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 . Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel  

Space History for March 30

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Born, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, chemist, inventor (Bunsen burner)

Born, Heinrich Rubens, German physicist (measurement of blackbody radiation)

J Palisa discovered asteroid #224 Oceana.

Born ("New Style" date, 18 March "Old Style"), Sergey Ilyushin, Russian aerospace engineer (Ilyushin aircraft design bureau)

Born, Aleksei Ivanovich Nesterenko, Russian military officer, first Director of Nll-4 (1946-1950), first Commander of Baikonur (1955-1958)

J H Metcalf discovered asteroid #662 Newtonia.

A Massinger discovered asteroid #785 Zwetana.

M Wolf discovered asteroid #820 Adriana.

L Volta discovered asteroid #1107 Lictoria.

Y Vaisala discovered asteroid #3166.

Remington Rand turned the first UNIVAC I computer over to the United States Census Bureau after it had passed its acceptance test.

Goethe Link Observatory discovered asteroids #1761 Edmondson and #1824 Haworth.

Albert Einstein announced his revised unified field theory.

Born, Yelena Vladimirovna Kondakova (at Rabochi, Moscow Oblast, Russian SFSR), cosmonaut (Mir 17, STS 84)

Cosmonaut Yelena Kondakova, NASA photo

Died, Philibert J. Melotte, astronomer (discovered Jupiter's eighth satellite, Pasiphae)

Joseph Walker flew X-15 flight # 35 to 51.694 km and became the first person ever to fly above 50 km. His record only lasted about two weeks, broken when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went into orbit on April 12.

Bowell discovered asteroid #2432 Soomana, #2452 Lyot, #2812 Scaltriti, #3314 Beals, #3531 Cruikshank and #3688.

1981 11:42:00 GMT
USSR Soyuz 39 returned to Earth from the Salyut 6 space station with cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Jugderdemidiyn Girragcha aboard.

1982 09:04:46 MST (GMT -7:00:00)
NASA's STS 3 (Columbia 3, third Shuttle mission) landed at White Sands, New Mexico.

STS 3 lifted off on 22 March 1982 after the launch was delayed one hour due to the failure of a heater on a nitrogen gas ground support line. During the mission, testing continued of the Space Shuttle systems for qualification for operational flights. Testing of the remote manipulator system, and measurements of the thermal response of the orbiter in various attitudes to the Sun were conducted. A Get Away Special (GAS) test canister and Spacelab pallet-mounted experiments for NASA's Office of Space Science-1 (OSS-1) were carried in the payload bay. OSS-1 obtained data on the near-Earth space environment, including contamination (gases, dust, etc.) introduced into space by the orbiter itself. Other experiments were: Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Electrophoresis Equipment Verification Test (EEVT), Heflex Bioengineering Test (HBT) and the first Shuttle Student Involvement Program (SSIP) experiment. Problems encountered during the flight included: space sickness, a malfunctioning toilet, thermostat difficulties, and unexplained static interfering with the crew's sleep. An auxiliary power unit registered overheating during ascent, but functioned properly during descent. Three communications links were lost.

STS 3 ended when Columbia landed on revolution 130 on 30 March 1985 on Runway 17, Northrup Strip, White Sands, New Mexico. Rollout distance: 13,732 feet. Rollout time: 83 seconds. Launch weight: 235,415 pounds. Orbit altitude: 147 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 38.0 degrees. Mission duration: eight days, zero hours, four minutes, 46 seconds. Miles traveled: 3.335 million. The landing site was changed from Edwards Air Force Base to White Sands due to wet conditions on the Edwards dry lake bed landing site. High winds at White Sands resulted in a one day extension of the mission. Some brake damage occurred upon landing, and a dust storm caused extensive contamination of the orbiter. The orbiter was returned to KSC 6 April 1982.

The flight crew for STS 3 was: Jack R. Lousma, Commander; C. Gordon Fullerton, Pilot.

