The Cassini orbiter has been working overtime during the holidays to deliver a cartload of gifts from Saturn and its moons. Highlights include fresh views of frost-spewing Enceladus and yam-shaped Prometheus, plus a "Nutcracker"-style ballet of Saturnian satellites.
The excitement began last week with the animated images of moonsimage advisory, the folks who process Cassini's pictures compared the interplay to the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" ballet. passing back and forth with the giant planet and its rings as a backdrop. In an
My favorite movie is "Moon Jumble," which has Rhea in the starring role, joined by its siblings Janus, Mimas and Pandora. (That's the real Pandora, not the fictional "Avatar" moon). Make sure you stretch your browser window wide enough to take in the whole picture.
"As yet another year in Saturn orbit draws to a close, these wondrous movies of an alien place clear across the solar system remind us how fortunate we are to be engaged in this magnificent exploratory expedition," imaging team leader Carolyn Porco said. "So, from all of us on the Cassini Imaging Team to all of you, Happy Holidays!"
That might fool you into thinking the Cassini team was taking the holidays off. There's no way that was going to happen. On Christmas and the day after, the orbiter snapped pictures as it flew past Enceladus and Prometheus. Over the weekend, Cassini zoomed within 600 miles (960 kilometers) of Titan's north pole.
A sampling of the raw imagery released on Sunday includes a striking full-disk view of Enceladus and its geysers of water ice, spewing out from southern fissures that have been nicknamed "tiger stripes." Such geysers hint at the existence of a subsurface ocean beneath Enceladus' icy surface - an ocean that just might harbor alien life.
The latest picture was taken from a distance of 383,000 miles (617,000 kilometers), and it might make you wonder why those geysers hadn't been spotted decades ago when the Voyager spacecraft flew past. In a posting to the imaging team's Web site, Porco says it wouldn't have been that easy for Voyager to spot the frosty spray.
"We never got a good look at the southern hemisphere with Voyager; we even missed the tiger stripes back then," she wrote. Porco also said "some of the jets - and maybe all of them - are 'intermittent' in the sense that we expect they could turn on and off on a daily timescale (where 'daily' here means 1.3 Earth days)."
Another raw image provides the best view yet of Prometheus, a "shepherding" moon that along with Pandora helps keep Saturn's F ring in line. This view was captured from a distance of 36,000 miles (59,000 kilometers). A farther-out image from Cassini, released five years ago, shows Prometheus at work.
The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla put together the raw imagery to produce a natural-color composite photo of the moon, which measures 74 miles long and as little as 38 miles wide (119 by 87 by 61 kilometers).
"This is one of the more elongated moons to be seen in the solar system, almost exactly twice as long as it is wide," Lakdawalla observes. "The word 'potato' is commonly used to describe the shape of small bodies in the solar system, but I think that Prometheus, with its pointy ends, looks more like a related vegetable, a yam."
The fact that candied yams are a traditional holiday dish makes Prometheus even more palatable as a year-end picture - and whets the appetite for more from Cassini in the year to come.
NASA's recently launched Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer opened its eyes to the starry sky today, after ejecting its protective cover.
Engineers and scientists say the maneuver went off without a hitch, and everything is working properly. The mission's "first-light" images of the sky will be released to the public in about a month, after the telescope has been fully calibrated.
"The cover floated away as we planned," said William Irace, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Our detectors are soaking up starlight for the first time."
WISE will perform the most detailed infrared survey of the entire sky to date. Its millions of images will expose the dark side of the cosmos -- objects, such as asteroids, stars and galaxies, that are too cool or dusty to be seen with visible light. The telescope will survey the sky one-and-a-half times in nine months, ending its primary mission when the coolant it needs to see infrared light evaporates away.
WISE launched on Dec. 14 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once it was thoroughly checked out in space, it was ready to "flip its lid."
The cover served as the top to a Thermos-like bottle that chilled the instrument -- a 40-centimeter (16-inch) telescope and four infrared detector arrays with one million pixels each. The instrument must be maintained at frosty temperatures, as cold as below 8 Kelvin (minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit), to prevent it from picking up its own heat, or infrared, glow. The cover kept everything cool on the ground by sealing a vacuum space into the instrument chamber. In the same way that Thermos bottles use thin vacuum layers to keep your coffee warm or iced tea cold, the vacuum space inside WISE stopped heat from getting in. Now, space itself will provide the instrument with an even better vacuum than before.
The cover also protected the instrument from stray sunlight and extra heat during launch.
At about 2:30 p.m. PST (5:30 p.m. PST), Dec. 29, engineers sent a command to fire pyrotechnic devices that released nuts holding the cover in place. Three springs were then free to push the cover away and into an orbit closer to Earth than that of the spacecraft.
Scientists and engineers are now busy adjusting the rate of the spacecraft to match the rate of a scanning mirror. To take still images on the sky as it orbits around Earth, WISE will use a scan mirror to counteract its motion. Light from the moving telescope's primary miror will be focused onto the scan mirror, which will move in the opposite direction at the same rate. This allows the mission to take "freeze-frame" snapshots of the sky every 11 seconds. That's about 7,500 images a day.
"It's wonderful to end the year with open WISE eyes," said Peter Eisenhardt, the mission's project scientist at JPL. "Now we can synch WISE up to our scan mirror and get on with the business of exploring the infrared universe."
WISE is scheduled to begin its survey of the infrared heavens in mid-January of 2010.
JPL manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu.
NASA has selected Science and Technology Corp. of Hampton, Va., to provide fabrication support services to NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton.
The value of the indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract is not to exceed $35 million. The period of performance is five years from the effective date, including a one-month phase-in period.
Science and Technology Corp. will provide technical support to fabricate research-oriented electronics circuitry, including circuit assemblies for ground support equipment, aircraft, spaceflight, laboratory, science and research facility instrumentation. Special fabrication operations, procedures and techniques may be required. Services will be performed at Langley, the contractor facility and other sites.
For information about NASA's Langley Research Center, visit:
It's going to take infrared eyes to see farther back in time than even the Hubble Space Telescope, and that's what the James Webb Space Telescope's MIRI or Mid-Infrared Instrument detectors will do. Now there's a new short movie that shows what the MIRI detectors are all about and what they can do.
"The MIRI is one of four science instruments aboard the Webb telescope that is designed to record images and spectra at the longest wavelengths that the Webb telescope can observe," said Matt Greenhouse, Project Scientist for the science instrument payload. "The mid-infrared spectrum covers wavelengths in the range of 5 to 28 micrometers or microns (about 10 to 50 times longer than our eyes can see). Light in this portion of the spectrum is invisible to our eyes but is produced by all room-temperature objects and carries key information about the local and early universe," Greenhouse said. Light at these wavelengths is blocked by water vapor in the earth’s atmosphere and can only be efficiently observed using a telescope in space.
A new video about the MIRI detectors is part of an on-going series called "Behind the Webb" about the James Webb Space Telescope. It was produced and created by the Space Science Telescope Institute (STScI) of Baltimore, Md. and is available at www.webbtelescope.org. Part of the video was shot at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. in January 2009. "It is a broadcast quality video in high definition and will be available in almost a dozen varieties of file formats from Quicktime, to WMV to Flash, to M4V, and all in different sizes," said Mary Estacion, News Video Producer at STScI.
