NASA

Vanguard Satellite, 1958

Vanguard Satellite, 1958

Vanguard Satellite, 1958

Vanguard Satellite, 1958

Image credit: NASA

One of the Vanguard satellites is checked out at Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1958. Vanguard 1, the world’s first solar-powered satellite, launched on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) 1958. It was designed to test the launch capabilities of a three-stage launch vehicle and the effects of the environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. Vanguard 1 was the second U.S. satellite in orbit, following Explorer 1, and remains the oldest artificial object orbiting Earth to this day. Vanguard began as a program at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington and transferred over to NASA (along with many of its personnel) after the agency was founded by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

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Video: Vanguard

The Vanguard rocket that held the satellite failed miserably, blowing up before take-off.

Posted by Red Pill Reports in Space
Curiosity Self-Portrait at ‘Mojave’ Site on Mount Sharp

Curiosity Self-Portrait at ‘Mojave’ Site on Mount Sharp

Curiosity Self-Portrait at ‘Mojave’ Site on Mount Sharp

Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Mojave' Site on Mount Sharp

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the “Mojave” site, where its drill collected the mission’s second taste of Mount Sharp.

The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.  The pale “Pahrump Hills” outcrop surrounds the rover, and the upper portion of Mount Sharp is visible on the horizon.  Darker ground at upper right and lower left holds ripples of wind-blown sand and dust.

An annotated version, Fig. A, labels several of the sites Curiosity has investigated during three passes up the Pahrump Hills outcrop examining the outcrop at increasing levels of detail. The rover used its sample-collecting drill at “Confidence Hills” as well as at Mojave, and in late February was assessing “Telegraph Peak” as a third drilling site.

The view does not include the rover’s robotic arm.  Wrist motions and turret rotations on the arm allowed MAHLI to acquire the mosaic’s component images. The arm was positioned out of the shot in the images, or portions of images, that were used in this mosaic. This process was used previously in acquiring and assembling Curiosity self-portraits taken at sample-collection sites “Rocknest” (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16468), “John Klein” (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16937) and “Windjana” (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18390).

Curiosity used its drill to collect a sample of rock powder from target “Mojave 2” at this site on Jan. 31, 2015.  The full-depth, sample-collection hole and the shallower preparation test hole beside it are visible in front of the rover in this self-portrait, and in more detail at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19115 .  The Mojave site is in the “Pink Cliffs” portion of the Pahrump Hills outcrop. The outcrop is an exposure of the Murray formation, which forms the basal geological layer of Mount Sharp.  Views of Pahrump Hills from other angles are at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA19039 and the inset at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=6968 .

The frames showing the rover in this mosaic were taken during the 868th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (Jan. 14, 2015).  Additional frames around the edges to extend the amount of terrain included in the scene were taken on Sol 882 (Jan. 29, 2015).  The frames showing the drill holes were taken on Sol 884 (Jan. 31, 2015).

For scale, the rover’s wheels are 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and about 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide.  The drilled holes in the rock are 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter.

MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

 

Posted by Red Pill Reports in Space
Astronaut Barry Wilmore on the First of Three Spacewalks

Astronaut Barry Wilmore on the First of Three Spacewalks

Astronaut Barry Wilmore on the First of Three Spacewalks

Astronaut Barry Wilmore on the First of Three Spacewalks

Image credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore works outside the International Space Station on the first of three spacewalks preparing the station for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. Fellow spacewalker Terry Virts, seen reflected in the visor, shared this photograph on social media.

The spacewalks are designed to lay cables along the forward end of the U.S. segment to bring power and communication to two International Docking Adapters slated to arrive later this year. The new docking ports will welcome U.S. commercial spacecraft launching from Florida beginning in 2017, permitting the standard station crew size to grow from six to seven and potentially double the amount of crew time devoted to research.

The second and third spacewalks are planned for Wednesday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, March 1, with Wilmore and Virts participating in all three.

Source

Video: NASA Spacewalk of Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore

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Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy

Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy

Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy

Hubble Spies a Loopy Galaxy

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope photo of NGC 7714 presents an especially striking view of the galaxy’s smoke-ring-like structure. The golden loop is made of sun-like stars that have been pulled deep into space, far from the galaxy’s center. The galaxy is located approximately 100 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Pisces.

The universe is full of such galaxies that are gravitationally stretched and pulled and otherwise distorted in gravitational tug-o’-wars with bypassing galaxies.

The companion galaxy doing the “taffy pulling” in this case, NGC 7715, lies just out of the field of view in this image. A very faint bridge of stars extends to the unseen companion. The close encounter has compressed interstellar gas to trigger bursts of star formation seen in bright blue arcs extending around NGC 7714’s center.

The gravitational disruption of NGC 7714 began between 100 million and 200 million years ago, at the epoch when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

The image was taken with the Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys in October 2011.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,

Posted by Red Pill Reports in Space
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

Image credit: NASA/ Jeff Doughty

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) enters the Lufthansa Technik hangar in Hamburg, Germany for its decadal inspection. Flight, aircraft maintenance, and science personnel from the Armstrong Flight Research Center worked alongside Lufthansa’s 747 specialists to perform a wide range of inspections and maintenance.

Water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs infrared radiation, preventing a large section of the infrared spectrum from reaching ground-based observatories. SOFIA is a heavily modified Boeing 747 Special Performance jetliner that flies at altitudes between 39,000 to 45,000 feet (12 to 14 km), above more than 99 percent of Earth’s atmospheric water vapor giving astronomers the ability to study celestial objects at wavelengths that cannot be seen from ground-based observatories.

More information on SOFIA.

