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NASA – Wikipedia

Independent agency of the United States Federal Government

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space research.[note 1]

NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science.[8][9][10] Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for uncrewed NASA launches.

NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System;[11] advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program;[12] exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons;[13] and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.[14]

Since 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1.[15] In the early 1950s, there was a challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (195758), resulting in the American Project Vanguard among others. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by Guyford Stever.[10] On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating:[16]

It is of great urgency and importance to our country both from consideration of our prestige as a nation as well as military necessity that this challenge [Sputnik] be met by an energetic program of research and development for the conquest of space ... It is accordingly proposed that the scientific research be the responsibility of a national civilian agency ... NACA is capable, by rapid extension and expansion of its effort, of providing leadership in space technology.[16]

While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.[17]

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities.[18] A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959.[19] Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program led by Wernher von Braun, who was now working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works.[20] Earlier research efforts within the US Air Force[18] and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA.[21] In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.[18]

The agency's leader, NASA's administrator, is nominated by the President of the United States subject to approval of the US Senate, and reports to him or her and serves as senior space science advisor. Though space exploration is ostensibly non-partisan, the appointee usually is associated with the President's political party (Democratic or Republican), and a new administrator is usually chosen when the Presidency changes parties. The only exceptions to this have been:

The first administrator was Dr. T. Keith Glennan appointed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During his term he brought together the disparate projects in American space development research.[24]

The second administrator, James E. Webb (19611968), appointed by President John F. Kennedy, was a Democrat who first publicly served under President Harry S. Truman. In order to implement the Apollo program to achieve Kennedy's Moon landing goal by the end of the 1960s, Webb directed major management restructuring and facility expansion, establishing the Houston Manned Spacecraft (Johnson) Center and the Florida Launch Operations (Kennedy) Center. Capitalizing on Kennedy's legacy, President Lyndon Johnson kept continuity with the Apollo program by keeping Webb on when he succeeded Kennedy in November 1963. But Webb resigned in October 1968 before Apollo achieved its goal, and Republican President Richard M. Nixon replaced Webb with Republican Thomas O. Paine.

James Fletcher was responsible for early planning of the Space Shuttle program during his first term as administrator under President Nixon. He was appointed for a second term as administrator from May 1986 through April 1989 by President Ronald Reagan to help the agency recover from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Former astronaut Charles Bolden served as NASA's twelfth administrator from July 2009 to January 20, 2017.[25] Bolden is one of three former astronauts who became NASA administrators, along with Richard H. Truly (served 19891992) and Frederick D. Gregory (acting, 2005).

The agency's administration is located at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC and provides overall guidance and direction.[26] Except under exceptional circumstances, NASA civil service employees are required to be citizens of the United States.[27]

NASA has conducted many crewed and uncrewed spaceflight programs throughout its history. Uncrewed programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth orbit for scientific and communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with Venus and Mars, and including "grand tours" of the outer planets. Crewed programs sent the first Americans into low Earth orbit (LEO), won the Space Race with the Soviet Union by landing twelve men on the Moon from 1969 to 1972 in the Apollo program, developed a semi-reusable LEO Space Shuttle, and developed LEO space station capability by itself and with the cooperation of several other nations including post-Soviet Russia. Some missions include both crewed and uncrewed aspects, such as the Galileo probe, which was deployed by astronauts in Earth orbit before being sent uncrewed to Jupiter.

The experimental rocket-powered aircraft programs started by NACA were extended by NASA as support for crewed spaceflight. This was followed by a one-man space capsule program, and in turn by a two-man capsule program. Reacting to loss of national prestige and security fears caused by early leads in space exploration by the Soviet Union, in 1961 President John F. Kennedy proposed the ambitious goal "of landing a man on the Moon by the end of [the 1960s], and returning him safely to the Earth." This goal was met in 1969 by the Apollo program, and NASA planned even more ambitious activities leading to a human mission to Mars. However, reduction of the perceived threat and changing political priorities almost immediately caused the termination of most of these plans. NASA turned its attention to an Apollo-derived temporary space laboratory and a semi-reusable Earth orbital shuttle. In the 1990s, funding was approved for NASA to develop a permanent Earth orbital space station in cooperation with the international community, which now included the former rival, post-Soviet Russia. To date, NASA has launched a total of 166 crewed space missions on rockets, and thirteen X-15 rocket flights above the USAF definition of spaceflight altitude, 260,000 feet (80km).[29]

The North American X-15 was an NACA experimental rocket-powered hypersonic research aircraft, developed in conjunction with the US Air Force and Navy. The design featured a slender fuselage with fairings along the side containing fuel and early computerized control systems.[30] Requests for proposal were issued on December 30, 1954, for the airframe, and February 4, 1955, for the rocket engine. The airframe contract was awarded to North American Aviation in November 1955, and the XLR30 engine contract was awarded to Reaction Motors in 1956, and three planes were built. The X-15 was drop-launched from the wing of one of two NASA Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses, NB52A tail number 52-003, and NB52B, tail number 52-008 (known as the Balls 8). Release took place at an altitude of about 45,000 feet (14km) and a speed of about 500 miles per hour (805km/h).

Twelve pilots were selected for the program from the Air Force, Navy, and NACA (later NASA). A total of 199 flights were made between 1959 and 1968, resulting in the official world record for the highest speed ever reached by a crewed powered aircraft (current as of 2014[update]), and a maximum speed of Mach 6.72, 4,519 miles per hour (7,273km/h).[31] The altitude record for X-15 was 354,200 feet (107.96km).[32] Eight of the pilots were awarded Air Force astronaut wings for flying above 260,000 feet (80km), and two flights by Joseph A. Walker exceeded 100 kilometers (330,000ft), qualifying as spaceflight according to the International Aeronautical Federation. The X-15 program employed mechanical techniques used in the later crewed spaceflight programs, including reaction control system jets for controlling the orientation of a spacecraft, space suits, and horizon definition for navigation.[32] The reentry and landing data collected were valuable to NASA for designing the Space Shuttle.[30]

Shortly after the Space Race began, an early objective was to get a person into Earth orbit as soon as possible, therefore the simplest spacecraft that could be launched by existing rockets was favored. The US Air Force's Man in Space Soonest program considered many crewed spacecraft designs, ranging from rocket planes like the X-15, to small ballistic space capsules.[33] By 1958, the space plane concepts were eliminated in favor of the ballistic capsule.[34]

When NASA was created that same year, the Air Force program was transferred to it and renamed Project Mercury. The first seven astronauts were selected among candidates from the Navy, Air Force and Marine test pilot programs. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space aboard Freedom7, launched by a Redstone booster on a 15-minute ballistic (suborbital) flight.[35] John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit, by an Atlas launch vehicle on February 20, 1962, aboard Friendship7.[36] Glenn completed three orbits, after which three more orbital flights were made, culminating in L. Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit flight Faith 7, May 1516, 1963.[37] Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan were three of the human computers doing calculations on trajectories during the Space Race.[38][39][40] Johnson was well known for doing trajectory calculations for John Glenn's mission in 1962, where she was running the same equations by hand that were being run on the computer.[38]

The Soviet Union (USSR) competed with its own single-pilot spacecraft, Vostok. They sent the first man in space, by launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into a single Earth orbit aboard Vostok 1 in April 1961, one month before Shepard's flight.[41] In August 1962, they achieved an almost four-day record flight with Andriyan Nikolayev aboard Vostok 3, and also conducted a concurrent Vostok 4 mission carrying Pavel Popovich.

Based on studies to grow the Mercury spacecraft capabilities to long-duration flights, developing space rendezvous techniques, and precision Earth landing, Project Gemini was started as a two-man program in 1962 to overcome the Soviets' lead and to support the Apollo crewed lunar landing program, adding extravehicular activity (EVA) and rendezvous and docking to its objectives. The first crewed Gemini flight, Gemini 3, was flown by Gus Grissom and John Young on March 23, 1965.[42] Nine missions followed in 1965 and 1966, demonstrating an endurance mission of nearly fourteen days, rendezvous, docking, and practical EVA, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on humans.[43][44]

Under the direction of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR competed with Gemini by converting their Vostok spacecraft into a two- or three-man Voskhod. They succeeded in launching two crewed flights before Gemini's first flight, achieving a three-cosmonaut flight in 1964 and the first EVA in 1965. After this, the program was canceled, and Gemini caught up while spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev developed the Soyuz spacecraft, their answer to Apollo.

The U.S public's perception of the Soviet lead in the space race (by putting the first man into space) motivated[citation needed] President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress on May 25, 1961, to commit the federal government to a program to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, which effectively launched the Apollo program.[45]

Apollo was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It cost more than $20billion in 1960s dollars[46] or an estimated $223billion in present-day US dollars.[47] (In comparison, the Manhattan Project cost roughly $28.4billion, accounting for inflation.)[47][48] It used the Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets built for previous projects.[49] The spacecraft was also bigger; it had two main parts, the combined command and service module (CSM) and the Apollo Lunar Module (LM). The LM was to be left on the Moon and only the command module (CM) containing the three astronauts would eventually return to Earth.[note 2]

The second crewed mission, Apollo 8, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon in December 1968.[50] Shortly before, the Soviets had sent an uncrewed spacecraft around the Moon.[51] On the next two missions docking maneuvers that were needed for the Moon landing were practiced[52][53] and then finally the Moon landing was made on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.[54]

The first person to walk on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed 19 minutes later by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms (842lb) of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind.[55] The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.[56]

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body.[57] Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and crewed spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums.

Skylab was the United States' first and only independently built space station.[58] Conceived in 1965 as a workshop to be constructed in space from a spent Saturn IB upper stage, the 169,950lb (77,088kg) station was constructed on Earth and launched on May 14, 1973, atop the first two stages of a Saturn V, into a 235-nautical-mile (435km) orbit inclined at 50 to the equator. Damaged during launch by the loss of its thermal protection and one electricity-generating solar panel, it was repaired to functionality by its first crew. It was occupied for a total of 171 days by 3 successive crews in 1973 and 1974.[58] It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity, and a solar observatory.[58] NASA planned to have a Space Shuttle dock with it, and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but the Shuttle was not ready for flight before Skylab's re-entry on July 11, 1979.[59]

To save cost, NASA used one of the Saturn V rockets originally earmarked for a canceled Apollo mission to launch the Skylab. Apollo spacecraft were used for transporting astronauts to and from the station. Three three-man crews stayed aboard the station for periods of 28, 59, and 84 days. Skylab's habitable volume was 11,290 cubic feet (320m3), which was 30.7 times bigger than that of the Apollo Command Module.[59]

On May 24, 1972, US President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin signed an agreement calling for a joint crewed space mission, and declaring intent for all future international crewed spacecraft to be capable of docking with each other.[60] This authorized the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), involving the rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit of a surplus Apollo Command/Service Module with a Soyuz spacecraft. The mission took place in July 1975. This was the last US crewed space flight until the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle in April 1981.[61]

The mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments and provided useful engineering experience for future joint USRussian space flights, such as the ShuttleMir Program[62] and the International Space Station.

The Space Shuttle became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Planned as a frequently launchable and mostly reusable vehicle, four Space Shuttle orbiters were built by 1985. The first to launch, Columbia, did so on April 12, 1981,[63] the 20th anniversary of the first known human space flight.[64]

Its major components were a spaceplane orbiter with an external fuel tank and two solid-fuel launch rockets at its side. The external tank, which was bigger than the spacecraft itself, was the only major component that was not reused. The shuttle could orbit in altitudes of 185643km (115400 miles)[65] and carry a maximum payload (to low orbit) of 24,400kg (54,000lb).[66] Missions could last from 5 to 17 days and crews could be from 2 to 8 astronauts.[65]

On 20 missions (198398) the Space Shuttle carried Spacelab, designed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). Spacelab was not designed for independent orbital flight, but remained in the Shuttle's cargo bay as the astronauts entered and left it through an airlock.[67] On June 18, 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, on board the Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 mission.[68] Another famous series of missions were the launch and later successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and 1993, respectively.[69]

In 1995, Russian-American interaction resumed with the ShuttleMir missions (19951998). Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation has continued with Russia and the United States as two of the biggest partners in the largest space station built: the International Space Station (ISS). The strength of their cooperation on this project was even more evident when NASA began relying on Russian launch vehicles to service the ISS during the two-year grounding of the shuttle fleet following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

The Shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003.[70] While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour from replacement parts, NASA did not build another orbiter to replace the second loss.[70] NASA's Space Shuttle program had 135 missions when the program ended with the successful landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011. The program spanned 30 years with over 300 astronauts sent into space.[71]

The International Space Station (ISS) combines NASA's Space Station Freedom project with the Soviet/Russian Mir-2 station, the European Columbus station, and the Japanese Kib laboratory module.[72] NASA originally planned in the 1980s to develop Freedom alone, but US budget constraints led to the merger of these projects into a single multi-national program in 1993, managed by NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).[73][74] The station consists of pressurized modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components, which were manufactured in various factories around the world, and have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and the US Space Shuttles.[72] It is currently[when?] being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. The on-orbit assembly began in 1998, the completion of the US Orbital Segment occurred in 2019 and the completion of the Russian Orbital Segment is expected by 2020s.[75][76][needs update] The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements[77] which divide the station into two areas and allow Russia to retain full ownership of the Russian Orbital Segment (with the exception of Zarya),[78][79] with the US Orbital Segment allocated between the other international partners.[77]

Long-duration missions to the ISS are referred to as ISS Expeditions. Expedition crew members typically spend approximately six months on the ISS.[80] The initial expedition crew size was three, temporarily decreased to two following the Columbia disaster. Since May 2009, expedition crew size has been six crew members.[81] Crew size is expected to be increased to seven, the number the ISS was designed for, once the Commercial Crew Program becomes operational.[82] The ISS has been continuously occupied for the past 19years and 189days, having exceeded the previous record held by Mir; and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.[83][84]

The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, as of 2020, is the largest artificial satellite in Earth orbit with a mass and volume greater than that of any previous space station.[85] The Soyuz spacecraft delivers crew members, stays docked for their half-year-long missions and then returns them home. Several uncrewed cargo spacecraft service the ISS; they are the Russian Progress spacecraft which has done so since 2000, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) since 2008, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) since 2009, the American Dragon spacecraft since 2012, and the American Cygnus spacecraft since 2013. The Space Shuttle, before its retirement, was also used for cargo transfer and would often switch out expedition crew members, although it did not have the capability to remain docked for the duration of their stay. Until another US crewed spacecraft is ready, crew members will travel to and from the International Space Station exclusively aboard the Soyuz.[86] The highest number of people occupying the ISS has been thirteen; this occurred three times during the late Shuttle ISS assembly missions.[87]

The ISS program is expected to continue to 2030.[88] On March 29, 2019, the ISS had its first all-female spacewalk; Anne McClain and Christina Koch will take flight during Women's History Month.[89]

Dragon being berthed to the ISS in May 2012

Cygnus berthed to the ISS in September 2013

The development of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) vehicles began in 2006 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated uncrewed cargo vehicles to service the ISS.[90] The development of these vehicles was under a fixed-price, milestone-based program, meaning that each company that received a funded award had a list of milestones with a dollar value attached to them that they did not receive until after they had successfully completed the milestone.[91] Companies were also required to raise an unspecified amount of private investment for their proposal.[92]

On December 23, 2008, NASA awarded Commercial Resupply Services contracts to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation.[93] SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.[94] Orbital Sciences uses its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. The first Dragon resupply mission occurred in May 2012.[95] The first Cygnus resupply mission occurred in September 2013.[96] The CRS program now provides for all America's ISS cargo needs, with the exception of a few vehicle-specific payloads that are delivered on the European ATV and the Japanese HTV.[97]

The Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program was started in 2010 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated crewed spacecraft capable of delivering at least four crew members to the ISS, staying docked for 180 days and then returning them back to Earth.[98] It is hoped that these vehicles could also transport non-NASA customers to private space stations such those planned by Bigelow Aerospace.[99] Like COTS, CCDev is a fixed-price, milestone-based developmental program that requires some private investment.[91]

In 2010, when NASA announced the winners of the first phase of the program, a total of $50million was divided among five American companies to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector. In 2011, the winners of the second phase of the program were announced, and $270million was divided among four companies.[100] In 2012, the winners of the third phase of the program were announced; NASA provided $1.1billion divided among three companies to further develop their crew transportation systems.[101] In 2014, the winners of the final round were announced.[102] SpaceX's Dragon V2 (planned to be launched on a Falcon 9 v1.1) received a contract valued up to $2.6billion and Boeing's CST-100 (to be launched on an Atlas V) received a contract valued up to $4.2billion.[103] NASA expects these vehicles to begin transporting humans to the ISS in 2019.[104]

While the Space Shuttle program was still suspended after the loss of Columbia, President George W. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration including the retirement of the Space Shuttle after completing the International Space Station. The plan was enacted into law by the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 and directs NASA to develop and launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle (later called Orion) by 2010, return Americans to the Moon by 2020, return to Mars as feasible, repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and continue scientific investigation through robotic solar system exploration, human presence on the ISS, Earth observation, and astrophysics research. The crewed exploration goals prompted NASA's Constellation program.

After the Augustine Committee found that the Constellation program could not meet its goals without substantially more funding, in February 2010, President Barack Obama's administration proposed eliminating public funds for it.[105] Obama's plan was to develop American private spaceflight capabilities to get astronauts to the International Space Station, replacing Russian Soyuz capsules, and to use Orion capsules for ISS emergency escape purposes. During a speech at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, Obama proposed a new heavy-lift vehicle (HLV) to replace the formerly planned Ares V.[106] In his speech, Obama called for a crewed mission to an asteroid as soon as 2025, and a crewed mission to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s.[106] The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 11, 2010.[107] The act officially canceled the Constellation program.[107]

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a newly designed HLV be chosen within 90 days of its passing; the launch vehicle was given the name Space Launch System. The new law also required the construction of a beyond low earth orbit spacecraft.[108] The Orion spacecraft, which was being developed as part of the Constellation program, was chosen to fulfill this role.[109] The Space Launch System is planned to launch both Orion and other necessary hardware for missions beyond low Earth orbit.[110] The SLS is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. The initial capability of SLS is required to be able to lift 70t (150,000lb) (later 95t or 209,000lb) into LEO. It is then planned to be upgraded to 105t (231,000lb) and then eventually to 130t (290,000lb).[109][111] The Orion capsule first flew on Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), an uncrewed test flight that was launched on December 5, 2014, atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket.[111]

NASA undertook a feasibility study in 2012 and developed the Asteroid Redirect Mission as an uncrewed mission to move a boulder-sized near-Earth asteroid (or boulder-sized chunk of a larger asteroid) into lunar orbit. The mission would demonstrate ion thruster technology, and develop techniques that could be used for planetary defense against an asteroid collision, as well as cargo transport to Mars in support of a future human mission. The Moon-orbiting boulder might then later be visited by astronauts. The Asteroid Redirect Mission was cancelled in 2017 as part of the FY2018 NASA budget, the first one under President Donald Trump.

