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Posts Tagged ‘NASA’

NASA readies Discovery for takeoff

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 11:36 am

Space Shuttle Discovery sits on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on April 4, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. AFP photo

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AFP) – NASA finished fueling the space shuttle Discovery and all systems were ready to go ahead of a Monday launch that will put more women in orbit than ever before.


Discovery’s planned arrival at the International Space Station is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday and will be one of the final missions for the shuttle programme, which will be shuttered later this year.


It is the first shuttle mission with three female crew members and will also mark a first in space, with four women in orbit.


The seven Discovery astronauts were climbing into their bulky, orange launch-and-entry suits after an evening wake-up call. Once suited, they will head to Launch Pad 39A, where Discovery is poised to blast off.


Discovery’s external fuel tanks were filled with about 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) of chilled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen at Launch Pad 39A. The propellants will remain completely full until countdown is completed.


The “tanking” operation ended at 12:21 am, a little less than three hours after it began.


Although the fueling operation began about half an hour later than planned, the delay was not expected to alter the blast-off, planned for 6:21 am (1021 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.


“The weather forecast calls for an 80-percent chance of good weather for launch, and no weather issues are expected to prevent an on-time predawn liftoff,” NASA said.


It will be the second space shuttle launch for NASA this year. After this flight, only three more are planned before all three remaining US manned orbiters are retired at the end of 2010, ending 30 years of service. The first shuttle flew in April 1981.


During the 13-day mission, Discovery and its crew will deliver over seven tonnes of cargo, including spare bunks for the occupants of the space station, a large tank of ammonia coolant and seven racks filled with science experiments.


American Tracy Caldwell Dyson was headed for the space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft with two Russian cosmonauts.


Joining Dyson from Discovery will be mission specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, 34, a former high school science teacher; Stephanie Wilson, 43, a veteran of two shuttle missions; and Naoko Yamazaki, 39, an astronaut with the Japanese space agency since 1996.


Rounding out the Discovery crew are mission commander Alan Poindexter, 48; co-pilot Jim Dutton, 41; mission specialist and spacewalker Rick Mastracchio, 50; and fellow spacewalker Clay Anderson, 51.


Among the gear being hauled into space is a freezer to preserve samples of blood, urine, saliva, plants or microbes used in micro-gravity experiments and then analyzed later back on Earth.


Discovery also will be carrying an exercise machine designed to study the effects of micro-gravity on the body’s musculoskeletal system. Muscles can atrophy during long sojourns in space so astronauts have to take care to exercise regularly.


The supplies, racks and other gear are packed into a pressurized Italian-built module named Leonardo, carried in the shuttle’s bay.

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Source: SGGP

NASA readies Discovery for takeoff

In Uncategorized on April 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

Space Shuttle Discovery sits on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on April 4, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. AFP photo

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AFP) – NASA finished fueling the space shuttle Discovery and all systems were ready to go ahead of a Monday launch that will put more women in orbit than ever before.


Discovery’s planned arrival at the International Space Station is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday and will be one of the final missions for the shuttle programme, which will be shuttered later this year.


It is the first shuttle mission with three female crew members and will also mark a first in space, with four women in orbit.


The seven Discovery astronauts were climbing into their bulky, orange launch-and-entry suits after an evening wake-up call. Once suited, they will head to Launch Pad 39A, where Discovery is poised to blast off.


Discovery’s external fuel tanks were filled with about 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) of chilled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen at Launch Pad 39A. The propellants will remain completely full until countdown is completed.


The “tanking” operation ended at 12:21 am, a little less than three hours after it began.


Although the fueling operation began about half an hour later than planned, the delay was not expected to alter the blast-off, planned for 6:21 am (1021 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.


“The weather forecast calls for an 80-percent chance of good weather for launch, and no weather issues are expected to prevent an on-time predawn liftoff,” NASA said.


It will be the second space shuttle launch for NASA this year. After this flight, only three more are planned before all three remaining US manned orbiters are retired at the end of 2010, ending 30 years of service. The first shuttle flew in April 1981.


During the 13-day mission, Discovery and its crew will deliver over seven tonnes of cargo, including spare bunks for the occupants of the space station, a large tank of ammonia coolant and seven racks filled with science experiments.


American Tracy Caldwell Dyson was headed for the space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft with two Russian cosmonauts.


Joining Dyson from Discovery will be mission specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, 34, a former high school science teacher; Stephanie Wilson, 43, a veteran of two shuttle missions; and Naoko Yamazaki, 39, an astronaut with the Japanese space agency since 1996.


Rounding out the Discovery crew are mission commander Alan Poindexter, 48; co-pilot Jim Dutton, 41; mission specialist and spacewalker Rick Mastracchio, 50; and fellow spacewalker Clay Anderson, 51.


Among the gear being hauled into space is a freezer to preserve samples of blood, urine, saliva, plants or microbes used in micro-gravity experiments and then analyzed later back on Earth.


Discovery also will be carrying an exercise machine designed to study the effects of micro-gravity on the body’s musculoskeletal system. Muscles can atrophy during long sojourns in space so astronauts have to take care to exercise regularly.


The supplies, racks and other gear are packed into a pressurized Italian-built module named Leonardo, carried in the shuttle’s bay.

