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NASA is finally bringing on new astronauts including this cool chick – New York Post

On May 25, a bleary-eyed Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, had just arrived in North Carolina on a red-eye flight from Arizona to attend her friends wedding. As she was juggling her bags and trying to open the door to her hotel room, her cellphone rang in her back pocket.

She knew exactly who was calling, and that it could potentially have her seeing stars.

I answered it as calmly as possible, said Moghbeli. But my hands were shaking,

The voice at the other end of the line asked: Are you still interested in joining us here at NASA?

The Baldwin, LI, native now laughs at the question. Of course I [was]! Who says no to that?

Moghbeli who is a helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps, stationed at Air Station Yuma in Arizona was one of 12 pilots, scientists and engineers chosen to train as astronauts.

Its the first class since 2013, and there were a record 18,353 applicants. Five of the 12 are women.

Moghbeli has dreamed of being an astronaut since the sixth grade, when she did a book report on Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

I dressed up as her in school. From then on [being an astronaut] was something that I wanted to do, said Moghbeli, who also idolized astronaut Mike Massimino, a native of Oceanside, Long Island.

As a kid, Moghbeli who was born in Germany and moved to Queens as a baby even attended space camp in Huntsville, Ala.

Her life wasnt all in the clouds, however: I loved going to Broadway shows. That was my favorite thing to do in the city growing up, she said. I really like The Lion King.

The road to stardom has been paved with blood, sweat and math, including an MIT diploma and three Marine deployments.

After graduating from Baldwin Senior High, Moghbeli headed to MIT and trained with the Marine Corps Platoon Leadership Program during college.

She entered the Marines as a second lieutenant with the intention of becoming a jet pilot but fell in love with the AH-1W Whiskey Cobra attack helicopter during flight school.

Three deployments later including one to Afghanistan, one on a ship in the Middle East and a tour in Asia she is now flying Cobras on reconnaissance and air support.

But that will all change in August, when Moghbeli, who is single, reports to Johnson Space Center in Houston for an intensive two-year astronaut-training process.

Despite the culmination of the shuttle era in 2011, Moghbelis spirits are still high.

There are a lot of jobs on Earth to be done by astronauts, she said.

And shes already started bonding with her classmates; after meeting at an announcement ceremony, theyve been texting each other.

Once she settles into her pad in Houston, Moghbeli can hang the picture of herself dressed as Tereshkova as a reminder of how far she has come.

Although she noted with a laugh, It doesnt look quite as cool as I remember.

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NASA is finally bringing on new astronauts including this cool chick – New York Post

NASA rocket launch from Virginia foiled again – WTOP

WASHINGTON The launch of NASAs Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket that was set for a Saturday night takeoff has been postponed indefinitely. Again. For the 11th time.

The launch of the rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, was canceled due to cloudy conditions.

They said the colorful clouds could be visible anywhere between New York and North Carolina, and possibly as far west as Charlottesville, Virginia.

The rocket was originally set to launch on May 31, but due to clouds, winds, poor weather conditions and boats in the hazard area, the launch many have been waiting for still has not lit up the sky.

We hear you, Steve Paluch.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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NASA rocket launch from Virginia foiled again – WTOP

House legislation would provide out of this world investments for NASA – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Aiming to add to NASAs funding and stability, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) introduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act on Friday morning.

Coauthored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), House Bill 3033 would mature and demonstrate new aeronautics technologies.

This bill will support our team here in the United States so we can continue to compete with international innovation and remain on top of the curve, Knight said in a statement.

By supporting NASA in these projects for innovation, we can ensure the United States remains the leader in transforming the aircraft industry that will also strengthen our military capabilities.

The bill would ensure support for NASAs Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates Strategic Implementation Plan by setting authorization levels for the next five years.

From 2018 to 2022, funding for each fiscal year would equate to $790 million, $880 million, $924 million, $946 million and $980 million, respectively.

Additionally, the bill would establish a national policy for aeronautics research.

According to Rep. Kaptur, NASA produces both ideas and careers which contribute to local economies and bring about national knowledge.

The work NASA does should always enjoy bipartisan support in Congress, Kaptur said. Investments in NASA and science are investments in jobs and a better quality of life.

H.R. 3033 has several supporters, including the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, NASA Aerospace Support Team, the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Small UAV Coalition and the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce.

President of NASA Aerospace Support Team Delma C. Freeman expressed the associations support of the legislation.

The Aeronautics Innovation Act properly invests in the critical NASA research that allows our aerospace industry to continue as the global leader in aeronautics research and technology development, Freeman said in a statement.

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House legislation would provide out of this world investments for NASA – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Hacktivist group says NASA could soon reveal alien life – Mirror.co.uk

Hacktivist group Anonymous has released a YouTube video in which it claims NASA could soon announce the discovery of alien life.

Anonymous is known around the world for its work. In the past, it’s taken on the likes of Isis, Donald Trump, and Westboro Baptist Church the small American religious group that campaigns against homosexuality.

In its latest video, Anonymous states that a NASA spokesperson called Professor Thomas Zurbuchen told a recent US Science, Space, and Technology committee meeting that extraterrestrial life could soon be proven.

“Our civilisation is on the verge of discovering evidence of alien life in the cosmos,” Zurbuchen supposedly said.

“Taking into account all of the different activities and missions that are searching for alien life, we are on the verge of making one of the most profound, unprecedented discoveries in history.”

Anonymous has also written about alien life on its website.

It said: “The evidence sure seems to imply that something is going on in the skies above.

“It would cost a lot for spaceships and a continuous flow of taxes and black budget dollars could imply a rational that there is more than meets the eye and or that of public knowledge.”

Obviously, this is speculation. At present, there’s no evidence at least none we know of that proves the existence of alien life. But many think it’s a possibility.

Last week, NASA discovered 219 new planets, ten of which are rocky planets possibly not all that dissimilar to Earth.

Although these planets are in the solar system’s ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ which means they’re too hot or cold to be habitable.

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Hacktivist group says NASA could soon reveal alien life – Mirror.co.uk

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Photographed from Space by Orbiter – PetaPixel (blog)

Trundling along the rocky terrain of lower Mount Sharp, the lonely Curiosity rover was recently photographed from space by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter using the most powerful telescope ever sent to Mars.

The 9.8-foot-long (3m) rover appears as a (somehow cute) tiny blue spot amongst the coppery-colored surroundings of Mount Sharp. Curiosity had been exploring Mars Gale crater, which has Mount Sharp as its central peak.

The image was taken on June 5 using the 143lb (65kg), $40 million High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. According to NASA, HiRISE has been imaging Curiosity about every three months, to monitor the surrounding features for changes such as dune migration or erosion.

Curiosity appears bluer than it really is to the human eye because of the way HiRISE exaggerates color in order to show the difference in surface materials on Mars for study. The camera uses three different color filters: red, blue-green, and near-infrared. By combining the images taken with the different color filters, false color images are created that emphasize textures.

If youd like to take a closer look, the full-resolution JPG is available from NASA here, and the TIFF can be downloaded here.

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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Photographed from Space by Orbiter – PetaPixel (blog)

NASA Just Called Out Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop-Approved ‘Healing Stickers’ – TIME

NASA just fact-checked Goop , Gwyneth Paltrow ‘s lifestyle website about the wearable healing stickers the website was promoting.

Goop said in a Thursday post that Body Vibes’ wearable stickers, which cost around $60 per pack, are “made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals during wear,” Gizmodo reports . The GOOP post went on to say that the wearables come “pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances.”

NASA responded to the claim telling CNN Money that carbon materials don’t line its suits and even further, its current spacesuit does not have any carbon fibers.

“Not only is the whole premise like snake oil, the logic doesnt even hold up,” Mark Shelhamer, a former chief scientist at NASA human research division, told Gizmodo . “If they promote healing, why do they leave marks on the skin when they are removed?”

Goop removed the NASA reference after Gizmodo initially reported on the disputed claim. They have since issued a statement saying their recommendations do not represent a “formal endorsement,” CNN Money reports.

“The opinions expressed by the experts and companies we profile do not necessarily represent the views of [Goop],” the brand said. “Based on the statement from NASA, we’ve gone back to the company to inquire about the claim and removed the claim from our site until we get additional verification” the statement read.

[ Gizmodo , CNN Money]

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NASA Just Called Out Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop-Approved ‘Healing Stickers’ – TIME

Will Mars Go Mute? NASA’s Aging Orbiters May Not Last Long Enough to Support Future Exploration – Scientific American

A cry for help has come from planetary scientists pleading for a Next Mars Orbiteror NeMO for short. Researchers say the spacecraft fleet currently orbiting the Red Planet are aging and there are no replacements in the works, imperiling future Mars landers, rovers and even possible human missions that will depend on orbiters to talk to Earth. We are at a turning point in Mars exploration, says Casey Dreier, director of space policy at The Planetary Society. NASA declares itself on a Journey to Mars, but it cant even invest in the most basic infrastructure to ensure that goal moves forward.

NeMOs most pressing duty, in many eyes, is to take the baton from veteran NASA spacecraftthe 2001 Mars Odyssey as well as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been on duty since March 2006that are at risk of expiring of old age. If they are gone, Earth will be mute to all missions sent to Mars in coming years. And even if they hang on, their technology is becoming outdated. NeMO could offer, for instance, broadband EarthMars laser communicationsa big plus to handle the projected communications traffic outpouring from the Red Planet down the line.

If equipped with radar, NeMO could also serve as a water-witching orbiter. It could scan Mars and map out subsurface pockets of water ice and even assist in X-marking a safe and sound landing zone for astronauts where they can draw on water for oxygen-sustaining needs as well as for concocting rocket fuel. Some scientists also call for NeMO to showcase new solar-electric ion thrusters and advanced solar arrays. With such capacities, the Mars orbiter is ripe for extra assignments such as helping to return precious samples from Mars to Earth or sauntering over and investigating Phobos and Deimos, the planets two moons.

For NASA, there is uncertainty about how NeMO fits into the grand scheme of Mars exploration, and at what cost. Indeed, the proposed 2018 fiscal year space agency budget asks for $19.1 billion for all things civil space. It includes funding for future Mars missions but does not call out NeMO by name. Asked about the situation, Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters says only, Were continuing to study our options for long-range support of communication for our rovers and landed assets on Mars.

What is the interplanetary price tag of a new Mars orbiter? It depends. The low-end version would have the spacecraft confined to relaying communications. Things escalate dollar-wise if it will also make science observations and if it comes factory-loaded with new technologies to perform a larger to-do list of tasks. And any funds allocated to NeMO from the NASA budget must contend against other wish list items such as a mission to Jupiters moon Europa to search for life, not to mention human exploration of the moon or Mars.

Critical Functions

NeMO has three critical functions, says Scott Hubbard of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. He was NASAs first Mars czar, a title he earned in restructuring the space agencys Mars agenda in 2000 in the wake of back-to-back Red Planet mission failures. First of all, he says, it must replace the aging communications infrastructure put into place years ago at Mars. If not, all the future data and future exploration plans are at significant risk. Second, a high-resolution imager to replace the MROs High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) will be crucial to select safe and appealing landing sites for future scientific and human exploration landings.

Finally, another NeMO task that should be included, Hubbard says, is a provision to return samples of Red Planet dirt that could be collected and cached by the so-called Mars 2020 rover set to launch in three years. The engineering solution may be for NeMO to use solar-electric propulsion to turn around and fly back to Earth hauling an entire separate spacecraft that carries the goods from Mars, he says, or it could tote a special-purpose entry vehicle thats topped off with Mars regolith and rock for drop-off here at home. Others have suggested that returning Mars samples would require an entirely separate spacecraft, or series of spacecraft, on the order of a flagship mission costing around $2 billion. Thats nonsense, Hubbard says. If requirements are set properly, and the science community and NASA centers engaged in the effort restrain their appetites, Mars sample return can be affordable, he concludes.

Yet with all these possible features and functions, some experts say NeMO is at risk of becoming a Christmas tree spacecraft. That is, a mission that is arguably weighed down with too many ornaments and limping limbs while sucking up more and more development dollars.

Concept Studies

NASA has already made some progress toward NeMO. Back in April 2016 the agency requested ideas from U.S. industry about a new Mars orbiter for potential launch in the 2020s. The space agency wanted that spacecraft to provide advanced communications and imaging as well as robotic science exploration in support of NASAs plans to send astronauts to the vicinity of the Red Planet or its moons sometime during the 2030s.

Later in 2016 NASA picked five U.S. aerospace firms to carry out concept studies for a prospective Mars orbiter mission. Those contract winnersThe Boeing Co.; Lockheed Martin Space Systems; Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems; Orbital ATK; and Space Systems/Loraltook four months to appraise the need for Mars telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging as well as assess possible added scientific instruments, optical communications and the use of solar-electric propulsion. But NASA has not yet awarded a contract to actually move forward with any of these concepts. I think theres broad consensus that something is needed, says Guy Beutelschies, director of deep-space exploration for Lockheed Martin. But the mechanics of getting that into the NASA budget, funded and moving forward into a real procurement are unclear.

Yet the space agency is running out of time. The soonest a mission could be ready is probably 2022, and a decision to target that date would need to come soon. If they want to do a Mars 2022 orbiter, its going to take about four years or so, specifically if they want to inject a lot of new technology, he says. The orbits of Earth and Mars align every two years, providing a biennial opportunity to launch spacecraft to the Red Planet. The worry is that if they dont have something out this year, then they may have to slip it to the 2024 opportunity, Beutelschies notes.

Shallow Ice

If NASA is serious about human exploration of Mars, then science measurements from a NeMO are essential, says Alfred McEwen, director of the Planetary Image Research Lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson and principal investigator of MROs HiRISE. NeMO could find resources like shallow ice at low latitudes, he suggests, and could study whether there are special regions of Mars astronauts should avoid contaminating such as locations with recurring slope lineae. Those are narrow, dark-toned streaks that go down steep Martian slopes, which could be water tracks of salty brines, and potentially home to Martian life.