Since 2017, NASA's crewed spaceflight program has been the Artemis program, which involves the help of U.S. commercial spaceflight companies and international partners such as ESA.[112] The goal of this program is to land "the first woman and the next man" on the lunar south pole region by 2024. Artemis would be the first step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.

The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was held over from the canceled Constellation program for Artemis. Artemis 1 is the uncrewed initial launch of SLS that would also send an Orion spacecraft on a Distant Retrograde Orbit, which is planned to launch no earlier than November 2020.[113]

NASA's next major space initiative is to be the construction of the Lunar Gateway. This initiative is to involve the construction of a new space station, which will have many features in common with the current International Space Station, except that it will be in orbit about the Moon, instead of the Earth.[114] This space station will be designed primarily for non-continuous human habitation. The first tentative steps of returning to crewed lunar missions will be Artemis 2, which is to include the Orion crew module, propelled by the SLS, and is to launch in 2022.[112] This mission is to be a 10-day mission planned to briefly place a crew of four into a Lunar flyby.[111] The construction of the Gateway would begin with the proposed Artemis 3, which is planned to deliver a crew of four to Lunar orbit along with the first modules of the Gateway. This mission would last for up to 30 days. NASA plans to build full scale deep space habitats such as the Lunar Gateway and the Nautilus-X as part of its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program.[115] In 2017, NASA was directed by the congressional NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 to get humans to Mars-orbit (or to the Martian surface) by 2030s.[116][117]

On June 5, 2016, NASA and DARPA announced plans to also build a series of new X-planes over the next 10 years.[118] One of the planes will be the Quiet Supersonic Technology project, burning low-carbon biofuels and generating quiet sonic booms.[118]

More than 1,000 uncrewed missions have been designed to explore the Earth and the solar system.[119] Besides exploration, communication satellites have also been launched by NASA.[120] The missions have been launched directly from Earth or from orbiting space shuttles, which could either deploy the satellite itself, or with a rocket stage to take it farther.

The first US uncrewed satellite was Explorer 1, which started as an ABMA/JPL project during the early part of the Space Race. It was launched in January 1958, two months after Sputnik. At the creation of NASA, the Explorer project was transferred to the agency and still continues to this day. Its missions have been focusing on the Earth and the Sun, measuring magnetic fields and the solar wind, among other aspects.[121] A more recent Earth mission, not related to the Explorer program, was the Hubble Space Telescope, which was brought into orbit in 1990.[122]

The inner Solar System has been made the goal of at least four uncrewed programs. The first was Mariner in the 1960s and 1970s, which made multiple visits to Venus and Mars and one to Mercury. Probes launched under the Mariner program were also the first to make a planetary flyby (Mariner 2), to take the first pictures from another planet (Mariner 4), the first planetary orbiter (Mariner 9), and the first to make a gravity assist maneuver (Mariner 10). This is a technique where the satellite takes advantage of the gravity and velocity of planets to reach its destination.[123]

The first successful landing on Mars was made by Viking 1 in 1976. Twenty years later a rover was landed on Mars by Mars Pathfinder.[124]

Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973. More than 20 years later Galileo sent a probe into the planet's atmosphere, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet.[125] Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn in 1979, with Voyager 2 making the first (and so far only) visits to Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and 1989, respectively. The first spacecraft to leave the solar system was Pioneer 10 in 1983. For a time it was the most distant spacecraft, but it has since been surpassed by both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.[126]

Pioneers 10 and 11 and both Voyager probes carry messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life.[127][128] Communication can be difficult with deep space travel. For instance, it took about three hours for a radio signal to reach the New Horizons spacecraft when it was more than halfway to Pluto.[129] Contact with Pioneer 10 was lost in 2003. Both Voyager probes continue to operate as they explore the outer boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space.[130]

On November 26, 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission was successfully launched for Mars. Curiosity successfully landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and subsequently began its search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.[131][132][133]

NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Perseverance and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (19892003), Cassini (19972017), and Juno (2011). In the early 2000s, NASA was put on course for the Moon, however, in 2010 this program was cancelled (see Constellation program). As part of that plan, the Shuttle was going to be replaced, however, although it was retired its replacement was also cancelled, leaving the US with no human spaceflight launcher for the first time in over three decades.

The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.[134]

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent Moon base.[135] The goal was to start building the Moon base by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization. However, in 2009, the Augustine Committee found the program to be on an "unsustainable trajectory."[136] In 2010, President Barack Obama halted existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on crewed missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station.[137]

Since 2011, NASA's strategic goals have been[138]

In August 2011, NASA accepted the donation of two space telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office. Despite being stored unused, the instruments are superior to the Hubble Space Telescope.[139]

In September 2011, NASA announced the start of the Space Launch System program to develop a human-rated heavy lift vehicle. The Space Launch System is intended to launch the Orion spacecraft and other elements towards the Moon and Mars.[140] The Orion spacecraft conducted an uncrewed test launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014.[141]

On August 6, 2012, NASA landed the rover Curiosity on Mars. On August 27, 2012, Curiosity transmitted the first pre-recorded message from the surface of Mars back to Earth, made by Administrator Charlie Bolden:

Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity rover, which is now on the surface of Mars.

Since the beginning of time, humankind's curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life ... new possibilities just beyond the horizon. I want to congratulate the men and women of our NASA family as well as our commercial and government partners around the world, for taking us a step beyond to Mars.

This is an extraordinary achievement. Landing a rover on Mars is not easy others have tried only America has fully succeeded. The investment we are making ... the knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater, will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet. Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future. Thank you.[142]

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is currently scheduled to launch in March 2021.[143]

In 1994, there was a Congressional directive to find near-Earth objects (NEOs) larger than 1 kilometer, and 90% of 1 kilometer sized asteroids are estimated to have been found by 2010.[144]

In 2005, the US Congress mandated NASA to achieve by the year 2020 specific levels of search completeness for discovering, cataloging, and characterizing dangerous asteroids larger than 140 meters (460ft) (Act of 2005, H.R. 1022; 109th),[145][146] but no new funds were appropriated for this effort.[147] As of January 2019, it is estimated about 40% of the NEOs of this size have been found, although since by its nature the exact amount of NEOs are unknown the calculations are based on predictions of how many there could be.[148]

(d) Near-Earth Object Survey.-- (1) Survey program.--The Administrator shall plan, develop, and implement a Near-Earth Object Survey program to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter in order to assess the threat of such near-Earth objects to the Earth. <> It shall be the goal of the

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Survey program to achieve 90 percent completion of its near- Earth object catalogue (based on statistically predicted populations of near-Earth objects) within 15 years after the

date of enactment of this Act.

NEOs were defined in this case by the term near-Earth object as an asteroid or comet with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 Astronomical Units from the Sun.[150] In late 2019 the directive gained increased notoriety and NASA approved an additional space telescope in addition to the existing observatory programs.[151]

One issue with NEO prediction is trying to estimate how many more are likely to be found In 2000, NASA reduced its estimate of the number of existing near-Earth asteroids over one kilometer in diameter from 1,0002,000 to 5001,000.[152][153] Shortly thereafter, the LINEAR survey provided an alternative estimate of 1,227+17090.[154] In 2011, on the basis of NEOWISE observations, the estimated number of one-kilometer NEAs was narrowed to 98119 (of which 93% had been discovered at the time), while the number of NEAs larger than 140 meters across was estimated at 13,2001,900.[155][156] The NEOWISE estimate differed from other estimates in assuming a slightly lower average asteroid albedo, which produces larger estimated diameters for the same asteroid brightness. This resulted in 911 then known asteroids at least 1km across, as opposed to the 830 then listed by CNEOS.[157] In 2017, using an improved statistical method, two studies reduced the estimated number of NEAs brighter than absolute magnitude 17.75 (approximately over one kilometer in diameter) to 92120.[158][159] The estimated number of asteroids brighter than absolute magnitude of 22.0 (approximately over 140m across) rose to 27,1002,200, double the WISE estimate,[159] of which about a third are known as of 2018. A problem with estimating the number of NEOs is that detections are influenced by a number of factors.[160] Observational biases need to be taken into account when trying to calculate the number of bodies in a population.[160] What is easily detected will be more counted.[161]

For example, it has been easier to spot objects on the night-side of Earth. There is less noise from twilight, and the searcher is looking at the sunlit side of the asteroids. In the daytime sky, a searcher looking towards the sun sees the backside of the object (e.g. comparing a Full Moon at night to a New Moon in daytime). In addition, opposition surge make them even brighter when the Earth is along the axis of sunlight. Finally, the day sky near the Sun is bright.[161] The light of sun hitting asteroids has been called "full asteroid" similar to a "full Moon" and the greater amount of light, creates a bias that makes them easier to detect in this case.[161]

Over half (53%) of the discoveries of Near Earth objects were made in 3.8% of the sky, in a 22.5 cone facing directly away from the Sun, and the vast majority (87%) were made in 15% of the sky, in a 45 cone facing away from the Sun.[162]

NASA turned the infrared space survey telescope WISE back on in 2013 to look for NEOs, and it found some during the course of its operation. NEOcam competed in the highly competitive Discovery program, which became more so due to a low mission rate in the 2010s. Also the Mars Scout Program was terminated at that time, further increasing competition. From its start until 2010, ten missions where launched, only two more mission were launched by 2020 (to the Moon and Mars), additionally the Mars Scout program had launched two additional programs to the planet Mars, which competed with NEOcam as well as more obscure destinations like Venus, which has had no dedicated mission since the 1980s. Finally, NASA plans to turn off its existing Infrared Great Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2021 due to technical problems (It is drifting away from the Earth in an Earth-trailing orbit which means it must rotate at extreme angle to communicate with Earth, but keep its battery charge).

