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

  • Steep Martian slopes reveal structure of underground ice sheets

    January 15th, 2018

    Scientists using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have located eight sites where thick deposits of ice beneath the Martian surface are exposed in the faces of steep eroding slopes known as scarps. The eight scarps, have slopes as steep as 55 degrees, provide researchers with new information about the internal structure of previously-discovered layered subsurface ice sheets in Mars's middle latitudes.

  • Classified NROL-47 mission launches from Vandenberg

    January 12th, 2018

    United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed its first flight of 2018 on Friday, January 12, two days after high ground winds forced the scrubbing of the initial launch attempt and one day after a ground system valve forced a second scrub.

  • Delta IV launch of NROL-47 to be ULA’s first of 2018

    January 8th, 2018

    United launch Alliance’s (ULA) first flight of 2018 is currently scheduled for Wednesday, January 10. A Delta IV Medium+(5,2) rocket is set to carry the  classified NROL-47 payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 6 at 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST). The mission will be ULA’s 27th flight for the National Reconnaissance Office […]

  • Bright spots on Ceres indicate geologic activity

    December 16th, 2017

    Since NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March 2015, both scientists and the general public have been able to see the hundreds of bright spots on the dwarf planet's surface. Dawn mission scientists reported their most recent research about these bright areas at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. The team's findings indicate that Ceres is an active, evolving world.

  • NASA plans ‘souped-up’ rover for Mars 2020 mission

    December 1st, 2017

    The rover for NASA's Mars 2020 mission bears a strong resemblance to the Curiosity rover currently exploring the surface of Mars. However, it will have a number of improvements and instruments to carry out its search for signs of past microbial life on the Red Planet. A recent NASA press release described the rover as a "souped-up science machine".

  • NASA releases Cassini’s farewell view of Saturn

    November 28th, 2017

    During the final leg of NASA's Cassini mission at Saturn, the spacecraft took a lingering last look at the planet that has been its home for more than 13 years by snapping a series of images that has been assembled into a new mosaic.

  • First science targets of NASA’s Webb telescope announced

    November 23rd, 2017

    NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch in spring 2019. The space agency recently announced the early release observing programs that will be completed within the first five months of Webb's science operations.

  • NASA performs first test of Mars 2020 rover supersonic parachute

    November 16th, 2017

    On October 4, 2017, NASA completed the first supersonic parachute test in preparation for the space agency's Mars 2020 rover mission. A 58-foot (17.7-meter) Black Brandt IX sounding rocket launched the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) payload from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia.

  • Curiosity applies color talents to ‘Vera Rubin Ridge’

    November 3rd, 2017

    The color-discerning abilities of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have proven particularly useful as the rover continues its climb of "Vera Rubin Ridge". In addition to the thousands of full-color images that Curiosity takes every year, the rover can image the Martian surface using special filters that can aid in identifying some minerals – something it has used to scout the terrain it will soon cover.

  • Curiosity team working to resume drilling

    October 25th, 2017

    Engineers with NASA's Curiosity Mars rover team are working to restore the rover's sample-drilling capability by using new techniques. Use of the drill has been suspended due to a mechanical problem with the arm that first occurred late last year.

  • Reconstructing Cassini’s final moments

    October 21st, 2017

    During the Cassini spacecraft's final plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere on Sept.15, 2017, the spacecraft live-streamed data from eight of its science instruments, providing readings from a variety of engineering systems. While it will take time to analyze all of the data from its plunge, engineers with the Cassini team already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft behaved as it went in.

  • U.S. Air Force declares first GPS III satellite ‘Available for Launch’

    October 14th, 2017

    On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the U.S. Air Force declared that the first Lockheed Martin-built GPS III satellite will be "Available for Launch" in 2018.

  • NASA offers another chance to send your name to Mars with Insight mission

    October 8th, 2017

    When NASA's InSight lander reaches Mars in November 2018, it will carry with it hundreds of thousands of names from members of the public. In 2015, nearly 827,000 people signed up to add their names to a silicon microchip onboard the robotic spacecraft. NASA is now adding another microchip, giving the public a second chance to send their names to Mars. 

  • NASA reschedules launch of Webb Telescope for spring 2019

    September 30th, 2017

    The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been rescheduled to occur sometime between March and June 2019 from French Guiana. The delay follows a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities that need to occur prior to launch. The JWST was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018.

  • 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.