Hurling humans to Mars means cutting through a thicket of questions and, in turn, that means more reconnaissance, says Rick Davis, assistant director for science and exploration in NASAs Science Mission Directorate. Having NeMO outfitted with powerful synthetic aperture radar would enable it to spot ice at depth and help plan tapping that resource for use by future Mars crews, he explains. What we dont know is where the water is and whether its in veins or fields, Davis says. There are big knowledge gaps, and you need more resolution than what weve had to date.

Troubling Path of Decline

The lack of plans for NeMO is just one of a number of problems threatening NASAs desire to dispatch humans to Mars. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), a committee that reports to NASA and Congress, noted in its 2016 annual report that the space agencys humans-to-Mars plans are in yellow conditionmeaning the panel is not confident that important issues or concerns are being addressed adequately by NASA. The safety group recommended to the agency the establishment of a Mars Mission Program Office and/or designation of a Mars czar that could facilitate needed studies and make sure limited funds are being spent on the appropriate technical challenges. NASA has made some progress in defining the journey to Mars, but in the opinion of the panel, current plans lack substantive risk reduction, technology maturation and advanced systems development to achieve the stated goals, the ASAP report explains. Moreover, the group said establishing a Mars Program Office could facilitate these efforts.

We are essentially riding on the investments made in the previous decade, Dreier says. Earlier this month the public space advocacy group issued a review of NASAs Mars program, stressing that not all is well with the future of Mars exploration. Furthermore, the space advocacy group claimed the space agencys robotic program for the Red Planet is on a troubling path of declineand decisions must be made now in order to stop it. Dreier is co-author of the report, titled Mars in Retrograde: A Pathway to Restoring NASAs Mars Exploration Program. Among its recommendations, the document suggests NASA should immediately commit to a Mars telecommunications and high-resolution imaging orbiter to replace rapidly aging assets currently in orbit. You would think that making the case for a new orbiter would be easy, Dreier says, but so far NASA has been unable or unwilling to commit to starting one for launch in the early 2020s.

All in all, Dreier says the big takeaway about Mars and the space agency, in his view, is clear: NASA built an extraordinary program of Mars exploration in the first decade of this century. The level of investment shrank in the 2010s to the point where there is only a single mission in development as part of the Mars program: the Mars 2020 rover. That wheeled robot is scripted to fetch samples to be returned to Earth by a mission that has yet to be blueprinted or even approved, he notes. Though its science instruments will generate more data than any previous surface mission, [the Mars 2020 rover] will depend on an orbital relay network that will be nearly 20 years old to return this invaluable data, Dreier says. In regards to NeMO, as Dreier sees it, we can fix this, but we need to start this mission now. We roll the dice otherwise.

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Will Mars Go Mute? NASA’s Aging Orbiters May Not Last Long Enough to Support Future Exploration – Scientific American

NASA Closes Out Its Asteroid Redirect Mission – Sky & Telescope

Following the release of the 2018 budget, the space agency has ordered an orderly closeout for the Asteroid Redirect program.

NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission would have retrieved a boulder from the surface of an asteroid. NASA

After years of study, NASA announced recently that its plan to retrieve an asteroid and place it in lunar orbit, known as the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), will be shut down due to lack of congressional support in the proposed FY2018 budget. The NASA ARM program director Michele Gates made the announcement on June 13th, during the recent meeting of the Small Bodies Assessment Group held at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The focus will now turn shutting down the program while salvaging key technologies and lessons learned for other possible future applications.

The agency remains committed to the next human missions to deep space, but we will not pursue the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) with the Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal, says Kathryn Hambleton (NASA). The ARM team is in the process of documenting its activities to ensure key knowledge from the mission concept is archived as part of an orderly closeout.

This artist’s concept shows an astronaut examining the returned boulder while in lunar orbit. NASA

ARM was an ambitious plan from the start. First proposed in 2013, the project called for an automated rendezvous and capture of a small near-Earth asteroid, which would then be placed in orbit around the Moon. Astronauts would then rendezvous with the asteroid in lunar orbit, study the asteroid, and collect and return samples to Earth. NASA ARM would have relied on the new Orion crewed capsule and the new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket, both still under development.

Politically, the mission had detractors from the start, and it failed to find support in Congress, even though the plan was often touted as a stepping stone between leaving low-Earth orbit and heading to Mars in the 2030s. From an engineering perspective, the plan plan was complex, requiring an automated spacecraft to retrieve an SUV-sized boulder from a larger asteroid moving slowly relative to Earth’s orbital motion, a scenario that significantly limited the potential targets.

Our best look at Bennu, one of the asteroid candidates for the boulder retrieval concept of ARM. The image at right shows radar reflectivity as measured by Arecibo, with the radar beam shining from the top. At right is a reconstruction of Bennu’s shape using those data. NASA / Arecibo

But even as the ARM mission closes out, research and development will still continue in some key areas. The solar electric propulsion system, initially envisioned to fly on the robotic segment of ARM, is still being developed for future deep-space use. And the search for near-Earth asteroids involving observatories worldwide will go on.

While our long-term Mars architecture is still in development, Hambleton says, we’ve recently unveiled a concept using SLS and Orion to build a deep space gateway and transport in cis-lunar space to help us prepare for human deep space missions, including Mars.

Changes expected from the president’s budget request for NASA. AAAS

The end of NASA ARM is also part of a larger picture: a time of transition amid the new presidential administration. NASA overall actually makes out pretty well in the proposed FY2018 budget: $19.1 billion dollars, a 3% drop from the $19.7 billion budget of FY17, though still slightly above where NASA funding levels have stalled for the past decade. Planetary sciences was the big winner in the FY18 NASA budget, getting a proposed $1.9 billion dollars, the division’s highest annual funding to date. This will support the Mars 2020 rover and the Mars InSight lander, as well as the Europa Clipper and Lucy and Psyche asteroid missions planned for the 2020s.

A lion’s share of NASA’s proposed budget will go towards continued support of the International Space Station, the James Webb Space Telescope (set to launch in late 2018), and development of the Orion capsule and the SLS, though the latter face significant cuts. The first flight of Orion aboard the SLS is slated for 2019 and will carry an uncrewed capsule around the Moon and back. NASA studied the idea of putting a crew on the first Orion/SLS flight but nixed the idea last month.

Along with NASA ARM, NASA’s Earth sciences division will take a hit under the proposed budget, losing $170 million dollars for a nearly 9% drop from FY17 to FY18. This puts several crucial Earth observing missions, including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-3) and the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), in jeopardy. However, 18 Earth-observing missions will remain in orbit, according to NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot.

NASA’s Office of Education also faces closure with this budget, with just $37 million set aside for transitional and closing costs.

