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NASA powers up spacecraft that could one day carry humans to Mars – CNNMoney

It’s called Orion. And Lockheed Martin (LMT), NASA’s contractor for the project, said the latest version of the vessel was powered on for the first time Tuesday morning, lighting up the intricate on-board computers that will one day help guide Orion through the vacuum of space.

“This is the brains and heart of the spacecraft,” said Lockheed spokesperson Gary Napier. He added that the inaugural power-up appeared to go “very well.”

For the next one or two months NASA will add even more computer systems and continue testing its hardware and software, Napier told CNNMoney.

It’s an important milestone for Orion, which NASA has been working on ever since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The hope is to one day launch the spacecraft on the Space Launch System (SLS), a truly massive rocket that is also currently under development by NASA and a handful of private-sector contractors.

When it’s up and running, SLS could be the most powerful rocket ever built. The current record holder is NASA’s Saturn V rocket, which was used in NASA’s Apollo missions, including the 1969 moon landing, and has long been retired.

Orion and SLS are seen as NASA’s next great step forward.

Orion is tentatively scheduled to fly on SLS for an unmanned test flight around the moon in 2019.

“Although astronauts will not fly in this capsule on this flight, a large majority of the [tech is] the same design that astronauts will rely on during following missions with Orion into the solar system,” Lockheed said in a statement.

It’s not clear when the first humans will actually climb aboard Orion. NASA originally slated the first manned mission for sometime in 2021, but the timeline has since shifted and NASA has yet to set a new target date.

Related: Branson! Musk! Bezos! The billionaire space race throwdown

Critics say SLS and Orion have been too slow and expensive, particularly in light of the rapid development of the U.S.’s commercial space industry.

Several private-sector companies are investing big money in space exploration.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is known for its Mars ambitions, and the firm is expected to announce a major update to its Mars travel plan in the coming weeks. And Jeff Bezos, head of Blue Origin, is underway on his own spacecraft capable of making cargo trips to the moon.

Meanwhile, NASA has poured tens of billions of dollars into developing SLS and Orion, and it’s already pushed back several deadlines.

But cheerleaders for NASA’s Orion program say the private sector is far behind NASA in developing something that would have SLS and Orion’s capabilities.

And, of course, NASA put the very first humans on the moon — so the agency knows a thing or two about the perils and complications of spaceflight.

“Orion was designed from the beginning to take humanity farther into space than we’ve ever gone,” Mike Hawes, the Orion program manager at Lockheed, said in a statement. “Everyone on the team understands how crucial this test campaign is, and more importantly, what this spacecraft and mission means to our country and future human space flight.”

CNNMoney (New York) First published August 22, 2017: 12:52 PM ET

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NASA powers up spacecraft that could one day carry humans to Mars – CNNMoney

Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

Astronauts arent made in a day. To first qualify for a mission assignment in space, NASAs astronaut candidates typically have to complete up to two years of training here on Earth. And that includes a rotating roster of activities, workouts, and assignments that change every single day.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments, something we explore in the second episode of Space Craft. For NASA, a crucial asset is the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, a giant pool located at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas. It measures 202 feet long and 102 feet wide a little less than half the size of a football field. It also stretches 40 feet deep and houses a full-scale replica of the International Space Station inside. Working in the pool is one of the best ways to train for future spacewalks, since its a pretty fair representation of how it feels to work in microgravity outside the ISS.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of astronaut training is learning to work in simulated space environments

But there are other ways to simulate spacewalks apart from diving into the NBL. NASA was an early adopter of virtual reality, using the technology over the last decade to help astronauts train for upcoming space missions. NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston is home to the Virtual Reality Lab, where astronauts plan out their future excursions inside and outside the International Space Station.

VR is a useful tool for better understanding the scope of a spacewalk, for instance. It gives astronauts a sense of how far apart segments are going to be on the outside of the station, as well as how theyll need to grip handrails or twist their arms to properly scale the ISS modules. Astronauts who are assigned to missions in space usually plan months to years in advance for any of their spacewalks. And at the Virtual Reality Lab, they can simulate the exact spacewalk scenario that they need to practice over and over, before doing the real thing in lower Earth orbit.

While VR is good for making plans in advance, its also critical for preparing astronauts for the remote possibility of those plans failing. In the VR Lab, astronauts can also experience virtually what its like to get disconnected from the ISS during a spacewalk. Such a scenario has never happened accidentally before; astronauts are always tethered to the station when they do their spacewalks, but NASA likes to prepare for the remote possibility of an astronaut floating away freely. To get back to safety, astronauts can operate a jet backpack called SAFER, which uses tiny thrusters to propel someone through space. Its not the easiest tool to maneuver, however, and VR is great at demonstrating the difficulty of using SAFER in an emergency scenario.

