Archives

April 2012


New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme mediates microgravity-induced lymphocyte programmed cell death and its inhibition could help astronauts and the elderly.


Data from NASA's Cassini mission reveal Saturn's moon Phoebe has more planet-like qualities than previously thought.

Phoebe's true nature is revealed in startling clarity in this mosaic of two images taken during Cassini's flyby on June 11, 2004. The image shows evidence for the emerging view that Phoebe may be an ice-rich body coated with a thin layer of dark material. Small bright craters in the image are probably fairly young features. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Larger image


An extraordinary outburst produced by a black hole in a nearby galaxy has provided direct evidence for a population of old, volatile stellar black holes. The discovery, made by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, provides new insight into the nature of a mysterious class of black holes that can produce as much energy in X-rays as a million suns radiate at all wavelengths.

An extraordinary outburst produced by a black hole in a nearby galaxy has provided direct evidence for a population of old, volatile stellar black holes. The discovery, made by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, provides new insight into the nature of a mysterious class of black holes that can produce as much energy in X-rays as a million suns radiate at all wavelengths.

A team of scientists representing several international institutions, including Texas A&M University, has succeeded in installing the first of three Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3-1) at the Chinese Kunlun Station at Dome Argus, the highest point of the Antarctic Plateau.

A team of scientists representing several international institutions, including Texas A&M University, has succeeded in installing the first of three Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3-1) at the Chinese Kunlun Station at Dome Argus, the highest point of the Antarctic Plateau.

This view in the International Space Station's Cupola was photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member during the first of three Canadarm2 Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Offset Grapple sessions in the onboard training plan for SpaceX-Demo Dragon capture.

This view in the International Space Station's Cupola was photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member during the first of three Canadarm2 Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Offset Grapple sessions in the onboard training plan for SpaceX-Demo Dragon capture.

Wave clouds near Ile aux Cochons are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. This photograph illustrates the formation of wave clouds in the wakea" or downwind sidea"of Ile aux Cochons ("Isle of Pigs") located in the Southern Indian Ocean.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank officially transferred the helm of the orbiting outpost to Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Kononenko who, along with NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency, has now begun Expedition 31.

Recent discoveries of planets similar to Earth in size and proximity to the planets' respective suns have sparked scientific and public excitement about the possibility of also finding Earth-like life on those worlds.


While some galaxies are rotund and others are slender disks like our spiral Milky Way, new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is both.

While some galaxies are rotund and others are slender disks like our spiral Milky Way, new observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is both. The galaxy, which is a round elliptical galaxy with a thin disk embedded inside, is one of the first known to exhibit characteristics of the two different types. The findings will lead to a better understanding of galaxy evolution, a topic still poorly understood.


Space shuttle Enterprise, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is seen off in the distance behind the Statue of Liberty, Friday, April 27, 2012, in New York. Enterprise was the first shuttle orbiter built for NASA performing test flights in the atmosphere and was incapable of spaceflight.

This image from the Envisat satellite shows the Jurua River snaking through the Amazon rainforest in western Brazil. The Jurua is one of the longest tributaries of the Amazon River, flowing slowly through the half-flooded forest country it traverses in the Amazon Basin.

Along the river's main course are free-standing 'oxbow lakes', formed when a river changes course.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been on the forefront of research into the lives of stars like our sun. At the ends of their lives, these stars run out of nuclear fuel in a phase that is called the preplanetary or protoplanetary nebula stage. This Hubble image of the Egg Nebula shows one of the best views to date of this brief, but dramatic, phase in a star’s life.

Cloud vortices off the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja California were captured by one of the six expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station as three of their number ready for their return trip to Earth in a few days. The Gulf of California or Sea of Cortez is completely clear of clouds as are the inland parts of Mexico and California pictured. The Salton Sea is visible at the lower right edge. ISS030-E-254259 (22 April 2012) --- high res (1.1 M) low res (67 K)


Switching out a spacecraft maintenance facility is definitely not an easy task. Besides the obvious requirements to contain toxic fuels and provide enough power, there is also the work of deciding what previous structures will be useful to new contractors.

Three members of the Expedition 30 crew undocked from the International Space Station and safely returned to Earth on Friday, wrapping up a five-and-a-half-month mission in space.

Of Interest: This color image of Mercury's limb captures Debussy, a crater 80 km (50 mi.) in diameter, as well as some if its extensive rays. The crater and its rays appear brighter than the surrounding material because the crater is relatively young and the excavated materials have not been substantially darkened by space weathering.

In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Expedition 30 flight engineer, conducts the first of three sessions on the ROBoT simulator in preparation for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon.

In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Expedition 30 flight engineer, conducts the first of three sessions on the ROBoT simulator in preparation for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon.


The star cluster NGC 6604 is shown in this new image taken by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is often overlooked in favour of its more prominent neighbour, the Eagle Nebula (also known as Messier 16), that lies a mere wingspan away.

The star cluster NGC 6604 is shown in this new image taken by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is often overlooked in favour of its more prominent neighbour, the Eagle Nebula (also known as Messier 16), that lies a mere wingspan away. But the framing of this picture, which places the star cluster in a landscape of surrounding gas and dust clouds, shows what a beautiful object NGC 6604 is in its own right.


Five years of Mars Express gravity mapping data are providing unique insights into what lies beneath the Red Planet's largest volcanoes. The results show that the lava grew denser over time and that the thickness of the planet's rigid outer layers varies across the Tharsis region.

Five years of Mars Express gravity mapping data are providing unique insights into what lies beneath the Red Planet's largest volcanoes. The results show that the lava grew denser over time and that the thickness of the planet's rigid outer layers varies across the Tharsis region.

Warm ocean currents attacking the underside of ice shelves are the dominant cause of recent ice loss from Antarctica, a new study using measurements from NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) revealed.

The Orion Ground Test Vehicle arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Operations & Checkout (O&C) Facility on April 21. The vehicle traveled more than 1,800 miles from Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colo., where it successfully completed a series of rigorous acoustic, modal and vibration tests that simulated launch and spaceflight environments.

The Orion Ground Test Vehicle arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Operations & Checkout (O&C) Facility on April 21. The vehicle traveled more than 1,800 miles from Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colo., where it successfully completed a series of rigorous acoustic, modal and vibration tests that simulated launch and spaceflight environments.

DARPA Opens International Dialog on Satellite Servicing

"Current satellites are not designed to be serviced in space. When a communication satellite in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) fails 36,000 kilometers above the earth, typically, it is moved into a "graveyard" orbit where it remains indefinitely. Many of the satellites which are obsolete or have failed still have usable antennas, solar arrays and other components which are expected to last much longer than the life of the satellite, but currently there is no way to re-use them."

This is a view of Project Morpheus Tether Test 12 from April 18th, 2012.

This is a view of Project Morpheus Tether Test 12 from April 18th, 2012.

NASA Asks Public to Provide Videos and Photos of Meteor (with photos of fresh finds)

"NASA and the SETI Institute are asking the public for more information to help find amateur photos and video footage of the daylight meteor that illuminated the sky over the Sierra Nevada mountains and created sonic booms that were heard over a wide area at 7:51 a.m. PDT Sunday, April 22, 2012."

Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

"The object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion."

NASA and the SETI Institute are asking the public for more information to help find amateur photos and video footage of the daylight meteor that illuminated the sky over the Sierra Nevada mountains and created sonic booms that were heard over a wide area at 7:51 a.m. PDT Sunday, April 22, 2012.

NASA NIAC Releases Call For Phase II Visionary Advanced Concepts

"The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program is seeking proposals to continue promising studies for which it has supported the first phase. These cutting-edge concepts have the potential to transform future exploration missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building, and operating aerospace systems. "These transformative concepts have the potential to mature into the new capabilities NASA needs for the challenging space missions in its future," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington."


