February 1, 2018

Soon Humans Will Travel Out Beyond The Moon

At the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, Lockheed Martin technicians have started building the first Orion that will carry humans to deep space on Exploration Mission-2. Image Credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin

February 1, 2018 – Construction has officially begun on the spaceship that will achieve America’s goal of returning astronauts to the Moon. Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans welded together the first two components of the Orion crew module capsule for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). Read More

Sierra Nevada Corporation Contract Continued On Advanced Plant Growth For NASA’s NextSTEP Project

Plant growth prototype developed during Phase 1 of the contract. Image Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

February 1, 2018 – Under a contract modification, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) will focus on the development of advanced bio-based life support and food production systems for NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP). SNC will continue its public-private partnership with NASA to develop its Hybrid Life Support System (HLSS) for application in microgravity space environments. Read More

Ball Aerospace’s Thomas Kampe Named SPIE Fellow

Image Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

February 1, 2018 – Dr. Thomas Kampe, a staff consultant at Ball Aerospace, has been recognized as a Fellow of SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics. This year, SPIE will promote 71 new Fellows of the Society in recognition of those who have made significant scientific and technical contributions in optics, photonics and imaging. Kampe will join three other SPIE Fellows currently at Ball. Read More

America’s Premier Space Wing Completes SBIRS Baseline Constellation

February 1, 2018 – “Nobody does what we do; other organizations and nations perform missile warning to some degree, but only the 460th Operations Group does so on a global scale every second of every single day,” said Capt. Ryan Griggs, 2nd Space Warning Squadron assistant director of operations. Read More

NOAA’s GOES-S To Boost Weather Forecast Accuracy For Western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii

Engineers watch the GOES-S Satellite being lowered into the Thermal Vacuum Chamber. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

February 1, 2018 – NOAA is 30 days away from launching GOES-S, its newest geostationary weather satellite that will begin providing faster, more accurate data to track storm systems, lightning, wildfires, dense fog, and other hazards that threaten the western U.S., Hawaii, and Alaska. Read More

Supermassive Black Holes Can Feast On One Star Per Year

Image Credit: NASA

February 1, 2018 – CU Boulder researchers have discovered a mechanism that explains the persistence of asymmetrical stellar clusters surrounding supermassive black holes in some galaxies and suggests that during post-galactic merger periods, orbiting stars could be flung into the black hole and destroyed at a rate of one per year. Read More

The Penguin And The Egg

February 1, 2018 – This image of distant interacting galaxies, known collectively as Arp 142, bears an uncanny resemblance to a penguin guarding an egg. Data from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have been combined to show these dramatic galaxies in light that spans the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum. Read More

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USRA Scientists Part Of A Team Selected For The Prestigious Bruno Rossi Prize In Astrophysics
Source: USRA

Five scientists from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and their colleagues from the Fermi Gamma Ray Burst Monitor team, led by NASA astrophysicist, Dr. Colleen Wilson-Hodge, received the prestigious Bruno Rossi Prize from the American Astronomical Society.

Students In Focus: How To Control Lunar Robots From Space
Source: University of Colorado Boulder

Humans have already been to the moon—and will likely return—but engineering undergraduates Benjamin Mellinkoff and Matthew Spydell have their eyes set on an even bigger challenge: helping humans explore the entire solar system with the aid of robotic partners.

Student Rocketry Teams To Compete For FAR-MARS Prize
Source: The Mars Society

Student-built rockets will streak into the stratosphere in Spring 2018 as college and university engineering teams from around the world compete for $100,000 in prizes in a contest sponsored jointly by the Mars Society, headquartered in Lakewood, CO and the California-based Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR).

Stellar Magnetism: What’s Behind The Most Brilliant Lights In The Sky?
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Space physicists at University of Wisconsin–Madison have just released unprecedented detail on a bizarre phenomenon that powers the northern lights, solar flares and coronal mass ejections (the biggest explosions in our solar system). The data on so-called “magnetic reconnection” came from a quartet of new spacecraft that measure radiation and magnetic fields in high Earth orbit.

Stellar Embryos In Nearby Dwarf Galaxy Contain Surprisingly Complex Organic Molecules
Source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory

The nearby dwarf galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is a chemically primitive place. Unlike the Milky Way, this semi-spiral collection of a few tens-of-billions of stars lacks our galaxy’s rich abundance of heavy elements, like carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen. With such a dearth of heavy elements, astronomers predict that the LMC should contain a comparatively paltry amount of complex carbon-based molecules. Previous observations of the LMC seem to support that view. New observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), however, have uncovered the surprisingly clear chemical “fingerprints” of the complex organic molecules methanol, dimethyl ether, and methyl formate.

Parker Solar Probe Begins Space Environment Testing
Source: NASA

On Saturday, Jan. 27, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe began space environment testing, starting with the air being pumped out of the 40-foot-tall thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland where the spacecraft is currently housed.

Natural Telescope Sets New Magnification Record
Source: University of Hawaii

Extremely distant galaxies are usually too faint to be seen, even by the largest telescopes. But nature has a solution – gravitational lensing, predicted by Albert Einstein and observed many times by astronomers. Now, an international team of astronomers led by Harald Ebeling from the University of Hawaiʻi has discovered one of the most extreme instances of magnification by gravitational lensing.