The Johnson Space Center doesnt train astronauts with just VR technology. Its also home to the Systems Engineering Simulator, a facility that contains mock-ups of space vehicles that astronauts may be tasked to operate in the future. For instance, astronauts can train how to work in the future space capsules that SpaceX and Boeing are building, which will be carrying astronauts to the space station in the next couple of years. The facility also has mock-ups of rovers that can traverse other worlds, like Mars. Its a vehicle that astronauts probably wont be driving on Mars for decades, but thanks to the SES facility, at least theyll be somewhat prepared.

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Walking through space in NASA’s Virtual Reality Lab – The Verge

NASA promotes research tools for local business – WCBD News 2

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. Local businesses and major companies with hubs in South Carolina are exploring ways to help space research get off the ground.

NASA scientists on Tuesday asked local researchers, entrepreneurs and companies to collaborate with the International Space Station (ISS) and use it as a lab to test the latest innovations on medicine, technology, and manufacturing.

The space station is used to investigate areas of science at zero gravity, allowing breakthroughs in orbit that arent necessarily available on earth. Leaders gathered at the South Carolina Research Authority, known as SCRA, a public, non-profit corporation to discuss how best to collaborate.

Astronaut Douglas Wheelock has participated in two international space station missions. Hes traveled more than 178 days and understands how flying through the cosmos leads to scientific innovations.

All the science were doing on board the station is trying to develop innovation and breakthroughs to bring it back to earth to make peoples lives better, said Wheelock.

Known as Wheels by his friends at NASA, Wheellock often explains to people he meets what its like in space.

Its actually kind of a euphoric feeling, said Wheelock. Its three dimension, yes, instead of two-dimensional like here.

The space station orbits the earth every 90 minutes, allowing it to take pictures of locations the human eye couldnt otherwise see.

The businesses want to be the first to get this kind of new knowledge and leverage it in their designs that they can then bring back to you, said Dr. Tara Ruttley, an associate program scientist for the International Space Station at NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

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NASA promotes research tools for local business – WCBD News 2

Do solar eclipse glasses expire? NASA explains – WBIR-TV

Betsy Kling recaps Total Solar Eclipse

Sean Rossman, USA TODAY , WKYC 10:24 AM. EDT August 22, 2017

Yousurvived the 2017 total solar eclipsewithout going blind thanks to your eclipse glasses. Good job. But now what do you do with those weird paper specs?

It’s likely millions of the glasses will be tossed somewhere now that the eclipse is over. That’s a lot of paper, consideringat least one company, American Paper Optics, sought to make 100 million pairs and the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning dished out about 2.1 million glasses alone.

Do they lose their effectiveness? Some have warned the glasses expire after three years, but is it true?

If your glasses are made by one of the 12 eclipseglasses makers that meet the requirements of NASA and American Astrological Standards,they’re good forever, NASA said. They just can’t be scratched, punctured or torn.

That means, if you’re careful, they can be good to go bythe next time a total solar eclipsedrifts over America on April 8, 2024. It’seasy to find out which ones meet this standard. The companiesare listed hereor they’ll have an ISO number of2312-2.

If you don’t want to hold on to them,some organizations are encouraging people to recycle their glasses, such as theUniversity of Nebraska Credit Union.

Earth911reports eclipse gazers should pop out the special lensesand recycle the frames. The lenses may be able to be recycled with camera film, so Earth 911 suggests contacting a local camera shop.

You can also donate them.

Astronomers Without Bordersurges people to hold on to their glasses so they can be reused in other countries for future eclipses. The organization is planning a program to collect the glasses.

2017 USATODAY.COM

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Do solar eclipse glasses expire? NASA explains – WBIR-TV

Largest asteroid ever tracked will pass close to Earth in September, NASA says – Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Largest asteroid ever tracked will pass close to Earth in September, NASA says
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
The eclipse may be over, but that doesn't mean the celestial drama has to end completely. NASA announced Thursday that Asteroid Florence, the largest asteroid ever tracked by NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, will pass safely by Earth on
NASA is designing a spacecraft that could nudge asteroids out of Earth's wayPRI
Largest asteroid ever tracked to pass by Earth 11 days after solar eclipse, NASA saysAL.com
Cyprus involved in Nasa mission to derail asteroid threatsCyprus Mail

all 28 news articles »

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Largest asteroid ever tracked will pass close to Earth in September, NASA says – Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

15 Days of Darkness ‘Confirmed by NASA’ Is Not True – Heavy.com

Following the solar eclipse that passed through the United States on Monday, August 21, rumors that there was going to be 15 days of darkness began circulating. According to Snopes, the initial report first surfaced back in 2015. Due to Mondays eclipse, the rumors resurfaced but said rumors are completely false.