Two of the biggest Near-Earth objects, 433 Eros and 1036 Ganymed, were among the first Near Earth asteroids to be detected.[163] As bigger asteroids they reflected more light.[161] The eccentric 433 asteroid was discovered by German astronomer Carl Gustav Witt at the Berlin Urania Observatory on 13 August 1898.[164] 1036 Ganymed is about 20 miles (35km) in diameter,[163] and it was discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade at the Bergedorf Observatory in Hamburg on 23 October 1924.[165][166] In 1999 NASA visited 433 Eros with the NEAR spacecraft which entered its orbit in 2000, closely imaging the asteroid with various instruments at that time.[167] From the 1990s NASA has run many NEO detection programs from Earth bases observatories, greatly increasing the number of objects that have been detected. However, many asteroids are very dark and the ones that are near the Sun are much harder to detect from Earth-based telescopes which observe at night, and thus face away from the Sun. NEOs inside Earth orbit only reflect a part of light also rather than potentially a "full Moon" when they are behind the Earth and fully lit by the Sun.

NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Mars 2020 and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (19892003), Cassini (19972017), and Juno (2011).

The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.[134]

In 2017, President Donald Trump directed NASA to send Humans to Mars by the year 2033.[116][169] Foci in general for NASA were noted as human space exploration, space science, and technology.[169] The Europa Clipper and Mars 2020 continue to be supported for their planned schedules.[170]

In 2018, NASA along with other companies including Sensor Coating Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Monitor Coating and UTRC launched the project CAUTION (CoAtings for Ultra High Temperature detectION). This project aims to enhance the temperature range of the Thermal History Coating up to 1,500C and beyond. The final goal of this project is improving the safety of jet engines as well as increasing efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.[171]

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman's 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.[172]

Recent and planned activities include:

In response to the Apollo 1 accident, which killed three astronauts in 1967, Congress directed NASA to form an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to advise the NASA Administrator on safety issues and hazards in NASA's aerospace programs. In the aftermath of the Shuttle Columbia disaster, Congress required that the ASAP submit an annual report to the NASA Administrator and to Congress.[177] By 1971, NASA had also established the Space Program Advisory Council and the Research and Technology Advisory Council to provide the administrator with advisory committee support. In 1977, the latter two were combined to form the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).[178]

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 reaffirmed the importance of ASAP.

Some of NASA's main directives have been the landing of a manned spacecraft on the Moon, the designing and construction of the Space Shuttle, and efforts to construct a large, crewed space station. Typically, the major directives originated from the intersection of scienctific interest and advice, political interests, federal funding concerns, and the public interest, that all together brought varying waves of effort, often heavily swayed by technical developments, funding changes, and world events. For example, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration announced a directive with a major push to build a crewed space station, given the name Space Station Freedom.[179] But, when the Cold War ended, Russia, the United States, and other international partners came together to design and build the International Space Station.

In the 2010s, major shifts in directives include retirement of the Space Shuttle, and the later development of a new crewed heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System. Missions for the new Space Launch System have varied, but overall, NASA's directives are similar to the Space Shuttle program as the primary goal and desire is human spaceflight. Additionally, NASA's Space Exploration Initiative of the 1980s opened new avenues of exploration focused on other galaxies.

For the coming decades, NASA's focus has gradually shifting towards eventual exploration of Mars.[180] One of the technological options focused on was the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).[180] ARM had largely been defunded in 2017, but the key technologies developed for ARM would be utilized for future exploration, notably on a solar electric propulsion system.[181][180]

Longer project execution timelines leaves future executive administration officials to execute on a directive, which can lead to directional mismanagement.

Previously, in the early 2000s, NASA worked towards a strategic plan called the Constellation Program, but the program was defunded in the early 2010s.[182][183][184][185] In the 1990s, the NASA administration adopted an approach to planning coined "Faster, Better, Cheaper".[186]

The NASA Authorization Act of 2017, which included $19.5billion in funding for that fiscal year, directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early 2030s.[187]

Though the agency is independent, the survival or discontinuation of projects can depend directly on the will of the President.[188]

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NASA - Wikipedia

Overview | Jupiter NASA Solar System Exploration

Jupiter has a long history surprising scientistsall the way back to 1610 when Galileo Galilei found the first moons beyond Earth. That discovery changed the way we see the universe.

Fifth in line from the Sun, Jupiter is, by far, the largest planet in the solar system more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined.

Jupiter's familiar stripes and swirls are actually cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. Jupiters iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.

One spacecraft NASA's Juno orbiter is currently exploring this giant world.

Go farther. Explore Jupiter In Depth

Ten Things to Know About Jupiter

10 Need-to-Know Things About Jupiter

1

Eleven Earths could fit across Jupiters equator. If Earth were the size of a grape, Jupiter would be the size of a basketball.

2

Jupiter orbits about 484 million miles (778 million kilometers) or 5.2 Astronomical Units (AU) from our Sun (Earth is one AU from the Sun).

3

Jupiter rotates once about every 10 hours (a Jovian day), but takes about 12 Earth years to complete one orbit of the Sun (a Jovian year).

Jupiter and Io

4

Jupiter is a gas giant and so lacks an Earth-like surface. If it has a solid inner core at all, its likely only about the size of Earth.

5

Jupiter's atmosphere is made up mostly of hydrogen (H2) and helium (He).

6

Jupiter has more than 75 moons.

7

In 1979 the Voyager mission discovered Jupiters faint ring system. All four giant planets in our solar system have ring systems.

8

Nine spacecraft have visited Jupiter. Seven flew by and two have orbited the gas giant. Juno, the most recent, arrived at Jupiter in 2016.

9

Jupiter cannot support life as we know it. But some of Jupiter's moons have oceans beneath their crusts that might support life.

10

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a gigantic storm thats about twice the size of Earth and has raged for over a century.

Great Red Spot

Did You Know

There are no rockets powerful enough to hurl a spacecraft into the outer solar system and beyond. In 1962, scientists calculated how to use Jupiter's intense gravity to hurl spacecraft into the farthest regions of the solar system. We've been traveling farther and faster ever since.

Pop Culture

The biggest planet in our solar system, Jupiter also has a large presence in pop culture, including many movies, TV shows, video games and comics. Jupiter was a notable destination in the Wachowski siblings science fiction spectacle Jupiter Ascending, while various Jovian moons provide settings for Cloud Atlas, Futurama, Power Rangers, and Halo, among many others. In Men in Black when Agent Jplayed by Will Smithmentions he thought one of his childhood teachers was from Venus, Agent Kplayed by Tommy Lee Jonesreplies that she is actually from one of Jupiters moons.

Kid-Friendly Jupiter

Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. It's similar to a star, but it never got big enough to start burning.

Jupiter is covered in swirling cloud stripes. It has big storms like the Great Red Spot, which has been going for hundreds of years.

Jupiter is a gas giant and doesn't have a solid surface, but it may have a solid inner core about the size of Earth. Jupiter also has rings, but they're too faint to see very well.

Visit NASA Space Place for more kid-friendly facts.

Resources

Galileo Spacecraft Model

Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.

Pioneer 10 was first through the asteroid belt and first to Jupiter.

With a few materials and a few steps, you can build your own glasses to view 3D images.

You can create your own red/blue 3D images to print, or look at on a computer screen, using a normal digital camera and some image processing software.

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Overview | Jupiter NASA Solar System Exploration

NASA starts packing Mars rover Perseverance ahead of July launch – Space.com

NASA continues to gear up for the launch of its next Mars rover, which is now just over two months away.

Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun stacking the Perseverance Mars rover and its associated hardware in the right configuration for liftoff, which will occur during a three-week window that opens on July 17.

The stacking process began on April 23, NASA officials said. On that day, the car-size rover was integrated with its "sky crane" descent stage, which will lower Perseverance to the Martian surface on cables. (This sci-fi-seeming strategy already has one successful touchdown under its belt the landing of Perseverance's predecessor, the Mars rover Curiosity, in August 2012.)

Related: NASA's Mars 2020 rover Perseverance in pictures

"Attaching the rover to the descent stage is a major milestone for the team because these are the first spacecraft components to come together for launch, and they will be the last to separate when we reach Mars," David Gruel, the Perseverance rover assembly, test, and launch operations manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

"These two assemblies will remain firmly nestled together until they are about 65 feet [20 meters] over the surface of Mars," Gruel added.

Another big stacking milestone came on April 29, when the rover-sky crane duo was attached to the back shell. This conical structure contains the mission's parachute system and helps protect spacecraft hardware during the mission's brief, fiery trip through the Martian atmosphere. (The mission's heat shield will also play a key protective role, of course.)

Perseverance will land inside Mars' 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater in February 2021. The rover will do a variety of science work in this locale, which harbored a lake and a river delta in the ancient past.

For example, Percy will hunt for signs of ancient Mars life, characterize the region's geology and collect and cache samples for future return to Earth, among other tasks.

The mission's science team has already started practicing for these various operations. In February, for instance, seven team members trekked out to a dry lakebed in Nevada with instruments similar to those that Percy carries.

The researchers practiced gathering data after receiving instructions from other mission team members spread around the world, simulating the processes by which Percy will be directed to explore the Red Planet.

Such dry runs are "especially important for scientists who are new to Mars rovers," field team leader Raymond Francis, also of JPL, said in a different statement. "It's a team effort, and everyone has to learn how their roles fit into the whole mission."

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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NASA starts packing Mars rover Perseverance ahead of July launch - Space.com

‘NASA at Home’ is bringing space to you daily with incredible resources for all ages – Space.com

Stuck at home? You can now explore the cosmos from the comfort of your living room.

