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

  • Webb telescope to spend summer chilling in Houston

    July 13th, 2017

    While Houston, Texas, may be sweltering in 95-degree Fahrenheit (35 °C) heat this week, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will soon be chilling in a vibration-insolation "hammock", hanging from the ceiling of Chamber A – an enormous thermal vacuum testing facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

  • New driving algorithm helps protect Curiosity rover’s wheels

    July 4th, 2017

    The six wheels of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have experienced considerable wear and tear since the one-ton rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012. However, a new algorithm is helping the rover drive more carefully over rocks on the Martian surface to reduce wheel wear.

  • NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover on walkabout near crater rim

    June 28th, 2017

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover is investigating rocks near the rim of Endeavour Crater for signs that they were either transported by a flood or eroded in place by the Martian wind. These are two of several possible explanations for features observed the crater rim's crest above "Perseverance Valley", which is carved into the inner slope of the crater's rim.

  • Martian crater provides reminder of Apollo 16 mission

    June 20th, 2017

    During the 45th anniversary of Apollo 16's voyage to the Moon, NASA's Opportunity Mars rover drove by a relatively young crater on Mars' surface, providing a connection between the two missions. The feature was informally named "Orion Crater" by the Opportunity mission team, in honor of the Apollo 16 lunar module – Orion.

  • 3 CubeSats win rides on 1st flight of NASA’s SLS

    June 9th, 2017

    On Thursday, June 8, NASA announced the three winning teams of the semi-final round of the space agency's Cube Quest Challenge. In addition to winning $20,000 each in prize money, the three teams have also secured spots to launch their spacecraft on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) – the first flight of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) with the Orion spacecraft.

  • Curiosity rover finds evidence of stratified ancient Martian lake

    June 8th, 2017

    A recent comprehensive study of data from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA's Curiosity mission indicates that a long-lasting ancient lake on Mars had stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another. Different conditions that were suitable for different types of microbes existed simultaneously in the lake.

  • ESA completes investigation of Schiaparelli crash

    June 2nd, 2017

    An independent external inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has determined that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

  • Juno spacecraft makes fifth science pass of Jupiter

    May 24th, 2017

    NASA's Juno mission made a close flyby of the planet Jupiter on May 19, successfully completing the spacecraft's fifth science orbit of the gas giant. JunoCam and all of the spacecraft's science instruments were operating during the flyby. Juno's next close flyby, which will take it over Jupiter's Great Red Spot, will take place on July 11, 2017.

  • NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover begins study of ‘Perseverance Valley’

    May 19th, 2017

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has reached the main objective of its current two-year extended mission – an ancient fluid-carved ravine, called "Perseverance Valley", on the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

  • NASA receives proposals for future New Frontiers mission

    May 12th, 2017

    NASA has received and is currently reviewing 12 proposals for a future robotic Solar System exploration mission. The mission proposals, submitted to the space agency's New Frontiers Program, will undergo technical and scientific review over the next seven months. The goal is to select a mission in about two years, with a launch in the mid-2020s.

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover samples linear active dune on Mars

    May 8th, 2017

    As NASA's Curiosity Mars rover travels uphill from a band of rippled sand dunes, it carries with it a sample of dark sand for later analysis that will complete the rover's examination of those dunes. The rover studied four sites near a linear dune from early February until early April to compare those to what it had found during its examination of crescent-shaped dunes in late 2015 and early 2016.

  • NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope completes testing at Goddard

    May 5th, 2017

    NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) successfully completed the center of curvature test, a crucial optical measurement of the telescope's primary mirror prior to cryogenic testing, and the final test at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

  • Space exploration takes center stage at Silicon Valley Comic Con 2017

    May 1st, 2017

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — This year's Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), held on April 21–23 at the San Jose Convention Center, added space exploration to the event's mix of pop culture and technology.

  • NASA’s Dawn spacecraft experiences reaction wheel malfunction

    April 28th, 2017

    During preparations for observing Ceres' Occator Crater, NASA's Dawn spacecraft's remaining reaction wheels stopped functioning. The probe controls its orientation in space by changing the speed these gyroscope-like devices spin.

  • Opportunity Mars rover leaves ‘Tribulation’ for ‘Perseverance’

    April 23rd, 2017

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover is leaving "Cape Tribulation" – the crater-rim segment it has investigated since late 2014 – and driving south toward its next destination, "Perseverance Valley". The rover team plans to explore the valley to determine what type of activity carved it billions of years ago: water, wind, or flowing debris carried by water.