Findings from NASA's Dawn spacecraft reveal new details about the giant asteroid Vesta, including its varied surface composition, sharp temperature changes and clues to its internal structure. The findings were presented today at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria, and will help scientists better understand the early solar system and processes that dominated its formation.

Findings from NASA's Dawn spacecraft reveal new details about the giant asteroid Vesta, including its varied surface composition, sharp temperature changes and clues to its internal structure. The findings were presented today at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria, and will help scientists better understand the early solar system and processes that dominated its formation.

A meteor in the sky above Reno, Nevada on April 22, 2012. Image credit: Lisa Warren Larger image

A bright ball of light traveling east to west was seen over the skies of central/northern California Sunday morning, April 22. The former space rock-turned-flaming-meteor entered Earth's atmosphere around 8 a.m. PDT. Reports of the fireball have come in from as far north as Sacramento, Calif. and as far east as North Las Vegas, Nev.


January 5, 2012

I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me. I am not one of the beautiful; I am not one that by any other name instills flutters in the human heart. I am the kind that makes little boys gag at the dinner table thus being sent to bed without their dessert. I am utilitarian, hearty vegetative matter that can thrive under harsh conditions. I am zucchini - and I am in space.

A zucchini plant is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. ISS030-E-175874 (28 Jan. 2012) - high res (1.3 M) low res (61 K)

January 5, 2012

SpaceRef had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Scott Hubbard at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Dr. Hubbard is professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University. He has been engaged in space-related research, as well as program, project and executive management for more than 35 years, including 20 years with NASA, culminating as director of NASA's Ames Research Center.

Our NASA solar scientists Holly, Alex and Phil answer some common questions about the sun, space weather, and how they affect the Earth. This is a two-part series.
Part One addresses:

Saturn's giant moon Titan hides within a thick, smoggy atmosphere that's well-known to scientists as one of the most complex chemical environments in the solar system. It's a productive "factory" cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface temperature of around minus 270 degrees Fahrenheit, forming lakes of liquid methane and ethane.


Saturn's giant moon Titan hides within a thick, smoggy atmosphere that's well-known to scientists as one of the most complex chemical environments in the solar system. It's a productive "factory" cranking out hydrocarbons that rain down on Titan's icy surface, cloaking it in soot and, with a brutally cold surface temperature of around minus 270 degrees Fahrenheit, forming lakes of liquid methane and ethane.

SpaceRef had the opportunity for a brief conversation with Chummer Farina at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Mr. Farina is vice-president of policy, external and government relations, communications and public affairs at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Our discussion revolved around the current status of the Canadian Space Agency and some of the milestones being celebrated in 2012 by Canada as a space nation.

In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Expedition 30 flight engineer, conducts the first of three sessions on the ROBoT simulator in preparation for the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon. Slated for liftoff on April 30, 2012, at 12:22 (EDT) from the Kennedy Space Center, the goal of Dragon's planned 21-day mission will be to test the unpiloted capsule's ability to rendezvous with the space station. ISS030-E-235581 (11 April 2012) - high res (1.8 M) low res (129 K)


While a recent agreement signed between Canada's and Japan's space agencies is an extension of previous work, a JAXA vice-president noted at the National Space Symposium that the two countries could collaborate on launch opportunities as a result of the memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Partnership Opportunity Document for Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration Missions

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA)Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is considering multiple missions on Cubesat-class platforms to conduct technology demonstrations, which advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of these systems. Systems providing novel in-space primary propulsion as well as spacecraft to ground communication and spacecraft to spacecraft communication cross-links for Cubesats are of interest. GSFC teams will be submitting proposals to the Edison Small Satellite Technology Demonstration (Edison) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in May 2012."

A Washington State University astrobiologist is leading a group of 20 scientists in calling for a mission to Mars with "a strong and comprehensive life detection component." At the heart of their proposal is a small fleet of sensor packages that can punch into the Martian soil and run a range of tests for signs of ancient or existing life.

Scientists working with images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have discovered strange, half-mile-sized objects punching through one of Saturn's rings and leaving glittering trails behind them. The results will be presented tomorrow at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria.


This report describes the results of a study sponsored by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) to investigate the feasibility of identifying, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth by the middle of the next decade.

A nighttime view of Shanghai is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. The city of Shanghai sits along the delta banks of the Yangtze River along the eastern coast of China. The city proper is the world's most populous city (the 2010 census counts 23 million people, including "unregistered" residents).

The trash-filled ISS Progress 46 spacecraft departs from the International Space Station on April 19, 2012. Russian flight controllers will command the Progress 46 for several days of tests, and then send it to burn up in Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. ISS030-E-238823 (19 April 2012) - high res (0.6 M) low res (34 K)

The trash-filled ISS Progress 46 spacecraft departs from the International Space Station on April 19, 2012. Russian flight controllers will command the Progress 46 for several days of tests, and then send it to burn up in Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. ISS030-E-238823 (19 April 2012) - high res (0.6 M) low res (34 K)

To a recording of the "Washington Post March" by the U.S. Marine Corps Band, the highlights of orbiter Discovery's final ferry flight atop NASA 905, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Dulles International Airport outside Washington on April 17, 2012. Includes video of the aircrafts' flyover of the metropolitan D.C. area just prior to landing. (This piece was an element of the "Welcome Discovery" program held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center on April 19 and televised live on NASA TV.)

Last year an internal NASA study that cited the advantages of fuel depots instead of using the Space Launch System emerged from inside NASA. Congress seized on the study - and NASA's Administrator said that internal studies showed that there were no technical or cost advantages. Well, another study completed late last year has emerged from NASA that contradicts that statement.

A conversation with Jim Chilton and John Mulholland of Boeing. Mr. Mulholland is Vice President and Program Manager - Commercial Programs, Space Exploration while Mr. Chilton is Vice President and Program Manager Exploration Launch Systems.


NASA Solicitation: Orbital Debris Mitigation Options for Cubesat Missions

"The objectives of this RFI are: 1) to invite industry to submit information that will allow NASA to assess various design alternatives for orbital debris mitigation options applicable to Cubesat missions in Low Earth Orbit (LEO); 2) to improve NASA's knowledge of industry's capability and viability; and 3) to improve the overall understanding of Cubesat mission designs consistent with NPR 8715.6A, NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris, NASA STD 8719.14, Process for Limiting Orbital Debris, and NASA Handbook 8719.14, Handbook for Limiting Orbital Debris."


With the prospect of a weaker domestic market for Canada's space sector companies, foreign markets become all that more important. Which is why this past week many Canadian companies trekked to Colorado Springs, Colorado for the annual National Space Symposium.

SpaceRef had the opportunity to sit down with Wayne Hale at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Mr. Hale is a former NASA space shuttle mission controller, flight director, space shuttle program manager, Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategic Partnerships and currently the Director of Human Spaceflight / International Programs with Special Aerospace Services. Wayne share his thoughts on the current status of the space program, the future and his current work.


Aerodynamic design validated and new understanding of thermal material properties gained Following an extensive seven-month analysis of data collected from the Aug. 11, 2011, second flight of DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), an independent engineering review board (ERB) investigating the cause of a flight anomaly completed its report.

Aerodynamic design validated and new understanding of thermal material properties gained Following an extensive seven-month analysis of data collected from the Aug. 11, 2011, second flight of DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle

Aerodynamic design validated and new understanding of thermal material properties gained Following an extensive seven-month analysis of data collected from the Aug. 11, 2011, second flight of DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle

Flying atop NASA's Space Shuttle Carrier (SCA), orbiter Discover traveled from the Kennedy Space Center to its new space at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C. Also, targeting beyond Earth orbit, and more!

SpaceRef had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Leroy Chiao at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Dr. Chiao is a veteran of four flights into space and was the Expedition 10 commander and NASA science officer on his last mission to the International Space Station.

