Monday, August 31, 2009

NASA Heads Out to Sea

August 21, 2009: NASA scientists Maury Estes and Mohammad Al-Hamdan have been seafaring in the Gulf of Mexico, and one of them grew a bit green around the gills. It's not surprising that a space agency scientist might have trouble getting his sea legs, but what was he doing out there in the surf to begin with?

"We were gathering water samples," explains Estes.

That doesn't sound much like rocket science, but consider the following:

At this moment, a fleet of NASA Earth-observing satellites is silently passing overhead, gathering vital information about our planet. Estes and Al-Hamdan are combining that heavenly data with local water samples to help the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, or NEP, check the health of the coast.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NASA's Lunar Impactor Loses Most of Its Fuel


NASA's moon-colliding probe LCROSS lost more than half its propellant late last week after a glitch caused it to repeatedly fire its thrusters to try to orient itself. But the spacecraft is still on track to complete its mission to slam into the moon's south pole in October.

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) took off on 18 June and has been orbiting the Earth at about the moon's distance in preparation for a lunar collision on 9 October. NASA hopes the impact will excavate material from one of the moon's permanently shadowed craters, which could be rich in water that could supply future lunar outposts.

Click the image to read the rest of this story as it appears on the NewScientist website.

Mysterious Cosmic 'Dark Flow' Tracked Deeper Into Universe

Distant galaxy clusters mysteriously stream at a million miles per hour along a path roughly centered on the southern constellations Centaurus and Hydra. A new study led by Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., tracks this collective motion -- dubbed the "dark flow" -- to twice the distance originally reported.

"This is not something we set out to find, but we cannot make it go away," Kashlinsky said. "Now we see that it persists to much greater distances -- as far as 2.5 billion light-years away." The new study appears in the March 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The clusters appear to be moving along a line extending from our solar system toward Centaurus/Hydra, but the direction of this motion is less certain.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NASA Lanches New Technology: An Inflatable Heat Shield

A successful NASA flight test has shown that a spacecraft returning to Earth can use an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect itself as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. This was the first time anyone has successfully flown an inflatable reentry capsule, according to engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center.

The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment, or IRVE, was vacuum-packed into a 15-inch diameter payload "shroud" and launched on a small sounding rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia............

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Solar Eclipses Viewed From Space

Here is what the Earth looks like during a solar eclipse. The shadow of the Moon can be seen darkening part of Earth. This shadow moves across the Earth at nearly 2000 kilometers per hour.

Only observers near the center of the dark circle see a total solar eclipse - others see a partial eclipse where only part of the Sun appears blocked by the Moon.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NASA Discovers Life's Building Blocks First Delivered to Earth by Meteorites and Comets

The giant molecular clouds that form the stars that fill the night sky are full of organic molecules, including carbon and other organic elements that living things are made of.

It's not at all surprising, then, that NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft.

"Glycine is an amino acid used by living organisms to make proteins -the workhorse molecules of life- and this is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet," said Dr. Jamie Elsila of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center...........

NASA's Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV)

If you want to do productive exploration anywhere in space, you'll need a suitable vehicle. NASA is now testing concepts for a new generation of vehicles, building on lessons learned from the Apollo missions as well as the unmanned rovers on Mars. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) concept is designed to be flexible depending on the destination; the pressurized cabin can be used both for in-space missions and for surface exploration of planetary bodies, including near-Earth objects, the moon and Mars.......

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Featured Image on the NASA site

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/images/content/376238main_128rollout-1600_946-710.jpg

Taken August 4, 2009, this image shows the dangers that threaten missions before their launches even begin. Click on the image for a larger view along with write up and gallery containing additional images.

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