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    • By NASA
      This image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows China’s Chang’e 6 lander in the Apollo basin on the far side of the Moon on June 7, 2024. The lander is the bright dot in the center of the image. The image is about 0.4 miles wide (650 meters); lunar north is up.Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University NASA’s LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) imaged China’s Chang’e 6 sample return spacecraft on the far side of the Moon on June 7. Chang’e 6 landed on June 1, and when LRO passed over the landing site almost a week later, it acquired an image showing the lander on the rim of an eroded, 55-yard-diameter (about 50 meters) crater. 
      The LRO Camera team computed the landing site coordinates as about 42 degrees south latitude, 206 degrees east longitude, at an elevation of about minus 3.27 miles (minus 5,256 meters).
      This before and after animation of LRO images shows the appearance of the Chang’e 6 lander. The increased brightness of the terrain surrounding the lander is due to disturbance from the lander’s engines and is similar to the blast zone seen around other lunar landers. The before image is from March 3, 2022, and the after image is from June 7, 2024.Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University The Chang’e 6 landing site is situated toward the southern edge of the Apollo basin (about 306 miles or 492 km in diameter, centered at 36.1 degrees south latitude, 208.3 degrees east longitude). Basaltic lava erupted south of Chaffee S crater about 3.1 billion years ago and flowed downhill to the west until it encountered a local topographic high, likely related to a fault. Several wrinkle ridges in this region have deformed and raised the mare surface. The landing site sits about halfway between two of these prominent ridges. This basaltic flow also overlaps a slightly older flow (about 3.3 billion years old), visible further west, but the younger flow is distinct because it has higher iron oxide and titanium dioxide abundances.
      A regional context map of the Chang’e 6 landing site. Color differences have been enhanced for clarity. The dark area is a basaltic mare deposit; bluer areas of the mare are higher-titanium flows. Contour lines marking 100-meter (about 328 feet) elevation intervals are overlaid to provide a sense of the topography. Image is about 118 miles (190 km) across. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University LRO is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the Moon. NASA is returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners to expand human presence in space and bring back new knowledge and opportunities.
      More on this story from Arizona State University's LRO Camera website Media Contact:
      Nancy N. Jones
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Facebook logo @NASAGoddard@NASAMoon@NASASolarSystem @NASAGoddard@NASAMoon@NASASolarSystem Instagram logo @NASAGoddard@NASASolarSystem Share
      Last Updated Jun 14, 2024 EditorMadison OlsonContactNancy N. Jonesnancy.n.jones@nasa.govLocationGoddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Earth's Moon Goddard Space Flight Center Planetary Science The Solar System Explore More
      1 min read NASA’s LRO Spots Japan’s Moon Lander 
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      Article 2 months ago View the full article
    • By NASA
      How does spaceflight affect tumor-bearing fruit fly hosts and their parasites?
      Pigmentation: A side-by-side comparison of wasps shows a clear difference in the melanization of wing veins for wild-type and each mutant.
      Blade Shape: The kona mutant has an angular wing shape in contrast to wild-type’s rounded wing blade (vertical arrows in D–F).S. Govind. Background: Like humans, fruit flies (a model organism for spaceflight research) also exhibit immune system dysfunction in space. Despite decades of studies on fruit flies and wasps, little was known about how their immune systems interact with natural parasites in space. Drosophila parasitoid wasps modify blood cell function to suppress host immunity. In this spaceflight study (the Fruit Fly-03 Lab flown to the ISS on SpaceX-14), naive and parasitized ground and space flies from a tumor-free control and a blood tumor-bearing mutant strain were examined.
      Main Findings: Surprisingly, the flies without tumors were more sensitive to space than the flies with tumors. Spaceflight increased immune gene activity and made tumors grow more in the flies. The wasps remained harmful in space, but some developed inheritable physical changes. These changes included “aurum” (altered wing color and veins) and “kona” (altered wing shape). Female wasps with two copies of the “kona” mutation could not lay eggs because of defective egg-laying organs.
      Ovipositors from wild-type and mutant wasps.
