This Week @NASA: Sending a Swarm of Satellites Into Orbit, Rogue Planets, TROPICS First Light

NASA Starling Mission

NASA’s Starling mission will test new technologies for autonomous swarm navigation on four CubeSats in low-Earth orbit. Credit: Blue Canyon Technologies/NASA

Sending a swarm of small satellites into orbit …

The first views from NASA’s newest storm-watching mission …

And making the grade for investing in small business …

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

NASA’s Starling Mission Sends Swarm of Satellites into Orbit

A Rocket Lab Electron rocket launched from New Zealand on July 18 to carry four small satellites to low-Earth orbit for NASA’s Starling mission. The cereal box-sized spacecraft will work together as a swarm to see if they can maneuver, communicate, and make decisions on their own, without real-time updates from ground controllers. The mission could help to advance self-coordinating robotic swarms for future science and exploration missions to the Moon, Mars, and deep space.

NASA TROPICS First Light Hurricane Adrian

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using data provided by the TROPICS team.

TROPICS CubeSat Mission Captures First Views of Hurricanes

NASA’s storm-observing TROPICS satellites recently collected the mission’s first views of hurricanes. Late last month, the mission captured imagery data of the first named storms of the Eastern Pacific hurricane season. TROPICS uses a constellation of four identical small satellites to observe tropical cyclones about once an hour – far more frequently than most science satellites. The increased observations could help forecasters and officials better understand and prepare for rapidly evolving storms.

NASA Investing in Small Businesses

Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), left, answers a question after unveiling the 2022 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard, at an event hosted by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, right, and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Tuesday, July 18, 2023 in the Earth Information Center at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington. For the sixth year in a row NASA has received an “A” rating from SBA for its work with small businesses. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

NASA Maintains “A” for Investing in Small Businesses

During a July 18 event at NASA headquarters, the Small Business Administration announced that NASA earned an “A” on the Fiscal Year 2022 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard. The scorecard looks at how federal agencies rank on meeting their small business goals. NASA has directly invested $3.6 billion in over 1,700 small businesses across the country, creating good-paying jobs and opportunities for Americans in all 50 states.

Ice-Encrusted, Earth-Mass Rogue Planet

This artist’s concept shows an ice-encrusted, Earth-mass rogue planet drifting through space alone. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Roman Space Telescope Could Find 400 Earth-Mass Rogue Planets

According to new research from NASA and Japan’s Osaka University, rogue planets – which are planets that drift freely through space untethered to a star – far outnumber planets that orbit stars. With so many rogue planets out there, researchers believe that NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could find about 400 rogue planets similar in mass to Earth after the telescope launches in 2027.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA!

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