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NASA Updates

Discussion in 'Education & Research' started by layman, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Astronauts complete spacewalk to retrofit space station
    Sat, 25 Mar 2017-12:58pm , Reuters
    Two spacewalking astronauts floated outside the station's airlock as the $100 billion complex soared 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.

    Two spacewalking astronauts ventured outside the International Space Station on Friday for a 6-1/2-hour spacewalk, the first of three to prepare the orbiting laboratory for future commercial space taxis and to tackle maintenance chores, NASA TV showed.

    U.S. station commander Shane Kimbrough, 49, and French flight engineer Thomas Pesquet, 39, floated outside the station's airlock as the $100 billion complex soared 250 miles (402 km) above Earth. Kimbrough, making his fifth spacewalk, first upgraded a computer relay box on the station's central beam, then worked on a docking system for new spaceships in development by Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

    The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is making the retrofits in the hope that private companies will begin flying astronauts to the station by the end of 2018. This would break Russia's monopoly on crew transportation, a service that costs NASA more than $80 million per person.

    The first of the space taxis is scheduled for an unmanned debut test flight later this year. During Friday's spacewalk, Kimbrough disconnected four cables on a docking tunnel to be used by the new commercial space taxis. On Sunday, ground control teams will use the station's robot arm to move it onto a different module. The astronauts also lubricated part of the station's robot arm, replaced cameras on Japan's experiment platform and tackled other maintenance tasks before heading back inside the station.

    A second spacewalk by Pesquet and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is planned for Thursday to install new cables to the relocated docking tunnel. Once all the work is finished, the U.S. side of the station will have two docking ports for passenger spaceships and two for cargo ships. Russia, which jointly operates the station with NASA, has five docking ports. Also participating in the station program with research modules and equipment are Europe, Japan and Canada.

    During Friday's spacewalk, Pesquet inspected hoses, attachments and other components of the station's ammonia cooling system. Flight controllers are looking for the source of a small leak in the system. Pesquet, making his second spacewalk, did not see any leaking ammonia but engineers will review his video for closer scrutiny, said NASA mission commentator Gary Jordan. NASA is expected to schedule a third spacewalk once its next cargo ship arrives at the station with more items to install. Engineers are troubleshooting a problem with the cargo ship's launch vehicle.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/rep...e-spacewalk-to-retrofit-space-station-2367862
     
  2. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Five astronauts assigned to future ISS mission: NASA
    Wed, 29 Mar 2017-11:47am , PTI


    NASA has assigned five astronauts for upcoming missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the US space agency said.

    Astronauts Joe Acaba, Ricky Arnold, Nick Hague, Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Shannon Walker all have begun training for missions launching later this year and throughout 2018.

    Acaba will be the first to launch, assigned to the Expedition 53 and 54 crews that already include Mark Vande Hei of NASA, and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

    They will launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in September.

    Walker will train as a dedicated backup for Acaba.

    Arnold will join NASA's Drew Feustel and a Russian cosmonaut for Expeditions 55 and 56 to launch in March 2018.

    Arnold and Acaba's assignments were enabled by the recent agreement to add additional crew members in 2017 and 2018 to boost space station science and research.

    First-time fliers Hague and Aunon-Chancellor will fall into the standard rotation for NASA astronauts. Hague will launch in September 2018 on Expeditions 57 and 58 with two Russian cosmonauts.

    Aunon-Chancellor will join the Expedition 58 and 59 crews in November 2018, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and a Russian cosmonaut.

    "It's great to get to announce so many assignments at once," said Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

    "There's plenty of work to be done at the space station, and the research opportunities are almost limitless. These folks are all going to do great work and bring a lot of value to their crewmates," said Cassidy.

    Between now and their launches, each of the astronauts will undergo a busy regimen of training on space station systems and the experiments they'll work with while in space.

    This will be Acaba's third trip to the space station and his second long-duration mission.

    He was selected as an astronaut in 2004, and flew on space shuttle Discovery's STS-119 station assembly mission in 2009, before returning for a longer stay in 2012, as part of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews.

    Arnold will be visiting the space station for the second time, but this trip will be much longer than his last.

    He also was selected in the 2004 class and flew with Acaba on STS-119. On that mission, he conducted two spacewalks, spending 12 hours and 34 minutes outside the space station.

    Selected as a member of the 2013 astronaut class, Hague is a colonel in the US Air Force.

    Prior to his selection, he worked as an adviser to the US Senate on matters of national defence and foreign policy.

    Aunon-Chancellor joined the astronaut corps in 2009, and has been at NASA since 2006, when she became a flight surgeon.

    She also served as the deputy lead for medical operations for NASA's Orion spacecraft before being selected as an astronaut.

