The positions of the planets next month will mean diminished communications between Earth and NASA's spacecraft at Mars.
Mars will be passing almost directly behind the sun, from Earth's perspective. The sun can easily disrupt radio transmissions between the two planets during that near-alignment. Commands to spacecraft will be suspended. Transmissions from Mars to Earth will be reduced.
Operation IceBridge scientists are beginning another season of research activity over Arctic ice sheets and sea ice with the first of a series of science flights. This year's campaign continues monitoring Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet while expanding coverage in Antarctica.
Dramatic changes to Arctic sea ice, such as the record-breaking minimum levels in 2012 and potential effects of ice loss in the region, are driving the demand for measurements.
Many spacecraft just fade away, drifting silently through space after their mission is over, but not GRAIL. NASA's twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft went out in a blaze of glory Dec. 17, 2012, when they were intentionally crashed into a mountain near the moon's north pole.
By kicking up a cloud of dust and gas with each impact, researchers hoped to discover more about the moon's composition.
Curiosity has returned to active status and is on track to resume science investigations, following two days in a precautionary standby status, "safe mode."
Next steps include checking the rover's active computer by commanding a preliminary free-space move of the arm. Engineers quickly diagnosed the software issue that prompted the safe mode on March 16 and know how to prevent it from happening again.
Canadarm2 will unberth Dragon at 6 a.m. EDT Monday, March 25 for a release at 7:49 a.m.
A new set of Expedition 35 crew members are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, for final launch preparations. Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin are targeted to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft March 28 for a docking to the Poisk module about six hours later.