This Week @NASA: Historic Asteroid Sample Delivery, Dragonfly Mission to Saturn’s Moon Titan

OSIRIS-REx at Sample Site Nightingale

This animation depicts NASA’s OSIRIS-REx collecting a sample on asteroid Bennu.

NASA astronauts share their space station experience …

NASA’s heavy-duty hauler crawls into the history books …

And preparing for the return of some historic samples … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Crew-4 Astronauts Make Post-Flight Visit to D.C. Area

During the week of March 27, NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Robert Hines, and Kjell Lindgren visited the Washington, D.C. area to share the experience of their SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station. The visit included an employee event at NASA Headquarters, as well as an event at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library to help students learn about NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon.

NASA’s Crawler Transporter 2 Sets Record

Guinness World Records officially designated NASA’s Crawler Transporter 2 as the heaviest self-powered vehicle, weighing approximately 6.65 million pounds—equivalent to about 15 Statues of Liberty or 1,000 pickup trucks. During a March 29, 2023, ceremony at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Guinness World Records presented a certificate to teams with the Exploration Ground Systems Program and Kennedy leadership. Part of the crawler can be seen in the background of this photo taken the same day. Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

Crawling Into the History Books

The next time NASA’s Crawler Transporter 2, or CT-2 carries the mobile launcher and Artemis Moon rocket to the launch pad, the heavy-duty hauler will also carry the official Guinness World Records designation recently bestowed upon it as “the heaviest self-powered vehicle.” The CT-2 weighs about 6.65 million pounds – the equivalent of about 1,000 pickup trucks.

NASA OSIRIS REx Spacecraft Descending

This artist’s concept shows NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

NASA Prepares for Historic Asteroid Sample Delivery

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx team is preparing for the spacecraft to return the sample material it collected from asteroid Bennu. The O-REx sample capsule is expected to touchdown in the Utah desert on September 24 – becoming the first-ever U.S. mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth.

NASA Dragonfly Rotorcraft

Dragonfly is a rotorcraft lander mission – part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program – designed to take advantage of Titan’s environment to sample materials and determine surface composition in different geologic settings. This revolutionary mission concept includes the capability to explore diverse locations to characterize the habitability of Titan’s environment, to investigate how far prebiotic chemistry has progressed, and even to search for chemical signatures that could indicate water-based and/or hydrocarbon-based life. Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

Dragonfly Could Reveal Chemistry That Leads to Life

NASA’s Dragonfly mission, scheduled to launch to Saturn’s giant moon, Titan, in 2027, recently passed all the technical requirements and standards of its Preliminary Design Review. Dragonfly will study the chemistry at work on Titan – which could help us better understand the kinds of chemical steps that ultimately led to life here on Earth.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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