The video runs exactly three minutes and explains how the three detectors on the MIRI work and the tests they endure to prepare them for the Webb telescope's launch and flight in space. The video is hosted by Estacion, who interviewed Dr. Michael Ressler, the MIRI Project Scientist at NASA JPL. In the video, Ressler explains what MIRI detectors do and how the MIRI sensor works by comparing it to a chip on a camera. The video also takes the viewer behind the scenes and into a clean room to show viewers how the MIRI detectors are tested.
The Webb telescope is the largest space observatory ever constructed. As a result, MIRI will have a huge discovery potential and will enable the Webb telescope to achieve over one hundred times the sensitivity of any previous observatory at these wavelengths.
To see the very first stars and galaxies, astronomers have to look deep into space and far back in time. Starlight travels through space at a finite speed (300,000 kilometers/second). So if we observe an object that is 300,000 kilometers away with the Webb telescope, we see it as it was 1 second in the past. Astronomical distances are measured in “light years”, the distance that light travels in a year. Galaxies can be billions of light years away. As a result of this transmission delay, astronomical telescopes, like the Webb, allow astronomers to literally look back in time and see the universe as it was billions of years in the past.
The space that fills the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang. As a consequence of this expansion, the wavelength of ultra-violet and visible light emitted by the first galaxies to form after the Big Bang has been stretched into the infrared portion of the spectrum, and can only be observed by telescopes that are equipped with infrared cameras such as the MIRI. "The Webb observatory design has been optimized to enable infrared observations that will, for the first time, enable astronomers to see the period in the evolution of the universe in which the first galaxies formed," Greenhouse said. "The MIRI will play a key role in enabling the very first observations of the galaxy formation epoch."
In addition to the huge discovery potential, MIRI will provide valuable information in the four areas of the Webb's science objectives: 1) Discovery of the 'first light' emitting objects after the Big Bang; 2) Assembly of galaxies: history of star formation, growth of black holes, prediction of heavy elements; 3) How stars and planetary systems form; and 4) Evolution of planetary systems and conditions for life.
MIRI is an international partnership between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) combining the talents of NASA JPL, a consortium of European partners, and an international science team. The MIRI is designed around performance requirements that were established by a succession of international science working groups that developed the science objectives for the Webb telescope mission.The James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation premier space observatory, exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars. The Webb Telescope will enable scientists to observe the formation and evolution of the first galaxies and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life. The Webb mission is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.To view the new video on MIRI, visit:http://webbtelescope.org/webb_telescope/behind_the_webb/For more information on MIRI, please visit:http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/instruments/miri/To understand the mid-infrared spectrum that the MIRI sees, visit:http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/cosmic_classroom/ir_tutorial/what_is_ir.html
Saturn, stately and resplendent in this natural color view, dwarfs its icy moon Rhea.Rhea (949 miles in diameter) orbits beyond the rings on the right of the image. The moon Tethys is not shown here, but its shadow is visible on the planet on the left of the image. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane.Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Nov. 4, 2009, at a distance of approximately 808,000 miles from Saturn.
From top to bottom, pictured (not to scale) are the moon, Venus, and an asteroid. These three celestial bodies from our solar system are possible candidates for NASA's next space venture. NASA has selected three proposals as candidates for the agency's next space venture to another celestial body in our solar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 may provide a better understanding of Earth's formation or perhaps the origin of life on our planet.
The proposed missions would probe the atmosphere and crust of Venus; return a piece of a near-Earth asteroid for analysis; or drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon's south pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study.
NASA will select one proposal for full development after detailed mission concept studies are completed and reviewed. The studies begin during 2010, and the selected mission must be ready for launch no later than Dec. 30, 2018. Mission cost, excluding the launch vehicle, is limited to $650 million.
"These are projects that inspire and excite young scientists, engineers and the public," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These three proposals provide the best science value among eight submitted to NASA this year."
Each proposal team initially will receive approximately $3.3 million in 2010 to conduct a 12-month mission concept study that focuses on implementation feasibility, cost, management and technical plans. Studies also will include plans for educational outreach and small business opportunities.
The selected proposals are:
- The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer, or SAGE, mission to Venus would release a probe to descend through the planet's atmosphere. During descent, instruments would conduct extensive measurements of the atmosphere's composition and obtain meteorological data. The probe then would land on the surface of Venus, where its abrading tool would expose both a weathered and a pristine surface area to measure its composition and mineralogy. Scientists hope to understand the origin of Venus and why it is so different from Earth. Larry Esposito of the University of Colorado in Boulder, is the principal investigator. The proposed mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Ca.
- The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer spacecraft, called Osiris-Rex, would rendezvous and orbit a primitive asteroid. After extensive measurements, instruments would collect more than two ounces of material from the asteriod's surface for return to Earth. The returned samples would help scientists better undertand and answer long-held questions about the formation of our solar system and the origin of complex molecules necessary for life. Michael Drake, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, is the principal investigator. The proposed mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md
- MoonRise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission would place a lander in a broad basin near the moon's south pole and return approximately two pounds of lunar materials for study. This region of the lunar surface is believed to harbor rocks excavated from the moon's mantle. The samples would provide new insight into the early history of the Earth-moon system. Bradley Jolliff, of Washington University in St. Louis, is the principal investigator with mission management by JPL.
The proposals were submitted to NASA on July 31, 2009, in response to the New Frontiers Program 2009 Announcement of Opportunity. New Frontiers seeks to explore the solar system with frequent, medium-class spacecraft missions that will conduct high-quality, focused scientific investigations designed to enhance understanding of the solar system.
The final selection will become the third mission in the program. New Horizons, NASA's first New Frontiers mission, launched in 2006, will fly by the Pluto-Charon system in 2014 then target another Kuiper Belt object for study. The second mission, called Juno, is designed to orbit Jupiter from pole to pole for the first time, conducting an in-depth study of the giant planet's atmosphere and interior. It is slated for launch in August 2011.
For more information about the New Frontiers Program, visit: http://newfrontiers.nasa.gov
At a very early age, children learn how to classify objects according to their shape. Now, new research suggests studying the shape of the aftermath of supernovas may allow astronomers
to do the same.
A new study of images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory
on supernova remnants -- the debris from exploded stars
- shows that the symmetry of the remnants, or lack thereof, reveals how the star exploded. This is an important discovery because it shows that the remnants retain information about how the star exploded even though hundreds or thousands of years have passed.
"It's almost like the supernova remnants have a 'memory
' of the original explosion," said Laura Lopez
of the University of California at Santa Cruz, who led the study. "This is the first time anyone has systematically compared the shape of these remnants in X-rays in this way."
Astronomers sort supernovas
into several categories, or "types
," based on properties observed days after the explosion and which reflect very different physical mechanisms that cause stars to explode. But, since observed remnants of supernovas
are leftover from explosions that occurred long ago, other methods are needed to accurately classify the original supernovas.Lopez
and colleagues focused on the relatively young supernova remnants that exhibited strong X-ray emission
from silicon ejected by the explosion so as to rule out the effects of interstellar matter surrounding the explosion. Their analysis showed that the X-ray images
of the ejecta can be used to identify the way the star exploded. The team studied 17 supernova remnants
both in the Milky Way galaxy
and a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud.
