Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Michigan Students Connect with Orbiting Astronauts for Out of this World Conversation


U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, state Sen. John Pappageorge and state Rep. Marty Knollenberg also will be in attendance. U.S. Sen. Carl Levin will send the students a video welcome.

To develop an understanding of microgravity and orbital motion in preparation for the call with the astronauts, students wrote proposals for NASA programs to design, build and test their own microgravity experiments. Four teams from Troy Athens High School were selected for NASA's Dropping In a Microgravity Environment, or DIME, program and a team from Smith Middle School was selected for NASA's What If No Gravity? or WING, program.mi

The teams will send their science experiments to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to be tested in its drop tower, where the falling experiments will experience a few seconds of weightlessness, similar to the microgravity astronauts experience continuously in space. The experiments and resulting data will be returned to the teams so they can prepare reports about their findings.

Reporters interested in attending the event should contact Tim McAvoy of the Troy School District at 248-823-4035 by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29.

On the day of the call, students also will have the opportunity to look at the sun through telescopes and walk through a 2-D map of the space station created by third grade classes. They also will explore booths set up by local science and engineering companies, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University to promote student interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call, as well as the DIME and WING programs, are part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community.

NASA Television will air video from the space station during the event. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:

For information about NASA's DIME and WING student competitions, visit:

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Friday, January 22, 2010

NASA to find out if Phoenix Lander still working


NASA is to find out whether its Mars exploration spacecraft, the Phoenix Lander, is still functioning or not, according to news reports on Wednesday.

The Phoenix Lander was landed on Mars on May 2008 in glancing for possible lives. After almost half a year of searching, the Spacecraft has presumably concluded its own life.

To continue its researching, NASA has now begun to make new efforts to know whether the Phoenix Lander is still in function.

"We have no hope that Phoenix has survived...but we certainly want to have a look," said Chad Edwards, chief telecommunications engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA started Mars Exploration from the starting of 1964 and has 46 years of exploring experience until this year.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

For sale: two space shuttles, slightly used

US space agency NASA is organizing its own January sale, cutting the price tag of two space shuttles from $42 to $28.8 million (€29.21 to €20.04 million).Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour will be available for release to "education institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations" from July 2011. They are being retired this year as the US Space Shuttle program is halted in support of a new space exploration program named Constellation.

NASA formerly announced plans to sell the Space Shuttle Orbiters in December 2008, approximately the cost of making safe a shuttle, preparing it for display and transporting to a US airport at $42 million (€29.21 million). Since then, the agency has simplified the tasks required, shaving 6 months and some 30 percent from the asking price.

Overall the Space Shuttle fleet has completed 129 flights, including 31 by Atlantis and 23 by Endeavour. Discovery, the other left over shuttle of the five-strong fleet, will go on display at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. Challenger and Columbia were damaged in fatal launch/reentry accidents in 1986 and 2003 respectively.

NASA is also offering the main engines from retired space ships to a first-class home for no charge, according to reports in the US media. The engines were formerly offered for $400,000 to $800,000 (€278,415 to €556,831), but lack of interest has reportedly compelled NASA to scrap the charge. Any buyer with the funds to organize transportation and handling of the three-ton engines can now take them off NASA's hands for free.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NASA's Rosetta 'Alice' Spectrometer Reveals Earth's UV Fingerprint


On November 13, the European Space Agency's comet orbiter Spacecraft, Rosetta, swooped by Earth for its third and final gravity support on the way to humankind's first rendezvous to orbit and study a comet in more detail than has ever been attempted.

One of the instruments aboard Rosetta is the NASA-funded ultraviolet spectrometer, Alice, which is designed to investigate the composition of the comet's atmosphere and surface - the first ultraviolet spectrometer ever to study a comet up close. During Rosetta's latest Earth flyby, researchers successfully tested Alice's performance by viewing the Earth's ultraviolet appearance.

"It's been over five years since Rosetta was launched on its 10-year journey to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and Alice is functioning well," says instrument Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern, associate vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division at Southwest Research Institute.

As one can see from the spectra we obtained during this flyby of the Earth, the instrument is in focus and illustrates the main ultraviolet spectral emission of our home planet. These data give a nice indication of the scientifically prosperous value of ultraviolet spectroscopy for studying the atmospheres of objects in space, and we're looking forward to reaching the comet and exploring its mysteries.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NASA: February launch still on despite bad hoses


NASA is still shooting for a shuttle launch next month, regardless of bad hoses for a new room at the space station.

