March 8 Membership Meeting, OSIRIS-REx to Bennu!

This artist's rendering shows OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona
This artist’s rendering shows OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending towards asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of the asteroid’s surface. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The February Membership Meeting of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) will take place Monday, February 8, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. via the Zoom online meeting service.

The evening’s speaker will be Jeff Woytach, retired NASA Scientist whose talk is entitled, “OSIRIS-REx: Mission to Bennu!” OSIRIS-REx is a U.S. mission to return samples from the Near Earth Asteroid Bennu to Earth, and to measure theoretical effects on the asteroid to see how its orbit is perturbed. Bennu is an Earth-crossing asteroid that has the potential to impact our planet. The presentation will talk about the accomplishments of the mission, as well as other sample return missions that have been accomplished or are on the books for the future.

Woytach, originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University in May 1983. He joined the staff of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John H. Glenn Research Center (GRC) in June 1983.

Woytach has worked on space missions launched on the Space Shuttle and the Atlas/Centaur launch vehicle, and on flight hardware for the International Space Station. He is currently the Systems Engineer for the Fission Surface Power System, which will place a nuclear fission reactor on the lunar surface. Mr. Woytach also provides systems engineering support to the Psyche mission.

Led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Psyche will visit an asteroid believed to be composed entirely of metal. In addition, Jeff is the systems engineer for a small spacecraft being developed to perform ocean research for the National Oceanic Partnership Program. He is also the lead for two university student design competitions sponsored by NASA, involving teams from five U.S. universities In his spare time, Mr. Woytach enjoys space exploration history, collecting space exploration memorabilia, astronomy, and “Star Trek”. He is also the founder of the “Glenn Band,” a concert band comprised of NASA Glenn employees and retirees, their family members and students from the North Olmsted School District. Mr. Woytach and his family are residents of North Ridgeville, Ohio.

Attendees may join the Zoom meeting beginning at 7:20 p.m. the nights of CAA scheduled meetings and meetings begin at 7:30.

The evening will begin with introductions and the featured speaker followed by the monthly membership business meeting, typically concluding at about 9 p.m.. Guest attendees are welcome.

To attend:

You can either “Phone in” or watch and participate via “Zoom Video”.

Phone In:  Just dial:  1-312-626-6799  (Chicago number)

You will be required to enter our meeting number:  954 8268 6049

Zoom Video with video and audio, on your web browser. (No camera required)

Or download the desktop application from:

Ride the rover to the surface of Mars

February 22, 2021 — New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.

From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.

Perseverance lowered safely to Martian surface

This high-resolution still image is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust). Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis. The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perseverance rover to arrive at Mars February 18

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This illustration shows the events that occur in the final minutes of the nearly seven-month journey that NASA’s Perseverance rover takes to Mars. Hundreds of critical events must execute perfectly and exactly on time for the rover to land on Mars safely on Feb. 18, 2021.

Entry, Descent, and Landing, or “EDL,” begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, traveling nearly 12,500 mph (20,000 kph). It ends about seven minutes later, with Perseverance stationary on the Martian surface. Perseverance handles everything on its own during this process. It takes more than 11 minutes to get a radio signal back from Mars, so by the time the mission team hears that the spacecraft has entered the atmosphere, in reality, the rover is already on the ground.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California built and will manage operations of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover for NASA.

For more information about the mission, go to: