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NASA Awards Contract for Roman Space Telescope Science Support Center


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    • By NASA
      A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite captures a view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.Credit: NASA NASA, on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has selected SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) to provide launch services for NOAA’s JPSS-4 mission. The spacecraft is part of the multi-satellite cooperative Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) program, a partnership between NASA and NOAA. This mission is the next satellite in the program, which began with the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.
      This is a firm fixed price contract with a value of approximately $112.7 million, which includes launch services and other mission related costs. The JPSS-4 mission currently is targeted to launch in 2027, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
      The JPSS constellation of satellites collects global multi-spectral radiometry and other specialized meteorologic, oceanographic, and solar-geophysical data via remote sensing of land, sea, and atmospheric properties. These data support NOAA’s mission for continuous observation of Earth’s environment to understand and predict changes in weather, climate, oceans, and coasts to support the nation’s economy and protect lives and property. NASA uses the instruments aboard the JPSS satellites to continue decades of Earth science research for the betterment of humanity. When launched, JPSS-4, will carry the NASA Earth Venture mission Libera, an instrument that will improve our understanding of trends in Earth’s energy imbalance and our changing climate.
      NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for managing the launch services. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the JPSS Flight Projects Office, which oversees the acquisition of the JPSS series instruments and spacecraft. A collaborative NOAA and NASA team manages the JPSS Program.
      For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit:
      Tiernan Doyle
      Headquarters, Washington
      Patti Bielling
      Kennedy Space Center, Florida
      Last Updated Jul 22, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Joint Agency Satellite Division NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Science Mission Directorate View the full article
    • By NASA
      A timelapse of the Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics (TRICE-2) mission launching from Andøya Space Center in Andenes, Norway on Dec. 8, 2018. NASA/Jamie Adkins When it comes to discoveries about our upper atmosphere, it pays to know your surroundings.
      Using data from the Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics (TRICE-2) rocket launch, NASA scientist Francesca Di Mare and Gregory Howes from the University of Iowa studied waves traveling down Earth’s magnetic field lines into the polar atmosphere. These waves were known to accelerate electrons, which pick up speed as they “surf” along the electric field of the wave. But their effect on ions — a more heterogenous group of positively charged particles, which exist alongside electrons — was unknown.
      By estimating the ion mixture they were flying through — predominantly protons and singly-charged oxygen ions — the scientists discovered that these waves were accelerating protons as they circle about the Earth’s magnetic field lines as well as electrons as they surf the waves. The findings reveal a new way our upper atmosphere is energized.
      Read more about the new results in Physical Review Letters.
      View the full article
    • By Amazing Space
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    • By NASA
      NASA/SAO/CXC This montage contains 25 new images with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory that is being released to commemorate the telescope’s 25th anniversary in space, as described in our latest press release. Since its launch into space on July 23, 1999, Chandra has been NASA’s flagship mission for X-ray astronomy in its fleet of “Great Observatories.” Chandra discovers exotic new phenomena and examines old mysteries, looking at objects within our own Solar System out to nearly the edge of the observable Universe.
      There is a broad range of astronomical objects in this collection. At the center is one of Chandra’s most iconic targets, the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A (Cas A). This was one of the very first objects observed by Chandra after its launch in 1999, and astronomers have often returned to observe Cas A with Chandra since then.
      Chandra quickly discovered a point source of X-rays in Cas A’s center for the first time, later confirmed to be a neutron star. Later Chandra was used to discover evidence for a “superfluid” inside Cas A’s neutron star, to reveal that the original massive star may have turned inside out as it exploded, and to take an important step in pinpointing how giant stars explode.
      The Cassiopeia A supernova remnant has been observed for more than 2 million seconds since the start of the Chandra mission in 1999. X-rays from Chandra (blue); infrared from Webb (orange, white, and blue)X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI/D. Milisavljevic (Purdue Univ.), I. De Looze (UGent), T. Temim (Princeton Univ.); Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/J. Major, J. Schmidt and K. Arcand The unmatched sharpness of Chandra’s X-ray images are perfect for studying the hot debris and energetic particles remaining behind after supernova explosions. Other examples in this new collection include the Crab Nebula, G21.5-0.9, MSH 15-52, and SN 1987A. Chandra also probes the different branches of stellar evolution such as “planetary nebulas” when stars like the Sun run out of fuel and shed their outer layers as seen in the Chandra image of HB 5.