Source

Wikipedia – SOFIA: The Telescope

SOFIA uses a 2.5-meter reflector telescope, which has an oversized, 2.7 meter diameter primary mirror, as is common with most large infrared telescopes. The optical system uses a Cassegrain reflector design with a parabolic primary mirror and a remotely configurable hyperbolic secondary. In order to fit the telescope into the fuselage, the primary is shaped to an f-number as low as 1.3, while the resulting optical layout has an f-number of 19.7. A flat, tertiary, dichroic mirror is used to deflect the infrared part of the beam to the Nasmyth focus where it can be analyzed. An optical mirror located behind the tertiary mirror is used for a camera guidance system.

Video: Touring around NASA’s flying telescope, SOFIA

SOFIA with open telescope doors

Image credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

Photo: SOFIA with open telescope doors A German-built telescope is exposed during a flight of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy 747SP on Dec. 18, 2009. The telescope doors were fully opened, allowing engineers to understand how air flows in and around the telescope.

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Ready for Jan. 29 Launch

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Ready for Jan. 29 Launch

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Ready for Jan. 29 Launch

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Ready for Jan. 29 Launch

Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The sun sets behind Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) with the Delta II rocket and the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory protected by the service structure on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. SMAP is NASA’s first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. SMAP will provide high resolution global measurements of soil moisture from space. The data will be used to enhance scientists’ understanding of the processes that link Earth’s water, energy, and carbon cycles.

Source

Video: Soil Moisture Mission Previewed

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) was previewed during a Jan. 27 pre-launch briefing at Vandenberg Air Force Base. SMAP is the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture. The mission’s high resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather and improve our understanding of Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted for Jan. 29 at 6:20 a.m. PST (9:20 a.m. EST).

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Liftoff of SpaceX Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

Liftoff of SpaceX Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

Liftoff of SpaceX Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

Liftoff of SpaceX Resupply Mission to the International Space Station

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 4:47 a.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. The commercial resupply mission will deliver 3,700 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies, including critical materials to support 256 science and research investigations on the space station.

The mission is the company’s fifth official cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon’s cargo will support more than 250 experiments that will be conducted by the station’s Expeditions 42 and 43 crews.

“We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year,”

said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“Thanks to our private sector partners, we’ve returned space station resupply launches to U.S. soil and are poised to do the same with the transport of our astronauts in the very near future. Today’s launch not only resupplies the station, but also delivers important science experiments and increases the station’s unique capabilities as a platform for Earth science with delivery of the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS instrument. I congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams who have made today’s success possible. We look forward to extending our efforts in commercial space to include commercial crew by 2017 and to more significant milestones this year on our journey to Mars.”

More: NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission

Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossman

Video: CRS-5 Launch

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Nissan and NASA to Work on Self-driving Cars

Nissan and NASA to Work on Self-driving Cars

Nissan and NASA to Work on Self-driving Cars

By RT

Nissan and NASA to Work on Self-driving Cars

Google Self-driving Car. Image credit derivative work: Mariordo [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nissan and NASA will jointly develop cars able to move without a driver. The first tests of autonomous vehicles are expected to be carried out by the end of 2015.

The companies on Thursday announced establishing a five-year research and development partnership to advance self-drive systems and bring them to a commercial level. Further research will be carried out in Silicon Valley, NASA and Nissan said in a joint statement. The first vehicle should be tested at the facility by the end of 2015.

“The partnership brings together the best and brightest of NASA and Nissan and validates our investments in Silicon Valley,” said Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn. “The partnership will accelerate Nissan’s development of safe, secure and reliable autonomous drive technology that we will progressively introduce to consumers beginning in 2016 up to 2020,” he added.

The scientists will focus on creating autonomous drive systems, network-enabled applications, human-machine interface solutions, and software analysis and verification, involving hardware and software used in space applications.

The system will include automatic braking sensors and elements that will help preventing road traffic accidents. Special sensors will let the cars know they are about to collide and will brake automatically without any human action involved. Besides, the cars will be able to park themselves.

The experts involved in the project believe such vehicles will be safer for humans and the environment, and will see promising future.

Nissan has long been developing self-driving cars. However, the company’s CEO Carlos Ghosn believes NASA can teach Nissan how to create a more reliable human-machine interface, as it has great experience in building durable space rovers controlled from Earth. NASA, in turn, is looking to find a way of incorporating self-driving technology into its vehicles.

“We have a rover on Mars. It is not very autonomous,” Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, told Wired. “As we go deeper into space, into more and more dangerous locations, we need to add that autonomy.”

Nissan is not the only car producer working on the technology. It’s Japanese rival Toyota along with US Ford and General Motors are also developing autonomous vehicles.

Companies outside the industry are also getting involved in similar developments. At the end of 2014, Google Inc. presented its first fully working autonomous car prototype.

Source

Posted by Red Pill Reports in Science & Technology
View of the Alps From Space

View of the Alps From Space

View of the Alps From Space

View of the Alps From Space

Expedition 42 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (ESA) took this photograph of the Alps from the International Space Station, and posted it to social media on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. She wrote, “I’m biased, but aren’t the Alps from space spectacular? What a foggy day on the Po plane, though! #Italy”

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti

Source

Video: The Alps Timelapse from Space as the Seasons Change

An epic satellite flyover of the Alps, showing a year of seasonal changes.

Using data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, scientists and data visualizers stitched together a full year’s worth of monthly observations of the land surface, coastal oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, photo-like mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet.

These monthly images reveal seasonal changes to the land surface: the green-up and dying-back of vegetation in temperate regions; and advancing and retreating snow cover. The Blue Marble – Next Generation – offers a year’s worth of monthly composites in remarkable detail.

Credit: NASA

More about the Blue Marble:
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/features/blue_marble.html

 

Video: Space Balloon over the Alps

Posted by Red Pill Reports in Space