NASA update and first data images from MAVEN spacecraft #science

Update and first images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution), which is orbiting Mars.

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars, produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, and yielded a comprehensive map of highly-variable ozone in the atmosphere underlying the coronas.

“All the instruments are showing data quality that is better than anticipated at this early stage of the mission,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “All instruments have now been turned on — although not yet fully checked out — and are functioning nominally. It’s turning out to be an easy and straightforward spacecraft to fly, at least so far. It really looks as if we’re headed for an exciting science mission.”

Three views of an escaping atmosphere, obtained by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph. By observing all of the products of water and carbon dioxide breakdown, MAVEN’s remote sensing team can characterize the processes that drive atmospheric loss on Mars.

Image Credit:  University of Colorado/NASA

Livestream todays ISS spacewalk with astronauts @Astro_Alex and @astro_reid #BetterThanGravity

Astronauts Alex Gerst and Reid Wiseman will be outside the International Space Station today during a spacewalk to perform repairs. Super Cool Livestream! #BetterThanGravity

Approximately 2 hours, 40 minutes into today’s spacewalk, astronaut Alexander Gerst, assisted by Reid Wiseman, installed the failed pump module on External Stowage Platform-2 on the Quest airlock. The crew will clean up their worksite and move ahead to their tasks, including replacing a camera light on the Destiny module, and installing an electrical relay system to provide backup power to the Mobile Transporter and Canadarm2.

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#Science Quotable: Senator Cory Booker champions for increase in @NIH funding #ALSIceBucketChallenge


Yet while consciousness and money are being raised for ALS, we as a nation are diminishing our overall commitment to medical research while spending more and more to treat these terrible diseases. Funding to the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s chief medical research agency, was 22 percent lower in the 2014 budget year than in 2003, when you take inflation into account.

Economic analysis alone should compel bolder government action because a healthy population helps us achieve a healthy economy.

Every dollar spent on medical research generates approximately $2.21 in local economic growth — a return on investment anyone in the private sector would leap at.

The medical innovation sector, funded largely by federal research dollars, is one of our nation’s great job-generating industries. Such companies employ 1 million Americans — more than 90,000 of whom are here in New Jersey with an average salary of $120,000. We need more of these types of jobs.

If we used that economic rationale alone, it would be enough to compel more investment. But it’s important to keep in mind what else these dollars accomplish.

Cory Booker editorial on Asbury Park Press