NASA has taken to social media to engage and educate people across the world with a new initiative called NASA at Home. This is a free online resource for people of all ages looking to learn and get excited about science and space while staying at home.

NASA at Home has activities and resources for people of all ages and is designed to be a helpful tool for families and students. It's an online platform made up of a wealth of videos, podcasts, e-books, instructions for at-home projects and features virtual tours of incredible technology like NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. The initiative also includes access to formal lesson plans and amazing images and stories about space and science. The platform even includes an app that allows you to virtually pilot a NASA aircraft!

Visit the NASA at Home website for daily space activities!

More details:

"We know people everywhere, especially students, are looking for ways to get out of the house without leaving their house," Bettina Incln, the associate administrator for NASA's Office of Communications, said in a NASA statement. "NASA has a way for them to look to the skies and see themselves in space with their feet planted safely on the ground, but their imaginations are free to explore everywhere we go. We've put that information at their fingertips. We hope everyone takes a few moments to explore NASA at Home."

For older students or adults looking to get involved, the initiative includes citizen scientist opportunities that allow you to contribute to real, ongoing research. You can search for everything from alien planets to signs of life out in the solar system.

NASA at Home also includes videos that will air on NASA Television every weekday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT (1400 to 2000 GMT). The initiative will also run videos on Instagram live. Every weekday starting at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), record-breaking NASA astronaut Christina Koch reads children's books on Instagram live.

To keep up with all that NASA at Home has to offer, you can check-in at their website here or always search the hashtag #NASAatHome.

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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'NASA at Home' is bringing space to you daily with incredible resources for all ages - Space.com

Hear how NASA switched up her landing protocol due to Covid-19 – CNN

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Hear how NASA switched up her landing protocol due to Covid-19 - CNN

NASA Has Translated a Hubble Photo Into Music, And It’s Absolutely Chilling – ScienceAlert

The Universe is a wondrous place, full of vast numbers of planets to explore, unsolved mysteries, and even 'superbubbles' blown by black holes.

But there's one thing that space really isn't: loud. Without Earth's air molecules to help you hear, out there in space you'd be listening to a whole lot of silence.

Luckily, that didn't stop NASA from figuring out a way to produce sound in the soundlessness of space back in 2019 - by 'sonifying' the above image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Yep, move over music, podcasts, or audio-books - the new thing to listen to is Hubble images.

The image NASA used for this project was taken by the Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 back in August 2018.

The guys working with Hubble call the image a 'galactic treasure chest' because of the number of galaxies splattered across it.

"Each visible speck of a galaxy is home to countless stars," NASA explained about the image.

"A few stars closer to home shine brightly in the foreground, while a massive galaxy cluster nestles at the very centre of the image; an immense collection of maybe thousands of galaxies, all held together by the relentless force of gravity."

But as beautiful as this image already is, it just reached a new level, once transformed into a stunningly eerie musical composition.

The team that created the sonified image explains that the different locations and elements of the image produce different sounds.

Stars and compact galaxies are represented by short and clear sounds, while the spiralling galaxies emit more complex, longer notes.

"Time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 to 1,000 hertz," NASA explained in comments accompanying the video.

"Objects near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, while those near the top produce higher ones."

And although it might sound a little eerie at first, the 'sounds' of this picture create a rather beautiful melody, especially near the middle, when the sound reaches a galaxy cluster called RXC J0142.9+4438.

"The higher density of galaxies near the centre of the image," the team explained, "results in a swell of mid-range tones halfway through the video."

So there you have it: an entirely new way to enjoy the Universe.

A version of this article was first published in March 2019.

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NASA Has Translated a Hubble Photo Into Music, And It's Absolutely Chilling - ScienceAlert

UFOs: Were aliens spotted on the Moon in NASA’s Apollo 9 mission images? – Express.co.uk

Apollo 9 saw three NASA astronauts blasted into the Earths orbit for 10 days as a test flight before the Apollo 11 mission, which saw the first people land on the Moon. Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart lifted off from Earth on March 3, 1969, before spending 10 days in orbit, completing 151 trips around Earth.

The three men landed back on Earth on March 13, just four months before the Apollo 11 mission set off for the Moon.

While the trio was in the Earths orbit they snapped images of the Moon, and conspiracy theorists believe they have spotted something odd in some of the photographs.

Prominent conspiracy theorist Scott C Waring has been analysing the images from the NASA astronauts and spotted what he believed to be a fleet of UFOs travelling in front of the Moon.

The supposed UFOs, according to Mr Waring, were up to three kilometres long and appear to be extremely thin.

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The alien hunter posted on his blog ET Database: "UFOs that were over 2-3 km long have been seen and reported by pilots and other eyewitnesses, I myself have reported UFOs in NASA photos on the moons surface that were about 10km across in comparison with the nearby crater who's diameter is known.

"Here again are three UFOs, long and giant in size flying past the moon and recorded by none other than NASA!

"It's a glitch, a scratch, a cheap lens on your scope, sorry boys, NASA buys only the best quality and highest performance parts for its observations, but thank you for playing."

Some conspiracy theorists claim the Moon could be occupied by aliens and this is the reason NASA has not returned since the Apollo missions ended in the 1970s.

READ MORE:Alien city discovered on dark side of the Moon - shock claim

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UFOs: Were aliens spotted on the Moon in NASA's Apollo 9 mission images? - Express.co.uk

NASA’s Jane Datta On the People Part of the Space Mission – GovExec.com

Jane Datta leads the human resources operation of the federal agency whose mission is to explore space, but does so with her feet planted firmly on the ground.

NASA accomplishes its mission because of its talented people, she says. But a key part of her job is to balance the aspirational with grounded reality.

Datta draws on nearly 30 years of experience in industry and government to maintain that balance. Her private sector experience includes a stint as an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and various personnel positions at United Technologies Corp. She has an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. from Yale University.

Datta has served at NASA since 2007. She was director of the agencys Workforce Policy, Planning and Analysis Division before becoming deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Human Capital Management. Datta was appointed chief human capital officer in February, just before the novel coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic.

Datta recently spoke to Government Executives CourtneyBubl about her time at the agency and what she has learned, especially about leading in an age of stay at home orders. Excerpts from that interview follow.

How would you characterize your management style?

NASA is an innovative organization with an evolving and complex set of missions, and my staff in the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer is dedicated to helping the NASA workforce and supporting the agencys missions. For us to perform at our best, I believe I need to establish an environment that allows my people to be creative, explore ideas and try out new things.

Thus, my management style is to set a general direction for our work and give my team freedom to figure out how to move in that direction and integrate efforts across our many activities. I want to be connected to the work enough to appreciate some of the details involved so I can advocate for things we need, communicate what we are doing at the agency level, or make connections with stakeholders outside our organization.

I place a premium on authentic engagement and take time to recognize teams and individuals as they make progress, move our work forward, or achieve great things. I also make a point of getting to know my staff through small group and individual interactions. I believe I have an amazing team that feels valued, energized and safe to explore ideas, so we can do anything.

What approach do you take to the job?

The approach I take to the job is to never stand still. I need to be constantly reaching for more and better that can be turned into value for my team and for NASA. To do this, I have prioritized coalition building as a key approach for bringing knowledge and insight to OCHCO programs and for benefiting the workforce. For instance, I participate in forums with other CHCOs and chief human resources officers where we share best practices and learn from each other.

I was new in my role when COVID-19 emerged as a critical issue requiring massive intra- and interagency coordination. The accelerated requirement to assimilate information, create action plans and execute in alignment with the highest levels of government has enduring impact for me and for my team.

Another characteristic of my approach to the job is to balance the aspirational with grounded reality. I am fortunate to have an ambitious team that is rich in ideas about what we can achieve as a function. But we also need to understand where we are, and what we can practicably achieve, so that we continue to move forward.

Whats the best part of the job?

The people. I know this sounds simple, but it is true. I wake up every day wanting to work with the people in my function, in NASA leadership and in organizations we collaborate with across the agency.

A former colleague once mentioned he came to NASA thinking it was primarily a data-driven agency and departed realizing it was really a people-driven agency. I couldnt agree more. I am also honored to be part of an agency leadership team that really puts people first.

What are some challenges in the federal hiring process?

NASA accomplishes its mission because of its talented people. This has never been truer as NASA works with U.S. companies and international partners to push the boundaries of human exploration to return to the moon, lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy and ultimately send humans to Mars. NASA has a 21st century program and yet, in many respects NASA still has the same 20th century personnel system that was operational during the Apollo era.

NASA OCHCO has conducted extensive research into the foundational challenges of the federal hiring process and its impact on the NASA mission. Some of the underlying issues include a slow and not applicant-friendly process, a position-based system based on static and repeatable work that does not resonate in todays fluid marketplace for skills, and a non-competitive compensation structure.

Based on our findings, we are making changes and working toward a new, modern workforce system that emphasizes agility, acquires and deploys top talent rapidly, and aligns compensation and performance.

How do you work with labor unions?

NASAs bargaining unit workforce is represented by either the American Federation of Government Employees or the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. The rights provided to these unions come in two different forms. At the agency level, they have been granted national consultation rights. Consequently, NASA informs AFGE and IFPTE of any substantive change in conditions of employment proposed by the agency, and permits a reasonable time for them to present their views and recommendations regarding the changes. NASA considers these views and recommendations before taking final action. For the purposes of NCR, the unions have identified two representatives from both the AFGE and IFPTE to participate on a national council to administer their rights.

I place a premium on authentic engagementand take time to recognize teams and individuals as they make progress.

At the center level, NASA local unions, which reside at eight of our 10 centers, have been certified by the Federal Labor Relations Authority as the exclusive representative of bargaining unit employees. This allows the local unions to negotiate employment matters, including the terms of collective bargaining agreements, at each represented center. As a result, NASA is a party to ten CBAs, five with AFGE locals and five with IFPTE locals.

