Spaceflight Insider

News Archive / Author: Jim Sharkey

Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

Articles By Jim Sharkey

  • Dawn spacecraft finds evidence of organic materials on Ceres

    February 19th, 2017

    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has detected evidence of organic materials on Ceres, a dwarf planet that is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

  • OSIRIS-REx begins search for Earth-Trojan asteroids

    February 15th, 2017

    On Feb. 9, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began searching for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. The spacecraft, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend nearly two weeks looking for evidence of these small bodies.

  • Curiosity rover findings raise new questions about ancient environment on Mars

    February 8th, 2017

    While NASA's "Curiosity" Mars rover has discovered considerable evidence that there was once liquid water on the Red Planet's surface, a recent study has posed a new question: How was the surface of Mars warm enough to keep the water unfrozen?

  • Audit of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission warns of potential delays

    February 7th, 2017

    In a report issued on Jan. 30, 2017, NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) voiced concerns about issues that could delay the planned July 2020 launch of the space agency's next Mars rover. An optimal 20-day window for a journey from Earth to Mars occurs once every 26 months. Missing the 2020 launch date would result in increased costs while waiting for the next launch opportunity.

  • Next SpaceX launch may be one of the last expendable F9 boosters

    January 28th, 2017

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — When SpaceX launches the EchoStar 23 satellite on Falcon 9 rocket, the company won't attempt to land the booster's first stage. The stage will consume too much fuel lifting the 12,125-pound (5,500-kilogram) satellite toward orbit to have enough in reserve for even an at-sea landing. Elon Musk stated as much in a tweet on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover studies possible mud cracks

    January 19th, 2017

    Researchers with NASA's "Curiosity" mission have recently been using the Mars rover to study slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that may have begun as cracks in drying mud more than 3 billion years ago.

  • NASA delays contract awards for asteroid mission spacecraft

    January 17th, 2017

    NASA is delaying contracts and other awards for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), originally planned for early this year, by a few months because of uncertainty about the space agency's budget.

  • Two 2017 NASA missions set to study edge of space

    December 30th, 2016

    Above Earth's atmosphere is a layer of charged particles that have been split into positive and negative ions by the Sun's harsh ultraviolet radiation. This area is called the ionosphere. In 2017, NASA plans to launch two satellites to study this region: the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) and the Global Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD).

  • NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is driving again, drill is still out of action

    December 24th, 2016

    NASA's "Curiosity" Mars rover drove, on Dec. 18, for about 10 meters from the spot where it had been stopped by ground engineers in order to determine the cause of its faulty drill.

  • Curiosity rover detects boron, more evidence of past habitability on Mars

    December 15th, 2016

    As NASA's "Curiosity" Mars rover climbs the slopes of Mount Sharp, the layered mountain at the center of Gale crater, it is finding patterns of change in rock composition in the mountain's higher, younger layers. The rover has also detected the chemical element Boron for the first time on the surface of Mars.

  • Curiosity rover team troubleshoots drill problem

    December 10th, 2016

    NASA's Curiosity rover is currently studying its surroundings and monitoring the Martian environment, but not driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team investigates an issue with a motor that moves the rover's drill.

  • JPL uses metallic glass to make better robot gears

    December 2nd, 2016

    JPL is developing a metallic glass alloy, for use on deep space probes and rovers, that is resistant to the extreme cold temperatures encountered in space.

  • Virgin Galactic conducts captive carry flight of SpaceShipTwo

    December 1st, 2016

    On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Virgin Galactic conducted the fourth test flight of its SpaceShipTwo rocket plane VSS Unity. The carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve, took off with VSS Unity from the runway of Mojave Air and Spaceport at 2:07 p.m. PST (22:07 GMT).

  • Martian ice deposit contains as much water as Lake Superior

    November 25th, 2016

    Scientists using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have discovered a layer of water ice beneath a region of cracked and pitted plains on Mars that holds about as much water as what is in Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes.

  • New analysis yields clues to fate of Beagle 2

    November 18th, 2016

    Scientists have discovered new clues about the fate of the British-made Beagle 2 Mars lander, thanks to a new research technique. The probe was discovered on the surface of Mars in November 2014 using images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), but questions remained about what had caused its failure to contact Earth.