Latest News

I will not be updating this site again until December 9. I am traveling in Cuba and have limited internet access. Thanks for your patience – I hope you’ll visit this page again when I return!


CASIS And National Science Foundation Announce New Funding Opportunity

700400p586ednmainnsf-combustion-header-banner

November 30, 2016 – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a joint solicitation wherein researchers will have the ability to leverage resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory in the fields of combustion and thermal transport. Up to $1.8 million will be awarded for multiple research investigations to support flight projects to the ISS National Laboratory. Read More


Modeling Offers New Perspective On How Pluto’s ‘Icy Heart’ Came To Be

Pluto, shown here in the front of this false-color image, has a bright ice-covered 'heart.' The left, roughly oval lobe is the basin provisionally named Sputnik Planitia. Sputnik Planitia appears directly opposite Pluto's moon, Charon (back). Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

Pluto, shown here in the front of this false-color image, has a bright ice-covered ‘heart.’ The left, roughly oval lobe is the basin provisionally named Sputnik Planitia. Sputnik Planitia appears directly opposite Pluto’s moon, Charon (back). Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

November 30, 2016 – Pluto’s “icy heart” is a bright, two-lobed feature on its surface that has attracted researchers ever since its discovery by the NASA New Horizons team in 2015. Of particular interest is the heart’s western lobe, informally named Sputnik Planitia, a deep basin containing three kinds of ices — frozen nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide — and appearing opposite Charon, Pluto’s tidally locked moon. Sputnik Planitia’s unique attributes have spurred a number of scenarios for its formation, all of which identify the feature as an impact basin, a depression created by a smaller body striking Pluto at extremely high speed. Read More


Into The Proving Ground: Objectives For Human Exploration Near The Moon

Artist’s concept of an Orion spacecraft and its European-built service module near the moon. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

Artist’s concept of an Orion spacecraft and its European-built service module near the moon. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

November 30, 2016 – The early missions for NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems will set the cadence for many missions to follow. The Orion spacecraft, launched by the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, will travel more than 40,000 miles beyond the moon to an area that is only about three to five days away from Earth, yet farther than the Apollo astronauts traveled. With flight hardware in production for the first mission, NASA has established integrated human exploration objectives combining the efforts aboard the International Space Station, SLS and Orion, and other capabilities needed to support human missions on the Journey to Mars. Read More


CU Boulder Alumnus Is First Trump Appointment To NASA Transition Landing Team

CU Boulder alumnus Chris Shank.  Photo Credit:  NASA/Bill Ingalls

CU Boulder alumnus Chris Shank. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

November 30, 2016 – On November 29, University of Colorado Boulder alumnus Christopher Shank (Aero MS ’96), became President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointment to the NASA transition landing team. Read More


GOES-R Is Now Officially GOES-16

The first satellite in the next generation of geostationary satellites, GOES-R, is built by Lockheed Martin. Image Credit: NOAA

The first satellite in the next generation of geostationary satellites, GOES-R, is built by Lockheed Martin. Image Credit: NOAA

November 30, 2016 – On November 29, 2016, GOES-R executed its final liquid apogee engine burn without anomaly. This has placed the weather satellite approximately 22,300 miles away with an inclination of 0.0 degrees, meaning it has reached geostationary orbit. GOES-R is now officially known as GOES-16. Read More


NASA’s Webb Telescope Clean Room ‘Transporter’

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

November 30, 2016 – What looks like a teleporter from science fiction being draped over NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is actually a “clean tent.” The clean tent protects Webb from dust and dirt when engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland transport the next generation space telescope out of the relatively dust-free cleanroom and into the shirtsleeve environment of the vibration and acoustics testing areas. Read More


ULA Launches Innovative “RocketBuilder” Website

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-9-58-54-am11-30-16

November 30, 2016 – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced its new website today that enhances the way customers shop for launch services and sets a new standard for pricing transparency. It also provides insight into reliability, schedule assurance and performance, allowing users to make a true value comparison. Read More


CU Boulder Hosts Sneak Preview Of MARS, The Planet And Nat Geo Series

Bobby Braun served as a technical consultant for National Geographic's six-part miniseries “Mars”. Image Credit: National Geographic/CU Boulder

Bobby Braun served as a technical consultant for National Geographic’s six-part miniseries “Mars”. Image Credit: National Geographic/CU Boulder

November 29, 2016 – Fasten your spaceship seat belts. On Dec. 5, CU Boulder is hosting an advance screening of two new episodes from National Geographic’s current global series MARS, produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Read More


NASA Radio On Europe’s New Mars Orbiter Aces Relay Test

A NASA radio on Europe's Trace Gas Orbiter, which reached Mars in October 2016, has succeeded in its first test of receiving data from NASA Mars rovers, both Opportunity and Curiosity. This graphic depicts the geometry of the relay from Opportunity to the orbiter, which then sent the data to Earth.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA

A NASA radio on Europe’s Trace Gas Orbiter, which reached Mars in October 2016, has succeeded in its first test of receiving data from NASA Mars rovers, both Opportunity and Curiosity. This graphic depicts the geometry of the relay from Opportunity to the orbiter, which then sent the data to Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA

November 29, 2016 – Data from each of the two rovers active on Mars reached Earth last week in the successful first relay test of a NASA radio aboard Europe’s new Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). Read More


Orbital ATK To Develop Critical Technology For In-Orbit Assembly

November 29, 2016 – Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that it has begun a public-private partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) to establish a Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) in space. The CIRAS program will advance key technologies for in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space structures that will help the agency meet its goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system. Read More


Views Of Mars Show Potential For ESA’s New Orbiter

Image of a 1.4 km sized crater (left centre) on the rim of a much larger crater near the Mars equator. It was acquired at 7.2 metres/pixel. The images are very sharp and show the instrument is working extremely well at its nominal data acquisition rates. Image Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/ExoMars/CaSSIS/UniBE

Image of a 1.4 km sized crater (left centre) on the rim of a much larger crater near the Mars equator. It was acquired at 7.2 metres/pixel. The images are very sharp and show the instrument is working extremely well at its nominal data acquisition rates. Image Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/ExoMars/CaSSIS/UniBE

November 29, 2016 – The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) new ExoMars orbiter has tested its suite of instruments in orbit for the first time, hinting at a great potential for future observations. Read More


Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop

banner-png__1240x600_q85_subsampling-2

November 29, 2016 – NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) is planning to host a community workshop at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC on February 27–28 and March 1, 2017. This workshop is meant to provide PSD with a very long-range vision of what planetary science may look like in the future. Read More


The Force Is Strong At The Space Foundation Discovery Center This Week

Image Credit: Space Foundation

Image Credit: Space Foundation

November 29, 2016 – From stars in the sky, to sci-fi stars of the big screen, the Discovery Center has something for the entire family, November 30 – December 3. Two events, the Family Star Party and Star Days, offer interactive and educational fun for all ages. Read More


Laser-Based Navigation Sensor Could Be Standard For Planetary Landing Missions

Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA's Langley Research Center. Image Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

Bruce Barnes, who does electronics engineering and system integration for the Navigation Doppler Lidar, makes final preparations to the sensor in a lab at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Image Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

November 29, 2016 – A laser-guided navigation sensor that could help future rovers make safe, precise landings on Mars or destinations beyond will soon undergo testing in California’s Mojave Desert. Read More


CSU Prof. Emily Fischer Making PROGRESS, Supporting Women in Geosciences

PROGRESS participants are welcomed with a weekend of activities and networking. Image Credit: CSU

PROGRESS participants are welcomed with a weekend of activities and networking. Image Credit: CSU

November 29, 2016 – In fall 2014, a professional development and mentoring network for undergraduate women studying geosciences, called PROGRESS, was launched at Colorado State University. Read More


ULA To Unveil New Level Of Transparency In Launch Pricing

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Image Credit: ULA/US Navy

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Image Credit: ULA/US Navy

November 29, 2016 – On Wednesday, November 30, at 7:30 a.m. MT, United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Tory Bruno will unveil a website that will set a new standard for pricing transparency and transform how customers shop for launch services. Read More


NASA’s ISS-RapidScat Earth Science Mission Ends

A view of the removal of the RapidScat Nadir Adapter from the SpaceX-4 Dragon trunk and installation of the adapter onto the Columbus Exposed Facility Unit (EFU).The RapidScat instrument was the first piece of technology to be robotically assembled in space since the station’s construction, as well as the first scatterometer to be able to cross-calibrate with other instruments in orbit. Image Credit: NASA

A view of the removal of the RapidScat Nadir Adapter from the SpaceX-4 Dragon trunk and installation of the adapter onto the Columbus Exposed Facility Unit (EFU).The RapidScat instrument was the first piece of technology to be robotically assembled in space since the station’s construction, as well as the first scatterometer to be able to cross-calibrate with other instruments in orbit. Image Credit: NASA

November 28, 2016 – NASA’s International Space Station Rapid Scatterometer (ISS-RapidScat) Earth science instrument has ended operations following a successful two-year mission aboard the space station. The mission launched September 21, 2014, and had recently passed its original decommissioning date. Read More


Almost Spotless

Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

November 28, 2016 – The sun is gradually marching toward its solar minimum, and from November 14-18, hit its lowest level of solar activity since 2011. Solar activity is generally measured by sunspot count and for several days, the sun was nearly spotless. Read More