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Source: SGGP

New NASA satellite blasts off on space-map mission

In World on December 15, 2009 at 5:37 am

 NASA launched Monday a new breed of satellite called WISE on a mission to orbit Earth and map the skies to find elusive cosmic objects, including potentially dangerous asteroids.


The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will use infrared rays to map the locations and sizes of roughly 200,000 asteroids and give scientists a clearer idea of how many space rocks loom and what danger they pose.


“When we find them, we will give the information to policy-makers to decide what to do to try to prevent these near-Earth asteroids colliding with our planet,” NASA public affairs officer J. D. Harrington told AFP.








This NASA handout photo shows the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, satellite as it launches

The launch, which had been delayed from Friday after problems were discovered in a rocket booster steering engine, went ahead flawlessly at 6:09 am (1409 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.


WISE, which has been called “the most sensitive set of wide-angle infrared goggles ever,” will orbit 300 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface for 10 months as it hunts for and collects data on dim objects such as dust clouds, brown dwarf stars and asteroids in the dark spaces between planets and stars.


The satellite will map the cosmos in infrared light, covering the whole sky one-and-a-half times — one orbit of Earth will take six months — and snapping pictures of everything from near-Earth asteroids to faraway galaxies bursting with new stars.


“The last time we mapped the whole sky at these particular infrared wavelengths was 26 years ago,” Edward Wright of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), who is the principal investigator of the mission, said on NASA’s website.


Infrared technology has come a long way since then. The old all-sky infrared pictures were like impressionist paintings — now, we’ll have images that look like actual photographs.”


Harrington explained that previous infrared satellites had only 62 pixels per “camera”, while WISE has a pixel capacity of four million, which will make for much sharper images.


WISE is expected to detect infrared emissions from the most active star-forming regions, which would help scientists understand how rapidly stars are formed during galactic collisions.


It will map “failed stars” called brown dwarfs in the Milky Way, and help to improve understanding about the structure and evolution of Earth’s galaxy.


Scientists also expect the satellite to make some new discoveries.


“When you look at the sky with new sensitivity and a new wavelength band, like WISE is going to do, you’re going to find new things that you didn’t know were out there,” Wright said.


After a month during which scientists will check out and calibrate equipment on WISE, the satellite will begin in January snapping pictures every eight seconds as it orbits Earth.


It will pause four times a day to download the collected data to a processor.


The data will be sent to a depository and analyzed by scientists before any images are made public.


“We have to make sure… that the data is sound, before we release anything,” Harrington said, adding that NASA hopes to make the first pictures from WISE public in the spring.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

NASA finds water on the moon

In World on November 14, 2009 at 10:33 am

A “significant amount” of frozen water has been found on the moon, the US space agency said Friday heralding a giant leap forward in space exploration and boosting hopes of a permanent lunar base.








This image obtained from NASA shows the surface of the Moon as the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) approached it on October 9, 2009. (AFP Photo)

Preliminary data from a dramatic experiment on the moon “indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater,” NASA said in a statement.


“The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon,” it added, as ecstatic scientists celebrated the landmark discovery.


“Yes indeed we found water and we did not find only a little bit but a significant amount,” said Anthony Colaprete, project scientist and principal investigator for the 79-million-dollar LCROSS mission.


The data was found after NASA sent two spacecraft crashing into the lunar surface last month to probe Earth’s nearest neighbor for water.


One rocket slammed into the Cabeus crater, near the lunar southern pole, at around 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) per hour.


The rocket was followed four minutes later by a spacecraft equipped with cameras to record the initial impact, which sent a huge plume of material billowing up from the bottom of the crater, untouched by sunlight for billions of years.


“In the 20- to 30-meter (66- to 100-foot) crater we found maybe about a dozen, at least, two-gallon buckets of water. This is an initial result,” Colaprete told reporters.


“We are ecstatic,” he added in a statement.


“Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact.


“The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water,” Colaprete said.


Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator on the LCROSS mission, expressed hope that more water could be found on the moon.


“What’s really exciting is we’ve only hit one spot,” Schultz said.


“It’s kind of like when you’re drilling for oil. Once you find it one place, there’s a greater chance you’ll find more nearby.”


Scientists had previously theorized that, except for the possibility of ice at the bottom of craters, the moon was totally dry.


Finding water on Earth’s natural satellite is a major breakthrough in space exploration.


“It’s very exciting, it is painting a new image of the moon,” said Gregory Deloy of the University of California, hailing it as “an extraordinary discovery.”


He theorized that “one of the possible source of water is a comet.”


“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and, by extension, the solar system,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington.


“The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich,” Colaprete cautioned.


“Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years.”


Only 12 men, all Americans, have ever walked on the moon, and the last to set foot there were in 1972, at the end of the Apollo missions.


But NASA’s ambitious plans to put US astronauts back on the moon by 2020 to establish manned lunar bases for further exploration to Mars under the Constellation project are increasingly in doubt.


NASA’s budget is currently too small to pay for Constellation’s Orion capsule, a more advanced and spacious version of the Apollo lunar module, as well as the Ares I and Ares V launchers needed to put the craft in orbit.


A key review panel appointed by President Barack Obama said existing budgets are not large enough to fund a return mission before 2020.


 


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

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