CubeSat-based Science Missions for Geospace and Atmospheric Research, NSF

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): May 07, 2012

Synopsis of Program: Lack of essential observations from space is currently a major limiting factor in many areas of geospace and atmospheric research. Recent advances in sensor and spacecraft technologies make it feasible to obtain key measurements from low-cost, small satellite missions. A particularly promising aspect of this development is the prospect for obtaining multi-point observations in space that are critical for addressing many outstanding problems in space and atmospheric sciences. Space-based measurements from small satellites also have great potential to advance discovery and understanding in geospace and atmospheric sciences in many other ways. To take full advantage of these developments, NSF is soliciting research proposals centered on small satellite missions.

The overarching goal of the program is to support the development, construction, launch, operation, and data analysis of small satellite science missions to advance geospace and atmospheric research. Equally important, it will provide essential opportunities to train the next generation of experimental space scientists and aerospace engineers.

To facilitate launch of the satellites as secondary payloads on existing missions, the focus of the program is on CubeSat-based satellites. Launch of the satellites will mainly be through the standardized CubeSat deployment system, the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD). Launch of the P-PODS will be as auxiliary payloads on DOD, NASA, or commercial launches. This will be arranged after selection and is not part of this solicitation. This solicitation covers proposals for science missions to include satellite development, construction, testing and operation as well as data distribution and scientific analysis.

The International Space Apps Challenge will take place this weekend, April 21-22, 2012. Nearly 2,000 people are registered to attend in 24 cities around the world.

NASA is working with 8 other government agencies and over 100 organizations world wide to host the two-day technology development event. Solutions to over 60 challenges related to open source software, open hardware, citizen science platforms, and data visualization will be worked on throughout the event, including an opportunity to launch your code to space on NASA's phonesat!

The locations include:

NASA's Ultragreen Building Awarded LEED Platinum

"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced this week that the new ultragreen federal facility, named Sustainability Base, located at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., received the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, LEED Platinum."

AECOM-led Design and Engineering Team Realizes NASA Vision for Sustainability Base on Earth

"An onsite fuel cell, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels, a geothermal heat pump, passive and low-energy HVAC systems, and intelligent building controls that interact with users are among the building's advanced engineering features."

William McDonough + Partners Celebrates Dedication of Sustainability Base - NASA's First Space Station on Earth

"The NASA Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building will optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external changes in real time."


The Planetary Society is still worried about the future of American capabilities in planetary science, but is encouraged by an increased level of funding proposed for the fiscal 2013 budget, said executive director Bill Nye.


The importance of space should be expressed in terms beyond everyday applications, according to a panel of science personalities speaking Thursday at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Innovative Nanosat Will Test Space Software

"How do you test ground-breaking satellite software under real flight conditions? Why not build a satellite? A new design developed by ESA promises new opportunities for European space industry to test software on an actual mission in space. The popular image of a 21st-century satellite includes a sleek design, gossamer solar arrays, ultra-high-tech components and cutting-edge digital electronics. And the onboard software must be the very latest thing, too, right? Wrong. Or, at least, the reality is much more prosaic: software used in satellites today is certainly good, but it rarely runs the latest operating systems, languages or interfaces. "Space software is generally older because it is selected for its proven, rock-solid reliability rather than its use of the latest and newest programming technologies," says Dave Evans, a mission concept engineer at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. "ESA is still using the Packet Utilisation Standard to control our satellites, which was defined in 1994. "Today, the software for terrestrial computers has completely changed. Who else do you know still using software from 1994? Back then, PCs were running Windows 3.1 with 3.5-inch floppy disks."

On April 17, 2012, NASA conducted a test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle's orbital flight test, Exploration Flight Test-1.

On April 17, 2012, NASA conducted a test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle's orbital flight test, Exploration Flight Test-1.


On April 17, 2012, NASA conducted a test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle's orbital flight test, Exploration Flight Test-1.


Optical, radar and laser observations of the Envisat satellite show that it is still in a stable orbit. Efforts to regain contact with the satellite have been under way since 8 April, when it unexpectedly stopped sending data to Earth.

The fog is generally thickest along the edges, where the cloud surface appears quite smooth in the satellite image. Closer to the middle, the surface has a more textured appearance (see lower image), indicating possible convection and the possible presence of stratocumulus clouds. These clouds form higher in the atmosphere than fog and do not affect visibility at the sea surface. An aerosol plume, likely haze emanating from industrial areas in China, is also visible and has caused the lower half of the cloud to appear slightly grayer than the upper half.

Ritchey Crater exposes some of the most colorful rock outcrops on Mars in its central peak. This image reveals comparable diversity in some of the layered sediments and jumbled deposits (megabreccia) on the crater floor. In general the blues and greens indicate unaltered minerals like olivine and pyroxene whereas the warmer colors indicate altered minerals such as clays. Larger image

A mare surface peppered with hundreds of small craters. Image width is 620 m, NAC frame M159650657L [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The Skylab trainer built to train astronauts has been sitting outside at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville for a long time. Right now, as can be seen in the photo below, it is simply rotting away when simple measures to protect it could at least slow down the destruction.


NASA transferred space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum during a ceremony Thursday, April 19, at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.


Amid the talk of international collaboration and co-operation at a panel of space leaders, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver found herself answering questions about the cancellation of NASA's commitment to ExoMars, and the lack of launch capability for astronauts on American soil.

SpaceRef had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson at the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The conversation centered around his idea of doubling NASA's budget as it would spur innovation and fuel the economy. We also discussed his latest book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.


Hydrazine, a mainstay fuel of the space program since the early days, now has a competitor that is easier to store and - when taking all costs into account - is the same price.


It's a tricky balance when a country seeks to protect its own borders, but also needs to find international partners to get the job done. This is perhaps most readily demonstrated in the space arena.


There was a time when voice communications was the only way that controllers on one launch range in the United States could convey status information on missions. They found this was difficult to do during the more hectic parts of the launch, because they would need to memorize a lot of information quickly.

Planetary Resources, Inc. will overlay two critical sectors - space exploration and natural resources - to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources'.

NASA OSIRIS-REx Mission Wants Amateur Astronomers To Target Asteroids

"A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. NEOs are asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to the Earth. Starting today, a new citizen science project called "Target Asteroids!" will support NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission objectives to improve basic scientific understanding of NEOs. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will study material from an asteroid."

A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. NEOs are asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to the Earth.

NASA's Dawn mission has received official confirmation that 40 extra days have been added to its exploration of the giant asteroid Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt. The mission extension allows Dawn to continue its scientific observations at Vesta until Aug. 26, while still arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres at the same originally scheduled target date in February 2015.


When it comes to satellite images, speed matters. Hurricanes can shift tracks in a matter of hours. Flooding can quickly overtake an area, and then recede. The next challenge for mapping providers will be to not only provide these images quickly, but also provide the analysis necessary to act upon the data they present, said Jack Hild, vice-president of United States defense strategy at DigitalGlobe, in an exclusive interview with SpaceRef at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

A conversation with Elliot Pulham, CEO of the Space Foundation hosts of the 28th National Space Symposium.



There is a growing industry frustration with ongoing budget cuts in the Obama administration, particularly with regard to defense spending reductions on tap for 2013. A defense spending plan submitted to Congress in February proposes a one-per-cent drop in the Pentagon's base budget to $525.4 billion, and may see reductions of 100,000 jobs - particularly since the United States has pulled out of Iraq.

Seventeen months of isolation on a simulated trip to Mars came to an end five months ago. Their mission was over and they breathed fresh air again. What have ESA 'marsonauts' Diego Urbina and Romain Charles been doing since they left their 'spacecraft'?

Mars500's aim was to prepare for human exploration missions to Mars. Confined in their habitat for 520 days, the six crewmembers studied human behaviour during the lengthy isolation. The experiments focused on their bodies, mental states and performance.