      Chandra also looks at what happens at the start of the stellar life cycle, providing information about some of the youngest and most massive stars. Images of these stellar nurseries in the “25 for 25” montage include the Orion Nebula, Cat’s Paw, M16 (a.k.a., the “Pillars of Creation”), the Bat Shadow and NGC 3324. A view of a more mature star cluster, NGC 3532, is also included. X-ray data are particularly useful for studying objects like this because young stars are often copious producers of X-rays, allowing stars that are members of clusters to be picked out of a foreground or background of older objects. Chandra’s sharp images and sensitivity also allow many more sources to be seen.
      This region of star formation contains the Pillars of Creation, which was made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope. Chandra detects X-rays from young stars in the region, including one embedded in a pillar. X-rays from Chandra (red and blue); infrared image from Webb (red, green, and blue)X-ray: NASA/CXO/SAO; Infrared: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI; Image processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare Chandra observes galaxies — including our own Milky Way, where a supermassive black hole resides at its center. Chandra also studies other galaxies and this is represented in the new images of NGC 7469, Centaurus A, NGC 6872, NGC 1365, and Arp 220.
      Astronomers look at even larger structures like galaxy clusters with Chandra, where hundreds or thousands of galaxies are immersed in multimillion-degree gas that only an X-ray telescope can detect. In this release of images, M86 and the Virgo cluster, Abell 2125, and MACS J0035 are examples of galaxy clusters Chandra has observed.
      Closer to home, Chandra has contributed to the study of planets and comets in our own Solar System including Venus, Mars, Saturn, and even Earth itself. This ability to explore the Solar System is represented by the image of aurora on Jupiter, captured in X-rays, in this collection.
      A full list of the 25 images celebrating Chandra’s 25th, along with the data included and what the colors represent, is available at https://chandra.si.edu/photo/2024/25th/more.html.
      Images of some of these objects had previously been released, but now include new X-ray data or have been combined with different data from other telescopes. Some of these objects have never been released before with Chandra data.
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
      For more Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit:
      Visual Description:
      This image shows a collection of 25 new space images celebrating the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s 25th anniversary. The images are arranged in a grid, displayed as five images across in five separate rows. Starting from the upper left, and going across each row, the objects imaged are: Crab Nebula, Orion Nebula, The Eyes Galaxies, Cat’s Paw Nebula, Milky Way’s Galactic Center, M16, Bat Shadow, NGC 7469, Virgo Cluster, WR 124, G21.5-0.9, Centaurus A, Cassiopeia A, NGC 3532, NGC 6872, Hb 5, Abell 2125, NGC 3324, NGC 1365, MSH 15-52, Arp 220, Jupiter, NGC 1850, MACS J0035, SN 1987A.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Main Takeaways:
      New 66-foot-wide antenna dishes will be built, online, and operational in time to provide near-continuous communications services to Artemis astronauts at the Moon later this decade. Called LEGS, short for Lunar Exploration Ground Sites, the antennas represent critical infrastructure for NASA’s vision of supporting a sustained human presence at the Moon. The first three of six proposed LEGS are planned for sites in New Mexico, South Africa, and Australia. LEGS will become part of NASA’s Near Space Network, managed by the agency’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program and led out of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Background:
      NASA’s LEGS can do more than help Earthlings move about the planet.
      Three Lunar Exploration Ground Sites, or LEGS, will enhance the Near Space Network’s communications services and support of NASA’s Artemis campaign.
      NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program maintains the agency’s two primary communications networks — the Deep Space Network and the Near Space Network, which enable satellites in space to send data back to Earth for investigation and discovery.
      Using antennas around the globe, these networks capture signals from satellites, collecting data and enabling navigation engineers to track the mission. For the first Artemis mission, these networks worked in tandem to support the mission as it completed its 25-day journey around the Moon. They will do the same for the upcoming Artemis II mission.
