Closest Multi-Spacecraft Flying Formation on This Week @NASA – September 23, 2016 | Summary and Q&A

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September 23, 2016
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Closest Multi-Spacecraft Flying Formation on This Week @NASA – September 23, 2016

TL;DR

In this week's news from NASA, multiple spacecraft achieved the closest separation ever recorded, a new virtual reality exhibit allows visitors to explore Mars, and an automatic ground avoidance system saved an F-16 jet from crashing.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the MMS mission and why is its spacecraft separation record important?

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission consists of four spacecraft flying in a tetrahedron formation to study magnetic reconnection. The closer separation between the spacecraft allows for better measurements and understanding of this mysterious phenomenon.

Q: What can visitors experience at the "Destination Mars" exhibit?

The exhibit uses real imagery from NASA's Mars Curiosity rover and Microsoft HoloLens technology to provide a mixed-reality experience of exploring the Martian surface.

Q: When is Orbital ATK planning to launch its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft?

The launch is scheduled within a five-day window from October 9-13, 2016, with a more specific date determined after final operational milestones and technical reviews.

Q: How did NASA's Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System save the F-16 aircraft?

The Auto-GCAS technology took control of the F-16 when the student-pilot lost consciousness, maneuvering the jet away from the ground and preventing a crash.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • NASA's MMS mission set a new record with spacecraft separation, enabling the study of magnetic reconnection at smaller scales.

  • The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex introduced a new exhibit called "Destination Mars," allowing visitors to experience a virtual trip to the red planet.

  • Orbital ATK is planning to launch its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station during the OA-5 mission.

  • The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, developed by NASA, saved an F-16 aircraft from crashing during a training exercise.

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