Seventeen months of isolation on a simulated trip to Mars came to an end five months ago. Their mission was over and they breathed fresh air again. What have ESA 'marsonauts' Diego Urbina and Romain Charles been doing since they left their 'spacecraft'?


Even the established space players are facing challenges getting contracts these days. The United States government is looking at ways of trimming its spending. NASA is reconfiguring its human space flight focus. Commercial clients are trying to make their way in a bull market.

NASA has selected a science instrument upgrade to the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne observatory. The instrument, the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC), will provide a sensitive, versatile and reliable imaging capability to the SOFIA user community.


How does one keep the government as a reference client even in the face of declining budgets? This is the problem Raytheon has been trying to solve ever since the recession started, according to executives interviewed by SpaceRef Monday at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.


Only two weeks after a Proton rocket upper stage failed to deliver the Russian Express-AM4 to its expected orbit in August 2011, Roscosmos - the Russian space agency - cleared the rocket to launch again.


There is no lack of new space resources available to emerging players in the space industry. Low-cost satellites and more affordable broadband are allowing the wide dissemination of data.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funded at $19.4 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion over the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. The large increase results from a reorganization of operational weather satellite procurement from NOAA into NASA.


Gwynne Shotwell says she's looking to change the perception of SpaceX from a mere low-cost rocket provider to one that is designing spacecraft capable of carrying humans.


In the new space race, the sweet spot between affordability and reliability is where commercial launch providers will find the most success.

Several million young stars are vying for attention in a new NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a raucous stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus, a star-forming complex located in the heart of the Tarantula nebula.

New research suggests that billions of stars in our galaxy have captured rogue planets that once roamed interstellar space. The nomad worlds, which were kicked out of the star systems in which they formed, occasionally find a new home with a different sun. This finding could explain the existence of some planets that orbit surprisingly far from their stars, and even the existence of a double-planet system.


Several million young stars are vying for attention in a new NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of a raucous stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus, a star-forming complex located in the heart of the Tarantula nebula.


Space Shuttle Discovery arrived at her new home today - the National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center, adjacent to Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC. While the news of her arrival had been circulated here in Washington for some time, it would seem that many people made their decision to see her arrive at the last minute.

At the 28th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs SpaceRef sat down with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver for a short conversation.

An eruption and a small M 1.7 class flare from 16 April 2012 as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory.

NASA Competition Challenges Coders to Make Available Huge Store of Space Informatics

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, in collaboration with the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) today announced the second phase of the Planetary Data System (PDS) Challenge series This is an open call competition to create new mobile and web-based apps that will provide easier access for the general public to the Planetary Data System's vast 100 terabyte archive of images and data gleaned from planetary missions from the past 30 years."


Implementing "agile" networks on legacy infrastructure will be the main concern of cybersecurity industry players in the coming years, according to a panel held Monday afternoon at the 28th National Space Symposium being held this week in Colorado Springs.


A vice-commander with the United States Air Force Space Command outlined cybersecurity opportunities for industry at a speech Monday at the 28th National Space Symposium being held this week in Colorado Springs.


Managing cybersecurity risk is the more appropriate approach than seeking to make systems risk-free, according to a cyber industry panel held Monday at the 28th National Space Symposium being held this week in Colorado Springs.

NASA cannot have it both ways. Either it embodies the spirit of what can be done or it can whine about how hard it is. Trust me, whiners are not going to explore the universe.

At last week's media telecon NASA representatives stressed that this review process and this meeting were going to be "transparent and open" and that people from outside NASA would be encouraged to attend. This does not synch with the meeting description that has been posted.


When the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology SATellite (FASTSAT) went on orbit Nov. 19, 2010, the planned mission was for 12 months. FASTSAT, developed by Dynetics in partnership with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation (VCSI), has exceeded expectations and completed 17 months of mission operations on orbit, demonstrating capabilities of an affordable ESPA class satellite. The mission has been extended through at least October 2012.

Two of ESA's space observatories have combined to create a multi-wavelength view of violent events taking place within the giant galaxy of Centaurus A. The new observations strengthen the view that it may have been created by the cataclysmic collision of two older galaxies.

Centaurus A is the closest giant elliptical galaxy to Earth, at a distance of around 12 million light-years. It stands out for harbouring a massive black hole at its core and emitting intense blasts of radio waves.

The East African Rift Valley in Kenya is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. This photograph highlights classical geological structures associated with a tectonic rift valley, in this case the Eastern Branch of the East African Rift near Kenya's southern border with Tanzania and just south of the Equator. The East African Rift is one of the great tectonic features of Africa, caused by fracturing of Earth's crust.

Grooved surface created in an instant by an impact event. The linear pattern is radially symmetric around the parent crater; the parent crater must be very young as very few craters dot the ejecta blanket! LROC NAC M171788458RE, image width is 650m [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].


Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. is the sponsor of the Space Foundation's Exhibit Center and Pavilion at the 28h National Space Symposium, "Opening the Aperture" for new technologies, performance and innovation. The Symposium will be held April 16-19 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO.


The EXOEarths team (Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto - CAUP), in collaboration with Geneva University, did a joint analysis of data from the HARPS spectrograph and the Kepler satellite. This analysis revealed that the orbits of other planetary systems are aligned, like in a disk, just like in our own Solar System.

The EXOEarths team (Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto - CAUP), in collaboration with Geneva University, did a joint analysis of data from the HARPS spectrograph and the Kepler satellite. This analysis revealed that the orbits of other planetary systems are aligned, like in a disk, just like in our own Solar System.


This image covers a region of Mars near Nili Fossae that contains some of the best exposures of ancient bedrock on Mars. The enhanced-color subimage shows part of the ejecta from an impact crater.

This image covers a region of Mars near Nili Fossae that contains some of the best exposures of ancient bedrock on Mars. The enhanced-color subimage shows part of the ejecta from an impact crater. The impact broke up already diverse rocks types and mixed them together to create this wild jumble of colors, each representing a different type of rock. Larger image.

Swift's UVOT acquired this image of Comet Garradd (C/2009 P1) on April 1, 2012, when the comet was 142 million miles away, or 636 times farther than the moon. Red shows sunlight reflected from the comet's dust; violet shows ultraviolet light produced by hydroxyl (OH), a fragment of water. NGC 2895 is a barred spiral galaxy located 400 million miles away in the constellation Ursa Major. The UVOT image (outlined) is placed within a wider visible image of the region from the Digital Sky Survey. Credit: NASA/Swift/D. Bodewits (UMD) and S. Immler (GSFC) and DSS/STScI/AURA


Marking another remarkable collaborative effort, ESA and NASA met up over the Arctic Ocean this week to perform some carefully coordinated flights directly under CryoSat orbiting above. The data gathered help ensure the accuracy of ESA's ice mission.

Marking another remarkable collaborative effort, ESA and NASA met up over the Arctic Ocean this week to perform some carefully coordinated flights directly under CryoSat orbiting above. The data gathered help ensure the accuracy of ESA's ice mission.

NASA 905, the remaining Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, flew from the Dryden Flight Research Center to Kennedy Space Center to begin the process of delivering each of three space shuttle orbiters to its final resting place. Discovery is the first shuttle scheduled for a final ferry flight atop the modified 747.

We study HIP 56948, the best solar twin known to date, to determine with an unparalleled precision how similar is to the Sun in its physical properties, chemical composition and planet architecture. We explore whether the abundances anomalies may be due to pollution from stellar ejecta or to terrestrial planet formation.


This image was taken on April 08, 2012 and received on Earth April 09, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Titan at approximately 1,810,102 kilometers away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CB3 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated.

