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

  • Orbital ATK unveils new satellite-servicing technology

    March 31st, 2018

    During the recent SATELLITE 2018 Conference and Expo, aerospace company Orbital ATK introduced  two new in-orbit satellite servicing products: the Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) and Mission Extension pods (MEPS).  These new products will join the company's Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) to create a suite of in-orbit satellite servicing technologies capable of extending the life of existing satellites. 

  • Curiosity Mars rover reaches 2,000 sol milestone

    March 25th, 2018

    NASA's Curiosity Mars rover team celebrated the vehicle's 2,000th Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet on March 22, 2018.  An image mosaic taken in January shows the rover's next major scientific target, an area with clay-bearing rocks that researchers have studied from orbit.

  • NASA releases 360-degree video of InSight Mars lander test lab

    March 13th, 2018

    Scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are using a replica of the upcoming InSight Mars lander to simulate conditions the spacecraft might face on the Red Planet's surface. The U.S. space agency released a 360-degree video tour of the In-Situ Instrument Lab, where the team is operating the "testbed" under a variety of different conditions.

  • NASA’s InSight spacecraft arrives at launch site

    March 3rd, 2018

    NASA's InSight spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to begin final preparations for its launch in May. The spacecraft was flown aboard an Air Force C-17 from Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, and arrived at Vandenberg at 3:49 p.m. PST (6:49 p.m. EST) on Wednesday, February 28.

  • NASA’s Opportunity rover still finding surprises on Mars

    February 19th, 2018

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover continues to make surprising discoveries during its fourteenth year exploring the red Planet. Most recently, the rover has observed evidence of possible "rock strips." In recent images from the rover, the texture of the ground looks like a smudged version of distinctive stone strips on some mountain slopes on Earth that are the result of reoccurring cycles of freezing and thawing of wet soil.  

  • NASA prepares Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to support future missions

    February 11th, 2018

    Since arriving in orbit above the Red Planet in 2006, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has observed Mars with it scientific instruments and provided a vital communications link for mission on the Martian surface. The spacecraft has already operated for more than twice its planned mission lifetime. NASA is planning to keep using it well into the 2020's to support upcoming missions. The space agency is currently taking steps to increase the orbiter's longevity. 

  • Curiosity Mars rover ‘photobombed’ by Mount Sharp

    February 3rd, 2018

    A recent self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the robot on Vera Rubin Ridge, which it has been exploring for several months. Directly behind the rover is the foot of a clay-rich slope Curiosity will begin climbing in the coming weeks. North is on the left of the image and west is on the right, with the rim of Gale Crater on the horizon of both edges.

  • Dust storms linked to gas escaping Martian atmosphere

    January 26th, 2018

    A new study using data gathered by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) during the Red Planet's most recent global dust storm in 2007, suggests that such storms play a role in the escaping of gases from the planet's atmosphere. That process transformed the warmer, wetter climate of ancient Mars into the arid, frozen conditions found on the surface of the Red Planet today.

  • Saturn’s moon Titan has ‘sea level’ like Earth

    January 20th, 2018

    Researchers using data from NASA's Cassini mission have discovered a striking similarity between Earth and Saturn's moon Titan. Just as the surface of Earth's oceans lies at an average elevation referred to as "sea level", Titan's seas also lie at an average elevation. Titan is the only world in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. Instead of water, Titan's lakes and seas are filled with hydrocarbons, mostly  methane and ethane. Water ice, covered by a layer of solid organic material, forms the bedrock surrounding these lakes and seas.

  • 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.