For each of these remnants there is independent information about the type of supernova
involved, based not on the shape of the remnant but, for example, on the elements observed in it. The researchers found that one type of supernova explosion
-- the so-called Type Ia -- left behind relatively symmetric, circular remnants. This type of supernova is thought to be caused by a thermonuclear explosion of a white dwarf, and is often used by astronomers as "standard candles" for measuring cosmic distances.
On the other hand, the remnants tied to the "core-collapse
explosions were distinctly more asymmetric. This type of supernova occurs when a very massive, young star collapses onto itself and then explodes.
"If we can link supernova
remnants with the type of explosion," said co-author Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, also of University of California, Santa Cruz, "then we can use that information in theoretical models to really help us nail down the details of how the supernovas went off."
Models of core-collapse supernovas must include a way to reproduce the asymmetries measured in this work and models of Type Ia supernovas must produce the symmetric, circular remnants that have been observed.
Out of the 17 supernova remnants sampled, ten were classified as the core-collapse variety, while the remaining seven of them were classified as Type Ia. One of these, a remnant known as SNR 0548-70.4
, was a bit of an "oddball
." This one was considered a Type Ia based on its chemical abundances, but Lopez finds it has the asymmetry of a core-collapse remnant.
"We do have one mysterious object, but we think that is probably a Type Ia with an unusual orientation to our line of sight," said Lopez. "But we'll definitely be looking at that one again."
While the supernova remnants in the Lopez sample were taken from the Milky Way
and its close neighbor, it is possible this technique could be extended to remnants at even greater distances. For example, large, bright supernova remnants in the galaxy M33 could be included in future studies to determine the types of supernova that generated them.
The paper describing these results appeared in the November 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.
More information, including images and other multimedia, can be found at:http://chandra.harvard.edu
NASA's Cassini Spacecraft
has captured the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn's moon Titan, confirming the presence of liquid on the part of the moon dotted with many large, lake-shaped basins.
Cassini scientists had been looking for the glint, also known as a specular reflection, since the spacecraft began orbiting Saturn in 2004. But Titan's northern hemisphere, which has more lakes than the southern hemisphere, has been veiled in winter darkness. The sun only began to directly illuminate the northern lakes recently as it approached the equinox of August 2009, the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. Titan's hazy atmosphere also blocked out reflections of sunlight in most wavelengths. This serendipitous image was captured on July 8, 2009, using Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer.
The new infrared image is available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.
This image will be presented Friday, Dec. 18, at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
"This one image communicates so much about Titan -- thick atmosphere, surface lakes and an otherworldliness," said Bob Pappalardo, Cassini project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It's an unsettling combination of strangeness yet similarity to Earth. This picture is one of Cassini's iconic images."
Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has captivated scientists because of its many similarities to Earth. Scientists have theorized for 20 years that Titan's cold surface hosts seas or lakes of liquid hydrocarbons, making it the only other planetary body besides Earth believed to harbor liquid on its surface. While data from Cassini have not indicated any vast seas, they have revealed large lakes near Titan's north and south poles.
In 2008, Cassini scientists using infrared data confirmed the presence of liquid in Ontario Lacus, the largest lake in Titan's southern hemisphere. But they were still looking for the smoking gun to confirm liquid in the northern hemisphere, where lakes are also larger.
Katrin Stephan, of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin, an associate member of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team, was processing the initial image and was the first to see the glint on July 10th.
"I was instantly excited because the glint reminded me of an image of our own planet taken from orbit around Earth, showing a reflection of sunlight on an ocean," Stephan said. "But we also had to do more work to make sure the glint we were seeing wasn't lightning or an erupting volcano."
Team members at the University of Arizona, Tucson, processed the image further, and scientists were able to compare the new image to radar and near-infrared-light images acquired from 2006 to 2008.
They were able to correlate the reflection to the southern shoreline of a lake called Kraken Mare. The sprawling Kraken Mare covers about 400,000 square kilometers (150,000 square miles), an area larger than the Caspian Sea, the largest lake on Earth. It is located around 71 degrees north latitude and 337 degrees west latitude.
The finding shows that the shoreline of Kraken Mare has been stable over the last three years and that Titan has an ongoing hydrological cycle that brings liquids to the surface, said Ralf Jaumann, a visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team member who leads the scientists at the DLR who work on Cassini. Of course, in this case, the liquid in the hydrological cycle is methane rather than water, as it is on Earth.
"These results remind us how unique Titan is in the solar system," Jaumann said. "But they also show us that liquid has a universal power to shape geological surfaces in the same way, no matter what the liquid is."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Ominous black smoke rose over California
's high desert on a crisp, cold December morning in 1962, and there was no sign of a parachute. Della Mae Bowling, the pilot's office secretary at NASA's Flight Research Center
on Edwards Air Force Base, was crying as fire trucks raced across the vast expanse of Rogers Dry Lake toward the crash scene. But Bowling and others were to learn that what might have been a terrible tragedy turned out instead to be a triumph of piloting skill.
Several years earlier, NASA
had acquired a production Lockheed F-104A
for use as a research aircraft. On April 13, 1959, Neil Armstrong
ferried the supersonic jet from Lockheed's Palmdale, Calif., facility to NASA's Flight Research Center
, where it was equipped with special instrumentation and re-designated as a JF-104A. It initially served as a launch platform for parachute test vehicles and experimental sounding rockets. Later, it was used for mission
support, pilot proficiency and as a chase plane for other research aircraft. In all, seven NASA
pilots flew the airplane 249 times.
On Dec. 20, 1962, NASA
research pilot Milton O. Thompson
was scheduled to evaluate weather conditions over Mud Lake, Nev., in preparation for the launch of an X-15 rocket plane over that area a few hours later. Weather flights were critical because go/no-go decisions were based on real-time observations made along the planned flight path.
Thompson strapped himself into the JF-104A
cockpit, taxied to the runway, took off to the northeast and climbed to cruising altitude. Visibility was clear all along his route. Upon returning to Edwards, Thompson configured the airplane so he could practice simulated X-15
landings on the clay surface of Rogers Dry Lake.
During his first approach he cut throttle, extended speed brakes and began a steep, descending turn toward a runway marked on the lakebed's surface. Decelerating, he lowered the flaps and held 300 knots indicated airspeed as he dove toward the airstrip. The jet lost altitude at a rate of 18,000 feet per minute until he leveled off at 800 feet, lit the afterburner and climbed away.
During his second approach, Thompson
noticed the airplane was rolling to the left. He applied full right aileron and rudder but failed to stop the motion. Seeing his airspeed dropping rapidly, he advanced the throttle to full and relit the afterburner. As his speed increased to 300 knots the roll ceased, leaving the airplane in a 90-degree left bank. Thompson increased his speed to 350 knots to gain more control effectiveness and began to troubleshoot the problem.
Guessing that the airplane was experiencing an asymmetric control condition – either flaps or speed brakes – he repeatedly cycled the roll and yaw dampers, flap-selector switch and speed brakes. He verified that both flaps indicated "up" and visually examined the exterior of the aircraft using his rear-view mirrors. The leading-edge flaps appeared to be up and locked but he couldn't see the trailing-edge flaps. Thompson knew he was in serious trouble and wasn't sure he could land safely. It slowly dawned on him that he might have to eject.
In a last-ditch effort, Thompson radioed NASA-1 – the Flight Operations office
– and urgently asked for fellow research pilot Joe Walker, who was suiting up for his X-15 mission
"Trouble?" Walker asked.
"Right, Joe," said Thompson
, "I'm running out of right aileron."
After a brief discussion, Walker decided one of the flaps might be locked in the down position and suggested that Thompson
cycle the flap lever again. Thompson tried this and immediately knew it was a mistake, as the airplane started to roll rapidly. He soon realized the situation was hopeless.
"She's going, Joe!" he called.
After four complete rolls, Thompson
ejected while inverted. He felt a terrible pain in his neck as the seat's rocket motor blasted him free of the airplane. His body was whipped by air blast, and he began to tumble wildly. After rocket burnout, he separated from the seat but soon realized he was still holding onto the ejection handle. His parachute opened promptly as soon as he released his grip.
Floating gently down from 18,000 feet, Thompson saw the airplane plummet nose-first into the desert and explode on the Edwards bombing range. He was breathing rapidly and felt lightheaded and slightly breathless. After several failed attempts to activate his bailout oxygen bottle, he unfastened his mask and breathed the thin, but fresh, air. He landed softly, gathered up his parachute, and walked to a nearby road.
, the mood was grim. Thompson hadn't had time to inform anyone that he was ejecting and nobody saw his parachute. Their faces bearing shock and tears, NASA
employees stared at the column of thick, black smoke rising in the distance.NASA
Flight Operations chief Joe Vensel
hopped in a car and sped across the lakebed toward the crash site, expecting the worst. To his surprise, he found Thompson waiting calmly by the roadside, apparently unharmed.
An investigation revealed that the accident had most likely been the result of an electrical malfunction in the left trailing-edge flap. The investigating board, headed by Donald R. Bellman, gave Thompson high marks for his actions.
"Throughout the emergency
," the board's report read, "the pilot showed superior skill and judgment, which contributed materially to his own safety and to the understanding of the causes of the aircraft loss."
The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft
is rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Friday, Dec. 18, 2009. The launch of the Soyuz spacecraft
with Expedition 22 NASA
Flight Engineer Timothy J. Creamer of the U.S., Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov of Russia and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi of Japan, is scheduled for Monday, Dec., 21, 2009 at 3:52a.m. Kazakhstan time.
The International Space Station
hosts astronauts, gear and science from around the world. Three laboratories from Europe, Japan and the United States bring them all together for the most advanced research and development. More than 150 experiments involving researchers from around the world are active at any given time.
Image above: The International Space Station’s coordinate system. Credit: NASA
While the space station is the most advanced spacecraft
ever built, its coordinate system is labeled like any sea-faring vessel on Earth
using traditional nautical terms. Understanding this coordinate system will help you use this interactive and understand the relative positions of the onboard experiment facilities.
The orbiting laboratory’s left and right sides are designated as port and starboard respectively. The rear of the station
is the aft section where the Russian Zvezda service module is located. The front of the station
, where the U.S. Harmony module is located, is labeled the forward section. The side of the station facing the Earth
is the deck and the opposite side is the overhead.
Inside the station
’s three international laboratory modules are numerous racks that support science, environmental and electrical systems. Depending on which side the laboratory is facing in the station
’s coordinate system the racks’ locations are labeled using nautical terms. The International Space Station
Laboratory Racks interactive depicts these racks and their locations inside the orbiting lab.> View Interactive
The Columbus laboratory is on the station
’s port side and the Kibo laboratory is on the starboard side. Their labs are set up with the racks in the aft, forward and overhead, deck configuration. Both labs are attached to the U.S. Harmony
node which is in the forward section of the space station.
The U.S. Destiny laboratory is just behind the Harmony Node. Its racks are set up in the port, starboard and overhead, deck configuration.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
has made the deepest image of the universe ever taken in near-infrared light. The faintest and reddest objects in the image are galaxies
that formed 600 million years after the Big Bang. No galaxies have been seen before at such early times. The new deep view also provides insights into how galaxies
grew in their formative years early in the universe's history.
Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory and the University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (UCO/Lick Observatory and Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team. › Larger image
The image was taken in the same region as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field
), which was taken in 2004 and is the deepest visible-light image of the universe
. Hubble's newly installed Wide Field Camera 3
(WFC3) collects light from near-infrared wavelengths and therefore looks even deeper into the universe
, because the light from very distant galaxies is stretched out of the ultraviolet and visible regions of the spectrum into near-infrared wavelengths by the expansion of the universe.
This image was taken by the HUDF09 team
, that was awarded the time for the observation and made it available for research by astronomers worldwide. In just three months, 12 scientific papers have already been submitted on these new data.
The photo was taken with the new WFC3/IR camera
on Hubble in late August 2009 during a total of four days of pointing for 173,000 seconds of total exposure time. Infrared light is invisible and therefore does not have colors that can be perceived by the human eye. The colors in the image are assigned comparatively short, medium, and long, near-IR wavelengths (blue, 1.05 microns; green, 1.25 microns; red, 1.6 microns). The representation is "natural" in that blue objects look blue and red objects look red. The faintest objects are about one billionth as bright as can be seen with the naked eye.
These Hubble observations are trailblazing a path for Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope
), which will look even farther into the universe than Hubble, at infrared wavelengths. The JWST
is planned to be launched in 2014.
The HUDF09 team members are Garth Illingworth (University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory and the University of California, Santa Cruz), Rychard Bouwens (University of California Observatories/Lick Observatory and Leiden University), Pascal Oesch and Marcella Carollo (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH)), Marijn Franx (Leiden University), Ivo Labbe (Carnegie Institute of Washington), Daniel Magee (University of California, Santa Cruz), Massimo Stiavelli (Space Telescope Science Institute), Michele Trenti (University of Colorado, Boulder), and Pieter van Dokkum (Yale University).
The Hubble Space Telescope
is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA
's Goddard Space Flight Center
manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science
Institute conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA
by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
, Inc., in Washington, and is an International Year of Astronomy 2009
program partner.Images and more information are available at:› HubbleSite› Space Telescope Science Institute› NASA Hubble page› Series of STSI images
NASA aeronautics researchers recently dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet (10.7 m) to see whether an expandable honeycomb cushion called a deployable energy absorber could lessen the destructive force of a crash.
On impact, the helicopter's skid landing gear bent outward, but the cushion attached to its belly kept the rotorcraft's bottom from touching the ground. Four crash test dummies along for the ride appeared only a little worse for the wear.
Researchers must analyze the test results before they can say for sure whether the deployable energy absorber worked as designed.
"I'd like to think the research we're doing is going to end up in airframes and will potentially save lives," said Karen Jackson, an aerospace engineer who oversaw the test at NASA
's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, more than 200 people are injured in helicopter accidents in the United States each year, in part because helicopters fly in riskier conditions than most other aircraft. They fly close to the ground, not far from power lines and other obstacles, and often are used for emergencies, including search and rescue and medical evacuations.
For the test at Langley, researchers used an MD-500 helicopter donated by the U.S. Army. The rotorcraft was equipped with instruments that collected 160 channels of data. One of the four crash test dummies was a special torso model equipped with simulated internal organs. It came from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.
Technicians outfitted the underside of the helicopter's crew and passenger compartment with the deployable energy absorber. Created by engineer Sotiris Kellas at Langley, the device is made of Kevlar and has a unique flexible hinge design that allows the honeycomb to be packaged and remain flat until needed.
Kellas initially came up with the idea as a way to cushion the next generation of astronaut-carrying space capsules, but soon realized it had many other possible applications. So the concept became part of a helicopter drop test for the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington.
Jackson said researchers tested the deployable energy absorber under realistic conditions. "We crash-tested the helicopter by suspending it about 35 feet (10.7 m) into the air using cables. Then, as it swung to the ground, we used pyrotechnics to remove the cables just before the helicopter hit so that it reacted like it would in a real accident," she explained.
The test conditions imitated what would be a relatively severe helicopter crash. The flight path angle was about 33 degrees and the combined forward and vertical speeds were about 48 feet per second or 33 miles per hour (14.6 meters per second, 53.1 kph).
"We got data to validate our integrated computer models that predict how all parts of the helicopter and the occupants react in a crash. Plus the torso model test dummy will help us assess internal injuries to occupants during a helicopter crash."
Engineers say the MD-500 survived relatively intact as a result of the honeycomb cushion. They plan to recycle the helicopter and drop it again next year, but without the deployable energy absorber attached, in order to compare the results.
Bob Youngquist rarely is happier than when he’s solving problems for the space program.
As someone might expect, the launch business offers plenty of unusual opportunities for Youngquist and NASA Kennedy Space Center
's Applied Physics Laboratory, which he leads.
A day can bring in a request to find a better way to dry a shuttle's heat shield tile, a need to improve an existing hydrogen fire detector or a chance to predict the outcome if a solid rocket booster accidentally ignited inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.
"I come into work every day expecting to think and hoping to solve something," Youngquist said. "Anytime where you can come to work and it's a different duty. I don't see how you could have a better job than that."
His enthusiasm and the solutions developed by him and the lab earned the 20-year Kennedy veteran the center's first Engineer/Scientist of the Year award.
It's a far different career outcome than Youngquist expected.
Youngquist earned two bachelor's degrees in math and physics and then turned to applied physics for his master's degree. He followed that with a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University in California.
"I was planning on being a professor," the physicist said. "I had never considered aerospace."
Working at University College London in England was wearing Youngquist out, though, and he came back to the United States.
Youngquist had lived in Florida since he was seven, having moved down from New York, so the Space Coast was a natural home base for him. He took a post with a contractor in 1988, then moved to a NASA position in 1999.
With a specialty in fiber optics just as the field was burgeoning, Youngquist earned nine patents. His work at Kennedy would earn nine more.
Throughout the 1990s, almost all the work the lab did was focused on the Space Shuttle Program. It often dealt with ground support equipment, launch needs and inventions to help analyze shuttle components after a mission
The current decade has seen a shift as the engineers turn their attention to the needs of the Constellation Program. They also work with the Launch Services Program on the expendable rockets that loft scientific and observation spacecraft for the agency. These days, shuttle
program work accounts for 40 percent of the lab's manifest.
Still, Youngquist said he doesn't know what to expect. Depending on the problem, a solution can be as simple as suggesting a new way to do something, or it might require an invention.
"There have been so many unique days out here," he said. "I spent a Sunday afternoon at the top of the fixed service structure with acoustic equipment measuring the pressure waves as they set cannons off to scare away birds."
With seven other NASA engineers in the lab, Youngquist doesn't have to research and solve each problem himself.
"It's a very diverse lab and we get involved with a large number of activities," he said.
The award also is a recognition of Youngquist's work with students and engineers working toward higher degrees.
When engineering and math students visit the lab, Youngquist said that "in almost every case these students unanimously agree that this is where they would like to work."
The launch of NASA
's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE
, aboard a Delta II rocket is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, between 9:09 a.m. and 9:23 a.m. EST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. NASA
will provide television and Internet coverage of prelaunch activities and liftoff of the agency's latest space science mission
After launch, WISE
will scan the entire sky in infrared light with a sensitivity hundreds of times greater than ever before, picking up the glow of hundreds of millions of objects and producing millions of images. The mission will uncover objects never seen before, including the coolest stars, the universe's most luminous galaxies and some of the darkest near-Earth asteroids and comets.
A prelaunch news conference will be held Dec. 9 at 4 p.m. at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office and broadcast on NASA Television
. Reporters can ask questions from participating NASA
centers. A WISE mission science
briefing immediately will follow the prelaunch news conference. The briefings will be webcast at:
A WISE webcast with launch and mission managers is scheduled for noon Dec. 10. To access WISE features, visit NASA's WISE Web site at:
On Dec. 11, NASA TV coverage of the countdown and launch will begin at 7 a.m. Launch coverage of countdown activities also will be available on the NASA Web site at:
Audio of the prelaunch news conference and launch coverage will be available by dialing 321-867-1220/1240/1260. This is a listen-only audio system. Mission audio of countdown activities without NASA launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at 6 a.m. Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog starts at 7 a.m. The coverage will feature real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.
The WISE mission news center is operational at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office. Reporters should call 805-605-3051 for launch information. Recorded status reports also are available by dialing 805-734-2693.
and the Arab Youth Venture Foundation
in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE
) have partnered to provide three to 12 UAE
engineering students each year the opportunity to work with U.S. students, scientists, and engineers on NASA missions
. The program's goal is to engage outstanding college students from the UAE
in fields of science, technology, engineering and aerospace.
"The space program has a unique ability to inspire students to pursue excellence in disciplines that drive science and technology innovation," said Joyce Winterton, assistant administrator for education at NASA Headquarters
in Washington. "With this Space Act Agreement, NASA
will engage outstanding students in the UAE to continue their development in the critical skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics."
Under this program, UAE
students will join U.S. students in a research project administered by the Education Associates Program at NASA's Ames Research Center
in Mountain View, Calif. UAE student involvement will provide U.S. student participants with valuable experience and knowledge about working together with representatives from other countries. The Education Associates Program anticipates its first group of Education Research Fellows in January 2010. Corporations and government entities in the UAE
will sponsor the foundation's activities in full, including costs related to student lodging, housing, and transportation.
"There is much work to be done to promote and deliver inspired science, technology, education, aerospace and math education in the Arab world that is hands-on and conducted in real world settings," said Lisa-Renee LaBonte, chief executive officer of the Arab Youth Venture Foundation. "This groundbreaking program, administered by NASA, will provide select UAE citizens the opportunity to work with NASA scientists
, and engineers
on actual NASA missions
Founded in Ras Al Khaimah, the Arab Youth Venture Foundation is dedicated to imagining and bringing to life initiatives that nurture the innovative spirits and entrepreneurial mindsets of youth aged six to 21 across the Arab world. The foundation's goal is to create activities that develop the next generation of scientific researchers, engineers, inventors, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs.