This image was taken on April 08, 2012 and received on Earth April 09, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Titan at approximately 1,810,102 kilometers away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and CB3 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Full-Res: N00185625.jpg

Frozen lakes dotting the Tibetan Plateau in Central Asia are pictured in this image from ESA's Envisat satellite. Tibet is the highest and largest plateau in the world, with an area equal to about four times the size of France, and an average elevation exceeding 4500 m.

To its south it is boarded by the Himalayan mountain rage - part of which is visible in the lower-left corner of the image. To the northwest, we can see part of the Kunlun mountains, separating the plateau from the Tarim Basin.

Mission-X 2012: Mission Accomplished

"Mission-X is a worldwide educational initiative supported by ESA and national space agencies to encourage healthy and active lifestyles among children aged 8-12 years. Astronauts are inspiring children to eat healthily and exercise regularly. This year's challenge involved 10 300 students exercising hard over six weeks since it was launched from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers on 2 February. The aim: gain points to send Mission-X mascot Astro Charlie to the Moon. Points were earned by completing challenges inspired by astronaut training."

Mission-X is a worldwide educational initiative supported by ESA and national space agencies to encourage healthy and active lifestyles among children aged 8-12 years. Astronauts are inspiring children to eat healthily and exercise regularly.

European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) approaches the International Space Station. The unmanned cargo spacecraft docked to the space station at 6:31 p.m. (EDT) on March 28, 2012, delivering 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant, and nearly 2.5 tons of dry cargo, including experiment hardware, spare parts, food and clothing. ISS030-E-179621 (28 March 2012) --- high res (1.4 M) low res (58 K)

Known since at least 2003, this is a wonderful case of aeolian sandstone that (a) preserves its original sand dune bedform shapes and (b) lies unconformably over a previously-eroded surface of layered sedimentary rock. Larger image.


Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. will provide an additional year of support for the STPSat-2 spacecraft, following completion of the initial experimental mission requirements that ended successfully on Jan. 31, 2012.


For the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the giant ice planet Uranus, finding further evidence of just how peculiar a world that distant planet is. Detected by means of carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the newly witnessed Uranian light show consisted of short-lived, faint, glowing dots.

For the first time, scientists have captured images of auroras above the giant ice planet Uranus, finding further evidence of just how peculiar a world that distant planet is. Detected by means of carefully scheduled observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the newly witnessed Uranian light show consisted of short-lived, faint, glowing dots -- a world of difference from the colorful curtains of light that often ring Earth's poles.

CASIS and NanoRacks Announce Expanded ISS Research Capabilities

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, today announced a deal with NanoRacks, LLC, to reserve space on the first commercial platform available for researchers outside the ISS in the extreme environments of space."

CASIS and NanoRacks Close Deal to Use Commercial Research Platform in the Extremes of Space

"In June, CASIS will issue a formal solicitation to the research community and private enterprise for their proposals to use this one-of-a-kind platform for anything from earth observation to materials, and biological sciences."

Commercial Platform Offers Exposure at Space Station< NASA

"The contributions by NanoRacks and Astrium are the most recent example of NASA efforts to expand the station's research capacity through innovative partnerships with commercial companies."

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization managing the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory, today announced a deal with NanoRacks, LLC, to reserve space on the first commercial platform available for researchers outside the ISS in the extreme environments of space.

SPHERES operates inside the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). As shown in the diagram below, we've defined a JEM coordinate system with X forward, Y starboard, Z toward the deck, and the origin in the middle of the module. For our test, Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum velcroed the smartphone to the -X face of the sphere and placed the sphere at the origin of the coordinate system. From a laptop, he ran a program on the sphere to translate it one meter to +X and back to center, one meter to +Y and back, and one meter to +Z and back. Then the sphere made a full rotation about each of the X, Y, and Z axes.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will provide remarks next week at the 28th Annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event will be held at The Broadmoor Hotel, located at 1 Lake Ave. in Colorado Springs.

Prepared remarks of Tom Kalil at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation April 12, 2012 Washington, DC

Good morning. Today I am going to be talking about Grand Challenges - ambitious yet achievable goals that capture the public's imagination and that require innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology to achieve. Some historical examples of Grand Challenges are President Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon or the Human Genome Project. More recently, we have seen decentralized, bottom-up efforts as well. Jimmy Wales defined the mission of Wikipedia as giving "freely the sum of the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in the language of their choice." Today Wikipedia has almost 20 million articles in 282 languages and 365 million readers.

NASA to Fly Deep Space Atomic Clock to Improve Navigation Technology

"NASA is preparing to fly a Deep Space Atomic Clock, or DSAC, demonstration that will revolutionize the way we conduct deep-space navigation by enabling a spacecraft to calculate its own timing and navigation data in real time. This one-way navigation technology would improve upon the current two-way system in which information is sent to Earth, requiring a ground team to calculate timing and navigation and then transmitting it back to the spacecraft. A real-time, on-board navigation capability is key to improving NASA's capabilities for executing time critical events, such as a planetary landing or planetary "fly-by," when signal delays are too great for the ground to interact with the spacecraft during the event."

When people think of space technologies, many think of high-tech solar panels, complex and powerful propulsion systems or sophisticated, electronic guidance systems. Another critical piece of spaceflight technology, however, is an ultra stable, highly accurate device for timing - essential to NASA's success on deep-space exploration missions.

When people think of space technologies, many think of high-tech solar panels, complex and powerful propulsion systems or sophisticated, electronic guidance systems. Another critical piece of spaceflight technology, however, is an ultra stable, highly accurate device for timing - essential to NASA's success on deep-space exploration missions.


Boeing announced today that the U.S. Air Force accepted control of the fourth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) military communications satellite on April 11, after the spacecraft passed several weeks of rigorous on-orbit tests.

Using a combination of powerful observatories in space and on the ground, astronomers have observed a violent collision between two galaxy clusters in which so-called normal matter has been wrenched apart from dark matter through a violent collision between two galaxy clusters.

Larger images by ESA Astronaut Andre Kuipers.


These dark sand dunes in the North polar region, basking in the sunshine of late spring, have shed most of their seasonal layer of winter ice. A few bright ice deposits remain sequestered in "cold traps" shadowed from the sun on the poleward-facing side of the dunes.

These dark sand dunes in the North polar region, basking in the sunshine of late spring, have shed most of their seasonal layer of winter ice. A few bright ice deposits remain sequestered in "cold traps" shadowed from the sun on the poleward-facing side of the dunes. Some bright patches of ice at the foot of the sunlit side of the dunes may be places where ice slumped to the foot of the dune creating a longer-lasting snow bank. Larger image.

The shadow of the moon Mimas creates a smudge on the southern hemisphere of Saturn in this view from the Cassini spacecraft.

Mimas does not appear here, but it does cast its shadow on the planet in the lower left of the image. The shadows cast by the rings dominate the upper right of the image. This view looks toward the southern, unilluminated side of the rings from about 1 degree below the ringplane.

After 10 years of service, Envisat has stopped sending data to Earth. ESA's mission control is working to re-establish contact with the satellite. Although this landmark mission has been in orbit twice as long as it was designed for, ESA hopes to keep the satellite in service until the launch of the successor Sentinel missions.

BAE Systems will showcase a range of capabilities for space and military customers and host a media briefing on its 45-nanometer technology at the National Space Symposium, April 16-19 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The company provides new technologies, operations support, and the sustainment of equipment and facilities for customers that include NASA, U.S. Air Force Space Command, and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

NASA Public Affairs Officer Josh Byerly interviews Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Pilot Jeff Moultrie and Flight Engineer Henry Taylor. They talk about the effort required to take off, fly and land with the space shuttle mated to the modified 747 jumbo jet and their thoughts about the end of the Space Shuttle Program.

NASA Public Affairs Officer Josh Byerly interviews Ed Powers, NASA Flight Surgeon, about how flight doctors work with crew members, diagnosing astronauts in space from Earth and impacts to life here on Earth.

