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

  • 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.

  • NASA approves instruments for ESA’s ‘JUICE’ mission

    April 21st, 2017

    NASA's contributions to an upcoming European Space Agency mission have been moved from preliminary design to implementation phase. The "JUICE" mission is scheduled to launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in Oct. 2029. JUICE will spend nearly four years investigating Jupiter's environment and its icy Galilean moons.

  • Planets orbiting double-star systems could support life, study suggests

    April 16th, 2017

    When NASA's Kepler spacecraft first discovered a planet that orbited two stars, comparisons were made to Luke Skywalker's desert home planet Tatooine in the "Star Wars" movies.

  • MAVEN finds metal in Mars’ atmosphere

    April 13th, 2017

    NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft has discovered electrically charged metal atoms (ions) high in the atmosphere of Mars. The metal ions help provide clues about previously invisible activity with Mars' electrically charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere).

  • Most of Mars’ atmosphere lost to space, scientists say

    April 1st, 2017

    According to a new study by scientists working with NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, the Martian atmosphere was mostly stripped away by solar wind and radiation, changing Mars from a world that could have supported life billions of years ago into the frigid desert planet it is today.

  • NASA goes for the GUSTO to study Milky Way

    March 27th, 2017

    NASA has selected a new science mission to measure emissions of the cosmic material found between stars, known as the interstellar medium. This data will aid researchers in determining the life cycle of interstellar gas in our galaxy, known as the Milky Way, observing the formation and destruction of star-forming clouds, and understanding the dynamics and gas flow near the center of our galaxy.

  • PUFFER: An origami-inspired robot may go places rovers can’t

    March 24th, 2017

    JPL is developing a small, origami-inspired robot that may serve as a scout for the next rovers to explore another planet. The new design could revolutionize the manner in which future space exploration missions are carried out.

  • GRACE mission reaches 15-year mark

    March 20th, 2017

    The twin satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission have been collecting data about how water moves and is stored around Earth 15 years – three times longer than originally planned. GRACE, a joint effort between NASA and two German agencies, was launched on March 17, 2002.

  • NASA’s Jupiter moon mission named ‘Europa Clipper’

    March 12th, 2017

    NASA announced on Thursday, March 9, that the space agency's upcoming mission to study the habitability of Jupiter's frozen moon Europa will be named the "Europa Clipper". The name harkens back to the wooden clipper ships that sailed Earth's oceans in the 19th century.

  • NASA’s Kepler provides new data on TRAPPIST-1

    March 11th, 2017

    Last month, researchers announced that TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star approximately 40 light-years from Earth, hosts seven planets that are probably rocky, including three in the habitable zone. On Wednesday, March 8, NASA released new data from Kepler's investigations of the dwarf star to the scientific community.

  • Blue Origin to launch Eutelsat satellite on New Glenn rocket

    March 8th, 2017

    French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications announced on March 7, 2017, at the Satellite 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., that it had signed a contract with Blue Origin for a launch on the New Glenn rocket, which is expected to begin flights in 2020.

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne completes testing of Orion spacecraft auxiliary engines

    March 6th, 2017

    Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed hot-fire acceptance testing of eight auxiliary engines that will be used on the first flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The flight, called Exploration Mission (EM) 1, is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 2018.

  • NASA’s flyby of Europa mission begins design phase

    February 27th, 2017

    A NASA mission to investigate the habitability of Jupiter's moon Europa, scheduled for launch in the 2020s, recently completed a major NASA review. NASA's Europa multiple-flyby mission successfully completed its Key Decision Point-B review on February 15, allowing the mission to continue in its preliminary design phase, known as "Phase B", beginning on February 27.

  • 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.