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This Week @NASA: Earth Science Mission Launch, Lucy Mission Milestones, Juno’s Close Flyby of Io

NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, successfully lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 1:33 a.m. EST Thursday, February 8. PACE is NASA’s newest earth-observing satellite that will help increase our understanding of Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and climate by delivering hyperspectral observations of microscopic marine organisms called phytoplankton, as well as new data on clouds and aerosols. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Studying the health of our oceans and climate…

A private astronaut crew heads home from the space station…

And some mission milestones for NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA’s Lucy spacecraft…

A few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

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Studying the Health of Our Oceans and Climate

NASA’s PACE Earth science mission launched aboard a SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 8 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The mission will help us better understand how our oceans and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide, measure key atmospheric variables related to air quality and Earth’s climate, and monitor ocean health, in part by studying phytoplankton – tiny plants and algae that sustain the marine food web.

Follow the mission at

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Docked to Harmony Module

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft is pictured from a window aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft. Both spacecraft are docked to ports on the International Space Station’s Harmony module. Freedom is seen moments before undocking from Harmony’s forward port with the Axiom Mission 3 crew aboard. Credit:

Axiom Mission 3 Departs the Space Station

On February 7, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying the four-person crew of Axiom Mission 3 undocked from the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>International Space Station to begin the crew’s return trip to Earth.

Axiom Mission 3, the third all-private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory, will return with more than 550 pounds of NASA hardware and data from experiments the crew conducted during the mission.

NASA Lucy Spacecraft Cruise

NASA’s Lucy mission is the first spacecraft launched to explore the Trojan asteroids, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Lucy Ready for 2024 Mission Milestones

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft recently completed the second and largest planned main engine burn of its 12-year mission. These burns, combined with the mission’s second Earth gravity assist maneuver targeted for December 2024, will help Lucy transition from its current orbit around the Sun to a new orbit that will carry it beyond the orbit of JupiterJupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and the fifth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant with a mass greater then all of the other planets combined. Its name comes from the Roman god Jupiter.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Jupiter and into the realm of the never-before-explored Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

Juupiter Moon Io Jupitershine

Jupiter’s moon Io, its night side illuminated by reflected sunlight from Jupiter, or “Jupitershine.”
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, Emma Wälimäki © CC BY

Juno’s Second Close Flyby of Io

On February 3, NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a second close flyby of Jupiter’s moon Io. Like Juno’s previous flyby of Io in late December 2023, this second pass took Juno about 930 miles above Io’s surface.

The twin flybys were designed to gain new insight into how the moon’s volcanic engine works and investigate whether a global magma ocean exists under the moon’s rocky, mountainous surface.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA.

Source: SciTechDaily