Largest student rocket contest brings diversity and talent to U.S. STEM pipeline, AIA

"With the exception of a shared passion for science, math and engineering, the 100 teams that will compete in the tenth anniversary Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals this year show a stunning diversity of backgrounds and interests. The Aerospace Industries Association today unveiled this year's roster of rocket-building finalists, which includes more than 600 students from 29 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Representing a wide cross-section of American youth, TARC teams - including an all-girl team, 4-H club, a rock band and a hockey team - bring varying perspectives and experiences to the annual competition, which is known for sparking careers in science, math and engineering."

DARPA Seeks Robot Enthusiasts (and you) To Face Off for $2 million Prize

"DARPA's Robotics Challenge will launch in October 2012. Teams are sought to compete in challenges involving staged disaster-response scenarios in which robots will have to successfully navigate a series of physical tasks corresponding to anticipated, real-world disaster-response requirements. Robots played a supporting role in mitigating fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, and are used by U.S. military forces as assistants for servicemembers in diffusing improvised explosive devices. True innovation in robotics technology could result in much more effective robots that could better intervene in high-risk situations and thus save human lives and help contain the impact of natural and man-made disasters."

Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) is soliciting ancillary payloads for its upcoming OTB mission that will be launched in Q1 2015, offering both government and commercial organizations a low risk, cost effective opportunity for the flight and operation of payloads, subsystems and equipments in low earth orbit.


ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has studied the dusty belt around the nearby star Fomalhaut. The dust appears to be coming from collisions that destroy up to thousands of icy comets every day.

ESA's Herschel Space Observatory has studied the dusty belt around the nearby star Fomalhaut. The dust appears to be coming from collisions that destroy up to thousands of icy comets every day.

This image was taken on March 29, 2012 and received on Earth March 29, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Rhea at approximately 409,877 kilometers away, and the image was taken using the CL1 and IR1 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013.

One of the Expedition 30 crew members photographed this nighttime scene while the International Space Station was flying at an altitude approximately 240 miles over the eastern North Atlantic. The view looks northeastward. Center point coordinates are 46.8 degrees north latitude and 14.3 degrees west longitude. The night lights of the cities of Ireland, in the foreground, and the United Kingdom, in the back and to the right, are contrasted by the bright sunrise in the background. The greens and purples of the Aurora Borealis are seen along the rest of the horizon. ISS030-E-177670 (28 March 2012) --- high res (0.6 M) low res (41 K)

Baby stars are creating chaos 1,500 light-years away in the cosmic cloud of the Orion Nebula. Four massive stars make up the bright yellow area in the center of this false-color image for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.


Baby stars are creating chaos 1,500 light-years away in the cosmic cloud of the Orion Nebula. Four massive stars make up the bright yellow area in the center of this false-color image for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

VOA: North Korean officials said Wednesday they have begun injecting fuel into a rocket for an imminent space launch, raising the stakes in an escalating standoff with its regional neighbors and the United States.


ESA: The latest images released from ESA's Mars Express reveal a series of 'pit-chains' on the flanks of one of the largest volcanoes in the Solar System. Depending on their origin, they might be tempting targets in the search for microbial life on the Red Planet.

The latest images released from ESA's Mars Express reveal a series of 'pit-chains' on the flanks of one of the largest volcanoes in the Solar System. Depending on their origin, they might be tempting targets in the search for microbial life on the Red Planet.

Ice floes along the Kamchatka coastline are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. The vantage point from orbit frequently affords the opportunity to observe processes that are impossible to see on the ground -- or in this case the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

NASA Announces Student Winners in Space Game Design Challenge

"Three school student teams in the fifth through eighth grades have been selected as the winners of NASA's second annual Spaced Out Sports challenge. The students designed science-based games that will be played by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The games illustrate and apply Newton's laws of motion by showing the differences between Earth's gravity and the microgravity environment of the space station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities. To design their game, students use up to five items from a two-page list of objects aboard the ISS. The list includes such items as socks, exercise putty, bungees, cotton swabs, tape, rubber bands, zipper-top bags, chocolate-covered candies and drink bags."


Sols 2901-2906, March 22-27, 2012: Opportunity is positioned on the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater with an approximate 15-degree northerly tilt for favorable solar energy production.

Slight Drop of Left-Front Wheel - sols 2901-2906, March 22-27, 2012: Opportunity is positioned on the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater with an approximate 15-degree northerly tilt for favorable solar energy production.

ESA: An agreement was signed by ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for cooperation on Astro-H, an important mission that will provide a unique opportunity for probing extreme phenomena in the Universe. Astro-H will study astrophysical objects including black holes and neutron stars, explore the non-thermal Universe, and investigate the large-scale structure of the Universe and its evolution.

Space Systems/Loral today announced that it is teaming with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to host a laser communications relay demonstration (LCRD) on a commercial satellite to be launched in 2016. NASA 's Space Technology Program selected Goddard's mission proposal to use the SS/L satellite platform to help enable the next era of space communications.

European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) approaches the International Space Station. The unmanned cargo spacecraft docked to the space station at 6:31 p.m. (EDT) on March 28, 2012, delivering 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant, and nearly 2.5 tons of dry cargo, including experiment hardware, spare parts, food and clothing. ISS030-E-174974 (28 March 2012) --- high res (1.0 M) low res (38 K)

Pagan Island, Northern Marianas is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 30 crew member on the International Space Station. A steam plume flows south from the peak of Pagan Island's northernmost volcano in this photograph. Pagan is part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, an island chain of volcanoes that form the margin between the Pacific Ocean (to the east) and the Philippine Sea (to the west). Pagan is made up of two stratovolcanoes separated by an isthmus, and is one of the more volcanically active islands.

Source: FAA: The FAA is preparing an EIS to analyze the potential environmental impacts of SpaceX's proposal to launch orbital and suborbital launch vehicles from a private site in Cameron County in southern Texas. The EIS will consider the potential environmental impacts of the Proposed Action and reasonable alternatives, including the No Action Alternative. The successful completion of the environmental review process does not guarantee that the FAA would issue launch licenses and/or experimental permits to SpaceX. The project must also meet all FAA safety, risk, and indemnification requirements.

The Boeing Company will spotlight its satellites, human spaceflight activities, cyber capabilities and advanced space development at the Space Foundation's 28th National Space Symposium. This year's event takes place April 16-19 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

Source: NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer: NASA today released version 2.0 of its Open Government Plan, which includes a flagship initiative to build a new web architecture and a renewed focus on open data sharing, open source development and a variety of technology acceleration efforts.


Moscow, Russia appears at the center of this nighttime image photographed by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 240 miles. A solar array panel for the space station is on the left side of the frame.

This image was taken on March 29, 2012 and received on Earth March 29, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Rhea at approximately 416,960 kilometers away, and the image was taken using the BL1 and CL2 filters. This image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2013. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Full-Res: N00185460.jpg

Moscow, Russia appears at the center of this nighttime image photographed by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station, flying at an altitude of approximately 240 miles. A solar array panel for the space station is on the left side of the frame. The view is to the north-northwest from a nadir of approximately 49.4 degrees north latitude and 42.1 degrees east longitude, about 100 miles west-northwest of Volgograd. On the horizon in the background can be seen a small sample of Aurora Borealis, airglow and daybreak. ISS030-E-185321 (28 March 2012) --- high res (1.4 M) low res (90 K)

Controlled by teams on the ground, Robonaut 2 humanoid robot holds an instrument to measure air velocity during another system check out in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. ISS030-E-142876 (14 March 2012) --- high res (1.4 M) low res (80 K)

Controlled by teams on the ground, Robonaut 2 humanoid robot holds an instrument to measure air velocity during another system check out in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. ISS030-E-142876 (14 March 2012) --- high res (1.4 M) low res (80 K)

NASA Releases New Open Government Plan

"NASA today released version 2.0 of its Open Government Plan, which includes a flagship initiative to build a new web architecture and a renewed focus on open data sharing, open source development and a variety of technology acceleration efforts. The plan also features a directory of more than 100 participatory, collaborative and transparent projects, offering citizens opportunities to understand, support and engage with the agency. Throughout the next year, NASA will continue to add projects to the directory."