      Homozygous kona females with defective ovipositors (used for egg laying) how areas of compromised integrity or have branched ends (arrows) compared to the continuous ovipositors with sharp ends from wild-type control wasps.S. Govind Impact: This study will Improve our knowledge of how parasites and hosts interact. The results show that we need to study more types of organisms, including plants and their natural parasites, in space. This will help us learn more about how hosts defend themselves and how dangerous parasites can be in space, which is important for astronaut health. Gene expression data from fruit flies (OSD-588) and two types of wasps (OSD-609 & OSD-610) are publicly available on NASA’s Open Science Data Repository. This data is available for anyone to use and compare with other spaceflight studies.
      Reference: Chou, J., Ramroop, J.,  Saravia-Butler, A., Wey, B., Lera, M., Torres, M., Heavner, M., Iyer, J., Mhatre, S,. Bhattacharya, S., Govind, S. Drosophila parasitoids go to space: Unexpected effects of spaceflight on hosts and their parasitoids. iScience, Volume 27, Issue 1, 2024, 108759, ISSN 2589-0042, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2023.108759
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:03:29 Mars’s surface is covered in all manner of scratches and scars. Its many marks include the fingernail scratches of Tantalus Fossae, the colossal canyon system of Valles Marineris, the oddly orderly ridges of Angustus Labyrinthus, and the fascinating features captured in today’s video release from Mars Express: the cat scratches of Nili Fossae.
      Nili Fossae comprises parallel trenches hundreds of metres deep and several hundred kilometres long, stretching out along the eastern edge of a massive impact crater named Isidis Planitia.
      This new video features observations from Mars Express's High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). It first flies northwards towards and around these large trenches, showing their fractured, uneven appearance, before turning back to head southwards. It ends by zooming out to a ‘bird’s eye’ view, with the landing site of NASA’s Perseverance rover, Jezero Crater, visible in the lower-middle part of the final scene. (You can explore this crater further via ESA’s interactive map.)
      The trenches of Nili Fossae are actually features known as ‘graben’, which form when the ground sitting between two parallel faults fractures and falls away. As the graben seem to curve around Isidis Planitia, it’s likely that they formed as Mars’s crust settled following the formation of the crater by an incoming space rock hitting the surface. Similar ruptures – the counterpart to Nili Fossae – are found on the other side of the crater, and named Amenthes Fossae.
      Scientists have focused on Nili Fossae in recent years due to the impressive amount and diversity of minerals found in this area, including silicates, carbonates, and clays (many of which were discovered by Mars Express’s OMEGA instrument). These minerals form in the presence of water, indicating that this region was very wet in ancient martian history. Much of the ground here formed over 3.5 billion years ago, when surface water was abundant across Mars. Scientists believe that water flowed not only across the surface here but also beneath it, forming underground hydrothermal flows that were heated by ancient volcanoes.
      Because of what it could tell us about Mars’s ancient and water-rich past, Nili Fossae was considered as a possible landing site for NASA’s Curiosity rover, before the rover was ultimately sent to Gale Crater in 2012. Another mission, NASA’s Perseverance rover, was later sent to land in the nearby Jezero Crater, visible at the end of this video.
      Mars Express has visited Nili Fossae before, imaging the region’s graben system back in 2014. The mission has orbited the Red Planet since 2003, imaging Mars’s surface, mapping its minerals, studying its tenuous atmosphere, probing beneath its crust, and exploring how various phenomena interact in the martian environment. For more from the orbiter and its HRSC, see ESA's Mars Express releases.
      Disclaimer: This video is not representative of how Mars Express flies over the surface of Mars. See processing notes below.
      Processing notes: The video is centred at 23°N, 78°E. It was created using Mars Chart (HMC30) data, an image mosaic made from single-orbit observations from Mars Express’s HRSC. This mosaic was combined with topography derived from a digital terrain model of Mars to generate a three-dimensional landscape. For every second of the movie, 62.5 separate frames are rendered following a pre-defined camera path. The vertical exaggeration is three-fold. Atmospheric effects – clouds and haze – have been added, and start building up at a distance of 50 km.
      Click here for the original video created by Freie Universität Berlin, who use Mars Express data to prepare spectacular views of the martian surface. The original version has no voiceover, captions or ESA logo.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      The plane of our Milky Way galaxy, as seen by ESA’s Gaia space mission. It contains more than a billion stars, along with darker, dusty regions Gaia couldn’t see through. With its greater sensitivity and longer wavelength coverage, NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s galactic plane survey will peer through more of the dust and reveal far more stars.Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope team has announced plans for an unprecedented survey of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. It will peer deeper into this region than any other survey, mapping more of our galaxy’s stars than all previous observations combined.
