Spaceflight Insider

News Archive / Author: Paul Knightly

Paul is currently a graduate student in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Akransas in Fayetteville. He grew up in the Kansas City area and developed an interest in space at a young age at the start of the twin Mars Exploration Rover missions in 2003. He began his studies in aerospace engineering before switching over to geology at Wichita State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 2013. After working as an environmental geologist for a civil engineering firm, he began his graduate studies in 2016 and is actively working towards a PhD that will focus on the surficial processes of Mars. He also participated in a 2-week simluation at The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in 2014 and remains involved in analogue mission studies today. Paul has been interested in science outreach and communication over the years which in the past included maintaining a personal blog on space exploration from high school through his undergraduate career and in recent years he has given talks at schools and other organizations over the topics of geology and space. He is excited to bring his experience as a geologist and scientist to the Spaceflight Insider team writing primarily on space science topics.

Articles By Paul Knightly

  • Cassini prepares for sixth ring-grazing orbit

    May 25th, 2017

    NASA's Cassini spacecraft is currently completing its fifth ring-grazing orbit of Saturn as it conducts its Grand Finale nearing the end of its mission. It will reach its orbital apoapsis on May 25 at 08:50 UTC (4:50 a.m. EDT), at which point its sixth ring-grazing orbit will begin. The sixth ring crossing of the Grand Finale will occur on May 28 at 14:22 UTC (10:22 a.m. EDT).

  • Van Allen Probes detect barrier around Earth

    May 20th, 2017

    New results from NASA's Van Allen Probes have revealed the impact humans have on the environment is not limited to physical and chemical effects on the Earth's surface, but it also includes radio frequencies extending out into space.

  • NASA detectors delivered for ESA’s Euclid spacecraft

    May 13th, 2017

    NASA delivered three detector systems for the European Space Agency's (ESA) ground-breaking Euclid mission to study dark matter and dark energy.

  • India announces opportunity for instruments on Venus mission

    May 9th, 2017

    The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is seeking experiments to include on a potential mission to explore Venus. A launch date was not provided for the mission, but it seeks to build on past missions launched by other nations that have included satellites, landers, and atmospheric probes.

  • MUOS-5 Now Supporting Troops with UHF Communications

    April 28th, 2017

    The fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) satellite is now delivering secure communications to troops using its Ultra High Frequency (UHF) telecommunications system. This comes as the U.S. Navy, partnered with the Army Forces Strategic Command, have worked to bring MUOS-5 into operation after it successfully completed on-orbit testing on January 19, 2017.

  • Cassini prepares for ‘grand finale’

    April 8th, 2017

    On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will conduct the first in a series of 22 dives between Saturn's atmosphere and the gas giant's rings as a part of the mission's “grand finale”. It will conclude a mission that has spent almost 13 years exploring the Saturnian system.

  • Laser communications to provide faster connections for Orion

    April 4th, 2017

    NASA engineers are continuing to push the limits of laser communication technology by developing a new system called LEMNOS that is to be tested on the second flight of the Orion spacecraft just beyond the Moon. Also referred to as optical communication, laser communication between a spacecraft and the Earth holds the promise of allowing higher data transmission rates than are currently possible.

  • Wheel treads break on Curiosity rover

    March 23rd, 2017

    At nearly five years old, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is starting to show signs of its age following a routine inspection of the rover's six wheels that revealed two small breaks in the treads on the middle left wheel.

  • Lost Moon orbiter found using new radar technique

    March 14th, 2017

    NASA has spotted a lost spacecraft orbiting the Moon as well as its own Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter thanks to a newly developed radar technique.

  • Cassini images Saturn’s polar hexagon

    March 1st, 2017

    On Dec. 2, 2016, NASA's Cassini spacecraft imaged Saturn's north polar region. Prominently centered around the north pole is the famous hexagonal cloud that is formed as the result of jet stream interactions in Saturn's atmosphere. A similar hexagon does not exist at Saturn's south pole.

  • Lasers to boost communication across space

    February 28th, 2017

    NASA is working on developing new technologies using high-data-rate lasers instead of radio waves for communication systems between Earth and spacecraft.

  • Potential Landing Sites for Mars 2020 Narrowed Down to Three

    February 16th, 2017

    The number of potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover has been narrowed down to three, from a list of eight, following a conference of scientists last week. The top three landing sites that were selected were in Northeast Syrtis Major, Jezero Crater, and the Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater.

  • MRO data utilized for Mars 2020 landing-site selection

    February 11th, 2017

    NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is providing the basis for evaluating eight prospective landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover mission.

  • Cassini reveals Saturn’s rings in unprecedented detail

    February 3rd, 2017

    Fresh images returned from NASA's Cassini spacecraft are revealing fascinating new details of Saturn's famous rings. Cassini is conducting a series of 22 ring-grazing orbits to study Saturn's innermost rings and moons as it refines its trajectory before concluding its 20-year mission in September.

  • GOES-16 returns first images

    January 24th, 2017

    The 16th satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite fleet (GOES-16) has returned the first images following its launch in November 2016. Formerly known as GOES-R, the satellite is the first in the next generation of Earth and space weather observing satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).