The Morpheus team successfully flew tether test #10 on Thursday April 5th, 2012. The engine fired for 62 seconds and was overall a successful firing.

The Morpheus team successfully flew tether test #10 on Thursday April 5th, 2012. The engine fired for 62 seconds and was overall a successful firing.

If you have to chose just one night in April to go out and look at the stars, NASA scientists say it should be April 21st when the Lyrid meteor shower from the Comet Thatcher peaks. This week's ScienceCast explains what makes that one night so special.

NASA Public Affairs Officer Kelly Humphries interviews Brian Crucian, NASA immunologist, about the issues with space flight and the immune system. Questions? Ask us on Twitter @NASA_Johnson and include the hashtag #askStation

The weekly NASA video recap of highlights from the week ending Friday, April 6, 2012. Included are Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland is honored in her hometown of Baltimore when the Space Telescope Science Institute renames its data archive center for the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Reporters Invited to Tour NASA's New Ultragreen Building April 19-20

"NASA's newest building also is one of the nation's greenest. News media are invited to tour the facility, called Sustainability Base, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday, April 19, 2012, at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Reporters also are invited to the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. the following day. Sustainability Base is a highly intelligent and intuitive facility designed to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building can optimize its performance automatically, in real time, in response to internal and external changes. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating."

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV carrying the NROL-25 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office lifts off from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Dryden has released a solicitation, entitled "NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities (AFO) for Payloads Maturing Crosscutting Technologies that Advance Multiple Future Space Mission to Flight Readiness Status."


Vesta is spending the 205th anniversary of its discovery by treating Dawn to more spectacular vistas When Heinrich Wilhelm Matthaeus Olbers first spotted Vesta, he could hardly have imagined that the power of the noble human spirit for adventure and the insatiable hunger for knowledge would propel a ship from Earth to that mysterious point of light among the stars. And yet today our spacecraft is conducting a detailed and richly rewarding exploration of the world that Olbers found.


The Space foundation today announced the availability of the 2012 edition of the Space Report to media today and to the public next week. According to the report the global space economy grew to $289.77 billion in 2011, reflecting a surprisingly robust single-year expansion of 12.2 percent and five-year growth of 41 percent* in a global economy that has been suppressed in many other sectors.

NASA Announcement of Flight Opportunities #4 Now Open

"NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) seeks to mature towards flight readiness status crosscutting technologies that perform relevant environment testing and advance multiple future space missions. To facilitate this goal, NASA is providing access to certain flight opportunities available to the Agency, on a no-exchange-of funds basis, to entities that have technology payloads meeting specified criteria. They may be exposed to a near-zero or reduced gravity environment by flying on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on sRLVs that are potentially capable of flying to altitudes above 100 km. For flight tests that do not require microgravity, but do require the temperature, pressure and atmospheric conditions of high altitudes, balloon flights are available."

NASA Office of the Chief Technologist; NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts: Phase II NRA 2012

"This NRA solicits multiple studies, each of which will further investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept that has the potential to change the possible in aeronautics or space. NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is part of the Office of Chief Technologist (OCT). Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts proposed for NIAC Phase II studies must be exciting, unexplored, far-term, and technically credible. Narrow technology or subsystem development, and incremental improvement are explicitly out of scope for this program. Finally, while NIAC encourages great leaps and accepts the accompanying risk, proposals must be technically credible, based on sound scientific principles."

Project Glass, Google

"A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We're sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do."

NASA's Kepler mission has been approved for extension through fiscal year 2016 based on a recommendation from the agencys Senior Review of its operating missions. The extension provides four additional years to find Earth-size planets in the habitable zone the region in a planetary system where liquid water could exist on the surface of an orbiting planet around sun-like stars in our galaxy.


Armchair explorers of the cosmos can now have at their fingertips the nearly 2,000 distant planetary systems discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission. Kepler Explorer, an innovative app for iPads and iPhones developed by a team at the University of California, Santa Cruz, provides interactive displays of newly discovered planetary systems based on Kepler data.


Supernova explosions and the jets of a monstrous black hole are scattering a galaxy's star-making gas like a cosmic leaf blower, a new study finds. The findings, which relied on ultraviolet observations from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and a host of other instruments, fill an important gap in the current understanding of galactic evolution.

NASA is seeking formal and informal education organizations to host live in-flight interactive conversations between the next generation of explorers and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

On April 2nd, the Morpheus team performed a successful ground level hot fire. The purpose of the ground level hot fire is to test the environmental conditions of the vehicle while the engine is fired from the surface. During a ground level hot fire the vehicle is chained to the ground while the engine is fired.


Astrobotic Technology unveiled its new Polaris lunar rover design, which will prospect for potentially rich deposits of water ice, methane and other resources at the moon's north pole in three years.


Boeing successfully completed a parachute drop test of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft today at the Delmar Dry Lake Bed near Alamo, Nev. CST-100 is part of the Boeing Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS), which will provide the United States with the capability to transport people and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), the Bigelow Aerospace Complex and other destinations in low Earth orbit.

Kepler Explorer App Puts Distant Planets at Fingertips

"Now available for free from the iTunes App Store, Kepler Explorer was developed through the OpenLab initiative at UC Santa Cruz, which brought together faculty and students in astrophysics, art, and technology for a summer institute last year. The Kepler Explorer team includes astrophysicist Jonathan Fortney, a member of the Kepler science team; two of his graduate students, Eric Lopez and Caroline Morley; artist Kyle McKinley, a recent graduate of the Digital Arts and New Media program; and John Peters, a recent graduate of the computer game design program."

Supernova explosions and the jets of a monstrous black hole are scattering a galaxy's star-making gas like a cosmic leaf blower, a new study finds. The findings, which relied on ultraviolet observations from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and a host of other instruments, fill an important gap in the current understanding of galactic evolution.

On April 2nd, the Morpheus team performed a successful ground level hot fire. The purpose of the ground level hot fire is to test the environmental conditions of the vehicle while the engine is fired from the surface. During a ground level hot fire the vehicle is chained to the ground while the engine is fired.

On April 2nd, the Morpheus team performed a successful ground level hot fire. The purpose of the ground level hot fire is to test the environmental conditions of the vehicle while the engine is fired from the surface. During a ground level hot fire the vehicle is chained to the ground while the engine is fired.

Astrobotic Technology Reveals Design for Robot to Prospect at Moon's Poles

"Astrobotic Technology unveiled its new Polaris lunar rover design, which will prospect for potentially rich deposits of water ice, methane and other resources at the moon's north pole in three years. A powerful Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX will launch Polaris from Cape Canaveral in late October 2015. Four days later Polaris will land during north pole summer, when patches of ground that are in cold shadow most of the year get brief illumination. This is where ice will be found closest to the surface, and when a solar-powered robot will get the sunlight needed to sustain exploration. Polaris will search for ice for the next 12 days until sundown in early November."

NSF Announces New Expeditions in Computing Awards

"The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) today announced four new Expeditions in Computing awards. Each award will provide $10 million in funding over five years, representing the single largest investments in computer science research NSF makes. "Computer science research drives advances in science, engineering and education with significant positive impact on the economy, the achievement of national priorities and improvements in quality of life. The U.S. government has an essential role to play in ensuring that investments in this field are sustained over the long-term," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "With these Expeditions awards, NSF continues its tradition of investing in ambitious, bold ideas. Our economic future and competitiveness depend on them."