What is NASA's policy on telework?

We consider telework a strategic priority. We believe that with telework or remote work options, our workforce can more easily balance their work and personal responsibilities and access a greater variety of work assignment opportunities.

Telework has long been encouraged at NASA, and because we were early adopters of virtual collaboration, we were able to make the agency transition and maintain operational continuity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has your job changed to follow public health guidance during the coronavirus outbreak?

I was in my role for just six weeks when COVID-19 became a pandemic. I joined an agency team planning how we would respond to the emergency, and in a short time, we were dedicating most or all of our days to addressing the rapidly changing situation. Along with the team, we focused on how to keep employees safe, prioritize agency work and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Over the last several months, I have established clear priorities for OCHCO work, much of which continues despite the new normal of mandatory telework for my staff. For instance, we have continued to hire and onboard new employees. While in-person training activities have been delayed, we have created and implemented virtual supervisor training sessions on adapting to virtual work, ensuring employees are engaged and supported, and looking after ourselves in this challenging time.

Dealing with an emergency as unprecedented as this one has revealed what is possible that might have seemed improbable and required us to reset some of our expectations and patterns. My job is to ensure we leverage what we have learned to help us be more efficient and effective even after we return to normal operations.

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NASA's Jane Datta On the People Part of the Space Mission - GovExec.com

NASA Tracker: 3 Asteroids To Fly Past Earth On Monday – International Business Times

KEY POINTS

NASAs automated asteroid tracking system has detected three near-Earth objects that will safely fly past the planet on Monday (May 4). Based on the data collected by the agency, the largest asteroid in the group is about as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

NASAs Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) identified the first asteroid that will approach Earth on May 4as 2020 HQ3. As indicated in the agencys database, this space rock has an estimated diameter of about 161 feet.

It is currently moving across space towards Earths vicinity at an average speed of over 21,000 miles per hour. According to CNEOS, 2020 HQ3 will approach Earth on May 4 at 2:13 a.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.02768 astronomical units or around 2.6 million miles from the planets center.

The next asteroid that will zip past Earth on Monday is called 2020 HU9. CNEOS estimated that this asteroid measures about 220 feet wide. It is currently moving across the Solar System at an average velocity of over 38,000 miles per hour.

2020 HU9 is expected to enter Earths neighborhood on May 4 at 7:51 a.m. EDT. It will be about 0.04304 astronomical units or about 4 million miles from the planet during its approach.

The last asteroid that will fly past Earth tomorrow has been identified as 2020 HV4. According to the data collected by CNEOS, 2020 HV4 is the biggest asteroid in the group. It has an estimated diameter of about 427 feet and is currently flying towards Earth at a speed of about 22,000 miles per hour.

2020 HQ3 is classified as an Aten asteroid while both 2020 HU9 and 2020 HV4 belong to the Apollo family of space rocks. Although they belong in different asteroid groups, the three approaching space rocks follow natural orbits that intersect Earths path as it goes around the Sun.

As Apollo asteroids, the orbital axis of 2020 HU9 and 2020 HV4 is bigger than that of Earth. 2020 HQ3, on the other hand, follows a smaller orbital axis than Earth.

This artist's animation illustrates a massive asteroid belt in orbit around a star the same age and size as our Sun. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA Tracker: 3 Asteroids To Fly Past Earth On Monday - International Business Times

NASA releases the winning photos of Tournament Earth – Mashable

NASA asked. 56,000 votes decided.

In honor of Earth Day's 50th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of NASA's Earth Observatory, the space agency invited the public to vote on the best pictures that capture our beautiful planet in the Earth Observatorys collection. (The Earth Observatory is a publishing outlet where NASA shares images and other discoveries that come from its research.)

After five rounds of voting, the winner of Tournament Earth was announced on April 28.

The winning photo, taken in 2001 by Serge Andrefouet, a remote sensing specialist at the University of South Florida, captures sand and seaweed in the Bahamas using the Landsat 7 satellite. Tides and ocean currents created the patterns you can see in the image.

Check out the winner (and some of the other finalists) below.

WINNER! This year's winning image was also a runner-up in the 10th anniversary contest.

RUNNER-UP: Astronauts captured a volcanic plume in the Raikoke Volcano, a volcano on the Kuril Islands that doesn't often erupt.

FINAL ROUND: Captured on Landsat 8, this image shows the transition from sand dunes to land in southern Africas Namib Desert.

FINAL ROUND: This image, a combination of art and scientific imaging, was made using data from satellite missions, with graphic artists creating layers of global data for things like land surface and sea ice layers.

THIRD ROUND: At the International Space Station, astronauts captured "aurora australis" (the southern lights) with a digital camera while above the Indian Ocean.

THIRD ROUND: This, of course, isn't a picture of Earth at all. It's an image of Saturn taken from the Cassini spacecraft, but Earth Observatory liked it enough to include it. (Technically, you can see Earth in the upper left quadrant of Saturn's rings.)

THIRD ROUND: One of a series of images documenting Alaska's Columbia glacier, this image tracks the glacier's fast-moving retreat.

THIRD ROUND: Astronauts took a picture with a digital camera ofAtafu Atoll, the smallest of three atolls and one island making up theTokelau Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. (Atafu Atoll is about eight kilometers wide!)

Landsat 8 caught an ongoing eruption flowing in Iceland betweenthe Bardarbunga and Askja volcanoes.

The image here captures the melting ice cap on Eagle Island in Antarctica as it hit its hottest temperature on record this February.

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory caught the moon as it passed between the spacecraft and Earth.

With a new instrument available on the International Space Station since 2014, scientists now hope to observe some of the 4.3 millionlightning flashes that occur daily. Here are just some of them.

Taken from Voyager 1, this image from 1977 shows the Earth and Moon together back when Voyager 1 was a mere 7.25 million miles from Earth. (As of 2012, it was 11.31 billion miles from Earth.)

This image is a visualization of the solid particles and liquid droplets (called aerosols) found in ecosystems around the world on just one day: August 23, 2018.

This picture of the Andaman Sea was captured by Landsat 8, which, thanks to the reflection of the Sun, makes internal waves readily visible.

A tried and true favorite, this iconic 1968 photo was taken by the Apollo 8 crew while orbiting the Moon.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover is Going to Jezero Crater, Which is Looking Better and Better as a Place to Search for Evidence of Past Life on Mars -…

In 2018, NASA decided that the landing site for its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover would be the Jezero Crater. At the time, NASA said the Jezero Crater was one of the oldest and most scientifically interesting landscapes Mars has to offer. That assessment hasnt changed; in fact its gotten stronger.

A new research paper says that the Jezero Crater was formed over time periods long enough to promote both habitability, and the preservation of evidence.

The Jezero Crater is a dried up paleo-lakebed, with a preserved river delta and sediments. It contains at least five different rock types that can be sampled. The crater also holds geological features that are approximately 3.6 billion years old. Its an excellent feature to study, and hopefully to collect samples from for eventual return to Earth. Scientists are hopeful that the Perseverance Rover may find fossilized evidence of early, single-celled life.

Being able to use another planet as a lab experiment for how life could have started somewhere else or where theres a better record of how life started in the first place that could actually teach us a lot about what life is.

A new study based on the analysis of satellite imagery reinforces Jezeros scientific desirability.

The study is titled The Pace of Fluvial Meanders on Mars and Implications for the Western Delta Deposits of Jezero Crater. Its published in the journal AGU Advances. The lead author is Mathieu Laptre, an assistant professor of geological sciences at StanfordsSchool of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. The other author is Alessandro Ielpi from Laurentian University.

One of sciences main roadblocks to understanding Mars history is timing. With telescopes, orbiters, landers, and rovers, weve learned a lot about Mars. Over the past couple decades especially, scientists have uncovered compelling evidence showing that Mars was once warm, wet, and habitable. But questions of timing remain.

Theres ample evidence of ancient river-beds on Mars, and some of the timing questions revolve around those rivers. How long did rivers flow on Mars, and how often? How long ago? How long did it take form deltas like the one in Jezero Crater? Mars was likely habitable at the same time that life was evolving on Earth, and understanding the age of Mars ancient rivers, and how long they lasted, is one key to understanding habitability.

In their paper the authors write, Here we develop a new model to calculate the pace of shifting Martian rivers, which, when applied to orbital observations of the Jezero delta, allows us to determine a minimum duration for delta formation. Combined with other modelling and the work of other scientists, the pair of authors say that our results suggest that the delta took a few decades to form over a total timespan of, most likely, hundreds of thousands of years.

During that hundreds of thousands of years, there were many dry, arid periods. They say that the river that flowed into the Jezero Crater likely flowed for only one day every 15 to 30 years; maybe a little more often. On Earth, sediments preserve organic molecules, and the same is likely true on Mars. So if the sediments at Jezero were buried quickly, theres a strong possibility that organic molecules are preserved there, as well.

There probably was water for a significant duration on Mars and that environment was most certainly habitable, even if it may have been arid, said lead authorMathieu Laptre in a press release. We showed that sediments were deposited rapidly and that if there were organics, they would have been buried rapidly, which means that they would likely have been preserved and protected.

This study is related to another recent study from 2019 by the same authors into rivers here on our planet, specifically a type of river called single-threaded sinuous rivers.

That paper showed that single-threaded sinuous rivers without plants stabilizing their banks drift sideways ten times faster than the same type of rivers with banks stabilized by plants. That sideways movement of river channels is called meander migration.

The tendency of rivers to meander migrate has been studied for a long time. The authors say in their 2019 paper that river meander is among the most unequivocal indicators of hydrologically mature planets.