It didnt take long for the following old report to start making the rounds and for social media to light up with posts about this supposed black out that would take place in three months time.

NASA has confirmed that the Earth will experience 15 days of total darkness between November 15 and November 29, 2015. The event, according to NASA, hasnt occurred in over [one] million years. Astronomers from NASA have indicated that the world will remain in complete darkness starting on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 3 a.m. and will end on Monday, November 30, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. According to officials, the November Black Out event will be caused by another astronomical event between Venus and Jupiter, read the initial claim.

The bogus report went on the say that the White House had already been briefed on the occurrence, which would see most of the U.S. in complete darkness for the latter half of the month of November.

Unlike a solar eclipse in which the moon moves in front of the sun, blocking its light from the earth as part of its orbit, the 15 days of darkness was something even more rare and more involved. As stated above, Venus and Jupiter would come into play, according to the false report.

Back in January, a site called Reflection of Mind reported that the two planets would pass one another very closely and would be separated by just one degree.

Venus will move to the south-west of Jupiter and as a result it will shine 10 times brighter than Jupiter. Venus bright light will heat up the gases in Jupiter causing a reaction which will release a an absurdly high amount of hydrogen into the space. This reaction will come in contact with our Sun at 2:50 a.m. on November 15th, the site reported. Once the hydrogen reaches the Sun, a massive explosion is bound to occur on the surface of the Sun, increasing the temperature to more than 9000 degrees. The whole process will generate so much heat that the Sun will change its color into a bluish shade. Once this happens, the Sun will need a minimum of 14 days to restore its normal color and temperature, the site continued.

NASA has not confirmed any such occurrence and there will not be 15 days of darkness in November.

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How Often Do Solar EclipsesOccur?

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15 Days of Darkness ‘Confirmed by NASA’ Is Not True – Heavy.com

Volcano seen from space looks like the entrance to hell – CNET

A NASA satellite caught sight of the volcano in Russia spewing ash.

Russian volcano Shiveluch has been busy kicking out ash and lava for over a decade. NASA describes it as one of the world’s most active volcanoes. A new satellite photo released on Tuesday makes the natural phenomenon look like an angry, ash-gushing gateway to Hades.

The ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) instrument on board NASA’s Terra satellite captured the eye-opening view on Sunday.

A large ash plume rises from the volcano. What makes this image look so otherworldly is the bright swathe of clouds surrounding the top of the volcano. A smaller volcano named Bezymianny makes a cameo appearance below its larger kin.

Shiveluch has experienced an ongoing eruption since 1999, according to the Smithsonian Institution’sNational Museum of Natural History Global Volcanism Program. The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Teammonitors volcanoes in the area and reported a 60-mile-long (99- kilometer) ash plume coming from the volcano this month.

The top-down satellite view offers a fascinating perspective on the latest activity at Shiveluch, which is one of the largest volcanoes on Kamchatka Peninsula in the far-east region of Russia.

NASA operates the ASTER instrument in partnership with a Japanese science team. The Terra satellite tracks pollution and monitors Earth’s climate and atmosphere.

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See one astronaut’s wild pictures from space

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Volcano seen from space looks like the entrance to hell – CNET

NASA jets will chase solar eclipse at 50000 feet – KWCH

The best view of the eclipse will not come from the ground but the skies.

Cary Klemm is of four NASA flight crew members that will get the view of a lifetime.

They will be chasing the eclipse over Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky at 400 miles an hour in 1960s-era former bomber jets.

“My job is to calibrate and initialize the camera payload that we’ll be using to look at the eclipse. That includes focusing and zooming in to get the best shot,” says, Klemm.

All crew members will be wearing solar eclipse glasses during the flight.

Klem says, “It’s actually even more important to wear the eclipse glasses at high altitudes. There’s less air to block the sun, and the sun’s a lot stronger.”

The planes will be outfitted with special cameras in their nose cones so the planes can get a good look at the solar corona, the outer atmosphere of the sun.

NASA says the results of this flight will lead to a better understanding of the corona, which will eventually lead to a better understanding of flares and coronal mass ejections.

The best way to understand what erupts off the sun’s corona – is to photograph it over long periods of time – but ground-based cameras will only have about two minutes of total eclipse time.

Since two planes will be flying tandem along the eclipse path, scientists will have an unprecedented look at the sun.

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NASA jets will chase solar eclipse at 50000 feet – KWCH

NASA Chief: There is More Going on Right Now in Space Than I’ve Ever Seen in My Career – Futurism

In BriefSpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch, Blue Origin and VirginGalactic’s upcoming space tours, and NASA’s plans for the ISS makeit clear there’s a lot going on with regards to space, and NASA’sActing Administrator couldn’t help but noticed. All Eyes on Space

Its an exciting time for those interested in space and everything it has to offer us. Between our potential to travel in space and how much weve come to learn (and can still learn) from unmanned probes and satellites, its hard to not be hopeful for the future of our interest in the seemingly-boundless expanse that surrounds us.

