenzer, Planetary Geologist at The Open University
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      Last Updated Jul 02, 2024 Related Terms
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    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:38:43 Australian Space Agency astronaut candidate Katherine Bennell-Pegg joined ESA’s astronaut candidates from the class of 2022 for basic training through a cooperation agreement with ESA. Tune in as she shares her experiences in astronaut training, her favourite lessons, and what keeps her inspired on her journey to the stars!
      This is episode 7 of our ESA Explores podcast series introducing the ESA astronaut class of 2022, recorded in March 2024. 
      Find out more about the ESA astronaut class of 2022.
      Access all ESA Explores podcasts.
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