NASA media call on activity on Jupiter’s moon, Europa

NASA will host a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 26, to present new findings from images captured by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. (Details here)

Astronomers will present results from a unique Europa observing campaign that resulted in surprising evidence of activity that may be related to the presence of a subsurface ocean on Europa. Participants in the teleconference will be:

  • Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • William Sparks, astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
  • Britney Schmidt, assistant professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
  • Jennifer Wiseman, senior Hubble project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland

To participate by phone, media must contact Dwayne Brown at 202-358-1726 or dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov and provide their media affiliation no later than noon Monday.

Audio of the teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website at:

http://www.nasa.gov/live

For information about NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

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A hangover that’s out of this world- literally! #TimPeake

What’s it like to return to earth after several months in space? According to Tim Peake, it’s the “world’s worst hangover”. Read on, from the Guardian:

British astronaut Tim Peake is experiencing the “world’s worst hangover” after spending six months in space.

Now back on Earth at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, he faces three weeks of rehabilitation during which he will undergo a barrage of medical tests and maintain a strict exercise regime.

Doctors will draw blood, conduct Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, and question Peake to improve their understanding of the physical and psychological effects of space travel.

The astronaut will also be examined on a tilt table that can rotate his body from a horizontal to a vertical position to monitor how his heart and blood circulation are responding to gravity.

It will take Peake a few days to learn to walk again. Soon after landing in Kazakhstan on Saturday he could be seen making his first attempts at walking in Earth’s gravity supported by two helpers.

Sense of balance is also greatly affected by the transition away from an environment where there is no “up” or “down” as defined by gravity.

On Earth, the vestibular system in the inner ear that keeps us on our feet can be over-stimulated. Dizziness and nausea are common problems experienced by astronauts returning from orbit, as are feelings of faintness caused by a drop in blood pressure.

After arriving in Cologne, Peake said he was experiencing dizziness and vertigo every time he moved his head. Such effects normally disappear very quickly; others could take much longer to recover from and some may cause permanent changes.

Tim Peake is carried to a medical tent after the landing in Kazakhstan.
Tim Peake is carried to a medical tent after the landing in Kazakhstan. Photograph: Bill Ingalls/Rex/Shutterstock

Months in space will have weakened Peake’s muscles and bones and temporarily shrunk the size of his heart. Astronauts lose up to 1.5% of their bone mass for each month spent in space. The loss is greatest in the upper thighs and pelvis, and can increase the risk of injuries such as hip fractures.

Over time, the influence of gravity helps the bone regrow, but full recovery can take as long as three years depending on the individual. Muscles get stronger quickly, but the weakness can be deceptive to begin with and astronauts have reported straining their necks by turning their heads too quickly.

While in space, unprotected by the Earth’s magnetic field, Peake will have been exposed to a radiation dose equivalent to about 1,200 chest x-rays. That is enough to increase his risk of cancer, but not by more than about 3%.

Peake and his crewmates – American Nasa astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko – made the trip back to Earth on Saturday in a tiny Soyuz descent module measuring just over 6ft (1.8 metres) across.

Two other elements of their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft – the orbital module providing extra living accommodation while in orbit, and the service module housing propulsion and control systems – were allowed to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

As they plunged through the atmosphere, friction on the craft’s forward-facing heat shield slowed its speed from 17,398mph (28,000kph) to 514mph (827kph) and raised the temperature to 1,600C.

The capsule parachuted down to a remote spot on the vast scrubland of the Kazakhstan steppe. A second before touch down, a burst of fire from six retro rockets reduced the impact speed to 3mph.

Peake was the second crew member to be lifted out of the capsule, which was rolled on to its side after landing by a gust of wind. He described the journey as “incredible – the best ride I’ve been on ever” and said he was tempted to celebrate his arrival home with pizza and a cold beer.

On Sunday, Peake flew in to Cologne where he was greeted with a hug from his mother, Angela. His father, Nigel, was also there to meet him. He said: “It’s a job well done, I’m so proud of him and what he’s achieved.”

On Tuesday, Peake will give his first press conference since arriving back on Earth at the European Astronaut Centre, the European Space Agency’s astronaut base.

 

Watch inflation of new expandable habitat on ISS! – @NASA

NASA has inflated the BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) module on the ISS. Check out the cool time-lapse video of the expansion above! The below image from NASA shows the location of the expandable habitat in the context of the whole space station.

The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.

During the next week, leak checks will be performed on BEAM to ensure its structural integrity. Hatch opening and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ first entrance into BEAM will take place about a week after leak checks are complete.

BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.

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COOL! What happens to your DNA after a year in space?

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13 Reasons to have an Out of this World Friday (the 13th) #NASA

From NASA

1. Know that not all of humanity is bound to the ground

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Since 2000, the International Space Station has been continuously occupied by humans. There, crew members live and work while conducting important research that benefits life on Earth.