NASAs Acting Administrator Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. feels the same about the exploration of space. To him, the many plans, projects, and initiatives focused in this respect are well worth getting excited about.

There is more going on right now in space than Ive ever seen in my career, he told Futurism.

Its easy to empathize with this perspective. SpaceX, the company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, plans to send astronauts to space in 2018, and recently helped deliver a supercomputer to the International Space Station. If that wasnt enough space travel, it also has a highly-anticipated event slated for November: the first launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

At the same time, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin are looking to make space travel more accessible by providing brief tours to everyday people.Their New Shepard capsule, while not meant to reach other planets, or even the Moon, is powerful enough to reach a suborbit, allowing passengers to see space. Its expected to begin offering commercial flights next year.

In both public and private spaces, SpaceX and Blue Origin are often viewed as direct competitors, and as such its no secret that this is a race to see who makes it happen first. That said, theres more competition when it comes to commercializing space travel, such as Virgin Galactic, which also hopes to put people in space next year.

We are getting to space a little differently than we used to. Its not just us anymore by ourselves, said Lightfoot.

Despite how committed private companies are, NASA isnt leaving all the fun to them. Though it doesnt have plans to send people on space tours, it still has probes and other spacecraft out there. Cassini, which recently sent back new data from Saturn as part of its final mission. Theres also the revival of New Horizons, a spacecraft thats been dormant for the last several months that will now be used to investigate a mysterious object in the Kuiper Belt. Getting more people into space is enticing, but for now there are some places only a satellite is capable of reaching.Click to View Full Infographic

As for its own future developments, NASA has plans to improve upon the International Space Station, and its solar arrays, and the benefits of the refit may reach become a part of our quotidian lives. Known as the Roll Out Solar Array, or ROSA, this technology could make it far easier to transport and collect solar power. The tech could also improve services weve come to rely on, like GPS, weather forecasts, and satellite radio. ROSA still has a few quirks to work out, but its quickly on its way to becoming the most efficient solar array created.

Lightfoot is right to take note of how many things people have planned for space, and it feels like the momentum will lead to new developments and discoveries. Fingers crossed this trend doesnt slow, and people continue to have an interest in space for years to come.

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NASA Chief: There is More Going on Right Now in Space Than I’ve Ever Seen in My Career – Futurism

Response from NASA praising 5-year-old’s ‘great’ rocket design sends aspiring astronaut into orbit – New York Daily News

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, August 21, 2017, 1:10 PM

While everyone’s looking at the eclipse, he’s aiming for the stars.

Earlier this month, Jamal Hylton of Hertfordshire, England, noticed a post on NASA’s Twitter feed about a fourth-grader and how the agency wrote back to him when he asked about applying for a job.

“You didn’t reply to my 5 year old son’s letter though!” he tweeted.

Hylton’s son, Idris, had previously sent a sketch of a rocket he had designed along with a letter directly to NASA, saying, “This rocket is for you. Please make it and send it to an astronaut in space.

9-year-old applies for planetary protection job at NASA

“I will fly my rocket to space for NASA. Please can I have an astronaut license.”

Despite his father’s message being one out of 555 responses the popular post received, Kevin DeBruin, a systems engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, somehow managed to spot Hylton’s call for help.

“Send it my way!” DeBruin responded on the social network. “I got you!”

After getting Hylton’s address, a proper response to the starbound student was on its way.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s $120 stickers get smacked down by NASA brain

Printed on official NASA letterhead and beginning, “Dear Idris,” it stated, “Thank you very much for your design of your rocket, it’s great!

12 photos view gallery

Sparing no enthusiasm for the scientific spark he saw in Idris, DeBruin continued in his letter by saying, “Creating work like this is the start to a great future astronaut who can pilot a rocket. Keep it up!”

In short, the response resulted in one giant leap of excitement for the 5-year-old.

“Idris went crazy when it came through the post, phoned me at work shouting, ‘Dad, NASA replied!'” Hylton told Sky News.

Full of optimism and encouragement, the letter seems to have had a lasting effect on Idris as well.

“The best thing is that he’s now set on a career as an astronaut or engineer,” said Hylton, “and the letter from Kevin DeBruin has inspired him to believe it’s possible.”

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Response from NASA praising 5-year-old’s ‘great’ rocket design sends aspiring astronaut into orbit – New York Daily News

NASA & PARI scientists in prime seat to analyze the eclipse – WLOS

While tourists and locals are enjoying the eclipse in and around Western North Carolina, NASA and PARI scientists will be analyzing the eclipse from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

While tourists and locals are enjoying the eclipse in and around Western North Carolina, NASA and PARI scientists will be analyzing the eclipse from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.

Officials say because the core of the sun will be blocked by the moon it’s a chance for them to study the outer rays, which officials there say is huge for them.

PARI, which is near Brevard, is the first research institute of its kind to be in the path of a total eclipse.

So researchers say they don’t know what they’ll discover.

They’ll be using a number of optical cameras and radio telescopes to make that happen.

Scientists are on-site all day, but the magic moment comes at 2:36 p.m. and lasts about 1 minute and 47 seconds.

Scientists say for everyone else, to really take in what this eclipse has to offer, it’s extremely important to be in the right spot.

Don Cline, President, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), “some people feel that they can go out and watch the eclipse from their home or location like for Asheville and if you do, you’ll miss the main feature of seeing the solar eclipose and that is stars in the middle of the day.”

Cline says you have to be in totality to see stars.

PARI is offering a live stream, starting at 9 a.m., from their YouTube channel. You can watch presentations from NASA researchers and PARI’s very own Dr. Bob Hayward.

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NASA & PARI scientists in prime seat to analyze the eclipse – WLOS

NASA: Wave at the moon during the solar eclipse – CNET

The LRO snapped this photo of Earth during the 2012 solar eclipse.

While you’re standing outside enjoying the spectacle of the great North American solar eclipse, be sure to reach a hand out toward the moon and give an enthusiastic wave.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will turns its eyes from the moon and instead aim its camera at Earth during Monday’s eclipse, so the space agency wants you to say “hi” to the distant spacecraft.

The LRO will snap a portrait of Earth around 11:25 a.m. PT, so be sure to set an alert on your calendar. NASA’s LRO team member Andrea Jones notes that you don’t have to be in the path of totality to participate, saying “everyone in an entire hemisphere of the Earth can wave at the Moon as LRO takes our picture.”

The LRO captured an image of Earth during the 2012 solar eclipse. A dark blotch shows where the moon’s shadow fell at the time.

The LRO’s camera will again get a great look at the Earth’s surface features today, but it doesn’t have the resolution to make out individual people. It’s the thought that counts, though. With millions able to witness the eclipse, the moon-wave is all about bringing us together for a shared experience at a moment in history.

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31 amazing photos of solar eclipses (pictures)

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NASA: Wave at the moon during the solar eclipse – CNET

Nasa: July 2017 == record July 2016 – climate.nasa.gov

A global map of the June 2017 LOTI (land-ocean temperature index) anomaly, relative to the 1951-1980 June average. View larger image.

July 2017 was statistically tied with July 2016 as the warmest July in the 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Last month was about 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean July temperature of the 1951-1980 period. Only July 2016 showed a similarly high temperature (0.82 C), all previous months of July were more than a tenth of a degree cooler.

Starting with this update, the previously used ocean data set ERSST v4 was replaced by the newer ERSST v5. This contributed to the changes of some of the data in last month’s update. For more information, see theUpdates to Analysisand theHistory Pages.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet. Monthly analyses are sometimes updated when additional data becomes available, and the results are subject to change.

For more information on NASA GISS’s monthly temperature analysis, visitdata.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp.

For more information about NASA GISS, visitwww.giss.nasa.gov.

Leslie McCarthy, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, N.Y., 212-678-5507, leslie.m.mccarthy@nasa.gov

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Nasa: July 2017 == record July 2016 – climate.nasa.gov

Are you ready for the Great American Eclipse? These NASA astronaut saw one from space. – South Bend Tribune

After more than 38 years 14,057 days to be precise the path of a total solar eclipse will traverse American soil. It hasnt happened anywhere in the U.S. since Feb. 26, 1979.

Millions of people from coast-to-coast will turn their gaze skyward on Monday hoping for a glimpse of whats being billed as the Great American Eclipse, so named because the eclipse will occur exclusively in the United States. Adding to the allure, it will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire country from west coast to east coast in 99 years.

Over the ages, more than 107 billion people are estimated to have inhabited the Earth. Fewer than 600 have escaped the planets gravitational bounds and flown into space. A group of fewer than 20, however, have seen a solar eclipse from space.

The latter group is expected to grow on Monday as the crew of the International Space Station is expected to catch a glimpse of the moons umbra the 70-mile-wide dark, inner shadow moving across the American heartland.

Its an awe-inspiring view for those fortunate enough to have the experience.

Were a very fortunate group, said Bill McArthur, a recently retired NASA astronaut and a veteran of four spaceflights. You realize very quickly youre very blessed to get to experience something like that.

McArthur would know. He was serving as commander and science officer of Expedition 12 aboard the International Space Station on March 29, 2006, when a total solar eclipse crossed the Earths surface from the eastern tip of Brazil across the Atlantic Ocean and portions of Africa before ending over portions of Mongolia.

Despite the countless hours astronauts spend training for each mission to space, McArthur said he didnt know about the eclipse until just a few days beforehand.

Theres always a bit of pressure to be as prepared as you can be knowing if you blink youll miss it, so to speak, McArthur said.

It was a similar experience for Donald Pettit, a current NASA astronaut and a veteran of three spaceflights.

You have this amazing view that you cant get any other way than being in space, Pettit said. You can see all these structural details the umbra, the penumbra (the moons lighter outer shadow) that astronomers and physicists through the ages never actually saw, yet they mathematically worked it out, and you get to see that they were right.

Neither McArthur nor Pettit has ever seen a total solar eclipse from Earth. While theyve both seen one from space, Pettit holds another distinction.

Ive seen two from orbit, Pettit said. Its about time I see one from Earth.

Pettits first encounter was with a total solar eclipse on Dec. 4, 2002, as part of Expedition 6 on the International Space Station. The second was an annular solar eclipse one where the moon isnt quite big enough to cover the entire sun so a narrow ring of fire is visible on the edge as part of Expedition 31 on May 20, 2012.

Its just amazing to be able to see whats going on on the scale of half a continent, Pettit said. Its something you cant see with your feet on the ground or in an airplane. You have to have the vantage point of being in space.

Many members of the Michiana Astronomical Society are hitting the roads for the eclipse.

The moons shadow will travel about 10,000 miles across the Earths surface, from the middle of the Pacific Ocean across the continental United States to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. The umbra will spend about an hour and a half crossing 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina.

Linda Marks, the vice president of the Michiana Astronomical Society, said society members will be spread out from coast to coast.

Were pretty much everywhere, she said.

While all of North America will have a view of a partial eclipse, weather permitting, club members are hedging their bets on being in the path of totality. In South Bend, the moon is expected to block about 86 percent of the sun with the maximum eclipse coming at 2:22 p.m., according to NASA.

One of the clubs members, Granger resident Chuck Bueter, an amateur astronomer and past president of the society who hosts a blog at Nightwise.org, is heading for Idaho. Its not just the total eclipse hes hoping to see, however.

One of the many splendors of an eclipse is youve got all these people looking skyward, Bueter said. After the eclipse, keep looking up. With the new moon at night its going to be amazing stargazing.

As excited as Bueter is for this eclipse, hes equally excited for the next opportunity to see a total solar eclipse in the U.S. April 8, 2024. It will be another eclipse exclusive to North America as the umbra will cross Canada, Mexico and the United States. The part that has Bueter most excited is that unlike Mondays eclipse, the path of totality will cross Indiana, just south of Indianapolis.

Were going to have totality in Indiana, Bueter said. We should prepare now.

Having viewed Earth from the perspective of space on multiple occasions, both Pettit and McArthur said one of the aspects of Mondays eclipse that excites them is the opportunity it presents to pique the interest of the next generation of explorers and scientists.

Any time some natural event piques scientific interest in the public thats a good thing, Pettit said. Theres any number of things that happen that show science and math front and center in terms of trying to explain what is going on.

The universe is an amazing thing, yet so much of it is still a mystery, he said. The more we can inspire curiosity I think the better off we are in the long run. We have the next generation of adults that understand where we stand in the grand scheme of things, our place, our environment and how to be good stewards for future generations.

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Are you ready for the Great American Eclipse? These NASA astronaut saw one from space. – South Bend Tribune

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke talks solar eclipse – Grand Island Independent

RAVENNA A couple hundred people poured into Ravenna High School to hear NASA astronaut Mike Fincke speak about the upcoming solar eclipse and his space experiences.

Mike was joined by his wife Renita, who is a NASA engineer who is working on figuring out how to keep astronauts healthy while in space.

The Ravenna Area Vision Fund sponsored the Finckes coming to town. Mike was selected by NASA in April 1996 and has been on several space missions. According to his bio, he was first assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations Branch, serving as an International Space Station Capsule Communicator. Hes also qualified to be a co-pilot on the Russian Soyuz TM and TMA spacecraft.

Mike currently serves as branch chief for the Commercial Crew Branch for NASA. He was on Expedition 9 in 2004 and Expedition 18 in 2008. He also was on the STS-134 mission in 2011. Total, he has spend 381 days, 15 hours and 11 minutes in orbit in space.

Mike outlined how unique the solar eclipse on Monday is. The totality that youre going to see on Monday is extremely special, Mike said.

He said hes never even seen anything like it, being in an area that is in the line of complete totality.

So when you ask NASA if we can send an astronaut, we say Yes!, Mike said, crediting the eclipses uniqueness.

He said not only is the eclipse unique, but its important in learning more about the sun. The more we learn about the sun, the more we can make life better on planet Earth, he said.

He showed video of his space adventures, including the fun things astronauts do: floating around acting like Iron Man in the space station, splashing floating bubbles of water in their face, and letting their hair go wild in the zero gravity.

It can turn these 40-year-olds into kids again, Mike said.

Gina McPherson, director of the Ravenna Chamber of Commerce, was clad in a sun costume. She said having Mike and Renita in Ravenna for a big event like the eclipse was huge. The Finckes spoke on Friday to Ravenna students and rode in Saturday mornings parade.

Its one thing to have a NASA astronaut here, but to have it be apart of the eclipse stuff takes it to a whole other level, McPherson said.

She also said having Renita speak to the students was great because shes an engineer in a male-dominated field. McPherson said the students took to Renita and were inspired.

Mike said being in space made him realize how beautiful our home planet is. He said he used to think Mars was his favorite planet until he was in orbit. He got to see the city lights, the water and land from way above.

Our Earth is the most beautiful planet in the solar system, Mike said, adding that we need to take care of it and each other.

See more here:

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke talks solar eclipse – Grand Island Independent

NASA, PBS Marking 40 Years Since Voyager Spacecraft Launches – Voice of America

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA.

Forty years after blasting off, Earth’s most distant ambassadors the twin Voyager spacecraft are carrying sounds and music of our planet ever deeper into the cosmos.

Think of them as messages in bottles meant for anyone or anything out there.

Sunday marks the 40th anniversary of NASA’s launch of Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles distant. It departed from Cape Canaveral on August 20, 1977, to explore Jupiter and Saturn.

Voyager 1 followed a few weeks later and is ahead of Voyager 2. It’s humanity’s farthest spacecraft at 13 billion miles away and is the world’s only craft to reach interstellar space, the vast, mostly empty space between star systems. Voyager 2 is expected to cross that boundary during the next few years.

Each carries a 12-inch, gold-plated copper phonograph record (there were no CDs or MP3s in 1977) containing messages from Earth: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, chirping crickets, a baby’s cry, a kiss, wind and rain, a thunderous moon rocket launch, African pygmy songs, Solomon Island panpipes, a Peruvian wedding song and greetings in dozens of languages. There are also more than 100 electronic images on each record showing 20th-century life, traffic jams and all.

Tweets, photos

NASA is marking the anniversary of its back-to-back Voyager launches with tweets, reminiscences and still-captivating photos of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune taken by the Voyagers from 1979 through the 1980s.

Public television is also paying tribute with a documentary, The Farthest Voyager in Space, airing Wednesday on PBS at 9 p.m. EDT.

The two-hour documentary describes the tense and dramatic behind-the-scenes effort that culminated in the wildly successful missions to our solar system’s outer planets and beyond. More than 20 team members are interviewed, many of them long retired. There’s original TV footage throughout, including a look back at the late astronomer Carl Sagan of the 1980 PBS series Cosmos. It also includes an interview with Sagan’s son, Nick, who at 6 years old provided the English message: “Hello from the children of planet Earth.”

Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco who joined Voyager’s imaging team in 1980 puts the mission up there with man’s first moon landing.

‘Iconic’ achievement

“I consider Voyager to be the Apollo 11 of the planetary exploration program. It has that kind of iconic stature,” Porco, a visiting scholar at the University of California-Berkeley, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

It was Sagan who, in large part, got a record aboard each Voyager. NASA was reluctant and did not want the records eclipsing the scientific goals. Sagan finally prevailed, but he and his fellow record promoters had less than two months to rustle everything up.

The identical records were the audio version of engraved plaques designed by Sagan and others for Pioneers 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973.

The 55 greetings for the Voyager Golden Records were collected at Cornell University, where Sagan taught astronomy, and the United Nations in New York. The music production fell to science writer Timothy Ferris, a friend of Sagan living then in New York.

For the musical selections, Ferris and Sagan recruited friends along with a few professional musicians. They crammed in 90 minutes of music recorded at half-speed; otherwise, the discs would have held just 45 minutes’ worth of music.

How to choose from an infinite number of melodies and melodious sounds representing all of Earth?

Beethoven, Bach and Mozart were easy picks. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven represented jazz, Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues.

Chuck Berry

For the rock ‘n’ roll single, the group selected Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” Bob Dylan was a close runner-up, and the Beatles also rated high. Elvis Presley’s name came up (Presley died four days before Voyager 2’s launch). In the end, Ferris thought “Johnny B. Goode” best represented the origins and creativity of rock ‘n’ roll.

Ferris still believes it’s “a terrific record” and he has no “deep regrets” about the selections. Even the rejected tunes represented “beautiful materials.”

“It’s like handfuls of diamonds. If you’re concerned that you didn’t get the right handful or something, it’s probably a neurotic problem rather than anything to do with the diamonds,” Ferris told the AP this week.