Since 1998, the Education Associates Program has placed more than 1,500 U.S. students from schools throughout the country in research positions working on NASA missions
. Cooperation with the Arab Youth Venture Foundation will provide future U.S. participants in this NASA
sponsored program at Ames with valuable cultural exposure and experience in working with their international counterparts.
This new partnership and NASA
's many other education programs play a key role in preparing, inspiring, exciting, encouraging, and nurturing students in the critical disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Learn more about NASA's education programs
The lunar landing site was the Taurus-Littrow highlands and valley area. This site was picked for Apollo 17 as a location where rocks both older and younger than those previously returned from other Apollo missions, as well as from Luna 16 and 20 missions, might be found.
The mission was the final in a series of three J-type missions planned for the Apollo Program. These J-type missions can be distinguished from previous G- and H-series missions by extended hardware capability, larger scientific payload capacity and by the use of the battery-powered Lunar Roving Vehicle
, or LRV
Scientific objectives of the Apollo 17 mission
included, geological surveying and sampling of materials and surface features in a preselected area of the Taurus-Littrow region; deploying and activating surface experiments; and conducting in-flight experiments and photographic tasks during lunar orbit and transearth coast. These objectives included deployed experiments, such as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package
, or ALSEP
, with a heat flow experiment; lunar seismic profiling
, or LSP
; lunar surface gravimeter
, or LSG
; lunar atmospheric composition experiment
, or LACE
; and lunar ejecta and meteorites, or LEAM. The mission also included lunar sampling and lunar orbital experiments. Biomedical experiments included the Biostack II
experiment and the BIOCORE
At 9:15:29 a.m. GMT Dec. 7, 1972, the command and service module, or CSM, was separated from the S-IVB. Approximately 15 min later, the CSM docked with the lunar module, or LM. After CSM/LM extraction from the S-IVB, the S-IVB was targeted for lunar impact, which occurred Dec. 10, at 8:32:43 p.m. The impact location was approximately 84 nautical miles northwest of the planned target point and the event was recorded by the passive seismic experiments deployed on the Apollos 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions.
Only one of the four planned midcourse corrections was required during translunar coast. A midcourse correction made at 5:03 p.m. Dec. 8, was a 1.6 second service propulsion system burn resulting in a 10>:5 feet/second velocity change. Lunar orbit insertion was accomplished at 7:47:23 p.m. Dec. 10, placing the spacecraft into a lunar orbit of 170 by 52.6 nautical miles. Approximately four hours, 20 minutes later, the orbit was reduced to 59 by 15 nautical miles. The spacecraft remained in this low orbit for more than 18 hours, during which time the CSM/LM undocking and separation were performed. The CSM circularization maneuver was performed at 6:50:29 p.m. Dec. 11, which placed the CSM into an orbit of 70.3 by 54.3 nautical miles. At 2:35 p.m. Dec. 11, the commander and lunar module pilot entered the LM to prepare for descent to the lunar surface. At 6:55:42 p.m. Dec. 11, the LM was placed into an orbit with a perilune altitude of 6.2 nautical miles. Approximately 47 minutes later, the powered descent to the lunar surface began. Landing occurred at 7:54:57 p.m. Dec. 11, at lunar latitude 20 degrees, 10 minutes north, and longitude 30 degrees 46 minutes east. Apollo 17 was the last lunar landing mission. Three extravehicular activities, or EVAs, lasted a total of 22 hours, four minutes on the lunar surface. EVA No. 1 began at 11:54:49 p.m. Dec. 11, with Eugene Cernan egressing at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 12. The first EVA was seven hours, 12 minutes long and was completed at 7:06:42 a.m. Dec. 12. The second EVA began at 11:28:06 p.m. Dec. 12, and lasted seven hours, 37 minutes, ending at at 7:05:02 a.m. Dec. 13. The final EVA began at 10:25:48 p.m. Dec. 13, and ended at 5:40:56 a.m. Dec. 14.
The LM ascent stage lifted off the moon at 10:54:37 p.m. Dec. 14. After a vernier adjustment maneuver, the ascent stage was inserted into a 48.5 by 9.4 nautical mile orbit. The LM terminal phase initiation burn was made at 11:48:58 p.m. Dec. 14. This 3.2 second maneuver raised the ascent stage orbit to 64.7 by 48.5 nautical miles. The CSM and LM docked at 1:10:15 a.m. The LM ascent stage was jettisoned at 4:51:31 a.m. Dec. 15. Deorbit firing of the ascent stage was initiated at 6:31:14 a.m. Dec. 15, and lunar impact occurred 19 minutes, seven seconds later approximately 0.7 nautical miles from the planned target at latitude 19 degrees, 56 minutes north, and longitude 30 degrees, 32 minutes east. The ascent stage impact was recorded by the four Apollo 17 geophones, and by each ALSEP at Apollos 12, 14, 15 and 16 landing sites.
Ronald Evans performed a transearth EVA at 8:27:40 p.m. Dec. 17, that lasted one hour, six minutes, during which time the Command Module Pilot Stuart A. Roosa retrieved the lunar sounder film, as well as the panoramic and mapping camera film cassettes.
Apollo 17 hosted the first scientist-astronaut to land on moon: Harrison Schmitt. The sixth automated research station was set up. The lunar rover vehicle traversed a total of 30.5 kilometers. Lunar surface-stay time was 75 hours, and lunar orbit time 17 hours. Astronauts gathered 110.4 kilograms, or 243 pounds, of material.
are one of the best meteor showers of the year and never seem to disappoint observers! Join Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office, located at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
, in a live web chat on Friday, December 11 from 3:00-4:00 EST to learn more about the Geminids meteor shower.
This meteor shower gets the name "Geminids
" because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini. For the best viewing opportunity, go outside, take a blanket and something hot to drink, lay on your back and look up into the night sky
. Best viewing time is between midnight and dawn on December 13-14.
An observer in the Northern hemisphere can start seeing the Geminids
meteors as early as December 6, when one meteor every hour or so could be visible. During the next week, rates increase until a peak of 50-80 meteors per hour is attained on the night of December 13-14. The last Geminids
are seen on December 18, when an observer might see a rate of one or so every hour.History of the Geminids
The initial appearance of the Geminids meteor shower
came fairly sudden during the 1860s. The first notation of the shower occurred in 1862 at Manchester, England. During the 1870s, observations of the Geminids
became more numerous as astronomers realized a new annual shower was active.
The first estimate of the strength of Geminids
came in 1877 with an hourly rate given at about 14. Rates increased slightly during the remainder of the 19th century to about 23 an hour. Reported rates continued to increase through most of the 20th century. During the 1900s, rates averaged about 20 per hour. The rates averaged near 50 per hour during the 1930s, 60 per hour during the 1940s and 1950s, 65 per hour during the 1960s and 80 per hour during the 1970s. The rates stayed near 80 per hour during the remainder of that century.
