From the seas to the stars, NASA sets exploration goals
HAMPTON ROADS – Wednesday, June 2, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United States (NASA) Administrator Senator Bill Nelson delivers his first State of NASA Address at NASA Headquarters Mary W. Jackson in Washington DC
In the speech, Nelson spoke about several major projects the agency is leading, including the robotic and human return to the Moon via the Artemis program, future Earth-based missions to monitor and combat climate change, and two new ones. discovery missions on Venus.
the Artemis program aims to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. Starting this year, NASA will send a suite of scientific instruments and technology demonstrations to the lunar surface through commercial deliveries to the Moon ahead of human return.
The program has several missions: Artemis I, a flight that will be done without a crew, will test the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spaceship together, followed by the Artemis II mission, which will be the first manned SLS and Orion test flight.
With the Artemis III mission, NASA plans to send astronauts to the Moon by 2024, starting with the lunar South Pole as part of a mission to explore the entire surface of the Moon with human and robotic explorers. From there, NASA plans to send a mission to the moon about once a year.
Nelson spoke about his personal experience in space and the rare opportunity he had to look at Earth.
“As we circled the earth every 90 minutes, I didn’t see any political divisions. I did not see any racial divisions. I did not see any religious divisions. I saw that we were all in the same boat, ”he said.
This is how Nelson spoke about NASA’s mission to continue collecting data on climate change.
Presentation of plans to create a Earth System Observatory (ESO), Nelson explained how five satellites would circle the planet to study the atmosphere and activity occurring both on and below the Earth’s surface. Using 3D modeling technology, ESO would be able to collect data on climate change and help predict natural disasters before they happen.
“We have one central mission – to protect our planet,” said Nelson.
This does not mean that NASA is stopping its plans to enter more into our solar system. Nelson also announced two new discovery missions to Venus, DAVINCI + and VERITAS.
DAVINCI + will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere and determine if the planet has ever had an ocean. The mission will also take photos of geological features to help NASA better understand the planet.
The second mission, VERITAS, will take a closer look at Venus by mapping the surface and infrared emissions to determine the rock type on the planet. Both missions aim to answer many questions about Venus and how it formed to become the planet we know today.
Perhaps what’s most exciting locally about all of these new missions and launches is how they continue to connect Hampton Roads to the “last frontier.”
Clayton Turner, director of the Langley Research Center, said the center is essential for the development of landing technology, both for moon landings and for decent entry landings on celestial bodies with larger atmospheres. thick, like Mars or Venus.
“This is an area where we are developing the simulations to model this landing,” he said. “We also do instrumentation, so with each landing we can learn information that will help us with the next landing.”
When it comes to creating more sustainable airplanes, another talking point Nelson touched on in his speech, Langley is focusing on vehicles. Turner referred to the cartoon, The Jetsons, and flying car imagery, while talking about vehicles used to transport everything from packages to people.
“The technology is there,” he said. “Our role is to help integrate these vehicles into what is already flying.
While Turner expressed confidence in the existing technology, he couldn’t provide an exact timeline when the technology would be available to the public, and it all comes down to a lack of public infrastructure to support aero vehicles.
This is also related to Langley’s research on super sonic transport. The development of X-59, NASA’s Quiet SuperSonic technology (QueSST) will fly faster than the speed of sound, but without the loud sonic boom.
The Langley Research Center is also preparing to open the Measuring systems laboratory soon. The lab was originally scheduled to open in 2019, but Turner said they had to get over the pandemic before the lab could do so.
Another big project that will be launched soon is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an orbiting infrared observatory with longer wavelength coverage and significantly improved sensitivity that will complement and expand the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The longer wavelengths allow Webb to take a closer look at the beginning of time and search for the unobserved formation of early galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.
Basically, NASA will be able to see the beginning of time with JWST.
JWST is set to launch this year near French Guiana.
And how is NASA able to announce and launch all of these mind-blowing missions and technologies? By making big demands on Congress.
The agency recently requested a Congressional budget of $ 25 billion for fiscal year 2022. NASA had a hearing with the House Appropriations Committee on May 19.
However, as Nelson mentioned in his remarks, NASA’s progress is not just about the United States, but part of a global effort to better understand our planet and how it came to be.
“Reaching new heights to reveal the unknown for the benefit of mankind,” quoted Turner, a statement he has on the back of his business cards and is close to his heart.
To look at the state address of NASA, Click here.
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