Based on the likely fact that Martian rivers did not have plants to stabilize their banks, and accounting for the gravity on Mars, the pair of researchers say that the Jezero delta took at least 20 to 40 years to form, but that length of time was intermittent, and spread out over about 400,000 years.

And that brings us back to the time problem again.

This is useful because one of the big unknowns on Mars is time, Laptre said. By finding a way to calculate rate for the process, we can start gaining that dimension of time.

On Earth, single-threaded meandering rivers are most often found with vegetation on their banks. Only recently were these types of rivers detected without plants, and prior to that, scientists thought that before plants appeared on Earth, only braided, multi-threaded rivers existed. But now scientists have found many single-threaded rivers without vegetated banks.

This specifically hadnt been done before because single-threaded rivers without plants were not really on anyones radar, Laptre said. It also has cool implications for how rivers might have worked on Earth before there were plants.

All rivers can go through drier spells, and its the wet spells that created sediment build up in deltas. The researchers think that on Mars, the dry spells were 20 times more frequent than on Earth today. People have been thinking more and more about the fact that flows on Mars probably were not continuous and that there have been times when you had flows and other times when you had dry spells, Laptre said. This is a novel way of putting quantitative constraints on how frequently flows probably happened on Mars.

If there was life at Jezero Crater, most scientists seem to think that it never evolved much, and was restricted to single-celled organisms. With this new understanding of how the sediment deposits in Jezero Crater were formed, and how it likely preserved evidence of life, it makes the Perseverance Rover mission even more exciting to look forward to.

Life on Earth began about 3.5 billion years ago, at about the same time that Jezero Crater was formed. Any life on Earth would have been single-celled when the crater was formed. If single-celled life was present at Jezero long before multi-cellular life evolved on Earth, then something stalled Martian life, depleting the atmosphere and sterilizing the planet.

Since Earth is such a geologically active planet compared to Mars, a lot of ancient evidence for life has been erased. But that never happened on Mars. In that sense the Jezero Crater may be a kind of time capsule, waiting to be opened by NASAs Perseverance Rover.

Its possible, that we might finally, unequivocally, have evidence for past life on Mars.

Being able to use another planet as a lab experiment for how life could have started somewhere else or where theres a better record of how life started in the first place that could actually teach us a lot about what life is, Laptre said. These will be the first samples that weve seen as a rock on Mars and then brought back to Earth, so its pretty exciting.

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East Kern aerospace company joins with NASA to fight COVID-19 – The Bakersfield Californian

Much has been written about the new space race, driven not by government agencies as much as private companies in eastern Kern County and beyond.

Now one of those companies with huge research and testing facilities at Mojave Air and Space Port is joining forces with NASA to focus their talent and resources on something more earthbound: battling COVID-19.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, announced on the company blog last week that the company is uniquely positioned to develop new medical products specifically designed for patients with COVID-19.

The space industry has a responsibility to share expertise, knowledge, resources, and ingenuity to aid in the fight against COVID-19, Whitesides said.

Through a Space Act Agreement with NASA, Virgin Galactic has made a commitment to developing innovative solutions to the problems facing healthcare workers on the frontlines. This is our way of ensuring that the best and brightest at Virgin Galactic can support their local communities during this challenging time and provide life-saving solutions for those suffering from COVID-19."

According to Whitesides, employees at Virgin Galactic and its sister firm, The Spaceship Company, worked on the development and testing of the PPB Hood a device designed to support those admitted with COVID-19 with portable oxygen-rich pressure chambers, reducing the need for ventilator intubation.

The effort appears to be consistent with the company's mission, Using Space for Good.

But while Virgin Galactic reached the edge of space last year in test flights of its SpaceShipTwo tourism vehicle, the company founded by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson remains well behind its early projections to have flown hundreds of well-heeled aspiring astronauts to suborbital space by now.

Mike Moses, president of Virgin Galactic, also blogged about the new focus. and included employees at Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M.

"As we continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, I would like to thank our team for the perseverance, compassion and determination they have shown in our home of New Mexico with their ongoing effort to support local communities in response to the challenge of COVID-19," Moses said.

"As part of our relief efforts, we have made several donations of medical supplies to communities and hospitals in California and New Mexico."

The public-private team is also working on a separate project to develop and build negative pressure enclosures specialist equipment that covers a patient on a gurney or hospital bed, Whitesides said.

As Americans continue to deal with unprecedented changes brought about by the pandemic and resulting quarantines and lockdowns, it may simply be the case that private space flight has temporarily lost some of its romance.

It a time of war in this case war against a contagious viral disease Virgin Galactic is focusing, at least in part, on those on the front lines.

The work NASA employees are doing in California is one of several examples of how the agency is contributing to the whole-of-government response to coronavirus, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. By channeling the unique skillset of our workforce and engaging private and public partners, we can make a difference."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

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NASA uncovers alluring chaos terrain in its quest to find ocean on Jupiters moon Europa – Republic World – Republic World

The idea of life on Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa has fascinated scientists for decades but it was in the 1990s, with sharp images from NASA's Galileo spacecraft, that researchers came a step closer to believein its possibility. NASA has now remastered some of Galileo's stunning images of Europa, using improved new calibrations to introduce colours, in a bid to have a closer look at the Jovian satellite.

In the splendid images shared on Instagram, Europa's long erratic winding lines throw new light on its varied landscape. As explained by NASA, the image shows a region where ice blocks have moved sideways, rotated or tilted before refreezing in their new locations and to understand how it might have happened, scientists study these ice blocks like they were jumbled pieces of a puzzle. While geologists have dubbed these as 'chaos terrain', the remastered images are simply fascinating.

Read:Perseverance Rover To Get The Most Advanced Pair Of 'eyes' Ahead Of NASA's Mars Mission

Read:NASA Artemis Mission: SpaceX, Blue Origin And Dynetics Chosen To Design HLS

The long curving lines in the remastered images hint at subsurface liquid water. While releasing these images on the NASAwebsite, scientists elucidated that tidal motion experienced by Europa in its elliptical orbit around Jupiter supplies the energy to keep the ocean in a liquid state under an ice shell of 15 to 25 kilometres. The cosmic ocean is estimated to be 60 to 150 kilometres deep. Therefore, while the Jovian satellite is only one-fourth the diameter of Earth, Europa's ocean is estimated to contain twice as much water as our planet.

Most recent observations from the Hubble telescope, and reanalysis of old Galileo data, have suggested that Europa's ocean may be leaking into space. In fact, in November 2019, an international team of scientist announced detecting water vapours for the first time above Europe's surface. The observation was made using a spectrograph at NASA's Hawaii observatory as it measured the chemical composition of Europa's atmosphere comparing infrared light emission and absorption.

Read:NASA To Laser Check Moon's Darkest Craters For Signs Of Water Before Artemis Mission

Read:NASA Celebrates 30 Years And 1.4 Million Observations Of Hubble With 'Cosmic Coral Reef'

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NASAs Mars Exploration Program

Astrobiology is a relatively new field of study, where scientists from a variety of disciplines (astronomy, biology, geology, physics, etc.) work together to understand the potential for life to exist beyond Earth. However, the exploration of Mars has been intertwined with NASAs search for life from the beginning. The twin Viking landers of 1976 were NASAs first life detection mission, and although the results from the experiments failed to detect life in the Martian regolith, and resulted in a long period with fewer Mars missions, it was not the end of the fascination that the Astrobiology science community had for the red planet.

The field of Astrobiology saw a resurgence due to the controversy surrounding the possible fossil life in the ALH84001 meteorite, and from the outsized public response to this announcement, and subsequent interest from Congress and the White House, NASAs Astrobiology Program (https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/ )and one of its major programs, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (https://nai.nasa.gov/ ) were formed.

Also at this time, NASAs Mars Exploration Program began to investigate Mars with an increasing focus on missions to the Red Planet. The Pathfinder mission and Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) were sent to Mars to Follow the Water, recognizing that liquid water is necessary for life to exist on Earth. After establishing that Mars once had significant amount of water on its surface, the Mars Science Laboratory (which includes the Curiosity rover) was sent to Mars to determine whether Mars had the right ingredients in the rocks to host life, signaling a shift to the next theme of Explore Habitability. MEP is now developing the Mars 2020 rover mission (https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars2020/ ) to determine whether life may have left telltale signatures in the rocks on Marss surface, a further shift to the current science theme Seek the Signs of Life.

Finding fossils preserved from early Mars might tell us that life once flourished on this planet. We can search for evidence of cells preserved in rocks, or at a much smaller scale: compounds called biosignatures are molecular fossils, specific compounds that give some indication of the organisms that created them. However, over hundreds of millions of years these molecular fossils on Mars are subject to being destroyed or transformed to the point where they may no longer be recognized as biosignatures. Future missions must either find surface regions where erosion from wind-blown sand has recently exposed very ancient material, or alternately samples must be obtained from a shielded region beneath the surface. This latter approach is being taken by the ExoMars rover (http://exploration.esa.int/mars/48088-mission-overview/ ) under development where drilled samples taken from a depth of up to 2 meters will be analyzed.

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NASA’s incredible new moon map will serve as blueprint for human missions – CNET

The most comprehensive geologic map of the moon ever.

NASA is preparing for new missions to the moon, setting an ambitious goal for putting walkin', talkin' humans (including the first woman) back on the lunar surface by 2024. There's plenty of gigantic hurdles to overcome before that future is realized, but this stunning, detailed new map of the moon's surface features, produced by scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute, is likely to play an invaluable role in fulfilling the agency's goal.