    Walker spent 163 days as a flight engineer for Expedition 24 and 25 in 2010.

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  3. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA Launches the Galaxy’s Most Glorious Space Database
    Now you can easily peruse more than 140,000 of the agency’s photos, videos and visualizations

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    Behold the glory of the middle of the Milky Way—thanks to an even better photo database at NASA. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI)
    By Erin Blakemore
    SMITHSONIAN.COM
    MARCH 29, 2017 3:24PM

    Space is full of eye candy: exploding stars, nebulas of every shape and size, bizarre alien worlds. Though few will ever have the chance to see these breathtaking sights in person, it just got even easier to feed your space needs online thanks to a new, searchable database from NASA.

    As Nilima Marshall reports for PA Science, the agency just made it even easier to peruse and even download more than 140,000 photos, renderings, audio files and videos it has online. Metadata is also available for those in need of a data fix along with all that visual splendor.

    The site is easy to search and browse, and lets you look at the agency’s newest uploads and the most popular images. Trending now are the most recent “blue marble” photo, mind-boggling nebulae glimpsed by the Spitzer Space Telescope last year, a waving astronaut mid spacewalk, and this inexplicably majestic photo of a baby owl.

    There’s a catch: In a press release, NASA warns would-be browsers that its site is “not comprehensive,” but rather showcases the best the agency has to offer from its gigantic archive. That’s okay, though—with over 140,000 pictures to gawk at and download, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. And since NASA constantly updates its publicly available images with both new and archival holdings, you’re unlikely to get bored any time soon.



    It’s not the first time the space agency has delighted the public with vast releases of information. Just this month, NASA unleashed its entire 2017-18 software catalog at NASA Software, which lets the public use NASA-developed code for free. Offerings include the Earth Global Reference Atmospheric Model, which lets users model things like temperature and wind, and an augmented reality iPad program called NASA Flywheel on the off chance that you’re working on ways to better store energy produced by the rotating cylinders called flywheels.

    NASA isn’t just serious about space—the agency is also committed to keeping the public up to date on what it’s doing, making results of NASA-funded projects available to the public.

    So go ahead: Soak up some space.


    Source
     
  4. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Space station debris shield floats away during spacewalk
    Thu, 30 Mar 2017-11:41pm , Reuters
    A five-foot (1.5-meter) debris shield being installed on the International Space Station floated away on Thursday during a spacewalk by two veteran U.S. astronauts, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

    Peggy Whitson, who became the world's most experienced female spacewalker during the outing, told ground control teams that a bag containing the debris shield floated away at about 10 a.m. EDT/1400 GMT.

    At the time, Whitson, 57, and station commander Shane Kimbrough, 49, were about midway through a planned 6.5-hour spacewalk to prepare a docking port for upcoming commercial space taxis and to tackle other maintenance tasks.

    It was the eighth spacewalk for Whitson, who surpassed the 50-hour, 40-minute record total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut previously held by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams.

    Cameras on the station tracked the debris shield bag as it sailed into the distance. NASA said engineers determined it posed no safety threat to the astronauts or to the facility, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.

    No other details were immediately available about how the shield, which weighs 18 pounds (8 kg) and measures 63.6-by-23.4- by-2.6 inches (162-by-59-by-7 cm), was lost.

    "Teams are focused on completing the (spacewalk) and will review the events as they unfolded after it is completed," NASA spokesman Dan Huot wrote in an email.

    Whitson and Kimbrough were working on a docking port that will eventually be used by space taxis being developed by Boeing and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies.

    The pair installed three other debris shields during their spacewalk and fitted a temporary cover over the docking port where the lost shield would have gone.

    While not a perfect fit, the cover will help protect the station from impacts and provide thermal shielding, NASA said.

    Spacewalkers occasionally lose small items like nuts and screws, but rarely do large objects slip away. The last such occasion was in 2008 when an astronaut lost hold of her tool bag while struggling with a jammed solar panel.

    The lost debris shield will eventually be pulled back into Earth's atmosphere and burn up. Until then, it joins more than 21,000 other pieces of orbiting trash and debris that are big enough to be tracked by radar and cameras on Earth.

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  5. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Saturn moon Enceladus could sustain alien life: NASA
    NASA's Cassini spacecraft is shown diving through the plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus, in 2015, in this photo illustration. (Reuters)

    "This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment," associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate said.

    Saturn's icy moon Enceladus may contain a form of chemical energy that life can feed on, according to a latest NASA study that provides new insights into the 'ocean worlds' in our solar system.

    NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

    "This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    Cassini scientists announced that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Enceladus, and Hubble researchers reported additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter's moon Europa.

    Hydrogen gas, which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life, is pouring into the subsurface ocean of Enceladus from hydrothermal activity on the seafloor.