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) today announced four new Expeditions in Computing awards. Each award will provide $10 million in funding over five years, representing the single largest investments in computer science research NSF makes.


Charles Bolden: On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a story that captured some of what the space shuttle era meant to Florida's Space Coast. Unfortunately, the piece also missed an awful lot of important context about the end of that era and where we're headed from here.


Increased scrutiny has been focused on The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the non-profit organization chosen by NASA to manage its research assets aboard the International Space Station.


There's more to the cosmos than meets the eye. About 80 percent of the matter in the universe is invisible to telescopes, yet its gravitational influence is manifest in the orbital speeds of stars around galaxies and in the motions of clusters of galaxies.

Earth from Space is presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web-TV virtual studios. In this special edition, Rune Floberghagen, Swarm Mission Manager, joins the show to discuss the upcoming magnetic field mission.


Flying at an altitude of about 240 miles over the eastern North Atlantic, the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station photographed this nighttime scene. This view looks northeastward. Center point coordinates are 46.8 degrees north latitude and 14.3 degrees west longitude.


Our Earth is itself a fragile 'spaceship', but we tend to forget this in our everyday lives. Sometimes distance is required from a subject to appreciate it fully. ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers is taking photographs of Earth from 400 km out in space, to remind us just how beautiful and vulnerable our planet is.

This memorandum reinforces NASA policy regarding the protection of Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) information. The memorandum applies to all Centers, Mission Directorates and their supporting commercial contractors that process NASA information.

NASA/ARC intends to purchase the flight services from Airship Ventures, Inc. of Mountain View, CA to fly its Zeppelin NT107 Airship in support of research.

NASA Langley Research Center is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) Hosted Payload Opportunities (HPO) and Accommodations.

Our Earth is itself a fragile 'spaceship', but we tend to forget this in our everyday lives. Sometimes distance is required from a subject to appreciate it fully. ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers is taking photographs of Earth from 400 km out in space, to remind us just how beautiful and vulnerable our planet is.

Flying at an altitude of about 240 miles over the eastern North Atlantic, the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station photographed this nighttime scene. This view looks northeastward. Center point coordinates are 46.8 degrees north latitude and 14.3 degrees west longitude. The night lights of the cities of Ireland, in the foreground, and the United Kingdom, in the back and to the right, are contrasted by the bright sunrise in the background. The greens and purples of the Aurora Borealis are seen along the rest of the horizon. This image was taken on March 28, 2012. Image Credit: NASA Larger images.

NASA Solicitation: Airship Flight Services for NASA Ames Research Center

"NASA/ARC intends to purchase the flight services from Airship Ventures, Inc. of Mountain View, CA to fly its Zeppelin NT107 Airship in support of research. The airship has specific maneuvering, acceleration, and hovering capabilities unavailable through other aircraft and airship companies. The services will also require the installation of research equipment onto the airship, and contractor-support during flights."

The Space Foundation plans to conduct two special events to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the United States' Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) - one in Colorado Springs, Colo., which is the headquarters city of both AFSPC and the Space Foundation, and one in Washington, D.C.


Four teams of high school students unleashed a new wave of product development and entrepreneurism receiving top honors at the 2012 Innovation Summit, the final round of competition for the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge).

2012 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge Winners Announced

"Four teams of high school students unleashed a new wave of product development and entrepreneurism receiving top honors at the 2012 Innovation Summit, the final round of competition for the 2011-2012 Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge). Winning presentations ranged from a water purifying specialty bicycle that creates potable water while also serving as transportation in under-developed communities to a new lightweight fabric constructed of phase-changing crystals for cooling and ventilation in harsh environments. The conference took place March 29-31 at NASA-Ames Research Center. It gathered 15 finalist teams, who have been competing since fall 2011 to develop innovative products that tackle some of the world's most pressing issues in the areas of aerospace exploration, clean energy, and health and nutrition. The program is hosted by the Conrad Foundation."

The Secret History of OpenStack, the Free Cloud Software That's Changing Everything, Wired

"OpenStack is software anyone can use to build their own version of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, the massively popular web service that gives developers and businesses instant access to virtual servers. The roots of OpenStack stretch back only about four years to a skunk works project inside of NASA, but it has already overturned the status quo in both the private sector and the public. After catching the eye of Vivek Kundra -- the country's first CIO -- it's used not only by NASA but by other operations across the federal government. After it was launched to the rest of the world through an unlikely partnership between the space agency and Rackspace -- the Texas outfit that trails only Amazon in the cloud computing game -- it's now backed by over 150 companies worldwide. And it's shaping the future of such names as HP, Cisco, Dell, and -- if the rumors are true -- IBM."

The International Space Station video update for April 2, 2012. Credit: NASA

NASA Public Affairs Officer Dan Huot interviews Veronica Seyl, Acting Manager for Reduced Gravity Education. NASA works with students and educators to design experiments for flight testing aboard the microgravity aircraft. Credit: NASA

There's more to the cosmos than meets the eye. About 80 percent of the matter in the universe is invisible to telescopes, yet its gravitational influence is manifest in the orbital speeds of stars around galaxies and in the motions of clusters of galaxies.


Orbital Sciences Corporation celebrated the company's first three decades in the space business today as it completed 30 years of operations since the enterprise's founding on April 2, 1982.


The Space Foundation has announced the winners of its 2012 Space Foundation Student Art Contest co-sponsored by ARES Corporation and Fisher Space Pen Co. The 36 winners came from seven states and the country of Pakistan.

Ryder crater is rather oddly shaped; is it two craters or one? It is 17 km in the long direction and 13 km in its shortest dimension. The western floor of the crater is about 1500 meters below the western rim, while the eastern rim is 3000 meters above the same floor. The eastern shelf, seen in today's Featured Image, is 5000 meters above the western rim! More information and imagery.

Towards the bottom of this Dawn FC (framing camera) image, slightly offset from the image center, is a small, young, fresh crater within a rectangular, older, heavily eroded crater. When the rectangular crater formed it was probably more circular in shape and then became more rectangular due to erosion and slumping of material.

Presented at: A press conference held at the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, The Woodlands, Texas, USA. In total, MESSENGER team members are presenting 57 papers at this conference. Instrument: Wide Angle Camera (WAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS)

Curiosity, the big rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, will land in August 2012 near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. One particular mountain on Mars, bigger than Colorado's grandest, has been beckoning would-be explorers since it was first sighted from orbit in the 1970s. Scientists have ideas about how it took shape in the middle of ancient Gale Crater and hopes for what evidence it could yield about whether conditions on Mars have favored life.


Ryder crater is rather oddly shaped; is it two craters or one? It is 17 km in the long direction and 13 km in its shortest dimension. The western floor of the crater is about 1500 meters below the western rim, while the eastern rim is 3000 meters above the same floor. The eastern shelf, seen in today's Featured Image, is 5000 meters above the western rim!


Towards the bottom of this Dawn FC (framing camera) image, slightly offset from the image center, is a small, young, fresh crater within a rectangular, older, heavily eroded crater. When the rectangular crater formed it was probably more circular in shape and then became more rectangular due to erosion and slumping of material.


Of Interest: The highest-resolution radar image of Mercury's south polar region made from the Arecibo Observatory (Harmon et al., Icarus, 211, 37-50, 2011) is shown in white on MESSENGER orbital images colorized by the faction of time the surface is illuminated.


Astronomers and officials from around the globe gathered on the high desert of New Mexico Saturday to officially bestow a new name on the world's most famous radio telescope and to mark its transformation into a new and vastly more powerful tool for science. The iconic Very Large Array (VLA) now is the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, honoring the founder of radio astronomy.


Curiosity, the big rover of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, will land in August 2012 near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. One particular mountain on Mars, bigger than Colorado's grandest, has been beckoning would-be explorers since it was first sighted from orbit in the 1970s.