This Week at NASA! The much-anticipated release of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and spectroscopic data is targeted for July 12 at 10:30 a.m. EDT, during a live broadcast from our Goddard Space Flight Center.
That show will be available on NASA TV, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and various social media platforms. As each image is released, it will simultaneously be posted to social media and to our website at: nasa.gov/webbfirstimages. These first images will demonstrate Webb at its full power, ready to begin its mission to unfold the infrared universe.
After experiencing post-launch communications issues on July 4, teams for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE mission have re-established contact with the spacecraft.
The team has determined that an improperly formatted command sent to the spacecraft’s radio caused the issues. Data received from the spacecraft indicate that it is in good health, and it operated safely on its own while it was out of contact with Earth. As originally planned, CAPSTONE is still expected to arrive to its lunar orbit later this year on Nov. 13. The mission will test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of our Artemis program.
On July 2, the Space Launch System, or SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis I mission completed the four-mile journey from launch pad 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center. In the coming weeks, teams will make repairs, and perform checkouts and activities before returning SLS and Orion to the pad. Currently targeted for launch no earlier than August 2022, the Artemis I flight test to the Moon will allow NASA to check out rocket and spacecraft systems before astronauts fly to the Moon on Artemis II.
Engineers recently completed the first fully integrated powered testing of the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or TEMPO instrument on the Intelsat IS40e satellite. TEMPO is currently targeted to launch in January 2023.
From its geostationary orbit, it will take air quality observations at an unprecedented spatial resolution.
Its measurements will reach from Puerto Rico and Mexico to northern Canada, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, encompassing the entire lower 48 states of the U.S. After analyzing data from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s sample collection “TAG event” at asteroid Bennu in October 2020, scientists were surprised to learn that the spacecraft’s arm sank almost half a meter into the asteroid.
This was far deeper than expected and confirmed that Bennu’s surface is incredibly weak.
It turns out that the surface material on Bennu is so loosely packed that stepping onto the asteroid might feel a bit like stepping into one of those pits filled with plastic balls that you might see at a kids’ play area. O-REx collected a handful of material and kicked up roughly six tons of loose rock during the TAG event. It will return its sample of Bennu to Earth in September 2023.