The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft, launched last Wednesday, April 16, has just reached the International Space Station and was captured by Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronaut Anne McClain, assisted by her colleague David Saint-Jacques, will soon begin the slow maneuver to move the Cygnus until it docks with the Station’s Unity node after about two hours.
Blog about NASA activities
A few hours ago Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), part of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on Wallops Island. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage went en route to its destination. This is its 11th official mission, called NG-11 but also CRS NG-11, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA, the second for Northrop Grumman Corporation after completing the acquisition of Orbital ATK.
An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the discovery of two exoplanets in the orange star HD 21749’s system, one of which is the first Earth-sized identified thanks to NASA’s TESS space telescope and the other a Mini-Neptune. A team of researchers led by Diana Dragomir already submitted a first version of the article on the exoplanet HD 21749b, the Mini-Neptune also referred to as TOI 186.01, mentioning as candidate TOI 186.02 the rocky exoplanet now referred to as HD 21749c in the new version of the article in which it’s considered confirmed.
NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity drilled a clay area, called a clay-bearing unit by the mission scientists, of Mount Sharp on Mars that was nicknamed Aberlady to take samples for analysis. The rock turned out to be quite friable so only the normal rotation of the drill was used, without the percussion system used on other occasions to drill much harder rocks. Clay is associated with water so the hope is that the results of the analysis will help to reconstruct the history of Mars with new information on the remote era in which there was a lake in the area.
An article published in the journal “Nature Geoscience” reports an independent confirmation of the detection of a methane peak on the planet Mars, east of Gale Crater, where NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity is operating and detected the presence of methane. However, a team of researchers led by Marco Giuranna of the Italian National Astrophysics Institute in Rome used measurements of ESA’s Mars Express space probe’s PFS instrument to find methane. Independent detections carried out in orbit and on the ground with very different instruments are crucial in this research because methane can be produced by biological processes but also by geological processes.