Starstruck, Inc., a private launch company, made the second attempted test of their sea-launch system, although the actual launch of the Dolphin hybrid rocket was aborted.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter started aerobraking operations to reshape its highly elliptical capture orbit to the nearly circular one required for science operations.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched 12 August 2005 on an Atlas V, was designed to orbit Mars over a full Martian year and gather data with six scientific instruments, including a high-resolution imager. The science objectives of the mission are to: characterize the present climate of Mars and its physical mechanisms of seasonal and interannual climate change; determine the nature of complex layered terrain on Mars and identify water-related landforms; search for sites showing evidence of aqueous and/or hydrothermal activity; identify and characterize sites with the highest potential for landed science and sample return by future Mars missions; and return scientific data from Mars landed craft during a relay phase. MRO was planned to return high resolution images, study surface composition, search for subsurface water, trace dust and water in the atmosphere, and monitor weather.

The launch window opened at Kennedy Space Center on 10 August 2005, with launch opportunities available until 5 September. The cruise to Mars took about seven months and included checkouts, calibrations, navigation, and three trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs). The planned fourth TCM and possible fifth TCM were not required, saving 60 pounds (27 kg) of fuel, usable during MRO's extended mission. On 10 March 2006, MRO reached Mars and performed a Mars orbit insertion maneuver, passing under the southern hemisphere of Mars at an altitude of 370–400 km (230–250 mi) and firing its main engines for about 27 minutes. Signals that the burn had started reached Earth at 21:24 UT (4:24 PM EST) on 10 March. With 6 minutes left in the burn MRO passed behind Mars as seen from Earth. Radio communication resumed when it re-emerged about 30 minutes later.

The 1641 second orbit insertion burn slowed the spacecraft by about one km/sec, leaving it in a 400 x 35000 km polar capture orbit with a 35.5 hour period. The helium pressurization tank was colder than expected, which reduced the pressure in the fuel tank by about 21 kilopascals (3.0 psi). The reduced pressure caused the diminished engine thrust by 2%, but MRO automatically compensated by extending the burn time by 33 seconds. Shortly after insertion, the periapsis (closest approach to Mars) was 426 km (265 mi) from the surface (3,806 km (2,365 mi) from the planet's center). The apoapsis (the farthest distance from Mars) was 44,500 km (27,700 mi) from the surface (47,972 km (29,808 mi) from the planet's center).

Aerobraking was used over the next five months, from 30 March to 30 August 2006, to lower the orbit. MRO fired its thrusters twice more in September 2006 to fine-tune its final, nearly circular science orbit to approximately 250 to 316 km (155 to 196 mi) above the Martian surface (with periapsis over the south pole and apoapsis over the north pole). There are twelve sun-synchronous orbits per day so that the orbiter will always see the ground at 3:00 PM local time at the equator.

The SHARAD radar antennas were deployed on 16 September 2006. All of the scientific instruments were tested and most were turned off prior to the solar conjunction which occurred from 7 October to 6 November 2006. The "primary science phase" began after the conjunction ended.

MRO took its first high resolution image from its science orbit on 29 September 2006, resolving items as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. On 6 October, NASA released detailed pictures from the MRO of Victoria crater with the Opportunity rover on the rim above it. On 17 November 2006 NASA announced the successful test of the MRO as an orbital communications relay: Using the NASA rover Spirit as the point of origin for the transmission, the MRO acted as a relay for transmitting data back to Earth.

HiRISE continues to return images enabling discoveries regarding the geology of Mars. Among these is the banded terrain observations indicating the presence and action of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or water on the surface of Mars in its recent geological past. HiRISE photographed the Phoenix lander during its parachute descent to Vastitas Borealis on 25 May 2008 (sol 990). On 6 August 2012 (sol 2483) the orbiter passed over Gale crater, the landing site of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, during its EDL phase. The HiRISE camera captured an image of the Curiosity rover descending with its backshell and supersonic parachute.

On 3 March 2010, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed another significant milestone, having transmitted over 100 terabits of data back to Earth, which was more than all other interplanetary probes sent from Earth combined.

Science operations took place nominally from the end of solar conjunction in November 2006 to the start of the next solar conjunction in November 2008, roughly one Martian year. Following the nominal mission, extended science and communications relay missions have been undertaken.