The first official NASA
App invites you to discover a wealth of NASA information
right on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The NASA
App collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated information, images and videos from various online NASA
sources in a convenient mobile package. Come explore with us.Features:
- NASA Mission Information
- Launch Information & Countdown clocks
- Sighting Opportunities (Visible Passes for ISS, Space Shuttle)
- Mission Orbit Trackers
- NASA Image of the Day
- Astronomy Picture of the Day
- NASA Videos
- NASA Twitter Feeds/Mission Updates
What's New In This Version:
- Visible sighting opportunities listed for the International space station (ISS) and Space Shuttle, by home location and through search for location
- Richer Mission details and more content
- Enhancements to Videos and Updates panels
- High-resolution image option (configured in device settings)
- Status updates on upcoming launches
- Prevent sleep mode setting for tracking launches (configured in device settings)
The Application Features These Screens:
For more information about the NASA's App for iPhone or iPod touch, visit:
Tune in to see middle- and high-school teams showcase their inventions -- cardboard bridges capable of carrying up to 235 pounds (107 kilograms) -- in this year's Invention Challenge hosted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, Calif.
The live event will air on the "NASAJPL" channel available on Ustream TV at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasajpl on Dec. 11 starting at 11:30 a.m. PST (2:30 p.m. EST and 1930 UTC).
Twenty student teams from throughout Southern California will watch to see if their bridges remain standing as bricks get piled on. Ten teams of JPL engineers and scientists will also compete in this friendly but challenging contest.
The bridges must meet certain requirements: they must be made of cardboard or paper products, use reasonable amounts of glue, span a 1.2 meter (48 inch) gap, and be no more than 45.7 centimeters (18 inches) wide. The bridges must carry standard-sized bricks (between one and 44) that weigh about 2.42 kilograms (5.35 pounds) each.
More information about the Invention Challenge is available at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/inventionchallenge/2009/.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managed by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
Talented engineering students who have ideas on how future explorers might live on the moon could find themselves working at NASA
as paid interns.
The 2010 NASA Moon Work
engineering design challenge seeks to motivate college students by giving them first-hand experience with the process of developing new technologies. To participate in the contest, students will submit their original design for tools or instruments that can help astronauts live and work on the moon. Top-ranked students will be offered a chance to intern with a team from NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program
The Exploration Technology Development Program develops new technologies that will enable NASA
to conduct future human exploration missions while reducing mission risk and cost. The program is maturing near-term technologies to help enable the first flight of the Orion crew exploration vehicle and developing long-lead technologies needed for possible lunar exploration missions.
Winning Moon Work contestants also will have a chance to attend field tests conducted by the Desert Research and Technology Studies Program, managed by NASA's Johnson Space Center
in Houston. The program conducts annual tests of new technologies in landscapes that are close analogs of the moon and other harsh space environments.
Students should submit a notice of intent to enter the contest by Dec. 15. Final entries for the Moon Work challenge are due May 15, 2010. All entries must be from students at U.S. colleges or universities. Although non-citizens may be part of a team, only U.S. citizens may win NASA
internships or travel awards.
For complete details and to enter the contest, visit:
Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., manages the student contest for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and NASA's Langley Research Center
in Hampton, Va.
Through this and NASA
's other college and university programs, the agency is developing student skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- disciplines critical to achieving the agency's space exploration missions
For more information about NASA's education programs
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of people continuously living aboard the International Space Station
is providing a special 2010 calendar to teachers and the public.
The calendar contains unique images and highlights historic space exploration milestones and educational facts about the international laboratory. Each month has its own theme and offers a glimpse into topics such as a typical day in the life of a crew member, the staff that supports the station, and the massive dimensions of the orbiting research facility.
The calendar is available for free download at:
"As we enter into our 10th year of human presence on the space station, we celebrate that fact and acknowledge the success of the station as one of the greatest technological, political and engineering accomplishments in human history," said Space Station
Program Manager Mike Suffredini
. "I hope people enjoy the calendar and are inspired to learn something new and exciting about NASA
and the station throughout the year."
Nearly 100,000 copies of the calendar are being delivered to classrooms in all 50 states through NASA
education programs and affiliated education networks.
For more information about NASA's education programs
has invited more than 350 student rocketeers from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities -- 37 teams nationwide -- to take part in the 2009-2010 NASA
Student Launch Projects. Their challenge is to build powerful rockets of their own design, complete with a working science payload, and launch them to an altitude of 1 mile.
These annual rocketeering projects are the Student Launch Initiative for middle school and high school teams and the University Student Launch Initiative for colleges and universities. Both challenges are designed to inspire students to parlay their interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics into rewarding careers in fields critical to NASA's mission
of exploration and scientific discovery.
Beginning in the fall school term, each team will spend approximately eight months designing, building and field-testing their rocket. They address the same physics, propulsion and flight challenges faced by professional rocket engineers. The students also must challenge themselves as scientists, creating a unique, on-board science
experiment that can survive the mile-high flight and yield test results after the vehicle parachutes back to Earth.
In addition, teams will create a project Web site, write multiple preliminary and post-launch reports, and develop educational engagement projects for schools and youth organizations in their communities. The goal is to inspire even younger generations of future explorers.
The Student Launch Projects will conclude April 15-18, 2010, when the teams gather at NASA
's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Marshall manages the projects. NASA engineers
will put the students' rockets through a professional design review similar to that undertaken for every NASA
launch. The students then will embark on a two-day "launchfest" at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., where they are cheered on each year by hundreds of Marshall team members and North Alabama rocket enthusiasts.
"The participants in NASA's Student
Launch Projects continue to demonstrate the sky is no limit for enterprising young minds committed to creativity, innovation and teamwork," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Academic Affairs Office at Marshall, which organizes the event. "As a new rocket-building season gets under way and we head toward another exhilarating launch event next April, many of these industrious young people are headed toward rewarding careers in which they'll lead new journeys of exploration and discovery -- not just to Earth's lower troposphere, but to other worlds."
New Student Launch Initiative teams hail from middle schools and high schools in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Returning teams are from Illinois, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Middle school and high school teams taking part in the Student Launch Initiative are eligible to participate in the challenges up to two years. Each new team receives a $3,700 grant and a travel stipend from NASA
, and each returning team receives a $2,450 grant.
New University Student Launch Initiative teams represent colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas. Returning teams hail from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee. College and university teams taking part in the University Student Launch Initiative seek funding from their state's Space Grant Consortium, and are not limited to two years of eligibility. The University Student Launch Initiative is a competitive event sponsored by ATK Space Systems
of Magna, Utah, which contributes prizes, including a $5,000 check for the first-place winner.
The Student Launch Projects are collaboratively sponsored by NASA's Exploration Systems
Mission Directorate, Space Operations Mission Directorate and Education Flight Projects. NASA held the first student launch event in 2001. As its popularity grew, NASA created in 2006 the twin challenges of the Student Launch Initiative for middle schools and high schools and the University Student Launch Initiative for colleges and universities. Marshall issues a request for proposals each fall.
For more information about the Student Launch Projects and a list of participating schools, visit:
For more information about other NASA education initiatives, visit:
will take its Earth science research
and educational programs before a world-wide audience Dec. 7-18 during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. NASA
is one of several U.S. government agencies supporting the first-ever U.S. Center, an outreach initiative housed in Copenhagen’s Bella Conference Center.