Endeavour is believed to blast off Feb. 7 with the Tranquility module. It's a chamber that will provide extra living quarters at the International Space Station.
Recent tests created a problem with the ammonia coolant lines for the module. The metal braiding on two of the four hoses started separating.

NASA manager Pete Hasbrook said Monday that the California contractor is complaining up the 14-foot high-pressure hoses. The hoses are longer than normal because of a change in location for Tranquility at the orbiting outpost.

At the same occasion, engineers are building new hoses out of old equipment. Hasbrook said either option hopefully will maintain the mission on track. If not, NASA might send up Tranquility in February and fly the enhanced hoses in March. In that occasion much of the equipment, like the treadmill and life support systems, could not be used until the hoses arrived. That's because the machines have to be cooled.

Tranquility—named after the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon—is one of the final major pieces of the Space Station. It will sport a cupola with 7 windows for prime Earth viewing.

NASA determined to change Tranquility's location at the space station, late in the game, to present more flexibility in docking berths, Hasbrook said.

Space station construction is owed to wrap up this year with the retirement of the shuttle fleet. Five more shuttle missions were planned.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

NASA IMAX 3D movie features astonishing Hubble repair footage


Coming to an IMAX theatre near you shortly is this astonishing 3D movie film from NASA.

Served up in delicious high definition 3D, the film assures to take viewers on a, “journey through distant Galaxies to discover the grandeur and mysteries of our celestial surroundings.”

Still better, there’s some breathtaking footage capturing plucky astronauts embarking on 5 long spacewalks to fix the Hubble telescope.

The Astronauts were trained to exercise the washing machine-sized IMAX camera in NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab over the course of eight months.

Once in space, the hefty camera sat installed in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and was remotely controlled by astronauts who had to make the most 8 minutes of film available.

Ordinary IMAX cameras capture images from the left and right eye views on two different strips of film, but with weight a major issue, a lighter compact 700-pound camera was devised that could that can shoot both views on a single, mile-long strip of film.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

NASA: Astronauts' urine clogs water recycling system on ISS


Astronauts' urine is clogging water recycling system on the International Space Station(ISS).NASA engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, who are investigating a trouble with the system, believed the source was a high concentration of calcium in the astronauts' urine.
The 250 million- U.S. dollar-system was set for processing urine into hygienic water for drinking.

On the other hand, scientists did not know whether the high calcium concentration is due to bone loss, a consequence of living in a zero-gravity environment, or other factors.

"Folks had excellent knowledge of the content of the urine going in, but the chemistry changes as it works through the processor are not always understood," said Julie Robinson, a scientist working on the project. There are a lot of parameters including urine calcium and pH (acidity) that everyone is glancing at.

The 100 billion-dollar-space station project involving 16 nations has been under construction 220 miles (about 354 km) beyond the Earth for more than a decade.
The media reports said it was fully examined by NASA before the urine recycler was started up in November 2008.

Engineers are hoping to come up with a fix in time to fly replacement parts out on the shuttle Endeavour, which is programmed for launch on Feb. 7 on a construction mission.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NASA moves forward with Mars exploration plan

NASA has huge plans for its Mars Exploration Program.

As it decides the future of one of the two rovers exploring the planet, the agency is looking to the launch of the latest generation of robotic explorer next year.
Additionally, NASA tells that the agency is close to a deal to merge its Mars program with that of the European Space Agency, a big step toward manned missions.
NASA's Mars rover program is currently heading into its sixth year. The Opportunity and rovers Spirit were launched in 2004 and landed on opposite sides of Mars for what was to be a 90-day exploration mission.

Almost 6 years and a wealth of information later, the rovers were still ranging across the planet until recently, transporting back data to researchers on Earth.
Spirit stumbled into a sand trap 9 months ago, however, and all efforts to free the vehicle was unsuccessful. In fact, the most recent attempts resulted in it sinking even deeper into the soil.

NASA could build a decision as soon as next month, during its annual review, on whether to continue rescue efforts, the agency says.

"At this point, we plan to have the independent board look at our situation with Spirit and give us any added recommendations as to whether we should continue to try and extract it or not, said Doug McCuistion, the director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program .
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NASA plans on-time shuttle liftoff despite snag


Engineers scrambling to repair broken hoses on latest Tranquility module

NASA is still hoping to launch the shuttle Endeavour in early February as engineers scramble to repair broken hoses on the new space station module set to travel aboard the orbiter.

Endeavour is slated to launch the latest Tranquility module to the International Space Station on Feb. 7 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But two of the module's four ammonia coolant hoses have unsuccessful standard pre-launch checks, forcing engineers to come up with a repair plan while others try to build new hoses from scratch, station managers said Monday.