      “There’s a really broad range of science we can explore with this type of survey, from star formation and evolution to dust in between stars and the dynamics of the heart of the galaxy,” said Catherine Zucker, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who co-authored a white paper describing some of the benefits of such an observing program.
      Scientists have studied our solar system’s neighborhood pretty well, but much of the galaxy remains shrouded from view. NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will peer through thick bands of dust to reveal parts of our galaxy we’ve never been able to explore before, thanks to a newly selected galactic plane survey. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center A galactic plane survey was the top-ranked submission following a 2021 call for Roman survey ideas. Now, the scientific community will work together to design the observational program ahead of Roman’s launch by May 2027.
      “There will be lots of trade-offs since scientists will have to choose between, for example, how much area to cover and how completely to map it in all the different possible filters,” said paper co-author Robert Benjamin, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
      While the details of the survey remain to be determined, scientists say if it covered about 1,000 square degrees – a region of sky as large as 5,000 full moons – it could reveal well over 100 billion cosmic objects (mainly stars).
      “That would be pretty close to a complete census of all the stars in our galaxy, and it would only take around a month,” said Roberta Paladini, a senior research scientist at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, and the white paper’s lead author. “It would take decades to observe such a large patch of the sky with the Hubble or James Webb space telescopes. Roman will be a survey machine!”
      Milky Way Anatomy
      Observatories with smaller views of space have provided exquisite images of other galaxies, revealing complex structures. But studying our own galaxy’s anatomy is surprisingly difficult. The plane of the Milky Way covers such a large area on the sky that studying it in detail can take a very long time. Astronomers also must peer through thick dust that obscures distant starlight.
      While we’ve studied our solar system’s neighborhood well, Zucker says, “we have basically no idea what the other half of that Milky Way looks like beyond the galactic center.”
      Observatories like NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope have conducted shallower surveys of the galactic plane and revealed some star-forming regions on the far side of the galaxy. But it couldn’t resolve fine details like Roman will do.
      “Spitzer set up the questions that Roman will be able to solve,” Benjamin said.
      Roman’s combination of a large field of view, crisp resolution, and the ability to peer through dust make it the ideal instrument to study the Milky Way. And seeing stars in different wavelengths of light – optical and infrared – will help astronomers learn things such as the stars’ temperatures. That one piece of information unlocks much more data, from the star’s evolutionary stage and composition to its luminosity and size.
      “We can do very detailed studies of things like star formation and the structure of our own galaxy in a way that we can’t do for any other galaxy,” Paladini said.
      This image shows two views of the same spiral galaxy, called IC 5332, as seen by two NASA observatories – the James Webb Space Telescope’s observations appear at the top left and the Hubble Space Telescope’s at the bottom right. The views are mainly so different due to the wavelengths of light they each showcase. Hubble’s visible and ultraviolet observation features dark regions where dust absorbs those types of light. Webb sees longer wavelengths and detects that dust glowing in infrared. But neither could conduct an efficient survey of our Milky Way galaxy because it covers so much sky area; since IC 5332 is around 30 million light-years away, it appears as a small spot. It would take Hubble or Webb decades to survey the Milky Way, but NASA’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could do it in less than a month. Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Janice Lee (STScI), Thomas Williams (Oxford), Rupali Chandar (UToledo), PHANGS Team Roman will offer new insights about the structure of the central region known as the bulge, the “bar” that stretches across it, and the spiral arms that extend from it.
      “We’ll basically rewrite the 3D picture of the far side of the galaxy,” Zucker said.
      Roman’s sharp vision will help astronomers see individual stars even in stellar nurseries on the far side of the galaxy. That will help Roman generate a huge new catalog of stars since it will be able to map 10 times farther than previous precision mapping by ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) Gaia space mission. Gaia mapped over 1 billion stars in 3D largely within about 10,000 light-years. Roman could map up to 100 billion stars 100,000 light-years away or more (stretching out to the most distant edge of our galaxy and beyond).
      The Galactic Plane Survey is Roman’s first announced general astrophysics survey – one of several observation programs Roman will do in addition to its three core community surveys and Coronagraph technology demonstration. At least 25% of Roman’s five-year primary mission will be allocated to general astrophysics surveys in order to pursue science that can’t be done with only the mission’s core community survey data. Astronomers from all over the world will have the opportunity to use Roman and propose cutting-edge research, enabling the astronomical community to utilize the full potential of Roman’s capabilities to conduct extraordinary science.
