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Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

NASA's Research and Technology Studies, or Desert RATS, will make its 13th trip to the desert this fall to test rovers, habitats and robots that could be used in future exploration missions.

A media day for the tests will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to allow reporters to observe the activities. Interested news media should contact Brandi Dean at 281-483-5111 by Thursday, Sept. 9. Access to the test site is restricted, so media must be pre-registered. NASA also requires a letter of assignment on company letterhead for credentials.

The desert tests offer a chance for a NASA-led team of engineers, astronauts and scientists from across the country to test concepts for future missions. The location offers a good test area for future destinations of exploration missions.

NASA will demonstrate a variety of hardware during this year's test, including:
  • Space Exploration Vehicles: two rovers astronauts could live in for seven days at a time.
  • Habitat Demonstration Unit/Pressurized Excursion Module: a simulated habitat where the rovers can dock to allow the crew room to perform experiments or deal with medical issues.
  • All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorers: two heavy-lift rover platforms that allow the habitat, or other large items, to go where the action is.
  • Portable Communications Terminal: a rapidly deployable communications station.
  • Centaur 2: a possible four-wheeled transportation method for NASA Robonaut 2.
  • Portable Utility Pallets: mobile charging stations for equipment.
  • A suite of new geology sample collection tools, including a self-contained GeoLab glove box for conducting in-field analysis of various collected rock samples.
The public was involved in test preparation by helping NASA decide what areas should be explored. NASA posted online several possibilities online and allowed members of the public to vote on the most promising. Several thousand ballots were cast and 67 percent favored a location that appeared to be home of several overlapping lava flows.

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