      To support NASA’s Moon to Mars initiative, NASA is adding three new LEGS antennas to the Near Space Network. As NASA works toward sustaining a human presence on the Moon, communications and navigation support will be crucial to each mission’s success. The LEGS antennas will directly support the later Artemis missions, and accompanying missions like the human landing system, lunar terrain vehicle, and Gateway.
      The Gateway space station will be humanity’s first space station in lunar orbit as a vital component of the Artemis missions to return humans to the Moon for scientific discovery and chart a path for humans to Mars.NASA “One of the main goals of LEGS is to offload the Deep Space Network,” said TJ Crooks, LEGS project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The Near Space Network and its new LEGS antennas will focus on lunar missions while allowing the Deep Space Network to support missions farther out into the solar system — like the James Webb Space Telescope and the interstellar Voyager missions.”
      The Near Space Network provides communications and navigation services to missions anywhere from near Earth to 1.2 million miles away — this includes the Moon and Sun-Earth Lagrange points 1 and 2. The Moon and Lagrange points are a shared region with the Deep Space Network, which can provide services to missions there and farther out in the solar system.
      An artist’s rendering of a lunar terrain vehicle on the surface of the Moon.NASA The LEGS antennas, which are 66 feet in diameter, will be strategically placed across the globe. This global placement ensures that when the Moon is setting at one station, it is rising into another’s view. With the Moon constantly in sight, the Near Space Network will be able to provide continuous support for lunar operations.
      How it Works:
      As a satellite orbits the Moon, it encodes its data onto a radio frequency signal. When a LEGS antenna comes into view, that satellite (or rover, etc.) will downlink the signal to a LEGS antenna. This data is then routed to mission operators and scientists around the globe who can make decisions about spacecraft health and orbit or use the science data to make discoveries.
      The LEGS antennas are intended to be extremely flexible for users. For LEGS-1, LEGS-2, and LEGS-3, NASA is implementing a “dual-band approach” for the antennas that will allow missions to communicate using two different radio frequency bands — X-band and Ka-band. Typically, smaller data packets — like telemetry data — are sent over X-band, while high-resolution science data or imagery needs Ka-band. Due to its higher frequency, Ka-band allows significantly more information to be downlinked at once, such as real-time high-resolution video in support of crewed operations.
      LEGS will directly support the Artemis campaign, including the Lunar Gateway, human landing system (HLS), and lunar terrain vehicle (LTV).NASA Further LEGS capacity will be sought from commercial service providers and will include a “tri-band approach” for the antennas using S-band in addition to X- and Ka-band.
      The first LEGS ground station, or LEGS-1, is at NASA’s White Sands Complex in Las Cruces, New Mexico. NASA is improving land and facilities at the complex to receive the new LEGS-1 antenna.
      The LEGS-2 antenna will be in Matjiesfontein, South Africa, located near Cape Town. In partnership with SANSA, the South African National Space Agency, NASA chose this location to maximize coverage to the Moon. South Africa was home to a ground tracking station outside Johannesburg that played a role in NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon in the 1960s. The agency plans to complete the LEGS-2 antenna in 2026. For LEGS-3, NASA is exploring locations in Western Australia.
      These stations will fully complement the existing capabilities of the Near and Deep Space Networks and allow for more robust communications services to the Artemis campaign.
      The LEGS antennas (similar in appearance to this 20.2-meter CPI Satcom antenna) will be placed in equidistant locations across the globe. This ensures that when the Moon is setting at one station, it will be rising into another’s view. With the Moon constantly in sight, NASA’s Near Space Network will be able to support approximately 24/7 operations with Moon-based missions.CPI Satcom CPI Satcom is building the Lunar Exploration Ground Site (LEGS) antennas for NASA. The antennas will look very similar to the 20-meter antenna pictured here. CPI Satcom The Near Space Network is funded by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program office at NASA Headquarters in Washington and operated out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
      About the Author
      Kendall Murphy
      Technical WriterKendall Murphy is a technical writer for the Space Communications and Navigation program office. She specializes in internal and external engagement, educating readers about space communications and navigation technology.
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