Space Stories: End of a Lunar Mission, Ancient Rivers on Mars, and the Second TROPICS Launch

Image (Credit): Launch of the Lunar Flashlight mission last December. (SpaceX)

Here are some recent stories of interest.

Engadget: “NASA Ends its Lunar Flashlight Mission

NASA has pulled the plug on its Lunar Flashlight project, which was designed to look for sources of ice on our nearest neighbor. The agency spent the last few months trying, and failing, to get the craft to generate the necessary amount of thrust to get the small satellite to its intended destination. Officials say that the issue was likely caused by debris buildup in the fuel lines, which prevented the CubeSat from working to its full potential. 

Insider:Photos from NASA’s Mars Rover Show the Red Planet’s Ancient Rivers were Much Wilder than Scientists First Thought

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has taken new images that reveal that some of the red planet’s ancient rivers were much wilder than scientists previously thought. “It’s the first time we’re seeing environments like this on Mars,” Katie Stack Morgan, Perseverance’s deputy project scientist, said in a NASA release. Scientists studying rock formations, features, and valleys on Mars, so far, have found evidence to suggest Mars was once covered by water. 

Businesswire:Rocket Lab Sets Date for Second NASA TROPICS Launch to Deploy Storm Monitoring Constellation

Rocket Lab USA, Inc., a leading launch and space systems company, is preparing for the second of two dedicated Electron launches to deploy a constellation of storm monitoring satellites for NASA. The launch, called ‘Coming To A Storm Near You,’ is scheduled for lift-off no earlier than 17:30 on May 22nd NZST from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. The launch follows on from the successful ‘Rocket Like a Hurricane’ Electron launch on May 8th 2023, which deployed the first two CubeSats of NASA’s TROPICS constellation. The ‘Coming To A Storm Near You’ launch will deploy the final two TROPICS CubeSats, completing the constellation.