    The presence of ample hydrogen in the moon's ocean means that microbes - if any exist there - could use it to obtain energy by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water.

    This chemical reaction, known as "methanogenesis" because it produces methane as a byproduct, is at the root of the tree of life on Earth, and could even have been critical to the origin of life on our planet.

    Life as we know it requires three primary ingredients: liquid water; a source of energy for metabolism; and the right chemical ingredients, primarily carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur.

    With this finding, Cassini has shown that Enceladus - a small, icy moon a billion miles farther from the Sun than Earth - has nearly all of these ingredients for habitability.

    Cassini has not yet shown phosphorus and sulphur are present in the ocean, but scientists suspect them to be, since the rocky core of Enceladus is thought to be chemically similar to meteorites that contain the two elements.

    "Confirmation that the chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon of Saturn is an important milestone in our search for habitable worlds beyond Earth," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

    Cassini detected the hydrogen in the plume of gas and icy material spraying from Enceladus during its last, and deepest, dive through the plume on October 28, 2015. The spacecraft also sampled the plume's composition during flybys earlier in the mission.

    From these observations scientists have determined that nearly 98 per cent of the gas in the plume is water, about 1 per cent is hydrogen and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.

    "Although we can't detect life, we've found that there's a food source there for it. It would be like a candy store for microbes," said Hunter Waite, lead author of the Cassini study.

    In the Hubble Space Telescope observations of Europa from 2016 a probable plume of material was seen erupting from the moon's surface at the same location where Hubble saw evidence of a plume in 2014.

    These images bolster evidence that the Europa plumes could be a real phenomenon, flaring up intermittently in the same region on the moon's surface, NASA said.

    The newly imaged plume rises about 100 kilometres above Europa's surface, while the one observed in 2014 was estimated to be about 50 kilometres high.

    Both correspond to the location of an unusually warm region that contains features that appear to be cracks in the moon's icy crust, seen in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo spacecraft.

    Researchers speculate that, like Enceladus, this could be evidence of water erupting from the moon's interior.

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  6. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    NASA's Super Pressure Balloon successfully launched
    United States, Earth, New Zealand, Argentina, Colorado School of Mines, South Africa, University of Chicago, Colorado School, In (NASA)

    NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, super pressure balloon from New Zealand, that will help detect cosmic rays from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth's atmosphere.

    The mission will run for 100 or more days floating at 33.5 km in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band. "Following our 2015 and 2016 New Zealand missions, we've learned key lessons on the balloon design that have gone into perfecting the technology for this year's flight," said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA's Balloon Programme Office chief.

    "I'm very proud of the team that delivered us to this point and I'm hopeful that third time's the charm for realizing 100 days of flight," said Fairbrother. While validating the super pressure balloon technology is the main flight objective, the International Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) payload is flying as a mission of opportunity.

    EUSO-SPB's objective is to detect ultra-high energy cosmic rays from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. As these high-energy particles enter the atmosphere, they interact with nitrogen molecules in the air and create a UV fluorescence light. EUSO-SPB will observe a broad swathe of the Earth's atmosphere to detect the UV fluorescence from these deep space cosmic rays coming in from above.

    "EUSO-SPB is now searching for the most energetic cosmic particles ever observed," said Angela V Olinto, professor at the University of Chicago.

    "The origin of these particles is a great mystery that our pioneering mission will help to solve. Do they come from massive black holes at the centre of galaxies? Tiny, fast- spinning pulsars? Or somewhere else?" Olinto asked.

    "The international science team is very excited to see our cosmic ray fluorescence detector lifted to suborbital space by this remarkable balloon and departing on this global journey," said Lawrence Wiencke, professor at the Colorado School of Mines in the US. "This balloon will give us a great view, and we are hoping for a record flight," Wiencke said.

    At a relatively low cost, NASA's heavy-lift balloons have been critical launch vehicles for testing and validating new technologies and science instruments to assure mission success for costlier, higher-risk follow-on spaceflight missions, said Fairbrother.

    Once the technology is validated, the ultimate goal of the EUSO project is to fly from an even higher altitude on the International Space Station to observe a greater atmospheric area for detecting high-energy cosmic rays. The 18.8-million-cubic-foot (532,000-cubic-meter) Super Pressure Balloon lifted off from NASA's new launch pad adjacent to Wanaka Airport carrying a suspended payload of 2,495 kilogrammes.

    As the balloon travels around the Earth, it may be visible from the ground, particularly at sunrise and sunset, to those who live in the southern hemispheres mid-latitudes, such as Argentina and South Africa, NASA said. The progress of the flight, which includes a map showing the balloon's real-time location can be tracked on the NASA website.
     
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