Organized by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Center will host more than 60 events during the conference. The center's meeting room is a 100-seat auditorium where U.S. and international leaders in the fight against climate change will headline presentations on a wide range of critical initiatives, policies, and scientific research. The center's reception room serves as a welcome area where visitors can learn more about U.S. climate actions and programs.
The reception room will feature displays and videos using data from U.S. satellites, including NASA
's fleet of Earth-observing research spacecraft. Some of this imagery will be shown on the "Science On a Sphere
" projection system, a six-foot, computer-driven globe that displays animated images of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere. NASA scientists
also will be on hand to discuss agency research and programs with visitors.
The U.S. Center, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time daily, is located in Hall C5 of the Bella Conference Center. NASA
is sponsoring the following presentations during the Copenhagen conference:State of the Science: Earth's Changing Polar Ice Cover
The presentation will feature the latest observations and research findings on shrinking Arctic sea ice and the rapidly changing ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Speaker: Waleed Abdalati, University of Colorado (Dec. 7, meeting room).Climate Change Impacts on Civilizations: Lessons from Space Archaeology
NASA is pioneering the use of satellite observations to read the clues of how ancient civilizations reacted to changes in climate. Speakers: Tom Sever, University of Alabama; Ron Blom, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Dec. 7, meeting room)."Extreme Ice" Multimedia Presentation
See images from the most wide-ranging glacier study ever conducted using ground-based, real-time photography. Speaker: James Balog, Extreme Ice Survey (Dec. 7, meeting room; Dec. 9 and 16, reception room).Student Climate Research Campaign
This is a showcase of research projects by secondary school students from around the world conducted through the NASA-sponsored Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. Speaker: Donna Charlevoix, University of Colorado (Dec. 8, reception room).International Global Climate Change Observation from Space
NASA plays a leadership role in the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites. The committee’s international member agencies operate and plan missions to measure critical components of climate change. Speakers: Jack Kaye, NASA's Earth Science Division; Makoto Kajii, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Dec. 11, meeting room).The World's Forests as Carbon Sinks and Sources
This presentation will feature the latest scientific knowledge on how forests absorb and release carbon, and how human activities have changed that balance. Speaker: Jeffery Masek, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (Dec. 11, meeting room).
Many of the meeting room events will be webcast live on the State Department conference Web site. For a complete schedule of events, visit:http://cop15.state.gov
Regular updates on events during the conference will be posted at:
For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:
NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has awarded a contract to Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville to provide information technology services at the center.
The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract begins Feb. 1, 2010, with a two-year base period. The contract may be followed by a two-year option and a one-year option, exercised at NASA's discretion
. The total value of the contract, if all options are exercised, is approximately $335 million.
Dynetics will provide managerial and technical expertise to Marshall and support the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Excluding Local Area Networks and desktop services, Dynetics will provide information technology security, planning, policy, architecture and integration services; telecommunication services; applications and Web services; computer services and audio visual informational services.
The contract is a follow-on effort to the Marshall-unique information technology services portion of the Unified NASA Information Technology Services
, or UNITeS
For more information about NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
Nominated by President Barack Obama
and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lori Beth Garver began her duties as the Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009.
As deputy administrator, Garver is NASA
's second in command. She is responsible to the administrator for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for the agency. Garver represents NASA
to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities. She also oversees the work of NASA
’s functional offices, including the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of General Counsel and Office of Strategic Communications.
Garver's confirmation as deputy administrator marks the second time she has worked for NASA
. Her first stint at the agency was from 1996 to 2001. Initially, she served as a special assistant to the NASA administrator and senior policy analyst for the Office of Policy and Plans, before becoming the associate administrator for the Office of Policy and Plans. Reporting to the NASA administrator, she oversaw the analysis, development and integration of policies and long-range plans, the NASA Strategic Management System, and the NASA Advisory Council
A native of Michigan, Garver was born May 22, 1961. She graduated from Haslett High School in Haslett, Michigan, in 1979 and four years later, in 1983, she earned a bachelor's degree in political science and economics from Colorado College. Her focus turned to space when she accepted a job working for Sen. John Glenn from 1983 to 1984. She since has served in a variety of senior roles in the nonprofit, government and commercial sectors.
Garver worked at the newly formed National Space Society from 1984 to 1996, becoming its second executive director in 1987. She served as the society's primary spokesperson, making frequent appearances on national television and regularly testifying on Capitol Hill. During that time, she also earned a master's degree in science, technology
and public policy from George Washington University in 1989.
After working at NASA from 1996 to 2001, Garver was employed as the vice president of DFI Corporate Services from 2001 to 2003. From January 2001 until her nomination as NASA's deputy administrator, she was a full-time consultant as the president of Capital Space, LLC, and senior advisor for space at the Avascent Group. In these roles, she provided strategic planning, technology feasibility research and business development assistance, as well as merger, acquisition and strategic alliance support, to financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies.
Garver was the lead civil space policy advisor for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and helped guide the agency review team for NASA during the post-election transition. Previously, she served as the lead space policy advisor for the Hillary Clinton and John Kerry campaigns for president and represented them at various events and conferences. Garver has held numerous advocacy roles for space exploration as a member of the NASA Advisory Council,
a guest lecturer at the International Space University
, president and board member of Women in Aerospace, and president of the American Astronautical Society. She lives in Virginia with her husband, David Brandt, and their sons Wesley and Mitchell.
Nominated by President Barack Obama
and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., began his duties as the twelfth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009. As Administrator, he leads the NASA
team and manages its resources to advance the agency's missions and goals.
Bolden's confirmation marks the beginning of his second stint with the nation's space agency. His 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA
's Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew. Prior to Bolden
's nomination for the NASA Administrator's job, he was employed as the Chief Executive Officer of JACKandPANTHER LLC
, a small business enterprise providing leadership, military and aerospace consulting, and motivational speaking.
A resident of Houston, Bolden was born Aug. 19, 1946, in Columbia, S.C. He graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in 1964 and received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. Bolden earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical science in 1968 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. After completing flight training in 1970, he became a naval aviator. Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, while stationed in Namphong, Thailand, from 1972-1973.
After returning to the U.S., Bolden served in a variety of positions in the Marine Corps in California and earned a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. Following graduation, he was assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md., and completed his training in 1979. While working at the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980.
Bolden's NASA astronaut
career included technical assignments as the Astronaut Office Safety Officer; Technical Assistant to the director of Flight Crew Operations; Special Assistant to the Director of the Johnson Space Center; Chief of the Safety Division at Johnson (overseeing safety efforts for the return to flight after the 1986 Challenger accident); lead astronaut for vehicle test and checkout at the Kennedy Space Center; and Assistant Deputy Administrator at NASA Headquarters. After his final space shuttle flight in 1994, he left the agency to return to active duty the operating forces in the Marine Corps as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Bolden was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the Pacific in 1997. During the first half of 1998, he served as Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. Bolden was promoted to his final rank of major general in July 1998 and named Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Japan. He later served as the Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., from 2000 until 2002, before retiring from the Marine Corps in 2003. Bolden's many military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.
Bolden is married to the former Alexis (Jackie) Walker of Columbia, S.C. The couple has two children: Anthony Che, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps who is married to the former Penelope McDougal of Sydney, Australia, and Kelly Michelle, a medical doctor now serving a fellowship in plastic surgery.