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

  • Curiosity rover begins climb of ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    September 17th, 2017

    NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has started the steep climb of an iron-oxide bearing ridge on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp that has long been of interest to researchers. "Vera Rubin Ridge", also known as "Hematite Ridge", was informally named in early 2017 in memory of pioneering astrophysicist Vera Cooper Rubin, whose research provided evidence for the existence of dark matter.

  • Update: Arianespace investigates cause of Ariane 5 launch abort

    September 14th, 2017

    Arianespace recently released a preliminary analysis of the post-ignition launch abort of an Ariane 5 rocket carrying two communications satellites. The mission, designated flight VA239, was scheduled for liftoff at 5:51 p.m. EDT (21:51 GMT) Sept. 5, 2017, from the Guiana Space Centre in South America.

  • Second GPS III satellite completes strenuous launch environment test

    September 8th, 2017

    Before a satellite can begin its operational life on orbit, it must first survive the extreme sound pressure and punishing vibrations caused by over 700,000 pounds-force (3,110 kN) of rocket thrust. On July 13, 2017, Lockheed Martin's second GPS III satellite (GPS III SV02) successfully completed acoustic environmental testing.

  • NASA’s InSight lander to study interior of Mars

    August 30th, 2017

    NASA's next robotic mission to Mars, a lander called InSight, is on schedule to launch next May from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. InSight will be the first interplanetary mission launched from the West Coast of the United States. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is currently testing and assembling the spacecraft in a cleanroom facility near Denver, Colorado. 

  • NASA Ames hosts eclipse viewing event

    August 22nd, 2017

    MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — A  crowd of about 1,000 people attended a public event at NASA Ames Research Center to observe the Aug. 21, 2017, solar eclipse. Attendees gathered outside the Building 3 Conference Center at Ames wearing eclipse glasses provided by the space agency. Inside the Conference Center, attendees could watch NASA TV's extensive coverage of the eclipse.

  • Curiosity spots clouds drifting across Martian sky

    August 15th, 2017

    Wispy clouds resembling Earth's ice-crystal clouds move across the Martian sky in new images from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. The clouds are the most clearly visible so far from Curiosity, which landed on Mars in Gale Crater five years ago this month. Clouds in the Martian sky have been previously observed by Curiosity and other missions to the Martian surface, including NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.

  • Hubble spots exoplanet with glowing water atmosphere

    August 6th, 2017

    Researchers working with data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found the strongest evidence to date for the existence of a stratosphere – the layer of an atmosphere in which temperature increases with altitude – on an exoplanet (a planet outside of the Solar System).

  • Opportunity rover takes ‘Sprained Ankle’ Panorama

    July 26th, 2017

    NASA's Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" recently recorded a panoramic view before entering the "Perseverance Valley", which descends the inner slope of Endeavour Crater's rim. The valley is a major destination for the rover's extended mission.

  • 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.