However, while some changes appear to be set, such as the ARM close-out, it’s important to remember that the president’s budget request often changes before it becomes signed into law later in the year. The Planetary Society offers their take on NASA’s new budget here. To learn how the NASA budget comes about, watch this explanation from The Planetary Society’s Casey Dreier:

When it comes to NASA funding, it’s an uncertain time of crisis and opportunity. As ever, the phrase no bucks, no Buck Rogers applies. We’re also now farther away from the end of the U.S. Space Shuttle program in 2011 than the first shuttle flight in 1981 was from the end of Apollo in 1975.

Perhaps, the lessons from NASA ARM will get paid forward, as U.S. astronauts once again venture out of low-Earth orbit in the next decade.

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NASA Closes Out Its Asteroid Redirect Mission – Sky & Telescope

NASA Drones, Drone Package Delivery Tested In Reno – KNPR

NASAdoesnthave a space center in Nevada, butthe agencyis doing work here.

Nevada is one of seven places that has federal approval to test commercialdrones, and justlast month, NASA flew fiveof themat the Reno-Stead Airport.

Drone package delivery is also being tested.The site set a record recently for longest distance drone delivery.

ChrisWalachisthe director of theNevada Unmanned AircraftSystemsTest Site, which operates a half-dozen sites around the state.

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NASA Drones, Drone Package Delivery Tested In Reno – KNPR

NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic – The State


The State
NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic
The State
For the first time since 1970, the Lowcountry will witness a total solar eclipse, and NASA will share the experience with the world from Charleston's point of view. The space agency will livestream and broadcast the event from the College of Charleston
NASA Prepares for Aug. 21 Total Solar Eclipse with Live Coverage, Safety InformationSpace Daily
NASA releases images of solar eclipse from space, announces live broadcastThe Space Reporter

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NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic – The State

Finding Neemo: Nasa goes from the bottom of the ocean to outer space – The Guardian

Living underwater has very similar dangers and parallels to living in a spacecraft: Nasas extreme environment mission operations (Neemo) expedition. Photograph: Karl Shreeves/Nasa

On Sunday a group of six astronauts, engineers and scientists submerged 19 metres to the bottom of an Atlantic Ocean reef to live underwater for Nasas extreme environment mission operations (Neemo) expedition.

Living underwater has very similar dangers and parallels to living in a spacecraft: closed-loop life support, pressurised habitat with incredibly efficient recycling systems, near weightless extra vehicular activities (EVAs, AKA spacewalks), a packed daily schedule, communications with mission control, the inability to return to Earth safely without a special vehicle and sufficient re-entry time to protect the crew and keep them alive. Each time they go outside, the habitat crew have to don full suits with personal oxygen tanks just like a spacewalk.

The only undersea laboratory in the world, Aquarius, off Florida, is adjacent to deep coral reefs and has been home to 50 astronauts so far. Crew cannot resurface without decompression as, after 24 hours underwater, they are totally saturated from nitrogen and inert gases, so rising up to normal air quickly would be fatal.

Living below the surface at 2.5 times the normal pressure of Earth allows for unprecedented science and exploration: regular divers can only stay up to 30 minutes at that depth, yet aquanauts can perform EVAs for up to eight hours a day. Astronauts train in giant swimming pools, so suiting up and performing hours of science missions outside the Aquarius in personal spacesuits with closed-loop oxygen is a pretty accurate analogue.

Day two of the mission we introduced a lunar voice delay of 1.7 seconds that, like for the Apollo astronauts, isnt too noticeable. Later however, we will have a time delay identical to Mars and move to text-based communications instead as its impractical to have a conversation with a pause of 20 minutes between talking and replying! At the end of the mission, crew will be brought back over 17 hours to normal Earth pressure so that the gases can escape their bodies safely and they can resurface to see the sun and feel the wind again. Just like living in space, astronaut-aquanauts miss the weather.

Topside mission control sees the mission director, capcom, planning, EVA and science rep backed up by a 24/7 watch desk inside and two science trailers in the carpark. The European Space Agency (ESA) deployed their new Lunar evacuation system assembly (Lesa), something that the Apollo missions were lacking. This brilliant feat of engineering allows a single person to secure and evacuate an incapacitated crew member on the moon and has been tested in the European astronaut centres neutral buoyancy facility. My day job is Eurocom for the International Space Station (ISS), working hundreds of different science experiments and systems engineering with the astronauts in their packed 12-hour workdays on orbit. ISS has five mission controls: Houston, Huntsville, Munich, Moscow and Tsukuba. At each mission control only one flight controller position can talk back to the astronauts when they call Earth, and frequently Europe replies with a distinctly Australian accent mine. After years of talking up to space, my voice now also travels down below the Atlantic Ocean.

Working underwater with extended daily dive times and living in the pressurised Aquarius habitat means heat is pulled from their bodies much faster and their metabolism needs to work very hard. As a result they need to eat a lot more compared to when theyre on Earth. Food needs to be preserved similar to space food, and some of it is real space food that isnt dehydrated military packs like the old days. European space food is produced in France and Italy and is genuinely tasty: tiramisu, risotto, pasta, quinoa, vegetables, soups, even gingerbread and sausage sizzles! Making space food really is rocket science it has to be nutritious, resistant to radiation, have a shelf life at room temperature of up to two years through natural preservatives and cannot produce any crumbs small pieces like that can cause major damage to station equipment.

And so this Aussie has found Neemo. The crew lived and trained together in the week before diving down to their new underwater home. Just like ISS missions where the crew train together for 2.5 years prior to Soyuz rocket launch, they grow to know each other well and become strong teammates before, during and after their mission. Space exploration truly transcends borders and rises above earthly politics to simply work together regardless of background, square away incredible science, research and technology development to benefit life on Earth and keep fellow crewmates safe while continuing long-lasting friendships.

You can watch live until 27 June here and find out more about Neemo here.

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Finding Neemo: Nasa goes from the bottom of the ocean to outer space – The Guardian

ESA to develop gravitational wave space mission with NASA support – Phys.Org

June 23, 2017 by Francis Reddy This illustration shows ESA’s (the European Space Agency’s) LISA observatory, a multi-spacecraft mission to study gravitational waves expected to launch in 2034. In the mission concept, LISA consists of three spacecraft in a triangular formation spanning millions of kilometers. Test masses in spacecraft on each arm of the formation will be linked together by lasers to detect passing gravitational waves. Credit: AEI/Milde Marketing/Exozet

ESA (the European Space Agency) has selected the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) for its third large-class mission in the agency’s Cosmic Vision science program. The three-spacecraft constellation is designed to study gravitational waves in space and is a concept long studied by both ESA and NASA.

ESA’s Science Program Committee announced the selection at a meeting on June 20. The mission will now be designed, budgeted and proposed for adoption before construction begins. LISA is expected to launch in 2034. NASA will be a partner with ESA in the design, development, operations and data analysis of the mission.

