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About IonStorm

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  1. New Frontiers is the mid-sized planetary missions and the largest principal investigator lead ones. The programmatic goal is to select two missions per decade. So far New Horizons (Pluto/MU69), Juno (Jupiter), OSIRIS-REx (Bennu), and either Dragonfly (Titan) or CAESAR (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko) are the missions. Both Dragonfly and CAESAR are cool (and tied for first place in science), but I'm a member of the CAESAR team (which will use ion propulsion to collect and return a sample of the icy surface of the comet that ESA's Rosetta mission mapped). The two teams will work for a year to refine the risk posture and engineering requirements so the New Frontiers program can select one. Learn more about New Frontiers here frontiers. Information about CAESAR will be made public on January 17, 2018 at 3:15pm PST at the Small Bodies Assessment Group meeting. You can watch for free here I presume that Dragonfly will have information at the Outer Planets Assessment Group but I'm not particularly plugged in to that community. Both missions will have 5 abstracts each at the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. They will be posted here However, since it is still an active competition between the two mission concepts, not all details are public yet. Discovery are the small planetary missions, and are also principal investigator lead. These are NEAR (Eros), Pathfinder (Mars), Prospector (Moon), Stardust (81P/Wild 2), Genesis (solar wind), CONTOUR (two comets; lost), MESSENGER (Mercury), Deep Impact (9P/Tempel 1), Dawn (Vesta/Ceres), Kepler (exoplanets; now operated by astrophysics), GRAIL (Moon), InSight (Mars; launching this year), Lucy (Trojan asteroids; in development), and Psyche (Psyche; in development). There are also follow-on missions (e.g. Stardust-Next) and instruments (e.g. M3) on non-NASA missions which are managed out of the Discovery office. See There was also a Mars Scout principal investigator lead program (Phoenix and MAVEN) about the same cost as Discovery. LRO (Moon) was a human exploration mission that became a science mission, etc. The final class of planetary missions are Flagship. These are large and directed, without a principal investigator, such as Cassini (Saturn), MSL (Mars), Mars 2020 (Mars), Europa Clipper (Europa), etc. All of these missions are robotic. Unlike Kerbals, people generally insist on coming home. Finally, don't forget that OSIRIS-REx (and Hayabusa2) approach their asteroids this summer. The first science and good pictures will be in about a year. Once we have a new shape map and color map of Bennu, I'll make a new challenge.
  2. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    I have many jobs. Within OSIRIS-REx there is a constant low level of activity with several different weekly status meetings, planning for future major events (“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” Eisenhower), etc. This can also involve travel, not as extensive as during the busy times, but enough. I had a very long interview last month which resulted in only a few comments about travel and lunch here,, silly but true. I am also Chief (aka department chair) of Astrochemistry, plus I have a research lab to run, papers to write, peer reviewing the work of others, giving presentations to scientists and the public, writing proposals, and a few minor roles on other missions. It is all about maximizing the taxpayer's investments--something we take very seriously.
  3. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    Nicely done. The colors remind me of Earth. I hope the real asteroid is darker and rounder (and larger with respect to the spacecraft), but very pretty. You are also welcome to tweet, instagram, etc. it to @OSIRISREx
  4. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    I'd be happy to if there is enough interest. I can create a new challenge at arrival in RSS if someone makes a Bennu model based on real data.
  5. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    Here is today's press release of the Earth-Moon system.
  6. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    Data! Science! Gravity! The Earth Gravity Assist went perfectly with the trajectory right down the middle (blue line, the green, yellow, and red are 1, 2 and 3 sigma errors to the 2-way X-band Doppler residuals during the EGA). And the images and spectra look great. Now on to Bennu,

    Primarily the blanketing is for thermal control of the spacecraft. We use Germanium Black Kapton (GBK) which provides better electrostatic dissipation than the gold kind.

    We got a 6° plane change, not a speed increase. The effective ∆V imparted to the spacecraft by the angular momentum exchange with Earth as a result of this flyby is 3.778 km/s. This is about 90% more than the 1.986 km/s ∆V capability in the spacecraft’s monoprop system. This velocity change does not mean that the spacecraft either speeds up or slows down by this amount, since much of this change is used change the orbit inclination. There is no EGA event, but the countdown clock was at closest approach. The observing campaign lasts 10 days after with downlinks at EGA +1, +3 and +10. The navigation team breathed easier after contact with Goldstone was re-established after crossing into the western hemisphere with no errors or interruptions.

    Thanks! We get instrument calibration data from the Earth and Moon tomorrow.
  10. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    Indeed. Here is a video of what we are doing.

    Yes, just like on our fairing (now somewhere in the Atlantic ocean).

    Thanks! Which design: dinosaur, shield, or triangle logo? Sadly, the "Kiss my asteroid!" mugs were limited edition. P.S. Breaking Bad fans will also appreciate that searching for chiral compounds is an OSIRIS-REx objective. In our case, not D-methamphetamine (dangerous drug) vs. L-methamphetamine (mild decongestant) but compounds important for the origin and evolution of life, e.g.

    Indeed! It is an opportunity to rehearse some of our procedures and perhaps get some science at the same time. See also,
  14. OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return

    I look forward to it and would love to see what you come up with. I may open a new challenge during the Bennu encounter. Until then, here is the last video of the bottom of the spacecraft which will ever be taken and the first image of the sample return capsule taken in space.