"Folks are working very hard to get the hoses completed, checked out, certified [and] tested," said Pete Hasbrook. NASA manager for the Expedition 22 mission aboard the space station "We are still working toward the Feb. 7 launch date."

The Tranquility module will give additional living space for the crew on board the space station.

Broken hoses

The new module, like other space station rooms, utilizes liquid ammonia as a coolant to keep its computers and other electronic equipment cool in space. The coolant hoses are routed on the outer surface of the space station and must function at a pressure of 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi) to keep the ammonia supply liquid and moving, Hasbrook said.

But the two broken coolant hoses on Tranquility failed at a pressure of only 1,500 psi or so,it seems that a defect in the exterior braided-metal sheath covering the flexible hose, Hasbrook said. The metal braids began separating from the hose connector during the analysis, he added.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Text and music campaigns established to support NASA hacker


Amidst claims extradition will breach US Bill of Rights.
An SMS campaign has been established to permit supporters of alleged NASA hacker Gary McKinnon to join a text petition.

The text petition, lead by McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp and key supporters, urges UK voters to text 'Gary' to a local number by way of demonstrating their support. Proof of petitioner numbers will be sent on a regular basis to the Home Secretary, as well as to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretaries.

Sharp said: "The support and compassion shown by members of the public has been a incredible boost during our eight year fight to ensure Gary faces justice in the UK.
"I hope this text campaign helps stir the Government from its stupor of inactivity which is merely fuelling the public's sense of outrage at the unnecessary cruelty of the situation.

"Gordon Brown wrung his hands above the execution of a mentally ill British drugs carrier in China. Yet he and his Government stay complicit in the US authorities' hounding of my vulnerable son, despite knowing that, for Gary, extradition amounts to nothing less than a death sentence, given his growing mental instability."

A social networking campaign has also been recognized, asking supporters to download the song 'Chicago', that was recorded last year, with and for Gary, by international musicians David Gilmour, Bob Geldof and Chrissie Hynde.

Sharp said: "As for the music campaign, I hope President Barack Obama would pay attention to the reworded version of 'Chicago' which is a direct plea to him. If he personally learns of Gary's plight perhaps he may show compassion of his own accord, and let my son to be tried in Britain."

The song can be downloaded from iTunes, Amazon and HMV online, and text messages will be charged at normal network rates.

In the meantime, Geoffrey Robertson QC said the 1689 Bill of Rights specifically prohibited 'cruel and unusual punishments' and so extraditing McKinnon will breach the bill.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

NASA observes comet plunging into the sun


Footage of a comet being swallowed by the sun has been captured by NASA's solar and Helioscopic Observatory (SOHO) .

The comet belongs to the Kreutz family of comets, named for the Heinrich Kreutz(The German astronomer). They are supposed to have broken off from a much larger comet centuries ago, and orbit close to the Sun.

The comet was one of the brightest sun grazing comets that SOHO has noticed in its 14 years of operation. NASA has a video demonstrating the phenomenon, here.
The comet was found out over the weekend by Australian amateur Astronomer Alan Watson, who was inspecting images obtained on December 30.

The images use a 'false eclipse' technique to screen out the sun and permit the comet to be seen.

Hundreds of Kreutz comets, of all sizes and shapes, have been discovered since the launch of the SOHO satellite. All have suffered the similar fiery fate. One more cluster is believed to be on its way and is expected to arrive in a few years.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Earliest galaxies detected: NASA


US space agency NASA has said that,” Thirteen billion years old ultra-blue galaxies, which were formed around 700 million years after the Big Bang, have been discovered by astronomers.”

Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers from University of California have broken the distance limit for galaxies by uncovering the primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that were not seen before.

These newly-found galaxies are crucial to recognize the link between the birth of the first stars, the formation of the first galaxies and the sequence of evolutionary events that resulted in the assembly of Milky Way and other "mature" elliptical and majestic spiral galaxies in today's universe.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2009 (HUDF09) team combined the new Hubble data with observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to judge the ages and masses of these primordial Galaxies.

"The masses are just one per cent of those of the Milky Way," clarified team member Ivo Labbe of the Carnegie Observatories.

He further noted that "to our surprise, the consequences show that these galaxies existed at 700 million years after the Big Bang and must have started forming stars hundreds of millions of years earlier, pushing back the time of the earliest star formation in the universe."

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just 5 missions left for NASA's space shuttles

Last shuttle flightto space station scheduled for September 2010

The sun sets at the back of space shuttle Atlantis on the eve of its Nov. 16, 2009 launch from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to begin the STS-129 mission.

The end is beginning for NASA's 3 aging Space Shuttles, with just 5 more missions on tap this year before the orbiter fleet retires in the fall.

That is, unless NASA requires a few more months to fly those remaining missions or President Barack Obama chooses to extend the shuttle program to fill a looming gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability.

Though the ultimate path forward for NASA has not yet been determined, the space agency is at a turning point after nearly 29 years of shuttle flight.
"Perceptibly it's the end of an era," said Roger Launius, space history curator at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. There's a sense of loss and certain amount of nostalgia, no question.

The very last space shuttle flight, the STS-133 mission of the shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station, is programmed for September 2010. Since the fleet's debut in 1981 the launch will be the 134th shuttle voyage.

"It's starting to hit home, I have to admit to you," said NASA's shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach after the Nov. 16 lift off of Atlantis on the STS-129 flight, the 5th and last shuttle trip of 2009. After this one, there's an added scheduled for Atlantis, two more for each of the other vehicles.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NASA's Kepler finds its first five planets - an odd assortment


NASA's Kepler space telescope is just beginning its 3-year Mission to find Earth-like planets in habitable zones around stars. The first new planets it has found, declared Monday, include two so hot they would melt iron.

NASA's planet-hunting telescope Kepler has bagged its first quarry: five new planets Neptune's size and larger, including one with the density of Styrofoam, creating it one of the lightest planets yet found.

In addition to the new planets, Kepler results imply that the light output from two-thirds of some 43,000 sun-like stars in its field of view is virtually as stable as the sun's output.

That seemingly obscure observation implies that the majority of stars potentially are as hospitable to life as Earth's sun, assuming there was an Earth-like planet orbiting at the right distance from the star.

"If most stars are quiescent, that raises the havens for life in the universe," says astronomer Caty Pilachowski of Indiana University. The reason: Periodic strong outbursts of radiation from a star might sterilize a planet's surface, even if the planet orbited the star in the so-called habitable zone.

That zone signifies distances where any water on a planet's surface would receive just enough heat to remain liquid and stable on the planet's surface.
Quiescent stars mean "we are more likely to have habitats where life can evolve and enlarge our chances of finding that life down the road," she says.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Man Cost $330,000 to Buy MMO Space Station


You must be without problems to take out some money for several in-game content, but how about $330,000? In recent times a gamer wins MMO Crystal Palace space station auction for US$ 330,000. Entropia Universe has a "real cash economy" where $1 can buy you 10 PEDs (Project Entropia dollars) and Buzz snatched up the international space station for a cool 3,300,000 PED (USD 330,000).

The MMO was intended by Swedish-based MindArk and is a direct continuation of Project Entropia. The auction finally ended with the final bid of 3,300,000 PEDs made by "Buzz Erik Lightyear" at 23:01 Calypso time, thus finalizing an incredibly exciting auction. As the owner of the new hub, Buzz Erik Lightyear can adjust tax rates in his international space station so he could get some real-life ROI from his in-game property. How that goes is up to him and the policies of Planet Calypso.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Red Planet Rising


Happy New Year everyone! I wish all a safe, healthy and prosperous 2010 as we come into the second decade of the 21st Century!

2009 was a great year for space exploration as space and water telescopes dominated. Water was proven to exist on the Mars and Moon and is thought to be present in moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Hubble Space Telescope was upgraded and repaired and NASA's planetary hunting space telescope Kepler and newest infrared space telescope WISE were launched. Much will be happening in space this year and you will be capable to read all about it right here.

Mercury comes into sight the third week of the new year in the morning sky 45 minutes or so before sunrise. Prime time for the planet will be from the 15th to 30th when it will be about a fist-width above the eastern horizon. To see Mercury you require an unobstructed view of the horizon.

NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has given us the most complete coverage ever of the planet closest to the Sun.

Venus remains out of view as it is too close to the Sun to be seen, but will begin to be visible next month at sunset.

Mars will be in the eastern evening sky rising at about 7 p.m. and will be at its brightest for the next 2 years. The Red Planet will be nearby to Earth on January 27 at a distance of 61.7 million miles. This is a much farther closest approach distance compared to 2003 when Mars was about half that distance from earth. Mars is effortless to spot as it is a bright dull orange color. Use the nearly Full Moon, which will be to the right of Mars, on the January 2 and again on January 29 as a guide to discover the Red Planet.