2. Smart people are up all night working in control rooms all over NASA to ensure that data keeps flowing from our satellites

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Our satellites help scientists study Earth and space. Satellites looking toward Earth provide information about clouds, oceans, land and ice. They also measure gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone and carbon dioxide, and the amount of energy that Earth absorbs and emits. And satellites monitor wildfires, volcanoes and their smoke.

Satellites that face toward space have a variety of jobs. Some watch for dangerous rays coming from the sun. Others explore asteroids and comets, the history of stars, and the origin of planets. Some satellites fly near or orbit other planets. These spacecraft may look for evidence of water on Mars or capture close-up pictures of Saturn’s rings.

3. When we are ready to send humans to Mars, they’ll have the most high tech space suits ever made

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Our Z-2 Spacesuit is the newest prototype in its next-generation platform, the Z-series. Each iteration of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first humans to step foot on the red planet.

4. When we need more space in space, it could be just like expanding a big high-tech balloon

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The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, leverages key innovations in lightweight and compact materials, departing from a traditional rigid metallic structure. Once attached to the International Space Station, the module would result in an additional 565 cubic feet of volume, which is about the size of a large family camping tent.

5. Even astronauts eat their VEGGIE’s

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The Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops in space. Earlier this year, Expedition 44 crew members, sampled the red romaine lettuce from the VEGGIE plant growth system. This technology will provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement during long-duration exploration missions.

6. When you feel far away from home, you can think of the New Horizons spacecraft as it heads toward the Kuiper Belt…billions of miles away

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Our New Horizons spacecraft completed its Pluto flyby on July 14, and has continued on its way toward the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft continues to send back important data as it travels toward deeper space at more than 32,000 miles per hour, and is nearly 3.2 billion miles from Earth.

7. Earth has a magnetic field that largely protects it from the solar wind stripping away our atmosphere…unlike Mars

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Recently announced findings from our MAVEN mission have identified the process that appears to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment to the cold, arid planet Mars is today. MAVEN data have enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. Luckily, Earth has a magnetic field that largely protects it from this process.

8. Water bubbles look REALLY cool in space

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Astronauts on the International Space Station dissolved an effervescent tablet in a floating ball of water, and captured images using a camera capable of recording four times the resolution of normal high-definition cameras. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station. This footage is one of the first of its kind.

9. Americans will launch from U.S. soil again with the Commercial Crew Program

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Our Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

10. You can see a global image of your home planet…EVERY DAY

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Once a day, we will post at least a dozen new color images of Earth acquired from 12 to 36 hours earlier. These images are taken by our EPIC camera from one million miles away on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Take a look HERE.

11. Over 18,000 people wanted to be astronauts and join us on the journey to Mars

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More than 18,300 people applied to join our 2017 astronaut class, almost three times the number of applications received in 2012 for the most recent astronaut class, and far surpassing the previous record of 8,000 in 1978. Among this group are humanities next great explorers!

12. A lot of NASA-developed tech has been transferred for use to the public

Our Technology Transfer Program highlights technologies that were originally designed for our mission needs, but have since been introduced to the public market. HERE are a few spinoff technologies that you might not know about.

13. If all else fails, there’s this image of Psychedelic Pluto

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This false color image of Pluto was created using a technique called principal component analysis. This effect highlights the many subtle color differences between Pluto’s distinct regions.

SpaceX Dragon to depart Space Station- follow LIVE! #OutOfThisWorld

NASA will be live-streaming the departure of SpaceX Dragon from the ISS on NASAtv starting at 9am EST.

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The SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship is grappled by the International Space Station’s Canadaarm2. Credits: NASA

After delivering almost 7,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is set to leave the orbital laboratory with valuable science research and return to Earth on Wednesday, May 11. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon’s departure beginning at 9 a.m. EDT.

The Dragon capsule, which arrived at the station April 10, will be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station’s Harmony module using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, operated by ground controllers. Robotics controllers will maneuver Dragon into place and Expedition 47 robotic arm operator Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will execute the command for its 9:18 a.m. release.

Dragon will fire its thrusters three times to move to a safe distance from the station before being commanded to begin its deorbit burn about 2 p.m. The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 2:55 p.m. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

A recovery team will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,700 pounds of return cargo, including samples from ongoing space station research, which ultimately will be shipped to laboratories for further study. This cargo includes samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station. The spacecraft also will return the final batch of human research samples from the one-year crew mission.

In the event of adverse weather conditions in the Pacific, the backup departure and splashdown date is Saturday, May 14.

Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched April 8 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s eighth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.

 

More details on how to watch the Mercury Transit

Check out this Slate article for more details on how to watch the Mercury Transit today!

For those who can’t watch it live, here are all the live streams: