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NASA

— Space

NASA tests CubeSat-based laser communications

NASA has teamed up with The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo to test a new CubeSat-mounted laser communication system. While the mission, known as the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration (OCSD), has already been successfully placed in orbit, the team is currently working to resolve an issues with its attitude control system.

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— Space

Cassini begins final flybys of Saturn's moon Enceladus

Launched in 1997, NASA's Cassini orbiter mission to Saturn has lasted 18 years and 3 months so far – a considerable extension of its original four-year timetable. As its mission draws to an end, the unmanned, nuclear-powered spacecraft will execute the first of its final three flybys of Saturn's moon Enceladus. To take place between now and December, the close encounters are expected to provide a better understanding of the moon's global ocean and its possible habitability.

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— Space

NASA reveals roadmap to Mars

That NASA has aspirations for a manned mission to the Red Planet is already well known, but the space agency has now revealed in greater detail how it plans to make such a mission reality. In a document titled "NASA's Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration," the expedition is broken down into three separate phases, painting a picture of the incremental scientific advances needed to land humans on the Martian surface.

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— Space

NASA crowdsources spacesuit durability testing

We know from our experiences on the Moon that EVA suits undergo significant abrasion and wear over the course of a mission, and with NASA's eyes fixed firmly on a mission to Mars, the next generation of spacesuits will be thrown into the unknown. In an effort to establish how they will perform, NASA has announced a competition soliciting ideas on how to test the durability of fabrics with the potential to be used in its next-gen space suits.

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— Space

NASA tests foldable cloth heat shield in Mars entry simulation

As spacecraft for manned and planetary missions get larger, so do their heat shields – which are becoming very big indeed. To avoid the day when the shield becomes too large for any existing or planned launcher, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is developing the Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) heat shield, which uses carbon-fiber cloth and can be folded up like an umbrella. The cloth heat shield recently completed tests that simulated entering the Martian atmosphere.

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