Bioserve Partnership Investigates Why Bacteria Behave Differently In Space

Altered Extracellular Model. Gene expression data support the hypothesis that glucose concentration decreases (blue gradient) and acid builds up (gold gradient) in the boundary layer around a bacterial cell in space. Scientists have suggested that this altered extracellular environment is an effect of reduced gravity-driven forces acting on the cell and the surrounding fluid system, and this mechanism may govern bacterial behavior in space. Blue circles indicate overexpression of genes associated with glucose breakdown, while gold circles represent the overexpression of acidic condition genes. Image Credit: Sweetie187, Flickr CC-BY; Zea et al (2016)

Altered Extracellular Model. Gene expression data support the hypothesis that glucose concentration decreases (blue gradient) and acid builds up (gold gradient) in the boundary layer around a bacterial cell in space. Scientists have suggested that this altered extracellular environment is an effect of reduced gravity-driven forces acting on the cell and the surrounding fluid system, and this mechanism may govern bacterial behavior in space. Blue circles indicate overexpression of genes associated with glucose breakdown, while gold circles represent the overexpression of acidic condition genes. Image Credit: Sweetie187, Flickr CC-BY; Zea et al (2016)

November 28, 2016 – An experiment conducted by HudsonAlpha Genomic Services Lab (GSL) and BioServe Space Technologies revealed why bacteria behave differently in the microgravity environment of space. The results of the study, called the Antibiotic Effectiveness in Space experiment, were published online November 2 in PLOS ONE. Read More


Tiny Mimas, Huge Rings

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

November 28, 2016 – Saturn’s icy moon Mimas is dwarfed by the planet’s enormous rings. Because Mimas (near lower left) appears tiny by comparison, it might seem that the rings would be far more massive, but this is not the case. Scientists think the rings are no more than a few times as massive as Mimas, or perhaps just a fraction of Mimas’ mass. Cassini is expected to determine the mass of Saturn’s rings to within just a few hundredths of Mimas’ mass as the mission winds down by tracking radio signals from the spacecraft as it flies close to the rings. Read More


Groundbreaking FAA UAS Detection Technology Tested At DIA

November 28, 2016 – The Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (cUAS) industry is gaining momentum as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opens up the sky to public and commercial drone operators, and last week, the FAA and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), managers of the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site, teamed together with Northern Plains UAS Test Site to test counter-UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) technology at the Denver International Airport (DIA). Read More


Searching For Signs Of Alien Life On K2-3d

This collage summarizes the research. Using the Okayama 188-cm Reflector Telescope and the observational instrument MuSCAT (See real photo on the bottom left.), researchers succeeded in observing the extrasolar planet K2-3d, which is about the same size and temperature as the Earth, pass in front of its host star blocking some of the light coming from the star (See artistic visualization at the top.), making it appear to dim (See real data on the bottom right.). Image Credit: NAOJ

This collage summarizes the research. Using the Okayama 188-cm Reflector Telescope and the observational instrument MuSCAT (See real photo on the bottom left.), researchers succeeded in observing the extrasolar planet K2-3d, which is about the same size and temperature as the Earth, pass in front of its host star blocking some of the light coming from the star (See artistic visualization at the top.), making it appear to dim (See real data on the bottom right.). Image Credit: NAOJ

November 28, 2016 – A group of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the University of Tokyo, and the Astrobiology Center among others has observed the transit of a potentially Earth-like exoplanet known as K2-3d using the MuSCAT instrument on the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory 188-cm telescope. A transit is a phenomenon in which a planet passes in front of its parent star, blocking a small amount of light from the star, like a shadow of the planet. While transits have previously been observed for thousands of other exoplanets, K2-3d is important because there is a possibility that it might harbor extraterrestrial life. Read More


Study Finds Cause Of Visual Impairment In Astronauts

Summary of the spaceflight-induced visual impairment research.

Summary of the spaceflight-induced visual impairment research.

November 28, 2016 – A visual problem affecting astronauts who serve on lengthy missions in space is related to volume changes in the clear fluid that is found around the brain and spinal cord, according to new research being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Read More


NIST Debuts Dual Atomic Clock — And A New Stability Record

One of NIST’s ytterbium lattice atomic clocks. NIST physicists combined two of these experimental clocks to make the world’s most stable single atomic clock. The image is a stacked composite of about 10 photos in which an index card was positioned in front of the lasers to reveal the laser beam paths. Image Credit: N. Phillips/NIST

One of NIST’s ytterbium lattice atomic clocks. NIST physicists combined two of these experimental clocks to make the world’s most stable single atomic clock. The image is a stacked composite of about 10 photos in which an index card was positioned in front of the lasers to reveal the laser beam paths. Image Credit: N. Phillips/NIST

November 28, 2016 – Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have combined two experimental atomic clocks based on ytterbium atoms to set yet another world record for clock stability. Stability can be thought of as how precisely the duration of each clock tick matches every other tick that comes before and after. Read More