Space Mission

Welcome Insight lander, you are on Mars!
Published 11/26/2018 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Congratulations to  NASA, JPL, Lockheed Martin and international partners for landing  the Insight Lander on Mars a few hours ago. Like millions of people, I watched the NASA Live program from JPL which showed live the landing of the InSight vehicle on the surface of Mars. Beyond the typical sensationalism (the event was nicknamed "7 minutes of terror") of the program,, NASA spent a large amount of time explaining the engineering challenges  of the EDL: Entry, Descent, Landing with its thousands of steps; the science InSight will conduct so we can better understand the interior of the Red Planet, and finally the... read more ❯

The End of Kepler – It’s not over yet but it will happen soon.
Published 9/20/2018 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
The Kepler space telescope, which was launched in March 2009, is the tenth NASA Discovery mission and the first dedicated to searching for and studying exoplanets. It was scheduled to operate for about four years, but is still active almost a decade later and after its scientific objectives changed when it was renamed the K2 mission. Despite these tremendous successes, scientists are now concerned about the health of the spacecraft, and a team of engineers and astronomers are working together in hopes of extending the spacecraft’s data-gathering capabilities for as long as possible. In May 2013, loss of a second reaction... read more ❯

House Hearings Fail to Tap NASA's Full Potential
Published 9/11/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Yesterday the  U.S. House of Representatives  Subcommittee on Space held a hearing entitled "Exploring Our Solar System: The ASTEROIDS Act as a Key Step Planetary science". I was curious about this act and expected the hearing to focus on interesting new ways to motivate private companies to design, launch, and operate space missions, and further the study of our Solar System. The five witnesses chosen to testify included a NASA civil servant, three well-known planetary scientists and one... read more ❯

Des mondes similaires au nôtre cachés dans des centaines d’exoplanètes ? SETI PR en Francais
Published 6/9/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Communiqué de presse de l'Institut SETI et de CASCA Monday, June 09 2014 - 12:15pm, PDT Mountain View, CA - Cette année a été intense pour les chasseurs d’exoplanètes, ces planètes autour d’autres étoiles. Une équipe d'astronomes de l’Institut SETI et du centre de recherche de la NASA Ames a découvert 715 nouvelles exoplanètes enfouies dans les données du télescope spatial Kepler. Ces nouveaux mondes qui tournent autour de 305 étoiles différentes, constituent des systèmes planétaires multiples, similaires a notre système solaire, lui-même constitué de huit planètes. L’annonce de cette découverte a été suivie par une nouvelle encore plus importante dans le monde... read more ❯

54 years of space exploration: an updated map that you must see
Published 5/19/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
National Geographic asked 5W Infographics to update its 50 Years of Exploration graphic, a classic that I use often in my talks to illustrate our space exploration program and its focus on the inner part of the solar system. The updated version, renamed "Cosmic Journey", is spectacular, better organized and easier to follow than its predecessor. It has been updated to include new missions sent over the past 4 years. The new color code includes the paths of failed, as well as successful, missions and also the nation that led them. Cosmic Journey by Sean McNaughton, Samuel Velasco,... read more ❯

First Discovery Of An Earth-Sized Planet In The Habitable Zone
Published 4/17/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Source: SETI Institute Press-release MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – For the first time, an Earth-sized planet has been found in the habitable zone of its star. This discovery not only proves the existence of worlds that might be similar to our own, but will undoubtedly shape future investigations of exoplanets that could have terrestrial surface environments. The new-found body, orbiting the red dwarf star Kepler-186 and designated Kepler-186f, is the fifth – and outermost – world to be discovered in this system. The... read more ❯

China joined the interplanetary club by successfully imaging the asteroid Toutatis
Published 12/14/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
This exceptional result was brought to my attention late on Friday evening, but it clearly deserves a short post on this blog. Chang'E 2, a chinese mission dedicated to the exploration of the moon was recycled to explore the Near-Earth Asteroid (4179) Toutatis  and succeeded. Launched on  October 1, 2010 aboard a Long March 3C rocket, the probe was in lunar orbit until August 25, 2011. The spacecraft is equipped with several instruments, such as stereo camera, Laser altimeter, Gamma/X-ray Spectrometers and a Microwave Detector. To date, no... read more ❯

New NASA Institute - The NASA-Armstrong Space Exploration Institute?
Published 10/22/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
NASA made a request for input to name the new NASA Science and Exploration Institute.  You can propose your own name on this web site. I just submitted a proposed name for this virtual institute, which will include other destinations beyond the Moon, stemming from NASA’s flexible path strategy for human exploration. I propose to name this new NASA center the "NASA-Armstrong Space Exploration Institute" (or NASEI). Here why... Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, was also a hero for several generations of American... read more ❯

Summary of the First SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission to ISS
Published 10/10/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
A brief post to report on the successful (so far) mission of the first commercial resupply mission (CSR-1) led by SpaceX to the International Space Station. On Sunday, October 7 at 8:35PM EDT, a Falcon-9 rocket successfully took off from Cap Canaveral Air Force, Florida. This is the first of the 12 contracted flights to resupply the International Space Station and return cargo from the ISS. Those missions are indeed a replacement of the space shuttle ones. Dragon carried ~400 kg of cargo of supplies and scientific materials including 23... read more ❯

Thoughts about a beautiful NASA video - Save Our Science
Published 5/8/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Today I am feeling inspired and motivated. It could easily have not been the case since the day started with a massive crash of my email inbox, a difficult review of a recently submitted paper, and some issues with my simulation that I am planning to present at the ACM conference next week – not to mention a lack of sleep. Still, all of this became irrelevant when I watched NASA’s new promotional video attached below. Sometimes it is good to be reminded how lucky we are to be part of this adventure. Never in the history of mankind have we had access to... read more ❯