Space Foundation Brings Astronauts To Tulsa For Space In The Community
Source: Space Foundation

The Space Foundation education team traveled to Tulsa, Okla., at the end of January to deliver a Space in the Community program to students, teachers and parents there. The first three days of the visit were spent in rural Mayes County where approximately 4,500 students heard first-hand about adventures in space from former NASA astronaut Lt. Col. Duane G. Carey, USAF (Ret.), sponsored by Mid-America Electric, Inc. The program also included a Saturday of professional development for area teachers.

NASA Astronaut And U.S. Air Force Colonel, Jack Fischer
Source: Hawaii News Now

NASA Astronaut and U.S. Air Force Colonel, Jack Fischer traveled to Hilo, Hawai‘i as part of the 18th Annual Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day on Saturday, January 27. The event honors Hawai‘i-born Astronaut Ellison Onizuka, whose life was cut short 30 years ago on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission.

New Study Challenges Popular Theory About Dwarf Galaxies
Source: Australian National University

A new international study involving The Australian National University (ANU) has found a plane of dwarf galaxies orbiting around Centaurus A in a discovery that challenges a popular theory about how dwarf galaxies are spread around the Universe.

New Use For Telecommunications Networks: Helping Scientists Peer Into Deep Space
Source: The Optical Society

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that a stable frequency reference can be reliably transmitted more than 300 kilometers over a standard fiber optic telecommunications network and used to synchronize two radio telescopes. Stable frequency references, which are used to calibrate clocks and instruments that make ultraprecise measurements, are usually only accessible at facilities that generate them using expensive atomic clocks. The new technology could allow scientists anywhere to access the frequency standard simply by tapping into the telecommunications network.

Dinosaur Age Meets The Space Age At NASA Goddard
Source: NASA

A slab of sandstone discovered at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center contains at least 70 mammal and dinosaur tracks from more than 100 million years ago, according to a new paper published Jan. 31 in the journal Scientific Reports. The find provides a rare glimpse of mammals and dinosaurs interacting.

NASA Twins Study Confirms Preliminary Findings
Source: NASA

The Twin Study propelled NASA into the genomics era of space travel. It was a ground-breaking study comparing what happened to astronaut Scott Kelly, in space, to his identical twin brother, Mark, who remained on Earth. The perfect nature versus nurture study was born.

Studying The Van Allen Belts 60 Years After America’s First Spacecraft
Source: NASA

Tick, tick, tick. The device — a Geiger counter strapped to a miniature tape recorder — was registering radiation levels a thousand times greater than anyone expected. As the instrument moved higher, more than 900 miles above the surface, the counts ceased. Scientists were baffled. It was early 1958, the United States had just launched its first spacecraft, and a new discipline of physics was about to be born.

Spiderweb-Like Fractures In Occator Crater
Source: NASA

An image from NASA shows a complex set of fractures found in the southwestern region of the floor of Occator Crater on Ceres. The two intersecting fracture systems (roughly northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast) are part of a larger fault network that extends across Occator’s floor. These fractures have been interpreted as evidence that material came up from below and formed a dome shape, as if a piston was pushing Occator’s floor from beneath the surface.

‘Next Space Pioneers’: Lunar Robots In The Works By CU Boulder Undergrads
Source: Boulder Daily Camera

University of Colorado Professor Jack Burns leads a laboratory on campus that he describes as a mash-up between Silicon Valley and the space program with the help of two undergraduate students he deemed “the next space pioneers.”

SpaceX Rocket Flies On 60th Anniversary Of First U.S. Satellite Launch
Source: Spaceflight Now

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher boosted a 4.7-ton military-grade communications satellite for SES and the Luxembourg government toward a perch 22,300 miles over the equator following a spectacular late afternoon liftoff Tuesday from Florida’s Space Coast, clearing the last mission off the launch company’s manifest before the long-awaited debut of the massive Falcon Heavy rocket.

Soyuz Rocket Fires Into Space With 11 Satellites
Source: Spaceflight Now

A Soyuz rocket crowned by a Fregat upper stage carrying 11 Russian, German and U.S. satellites into orbit lifted off Thursday from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, the first flight from the country’s newest spaceport since a failure in November.

SpaceX And ULA Poised To Face Off In The Next Round Of Military Launch Competition
Source: Space News

The U.S. Air Force announced plans to award space launch contracts later this year for five satellites that include some of the military’s most sensitive big-ticket payloads. The competition comes less than two years since SpaceX became a legitimate competitor in a market that used to be entirely owned by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company.

NASA To Be Part Of Ariane 5 Anomaly Investigation
Source: Space News

NASA, whose James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 next year, will be included in the European investigation into an anomaly suffered by the rocket on its most recent launch. Arianespace announced Jan. 26 the formation of an “independent enquiry commission,” to be chaired by the European Space Agency’s inspector general, that will study the anomaly during the Jan. 25 launch that placed two communications satellites into the wrong orbits.