Gravitational radiation was predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Massive accelerating objects such as merging black holes produce waves of energy that ripple through the fabric of space and time. Indirect proof of the existence of these waves came in 1978, when subtle changes observed in the motion of a pair of orbiting neutron stars showed energy was leaving the system in an amount matching predictions of energy carried away by gravitational waves.

In September 2015, these waves were first directly detected by the National Science Foundation’s ground-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). The signal arose from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes located some 1.3 billion light-years away. Similar signals from other black hole mergers have since been detected.

Seismic, thermal and other noise sources limit LIGO to higher-frequency gravitational waves around 100 cycles per second (hertz). But finding signals from more powerful events, such as mergers of supermassive black holes in colliding galaxies, requires the ability to detect frequencies much lower than 1 hertz, a sensitivity level only possible from space.

LISA consists of three spacecraft separated by 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers) in a triangular formation that follows Earth in its orbit around the sun. Each spacecraft carries test masses that are shielded in such a way that the only force they respond to is gravity. Lasers measure the distances to test masses in all three spacecraft. Tiny changes in the lengths of each two-spacecraft arm signals the passage of gravitational waves through the formation.

For example, LISA will be sensitive to gravitational waves produced by mergers of supermassive black holes, each with millions or more times the mass of the sun. It will also be able to detect gravitational waves emanating from binary systems containing neutron stars or black holes, causing their orbits to shrink. And LISA may detect a background of gravitational waves produced during the universe’s earliest moments.

For decades, NASA has worked to develop many technologies needed for LISA, including measurement, micropropulsion and control systems, as well as support for the development of data analysis techniques.

For instance, the GRACE Follow-On mission, a U.S. and German collaboration to replace the aging GRACE satellites scheduled for launch late this year, will carry a laser measuring system that inherits some of the technologies originally developed for LISA. The mission’s Laser Ranging Interferometer will track distance changes between the two satellites with unprecedented precision, providing the first demonstration of the technology in space.

In 2016, ESA’s LISA Pathfinder successfully demonstrated key technologies needed to build LISA. Each of LISA’s three spacecraft must gently fly around its test masses without disturbing them, a process called drag-free flight. In its first two months of operations, LISA Pathfinder demonstrated this process with a precision some five times better than its mission requirements and later reached the sensitivity needed for the full multi-spacecraft observatory. U.S. researchers collaborated on aspects of LISA Pathfinder for years, and the mission carries a NASA-supplied experiment called the ST7 Disturbance Reduction System, which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Explore further: Gravitational wave mission selected, planet-hunting mission moves forward

The LISA trio of satellites to detect gravitational waves from space has been selected as the third large-class mission in ESA’s Science programme, while the Plato exoplanet hunter moves into development.

On December 3, 2015, the LISA Pathfinder mission blasted into space carrying the most stable spacecraft thruster system ever qualified for use in space. Developed by NASA JPL, the Space Technology 7 (ST-7) Disturbance Reduction …

A key component of a future gravitational wave observatory passed a series of tests with flying colors, while coming closer to experiencing true free fall than any other human-made object ever has. At the heart of the experiment …

Today, ESA has invited European scientists to propose concepts for the third large mission in its science programme, to study the gravitational Universe.

Black holes can be divided into three classes according to mass. On the low end are those with masses 10 times that of the sun. Examples are the two black holes whose merger generated the first gravitational wave to be detected, …

LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by ESA (the European Space Agency) with contributions from NASA, has successfully demonstrated critical technologies needed to build a space-based observatory for detecting ripples in space-time …

Long-term power cuts, destruction of electronic devices and increased cancer risk for aeroplane passengers are all potential effects of the Earth being hit by a powerful solar eruption.

A team of laboratory astrophysicists from Leiden University (the Netherlands) managed to make glycerol under conditions comparable to those in dark interstellar clouds. They allowed carbon monoxide ice to react with hydrogen …

At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sun’s surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and …

(Phys.org)A team of researchers form the U.S., Denmark and France has created a report regarding the creation and use of software meant to give exploratory robots in space more autonomy. In their paper published in the …

For the first time in almost a century the United States is preparing for a coast-to-coast solar eclipse, a rare celestial event millions of Americans, with caution, will be able to observe.

(Phys.org)A pair of space scientists working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology has written a Focus piece for the journal Science Robotics. Steve Chien and Kiri Wagstaff suggest …

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ESA to develop gravitational wave space mission with NASA support – Phys.Org

NASA Eyes Close-Up Mission to Uranus, Neptune – Space.com

Voyager 2’s views of Uranus and Neptune as the probe flew past in the 1980s. New NASA missions could further explore the gas worlds.

New NASA mission ideas would study the gassy environments of Uranus and Neptune, two planets on the edge of the solar system that spacecraft have visited only once.

The agency has several potential mission concepts on the table, including flybys, orbiters and even a spacecraft to dive into Uranus’ atmosphere, agency officials said in a statement.

NASA released a study of potential future missions in support of the forthcoming Planetary Science Decadal Survey, a publication of the National Research Council that is used to help determine what missions NASA should pursue. The next survey covers science priorities from 2022 and 2032. [Auroras on Uranus Dazzle in New Hubble Telescope Views]

“This [NASA] study argues the importance of exploring at least one of these planets and its entire environment, which includes surprisingly dynamic icy moons, rings and bizarre magnetic fields,” Mark Hofstadter, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the statement. Hofstadter was one of the two co-chairs of the science team that produced the report.

“We do not know how these planets formed and why they and their moons look the way they do,” added fellow co-chair Amy Simon, senior scientist of planetary atmospheres research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “There are fundamental clues as to how our solar system formed and evolved that can only be found by a detailed study of one, or preferably both of these planets.”

Both planets have been visited by a single spacecraft, Voyager 2, which flew by Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and 1989, respectively. Voyager 2 was tasked with viewing the largest planets of the outer solar system and took advantage of a rare planetary alignment to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune on the probe’s way out of the solar system. (The spacecrat’s twin, Voyager 1, studied Jupiter and Saturn and entered interstellar space in 2012.)

Since then, however, telescope technology has improved enough so that scientists can perform some studies of Uranus and Neptune from the ground. Researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, for example, have tracked giant storms appearing and disappearing on Uranus in recent years. However, no concentrated long-term program is possible on the ground, because telescope time is competitive and spread among several targets.

Studies suggest that Uranus and Neptune both have liquid oceans beneath their clouds, making up about two-thirds of their mass, NASA officials noted in the statement. It’s a different environment from the much bigger Jupiter and Saturn (which are about 85 percent gas by mass) and smaller, rocky planets such as Earth or Mars, which are almost 100 percent rock.

“It’s not clear how or where ice giant planets form, why their magnetic fields are strangely oriented, and what drives geologic activity on some of their moons,” NASA added in the same statement. “These mysteries make them scientifically important, and this importance is enhanced by the discovery that many planets around other stars appear to be similar to our own ice giants.”

You can view the full 529-page study at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute’s website.

Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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NASA Eyes Close-Up Mission to Uranus, Neptune – Space.com

High Above Mars, a NASA Orbiter Spies the Curiosity Rover – New York Times

The camera has also taken pictures of NASAs Viking and Phoenix landers. A Russian amateur may have also spotted Mars 3, the Soviet spacecraft that set down on Mars in 1971, although that identification was not conclusive.

The orbiter has also provided hints into Mars spacecraft that failed.

When the European Space Agencys Schiaparelli craft, part of its ExoMars mission, disappeared last year as it was descending, the Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted a dark scar on the surface where the lander crashed.

The orbiter also found Beagle 2, an earlier European Space Agency lander that disappeared in 2003. In that instance, it turned out that Beagle 2 made it to the surface in one piece but not all of its solar panels deployed. With the radio antenna blocked, it was never able to send a message back to Earth.

One spacecraft, however, still eludes discovery NASAs Polar Lander that disappeared without a trace in December 1999 as it was heading toward a spot on Mars near the South Pole.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiters camera has taken images covering the area where Polar Lander is likely to be, but it remains hidden in the rough terrain. In the years since its disappearance, the debris may have also been partly hidden by dust and frost.

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High Above Mars, a NASA Orbiter Spies the Curiosity Rover – New York Times

NASA Calls Bullshit on Goop’s $120 ‘Bio-Frequency Healing’ Sticker Packs [Updated] – Gizmodo

Theres no shortage of things to be mad about in late capitalism. Pretty high on the list, though, is the Eat, Pray, Love brand of pseudoscience promoted by Gwyneth Paltrows Goop. Somehow, Goopwhich previously encouraged women to shove eggs up their vaginashas out-Gooped itself: the brand is now promoting stickers called Body Vibes. The product, which I remind you, is literally a sticker, uses NASA space suit material to rebalance the energy frequency in our bodies, whatever the actual fuck that means.

Human bodies operate at an ideal energetic frequency, but everyday stresses and anxiety can throw off our internal balance, depleting our energy reserves and weakening our immune systems, Goop says on its website. Body Vibes stickers (made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronauts vitals during wear) come pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances.

Yes, these sentences sound like what youd expect if you threw Enya lyrics in a blender. But whats somehow worse is that Body Vibes is trying to invoke our beloved space agency to bolster its legitimacy. Obviously, we had to go to the pros.

A representative from NASAs spacewalk office told Gizmodo that they do not have any conductive carbon material lining the spacesuits. Spacesuits are actually made of synthetic polymers, spandex, and other materials that serve a purpose beyond making their wearer look like a resident of Nightmare Coachella.

Gizmodo has asked Body Vibes to provide us with the peer-reviewed research that supports their claim that their astronaut stickers have any impact on the human body. Weve also asked Body Vibes and Goop for theirresponse to NASAs assertion that they definitely do not use a carbonate material to line their spacesuits. So far, no luck on either front.

It gets worse. The stickerswhich run as high as $120 for a pack of 24promise to assuage various ailments, including anxiety and pain, using something called Bio Energy Synthesis Technology. This is not a scientific concept, but rather an invention of AlphaBioCentrix, a Nevada-based biotech company that sells Quantum Energy Bracelets and Health Pendants. AlphaBioCentrixs founder, Richard Eaton, was apparently inspired to help create Body Vibes after meeting some engineers in a dark alleyway several years ago. Or maybe at Gwyneths pied–terre in the Hamptons. Who can say.

Without going into a long explanation about the research and development of this technology, it comes down to this; I found a way to tap into the human bodys bio-frequency, which the body is receptive to outside energy signatures, Eaton told Gizmodo. He added that, conveniently, Most of the research that has been collected is confidential and is held as company private information.

Mark Shelhamer, former chief scientist at NASAs human research division, wasnt wooed by Body Vibes or its secret research.

Wow, he told Gizmodo. What a load of BS this is.

Shelhamer reiterated that space suits are not lined with carbon material, and that even if they were, it would be for adding strength to the suitnot for monitoring vital signs.

Not only is the whole premise like snake oil, the logic doesnt even hold up, he said. If they promote healing, why do they leave marks on the skin when they are removed?

Unless they are operated by tiny wizards, who have been captured for the sole purpose of promoting Paltrows wellness empire, Body Vibes have literally no scientific basis. If you want to wear a sticker to feel good about yourself, thats finejust dont act like its fucking penicillin.

[h/t Meredith Bennett-Smith]

Update 1:25 pm: Goop has pulled their claim regarding NASA from its website, and provided the following statement to Gizmodo:

As we have always explained, advice and recommendations included on goop are not formal endorsements and the opinions expressed by the experts and companies we profile do not necessarily represent the views of goop. Our content is meant to highlight unique products and offerings, find open-minded alternatives, and encourage conversation. We constantly strive to improve our site for our readers, and are continuing to improve our processes for evaluating the products and companies featured. Based on the statement from NASA, weve gone back to the company to inquire about the claim and removed the claim from our site until we get additional verification.

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NASA Calls Bullshit on Goop’s $120 ‘Bio-Frequency Healing’ Sticker Packs [Updated] – Gizmodo

NASA will broadcast a livestream of August’s rare solar eclipse from Charleston – Charleston Post Courier

As many as a half dozen or more high-altitude balloons carrying video cameras will rise from the Lowcountry in August, livestreaming a rare total solar eclipse that will be broadcast from the College of Charleston grounds.

The balloons are expected to be among as many as 50 deployed under NASA guidance, along with 11 spacecraft, to record the event.

The broadcast from a NASA team on Rivers Green behind Addlestone Library will be streamed on NASA TV, the NASA website and various public broadcasting stations across the United States beginning at 1 p.m Aug. 21, NASA announced Wednesday.

The total eclipse is predicted to begin over Charleston at 2:46 p.m., lasting less than two minutes.

“NASA has designated Charleston as Eclipse Central,” Cassandra Runyon, a planetary geology professor at the college, said Wednesday.

The federal space agency will have correspondents and scientists stationed across the nation to provide live updates of the eclipse during the telecast.

“Never before has a celestial event been viewed by so many and explored from so many vantage points,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA associate director.

A total eclipse when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, putting the Earth in shadow is a relatively rare event for most people. The star and the moon appear as a single dark orb with a brilliant flare, or corona, at its rim.

Charleston and a 70-mile or so stretch the length of South Carolina will be right under the “totality” shadow path. The last time that happened here was in 1970.

The eclipse will begin in Oregon and end off the Lowcountry coast. It will be the first time in 99 years that a total eclipse of the sun will be visible all across the United States, according to NASA.

Over the course of 100 minutes, 14 states across the United States will experience some two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. A partial eclipse will be viewable across all of North America. The eclipse is expected to start in Lowcountry skies about 1:16 p.m. The lunar shadow will leave the area at 4:09 p.m.

Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

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NASA will broadcast a livestream of August’s rare solar eclipse from Charleston – Charleston Post Courier

NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic – Island Packet


Island Packet
NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic
Island Packet
For the first time since 1970, the Lowcountry will witness a total solar eclipse, and NASA will share the experience with the world from Charleston's point of view. The space agency will livestream and broadcast the event from the College of Charleston
Charleston will have front-row seats during eclipse, and will be home base for NASAABC NEWS 4
NASA releases images of solar eclipse from space, announces live broadcastThe Space Reporter

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NASA to broadcast epic solar eclipse this summer from Charleston. And the views should be fantastic – Island Packet

NASA’s infrared and radar eyes in space cast on Tropical Storm Cindy – Phys.Org

June 22, 2017 On June 22 at 2:21 a.m. EDT (0621 UTC) GPM very little rainfall near Cindy’s center of circulation but bands of moderate to heavy showers were seen moving into the states along the Gulf Coast. Storms over central Alabama were dropping rain at a rate of over 3.6 inches (91 mm) per hour. Credit: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

NASA’s Aqua satellite analyzed Tropical Storm Cindy in infrared light to identify areas of strongest storms and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM satellite found locations of heaviest rainfall as Cindy was making landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast states.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite looked at Tropical Depression Cindy in infrared light. The AIRS image was taken on June 21 at 19:53 UTC (3:53 p.m. EST) and showed some cloud top temperatures of thunderstorms near the center of circulation as cold as minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius). NASA research has shown the storms with cloud tops that cold have the potential to generate heavy rainfall.

The infrared data was false-colored at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where AIRS data is managed.

Cindy made landfall around 3 a.m. CDT in southwestern Louisiana. At that time, the National Hurricane Center or NHC said that Cindy was centered about 30 miles (45 km) west-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Measuring Rainfall Rates from Space

The GPM core observatory satellite passed above as Tropical Storm Cindy was approaching the western Louisiana coast on June 22, 2017 at 2:21 a.m. EDT (0621 UTC). Cindy had maximum sustained winds of about 40 knots (46 mph) at that time. Rainfall derived from Microwave Imager (GMI) and Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) measurements showed that there was very little rainfall near Cindy’s center of circulation but bands of moderate to heavy showers were seen moving into the states along the Gulf Coast. GPM’s Radar (DPR Ku Band) found that storms over central Alabama were dropping rain at a rate of over 3.6 inches (91 mm) per hour.

At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, GPM radar (DPR Ku Band) data were used to show the 3-D structure of rainfall within Cindy’s storm tops. GPM’s radar revealed that a few storms within rain bands near New Orleans were reaching heights of over 7.2 miles (11.6 km). GPM’s radar found that the heaviest downpours over Alabama were returning radar reflectivity values of over 51dBZ to the GPM satellite.

Cindy’s Whereabouts on June 22

On June 22, NHC issued a Tropical Storm Warning from High Island, Texas to Morgan City, Louisiana.

At 8 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Cindy was located near latitude 30.5 North, longitude 93.7 West. Cindy is moving toward the north near 12 mph (19 km/h), and a turn toward the north-northeast is expected later today, followed by a turn toward the northeast on Friday, June 23. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 kph) with higher gusts. The estimated minimum central pressure is 994 millibars.

Rainfall is the Biggest Danger

The National Hurricane Center noted that rainfall is the biggest threat from Cindy as it continues to move inland. NHC said, “Cindy is expected to produce rain accumulations of 3 to 6 inches with isolated maximum amounts up to 12 inches over eastern Texas, western and central Louisiana, and southern and eastern Arkansas through Friday morning. Additional rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches over southern Mississippi, southern and central Alabama, and extreme western Florida Panhandle are expected through Friday morning. This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash flooding in these areas.

Rainfall is expected to begin and expand across parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 4 inches are expected through Friday morning.”

In addition to heavy rainfall, tropical storm force winds, storm surge and a few tornadoes are possible. The tornado threat extends through tonight, June 22, from the lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valley regions to the central Gulf Coast.

On the forecast track, Cindy will move into southeastern Arkansas early Friday, and into Tennessee later on Friday. NHC said Cindy is expected to continue weakening and should become a remnant low tonight.

Explore further: NASA sees Tropical Storm Cindy soaking the Gulf Coast

NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image of Tropical Storm Cindy after it formed and was already affecting the U.S. Gulf Coast states. Cindy continues to crawl toward land and Tropical Storm warnings are in effect for June …

NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over a developing low pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico and gathered two days of rainfall and storm height information. The disturbance could …

Tropical Storm Merbok formed in the South China Sea west of the Philippines on June 11 and made landfall east of Hong Kong, China on June 12. NASA measured the rainfall rates within the tropical storm early in its short two …

NASA’s Aqua satellite analyzed Tropical Depression 2E in infrared, visible and microwave light as it began its landfall on June 1, bringing heavy rains to southern Mexico.

Satellite data showed heavy rain and high cloud tops in Tropical Cyclone Mora after the storm came ashore in Bangladesh.

Heavy rainfall is a big part of Tropical Depression 9, which is strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico. The Global Precipitation Measurement mission, or GPM, core satellite passed over the gulf in space and measured that rate …

New research has revealed the causes of the UK’s record rainfall and subsequent flooding during the 2013-14 winter.

Every year, severe weather endangers millions of people and causes billions of dollars in damage worldwide. But new research from Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and AccuWeather has found …

Dating back to the first century, scientists, philosophers and reporters have noted the occasional occurrence of “bright nights,” when an unexplained glow in the night sky lets observers see distant mountains, read a newspaper …

(Phys.org)A pair of researchers with the Natural History Museum of London and the University of Waikato have found that bacteria living in a part of Antarctica have not changed much over the past century. In their paper …

A spectacular six-month Icelandic lava field eruption could provide the crucial key for scientists to unlock the role aerosols play in climate change, through their interactions with clouds.

In the popular children’s story “Horton Hears a Who!” author Dr. Seuss tells of a gentle and protective elephant who stumbles upon a speck of dust that harbors a community of microscopic creatures called the Whos living the …

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NASA’s infrared and radar eyes in space cast on Tropical Storm Cindy – Phys.Org

NASA to Send Cornell Group’s Satellite Into Space – Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

Courtesy of Cornell CubeSat

Kyle Doyle, a doctoral student who helps lead the Cornell CubeSat group, holds the finished product: a spacecraft that NASA will send into space.

Cornells Cislunar Explorers has earned a chance to make history and over one million dollars with NASA.

The Cislunar Explorers developed a small satellite that was one of three winners in the semi-final round of NASAs Cube Quest Challenge. The teams prize-winning satellite will fly aboard the Space Launch System and into space in 2019.

Kyle Doyle, a doctoral student who helps lead the group, explained the NASA contest.

NASA has a rocket which is going to be launched in 2019. On this rocket, they have room for thirteen CubeSats [small satellites], and three of those spots are open to the general public via the CubeQuest challenge, he said.

The first leg of the CubeQuest challenge was the design competition. The top three designs, including ours, have been selected to fly on the rocket. The second leg of the CubeQuest challenge will happen in space, where NASA will award substantial sums of money if the CubeSats complete certain objectives, such as reaching lunar orbit, Doyle said.