Known as the "Unified Geologic Map of the Moon", the cartograph looks like a rainbow Gobstopper and charts decades of geological surveys of the lunar surface, dating as far back as the Apollo era -- when humans first stepped foot on our celestial neighbor. Using regional maps from six Apollo missions combined with new data acquired by NASA's lunar orbiter and observations by Kaguya, a probe launched by the Japanese space agency which imaged the moon between 2007 and 2009.

Stay in the know. Get the latest tech stories from CNET News every weekday.

The colourful 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map, which was set to be unveiled during the 51st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, is designed to serve as a resource for research and analysis efforts and to help future geologic surveys.

"It's wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions," said Jim Reilly, USGS director, in a press release.

The moon's pockmarked surface acts like a record of its history and the new map distinguishes between different geologic formations and time periods, using striking color to record the moon's past. The map is dominated by the pinks of the Imbrian era, which occurred some 3.5 billion years ago. During that time, the moon was smashed by asteroids, creating many of the impact craters we can see on the surface today.

A full-size version of the map can be found here.

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NASA astronauts on ISS tell John Krasinski that Earth is still beautiful – CNET

Nick and Joe Jonas are at your 2020 prom.

John Krasinskiwent above and beyond on the latest episode ofSome Good News-- to space. Astronauts on the International Space Station flashed a floating SGN banner with a background noZoomconference could ever top: the colossal curve of the Earth, shrouded in cloud.

NASA tweeted out a clip of the episode on Tuesday, saying "Yes, @JohnKrasinski -- that just happened!"

In the clip, the NASA astronauts say our planet is beautiful and that even an Earth in crisis is still worth returning to. NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Drew Morgan, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, returned to Earth on April 17.

Krasinski has also been touting a virtual prom for high schoolers holed up at home, and during episode 4 on Sunday, he delivered. Balloons, streamers, full-on DJ set and, yes,the Jonas Brothers in tow, Krasinski put on a show to rival every teen movie. (Jump to 12:33.)

The YouTube show, created to shine a light on all the ways people are helping and entertaining each other in this time of lockdown, has a reputation for the spectacular, from celebrity cameos to grand gestures for those deserving.

As for celebrity cameos, Brad Pitt replaced Robert De Niro as SGN's weather reporter. Yes, you read that right. (Jump to 6:55.)

Krasinski then proceeded to throw the biggest names together in organizing a virtual prom for the class of 2020. He consulted ex-The Office costar Rainn Wilson, Chance the Rapper and the Jonas Brothers, who performed Sucker via Zoom for those dressed up in their bedrooms.

And then the capper: Billie Eilish and her brother and songwriting partner Finneas O'Connell dropped by to perform Bad Guy. Class of 2020, hope you enjoyed virtual prom.

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OSU Receives NASA Award to Study Weather for Drones – AviationPros.com

NASA awarded a team of Oklahoma State University researchers $5.2 million over the next four years to study low-level wind and turbulence forecasting.

The research aims to improve the safe operation of drones in both urban and rural environments, particularly in the field of advanced air mobility that could one day include autonomous transport of people and cargo.

NASA's University Leadership Initiative Award totals $32.8 million and will also go to teams at Stanford University, the University of Delaware, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of South Carolina.

Each of these teams is working on important problems that definitely will help break down barriers in ways that will benefit the U.S. aviation industry, said John Cavolowsky, director of NASAs Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program in Washington, D.C.

OSU investigators include professors Jamey Jacob, Brian Elbing, Imraan Faruque and Nicoletta Fala. Jacob, the director of OSUs Unmanned Systems Research Institute, is the projects principal investigator. Researchers from the OSU institute have worked with NASA in the past.

Selection to the NASA University Leadership Program confirms OSUs expertise and preeminence in unmanned systems, particularly in the area of unmanned aircraft for weather and meteorological applications, Jacob said.

NASA hopes the University Leadership Initiative will unite its Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and prominent American research universities to produce new, innovative ideas. Jacob said the NASA University Leadership Initiative program allows university and industry teams to provide unique solutions to the most complex problems facing aeronautics today.

"The challenge our team is addressing will have an impact across a wide range of aircraft, not only helping advance the integration of drones and urban air taxis into the national airspace, but also increasing the safety of air transportation and airport operations for all aircraft from airliners and general aviation aircraft alike, he said.

OSUs team includes members from Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Vigilant Aerospace Systems Inc. AirXOS and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

2020 The Oklahoman

Visit The Oklahoman atwww.newsok.com

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NASAs new rover is headed to the perfect spot to hunt for life on Mars – BGR

NASAs Mars 2020 mission launch date is rapidly approaching, and weve seen all the signs that the Perseverance rover is just about ready to make the long journey to the Red Planet. What will it find when it arrives? Thats a question nobody can answer, but new research by scientists at Stanford suggests that the rovers targeted landing site may be a great place to look for signs of life.

NASA chose the rovers landing location a large bowl-shaped depression known as the Jezero crater because its located in an area where ancient martian rivers flowed, carving channels and depositing sediment into layers. This is ideal for scientists hunting for signatures of life as it offers the opportunity to study material that was on the surface over a long period of time.

Stanford scientists used aerial images of the Jezero crater and the surrounding area to build a model of how the area developed. They found that the sediments deposited near the dried-up river delta have a high probability of preserving signs of ancient life, if it did indeed exist.

There probably was water for a significant duration on Mars and that environment was most certainly habitable, even if it may have been arid, lead author Mathieu Laptre said in a statement. We showed that sediments were deposited rapidly and that if there were organics, they would have been buried rapidly, which means that they would likely have been preserved and protected.

Thats incredibly important, as exposure on the surface could have easily destroyed evidence of life before it had a chance to be covered in layers of sediment and preserved. The sediment layers are believed to have formed rapidly, but only when specific conditions were present on the surface. The active formation of the river delta may have only taken 20 to 40 years, but that formation was likely discontinuous and spread out across about 400,000 years, according to the scientists.

People have been thinking more and more about the fact that flows on Mars probably were not continuous and that there have been times when you had flows and other times when you had dry spells, Laptre explains. This is a novel way of putting quantitative constraints on how frequently flows probably happened on Mars.

The Mars 2020 mission is slated to launch in late July or early August of this year. The timeline is tight, and NASA cant afford to miss the launch window. If for some reason the launch is delayed beyond the early August limit, the entire mission would have to be pushed back to 2022 at the earliest due to the nature of the orbits of Mars and Earth.

Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love ofreporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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Ariana Grande Had the Best Reaction to Chrissy Teigen’s Daughter Luna Singing ‘NASA’ – ELLE.com

Chrissy Teigen's four year old daughter Luna got a karaoke machine, so her mother shared footage of her singing Selena Gomez's "Hands to Myself" and Ariana Grande's "NASA" on her Instagram Story. The clips were cuteand got Grande's attention. (Having a famous mom with a huge following and tagging Grande can really make things happen.)

Grande's reaction to Luna singing her song ended up being what most fans dream of: Grande watched and featured Luna's cover in her Instagram Story. Grande captioned the clip with an emotional emoji and white heart.

Grande's shoutout comes about a week after Luna celebrated her fourth birthday in quarantine with her mother, dad John Legend, and little brother Miles. Legend revealed on his Instagram that Teigen went out of her way to make Luna's day special by decorating the house and making sure there was plenty of cake.

"Luna's living her best birthday life," he wrote. "Mommy decorated. No preschool friends were able to come, but they sent video messages and she was thrilled. Good memories for her during this strange time."

Teigen and Legend both shared Instagram birthday tributes to their daughter ahead of the day's celebrations. "happy 4th birthday to the queen of our household," Teigen captioned hers. "I could have never prayed for a better little being."

"Happy 4th birthday to our beautiful Luna!" Legend wrote in his post, which featured a gallery of photos taken throughout her life. "I'm so happy I get to be your father, teacher, friend. "

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NASA Tracker Detects Massive Asteroid Passing By Earth On Sunday – International Business Times

KEY POINTS

NASA is currently tracking a massive building-sized asteroid thats expected to approach Earth on Sunday (April 26). Aside from the incoming asteroid, two other near-Earth objects will fly past the planet this weekend.

According to NASAs Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the massive asteroid has been identified as 2020 FM6. It has an estimated diameter of 820 feet and is currently moving towards Earth at a speed of almost 38,000 miles per hour.

Given its massive size and speed, the asteroid is capable of causing a major impact event on Earth if it hits the planet. Due to this, 2020 FM6 has been classified by NASA as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

Potentially hazardous asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroids potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth, NASA explained. Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 [astronomical units] or less and an absolute magnitude of 22.0 or less are considered [potentially hazardous asteroids].

According to CNEOS, 2020 FM6 is expected to approach Earth on April 26 at 11:35 p.m. EDT. During its approach, it will be about 0.03673 astronomical units or 3.4 million miles from the planets center.

Aside from 2020 FM6, Earth will also be visited by two other asteroids on Sunday. The first one is called 2019 HS2. CNEOS noted that this asteroid measures about 92 feet wide and is approaching Earth with a velocity of 28,000 miles per hour.

The second asteroid that will arrive on Sunday is known as 2019 GF1. This asteroid is currently traveling across space at a speed of 7,000 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of about 65 feet.

According to CNEOS, both asteroids belong to the family of Aten space rocks. This means that 2019 HS2 and 2019 GF1 follow natural orbits that intersect Earths path.

2019 HS2 will fly past Earth on April 26 at 10:40 a.m. EDT from a distance of 0.03488 astronomical units or roughly 3.2 million miles away.

2019 GF1, on the other hand, will approach the planet on April 26 at 7:55 p.m. EDT from about 0.04783 astronomical units or 4.4 million miles away.

Over 17,000 near-Earth asteroids remain undetected in our solar neighborhood. Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA

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