In November 2006, problems began to surface with two MRO instruments: A stepping mechanism in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) skipped on multiple occasions, resulting in a field of view that is slightly out of position. By December normal operations of the instrument were suspended, although a mitigation strategy allows the instrument to continue making most of its intended observations. Also, an increase in noise and resulting bad pixels has been observed in several CCDs of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Operation of the camera with a longer warm-up time has alleviated the issue, but the cause is still unknown and the problem may return. The orbiter continued to experience recurring problems in 2009, including four spontaneous resets, culminating in a four-month shut-down of the spacecraft from August to December. While engineers did not determine the cause of the recurrent resets, they have created new software to help troubleshoot the problem should it recur.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter consists of a main bus, constructed of titanium, carbon composites, and aluminum honeycomb. Extending from the bus are two solar panel wings and a 3 meter high-gain antenna dish. The bus houses the propulsion system, telecommunications, command, guidance, and science instruments. The maximum spacecraft mass was 2180 kg, including 1149 kg of propellants.

Propulsion is provided by a total of 20 thrusters. Six 170N monopropellant (hydrazine) main-engine thrusters were used for the Mars Orbit insertion burn, which used about 70% of the total fuel onboard. Six 22N thrusters are used for trajectory correction maneuvers and eight 0.9N thrusters for pointing. All thrusters are fed from a single propellant tank mounted near the center of the main bus. A pressurant tank is used to force propellant to the motors. Spacecraft control is achieved with the use of reaction wheels and reaction control system thrusters. Navigation and attitude knowledge is determined by 16 Sun sensors, two star tracker cameras, and two inertial measurement units which use accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Two way telecommunications is done via X-band at about 8000 MHz, primarily through the 3 m diameter steerable high-gain dish antenna. Two low-gain Ka-band antennas, mounted on the high-gain dish, are also available for transmission and reception. Two transponders and three TWT amplifiers allow maximum data rates of 6 megabits/sec. Power is provided by the two solar cell array wings mounted on opposite side of the bus. Each array has an area of 10 square meters and contains 3744 solar cells. The panels produce 1000 Watts at Mars which is used to run the equipment directly, and to charge two nickel-hydrogen 50 A-hr, 32-volt batteries. Thermal control is achieved by a combination of radiators, surface coatings, insulation, and heaters.

MRO's science payload includes the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a visible stereo imaging camera; the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), a visible/near-infrared spectrometer to study the surface composition; the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), an infrared radiometer to study the atmosphere, a shallow subsurface sounding radar (SHARAD) provided by the Italian Space Agency to search for underground water; the Context Camera (CTX), to provide wide-area views; and the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), to monitor clouds and dust storms. In addition, there are three engineering instruments aboard MRO: the Electra UHF communications and navigation package, used as a relay between the Earth and other Mars missions; the optical navigation camera, tested for possible navigational use on future planetary spacecraft; and the Ka-band telecommunications experiment package, for testing high performance Ka-band communications. Engineering accelerometer data is used to study the structure of the Martian atmosphere, and tracking of the orbiter is used to study the gravity field of Mars.

The scheduled downlink from NASA's MER-A ("Spirit") via Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) relay through the Odyssey orbiter was not received.The team was anticipating Spirit to experience a low-power fault about this time.

NASA's MER-A ("Spirit") was the first of the agency's two Mars Exploration Rover Missions. Spirit was launched 10 June 2003, and successfully landed on Mars on 3 January 2004 at 20:35 PST (4 January 04:35 UTC).

No communication has been received from Spirit since Sol 2210 (22 March 2010). The project concluded the Spirit recovery efforts on 25 May 2011. The remaining, pre-sequenced ultra-high frequency (UHF) relay passes scheduled for Spirit on board the Odyssey orbiter were completed on 8 June 2011.

At the time it stopped communicating, Spirit had traveled 7,730.50 meters (4.80 miles) on the surface of Mars, ending at a winter position embedded in the area called "Troy" on the west side of "Home Plate" where the battery system apparently failed due to insufficient solar power collection.

See also
See also

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