The team already has won $100,000 in prize money for the design competition, Doyle said. In space, if the teams satellite achieves lunar orbit, it could win up to $1.5 million.

If we are successful, we would be among the first private spacecraft to orbit the moon, he said.

The team is a part of Prof. Mason Pecks, mechanical and aerospace engineering, lab. Doyle explained how years of research in Prof. Pecks lab launched the satellites success.

The core technology is a water electrolysis propulsion thruster. We have been developing this technology at Cornell since 2009, he said.

He explained the water electrolysis propulsion system in more detail.

The idea behind this is that we have a small spacecraft about the size of a bread box, and we have some water on-board this spacecraft. When we zap the water with electricity, this causes the water molecules to split into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which is a very combustible mixture that can be used as rocket fuel, said Doyle.

This technology has significant potential uses, Doyle said.

I am excited about the possibility of refueling spacecraft using water. We have discovered that there is a lot of water and ice in solar system. You could really give spacecraft longer lifetimes by having them refuel in space with water, he said.

The navigation systems aboard the groups satellite are also unique, Doyle explained.

Most spacecraft navigate by radio triangulation. This is difficult for small spacecraft operating very far from Earth. With our new technology as an alternative, the spacecraft carries inexpensive cameras and uses them to take pictures of the Earth, the sun and the moon, then uses their relative locations to determine its own location, he said.

Amol Rajesh is a member of the Class of 2020 in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a staff writer for the news department and can be reached at arajesh@cornellsun.com.

We are an independent, student newspaper. Help keep us reporting with a tax-deductible donation to the Cornell Sun Alumni Association, a non-profit dedicated to aiding The Sun.

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NASA to Send Cornell Group’s Satellite Into Space – Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun

NASA’s Mars rover is really good at laser-blasting rocks without human input – The Verge

For the last year, the Curiosity rover has been studying the surface of Mars with more independence than ever before, saving human time and energy. The partly autonomous exploration is also helping people sidestep the constraints of working across vast distances in space.

This new capability is powered by software called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, or AEGIS. It allows the rover to control its own use of ChemCam, an instrument that learns the chemical composition of rocks by zapping them with a laser and studying the resulting gasses. Between the new softwares deployment in May 2016 and April 2017, the rover did this 52 times after moving to a new location.

Combined with the observations controlled by NASA scientists, the automation has helped increase the average number of laser firings from 256 per day to 327 per day. More laser firings means more data collected, and that means NASA gets a better understanding of what Mars is like, and more importantly what it used to be like.

Any time Curiosity rolls into a new area of Mars, even if its just a few feet from its last location, AEGIS can autonomously scan the environment using the rovers cameras. There, it identifies and ranks the best patches of bedrock to study with ChemCam. AEGIS then triggers that laser and performs those measurements. NASA announced the initiative last summer, and a paper published today in the journal Science Robotics details how well its gone.

Yes, while scientists sleep on Earth, their robot on Mars is now doing some of their work for them. Its helping lift a massive burden, too. Curiositys ChemCam laser has fired more than 440,000 times at around 1,500 targets since it landed on the Red Planet in August 2012, according to Raymond Francis, the studys lead author. Before AEGIS, almost every one of those targets had to be selected back on Earth.

Thats an especially laborious process, because the science team is working with a robot thats always about 150 million miles away. It can sometimes take up to 20 minutes for a signal to get to, or from, Mars. The Earths constant rotation also means that Mars isnt always in view.

AEGIS allows NASA to work around this problem in an entirely new way. The program was originally written for and used on the Mars Opportunity rover, but was adapted for Curiosity two years ago. The 21,000 lines of code that make up AEGIS were added to the nearly 4 million that make up Curiosity rovers flight software in late 2015, and after months of testing, scientists started using it in May last year.

When Curiositys operators send the rover its commands for a day of driving, they now include AEGIS targeting sessions in those plans more than half the time. AEGIS is especially useful on those driving days because the rover can scan and study the best targets in its new workspace, Francis says in an interview with The Verge. And when this happens, the science team has new data to look at by the time theyre awake and talking to the rover.

Curiosity has fired its laser at Mars rocks almost half a million times since 2012

You’ve got all this science time after [each] drive, and often you have a few hours of [Martian] daylight left, but Earth has not yet seen this new place that the rover is in, Francis says. And there’s no ability for people on the Earth to make decisions about what to target. That decision has to be made on Mars, and now we can make it on Mars. So that makes use of those hours that otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to do these kinds of measurements.

Before AEGIS, rover operators only had a few options at maximizing time for science on driving days. They could do more science with ChemCam in the morning, but that meant driving later in the day, which often means using more of the rovers energy to keep itself warm. The other option was whats known as blind targeting, where the science team would tell the rover to shoot its laser at a specific angle without having visual confirmation of what was there. This blind firing would only hit the targets the science team was looking for about 24 percent of the time better than nothing, but not great.

By contrast, AEGIS has proven to be 93 percent accurate at finding the types of rock the science team is looking for. The software was also built in such a way that the science team can outfit AEGIS with different target profiles, which will allow Curiosity to look for different kinds of rocks as the robot rolls into new, unexplored Martian territory.

AEGIS is also helping the human operators back on Earth by using algorithms to refine their targeting of smaller features, like narrow veins of rock. So far, though, its main use has been to let Curiosity do its own scientific exploration. And its doing well enough that its shaping future missions. AEGIS is already being worked into Curiositys successor, the Mars 2020 rover, according to Francis.

2020 is a very ambitious mission with a long drive list of places that it’s going to have to go, and distances it’s going to have to cover, and samples to take. And we expect that, as a result, faster work on board and more autonomous science is probably going to be a big part of how we do that, he says.

Letting these robots do more tasks on their own could change how we approach space exploration

Francis thinks this is just the beginning of letting robots do more of the work, especially beyond Mars. If you’re flying by an asteroid, or a comet, or if you’re near Saturn, and Enceladus has got a plume of water coming out of the undersurface ocean, Earth might not know exactly where that thing is going to be, he says. The spacecraft has to be able to react to that on its own.

He also says autonomous software like AEGIS would be helpful for missions to extremely hostile worlds, like Venus. The only landers that have gone there have had minutes of lifetime, tens of minutes, and so you dont have a lot of time for cycling with Earth in the loop, he says. AEGIS could be a solution to that. He argues that a lander equipped with AEGIS could quickly suss out the most important targets, study them, and get scientific data back to Earth before the spacecraft is ruined by the planets immense heat.

But while its tempting to imagine NASA sending fleets of robots out into the Solar System that are all capable of doing their own science, Francis says AEGIS wont be replacing human scientists anytime soon. Its a tool for the science team, not their replacement.

We certainly don’t have a long-term goal of replacing the scientists, because this is a science and exploration mission, and it won’t get far without its science team, he says. AEGIS is making use of that time that otherwise couldn’t have been used.

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NASA’s Mars rover is really good at laser-blasting rocks without human input – The Verge


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