      The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are BAE Systems in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, Florida; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.
      Download high-resolution video and images from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
      By Ashley Balzer
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Media contact:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Explore More
      6 min read How NASA’s Roman Space Telescope Will Chronicle the Active Cosmos
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      Last Updated Mar 12, 2024 Related Terms
      Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Galaxies Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Space Telescope James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Missions Spitzer Space Telescope Stars The Milky Way The Universe View the full article
    • By NASA
      The Nova-C lunar lander is seen in the high bay of Intuitive Machines Headquarters in Houston, before it shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for launch as part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis campaign.Credit: Intuitive Machines NASA is gearing up for a commercial robotic flight to the Moon under the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis campaign. Intuitive Machines will launch its Nova-C lander on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Wednesday, Feb. 14, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission will carry six NASA payloads targeted for the South Polar region.
      The group of NASA instruments aboard IM-1 will conduct scientific research and demonstrate technologies to help us better understand the Moon’s environment and improve landing precision and safety in the challenging conditions of the lunar south polar region, paving the way for future Artemis astronaut missions. The payloads will collect data on how the plume of engine gasses interacts with the Moon’s surface and kicks up lunar dust, investigate radio astronomy and space weather interactions with the lunar surface, test precision landing technologies, and measure the quantity of liquid propellant in Nova-C propellant tanks in the zero gravity of space. The Nova-C lander will also carry a retroreflector array that will contribute to a network of location markers on the Moon that will be used as a position marker for decades to come
      The Nova-C lander is targeted to land Thursday, Feb. 22, in a relatively flat and safe area near the Malapert A crater, in the south polar region of the Moon.
      The six NASA payloads aboard Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission include:
      LN-1 (Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator)
      A small, CubeSat-sized flight hardware experiment that integrates navigation and communication functionality for autonomous navigation to support future surface and orbital operations. Principal investigator: Dr. Evan Anzalone, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array)
      A collection of eight retroreflectors that enable precision laser ranging, which is a measurement of the distance between an orbiting or landing spacecraft to the reflector on the lander. LRA is a passive optical instrument and will function as a permanent location marker on the Moon for decades to come.
      Principal investigator: Dr. Xiaoli Sun, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center NDL (Navigation Doppler Lidar for Precise Velocity and Range Sensing)
      A Lidar-based (Light Detection and Ranging) descent and landing sensor. This instrument operates on the same principles of radar but uses pulses from a laser emitted through three optical telescopes. NDL will measure vehicle velocity (speed and direction) and altitude (distance to surface) with high precision during descent to touchdown. Principal investigator: Dr. Farzin Amzajerdian, NASA’s Langley Research Center RFMG (Radio Frequency Mass Gauge)
      A rocket propellant gauge used to measure the amount of spacecraft propellant in a low-gravity space environment. Using sensor technology, RFMG will measure the amount, or mass, of cryogenic propellants in Nova-C’s tanks, providing data that can help predict propellant usage on future missions. Principal investigator: Dr. Greg Zimmerli, NASA’s Glenn Research Center ROLSES (Radio-wave Observations at the Lunar Surface of the Photoelectron Sheath)
      Four antennas and a low-frequency radio receiver system designed to study the dynamic radio energy environment near the lunar surface and determine how natural and human-generated activity near the surface interacts with science investigations. It will also detect radio emissions from the Sun, Jupiter, and Earth, as well as dust impacting the surface of the Moon. Principal investigator: Dr. Nat Gopalswamy, NASA Goddard SCALPSS (Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies)
      A suite of four cameras to capture stereo and still images of the dust plume created by the lander’s engine as it begins its descent to the lunar surface until after the engine shuts off. Principal investigator: Michelle Munk, NASA Langley Intuitive Machines is one of 14 vendors eligible to carry NASA payloads to the Moon through the agency’s CLPS initiative, which began in 2018. CLPS is an innovative approach connecting NASA with commercial solutions from American companies to deliver scientific, exploration, and technology payloads to the Moon’s surface and into lunar orbit. Through CLPS, NASA aims to gain new insights into the lunar environment and expand the lunar economy to support future crewed missions under the Artemis campaign.
      Learn more about NASA’s CLPS initiative at:
      Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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      View the full article
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