But he noted: “If I were going to start into regrets, I suppose not having Italian opera would be on that list.”

The whole record project cost $30,000 or $35,000, to the best of Ferris’ recollection.

NASA estimated the records would last 1 billion to 3 billion years or more potentially outliving human civilization.

For Ferris, it’s time more than distance that makes the whole idea of finders-keepers so incomprehensible.

A billion years from now, “Voyager could be captured by an advanced civilization of beings that don’t exist yet. … It’s literally imponderable what will happen to the Voyagers,” he said.

See the article here:

NASA, PBS Marking 40 Years Since Voyager Spacecraft Launches – Voice of America

Monday’s Eclipse a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, NASA education specialist says – ABC NEWS 4

How much do you actually know about the eclipse? Hundreds of people lined up Saturday to learn from a NASA education specialist at the Charleston County Library. Not only was the specialist dropping some serious knowledge, but the library was also handing out free glasses.

Eyes will be on the sky in Charleston come 2:46 on Monday, but there are also other things to keep a look out for. NASA broke that down and explained why this event is so important to scientists.

How is the moon, that’s that tiny, cover up a sun that’s that big? Jennifer Hudgins asked the group.

Hudgins, a NASA education specialist, broke it all down for those in attendance.

“The moon is able to cover up the sun, because it’s closer to us. The sun is so much further away that they actually end up being the same size, which is how we’re able to view totality of an eclipse here, Hudgins said.

She described Monday as a once in a lifetime event.

“To be here in Charleston and see totality, I can’t wait. I’ll be one of those looking up at the eclipse the whole time too,” Hudgins said.

Glasses were handed out for safety, but Hudgins said theres more than one way to view the eclipse.

“You can even take a colander or a strainer from your kitchen and shine it on the ground, and you’re going to get many eclipses all over the ground, Hudgins said.

But if you’re safely looking up with the proper eye wear, take a look around.

“So Mercury is right near the sun, so we hardly ever see Mercury. So with the sun being eclipsed, Mercury will be visible. So, we are actually mapping the surface during that time, Hudgins said.

She said you’ll be able to see Venus and Mars, as well as some major stars, like Regulus, Sirius and the Orion constellation.

NASA scientists will be using space-based satellites to study the sun that day as well.

“During the eclipse the corona of the sun is visible, and it’s the only time that we can really study the corona. We also have some jets that are going to be flying for NASA that’s going to follow the path of the eclipse and the shadow of the moon across the country. So, those satellites can study the corona longer,” Hudgins said.

View original post here:

Monday’s Eclipse a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, NASA education specialist says – ABC NEWS 4

NASA Admin: By the Time You’re a Junior, What You Learned as a Freshman is Obsolete – Futurism

Fundamental Skills

As automation looms over the world of work, the changing face of labor factors more and more into decisions about which college course makes for the best investment of time and money. In a recent discussion with Futurism, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. a graduate of the University of Alabama and the acting administrator of NASA had a few pointers for students and educators about how to navigate this increasingly bumpy terrain.

Lightfoot began by noting how quickly progress moves in todays world, and how this may leave some young people (and some educators) at a loss: By the time you are a junior in college, what you learned as a freshman is already obsolete. Of course, he notes that there are some basics you will always need, there are some fundamental skills that are required either way. If you are in a science program, you need science. If you are in a technology program, you need engineering and math. Thats just the bottom line.

But still, issues remain.

Regardless of what fundamentals you learn, by the time that you graduate college, much of the information you acquired there will no longer applyand things are only going to get worse as our research into automation and artificial intelligence continues to advance.

This said, Lightfoot maintains that higher education does teach students a lot of valuable lessons they just might not be on the syllabus (yet). Ultimately, he outlined what needs to change to prepare young people for the world, and workforce, of tomorrow.

Most college courses require students to work alongside one another sooner or later. The way Lightfoot sees it, this kind of experience plays an essential role in preparing the sort of candidates who are going to excel at an organization like NASA.

There are a couple of skills that will always be needed, says Lightfoot. Thats being able to work on a team, to work well with other people, and to understand that youre never an individual in this. I can tell you, theres not a soul in this agency that can say I did something. No. We did something.

An organization like NASA cant complete its important work without every cog in the machine working in sync. Automation and robotics are going to change the kind of job opportunitiesleft available to college graduates in the next decade and beyond, but good collaboration skills will still be valuable.

You need to learn to communicate, adds Lightfoot. Those skills are very important, and theyre something that you can always teach and will always be important. It may not be much, but in the end, having skills inhuman-centered interactions will help ensure you are employable in the world of tomorrow.

Go here to see the original:

NASA Admin: By the Time You’re a Junior, What You Learned as a Freshman is Obsolete – Futurism


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