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January 2013



Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail.

Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail. In a new paper that provides the most detail yet on the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA's Cassini mission describe how the storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out. It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself like this anywhere in the solar system.


Researchers searching the galaxy for planets that could pass the litmus test of sustaining water-based life must find whether those planets fall in what's known as a habitable zone. New work, led by a team of Penn State researchers, will help scientists in that search.

Researchers searching the galaxy for planets that could pass the litmus test of sustaining water-based life must find whether those planets fall in what's known as a habitable zone. New work, led by a team of Penn State researchers, will help scientists in that search.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these image of a coronal mass ejection (CME), erupting on the left side of the sun early in the morning of Jan 31, 2013, as it was moving away from the sun into space. These images from SOHO are called coronagraphs, in which the bright light of the sun is blocked in order to make the dimmer structures in the sun's atmosphere, or corona, visible. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO

"Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil. "Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures," said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA. "Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat." Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing 'catenary' dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts. A hollow closed-cell structure - reminiscent of bird bones - provides a good combination of strength and weight." More


Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials.

Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil. "Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures," said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA.

Setting up a lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil. "Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures," said Laurent Pambaguian, heading the project for ESA.


There are already plenty of stars around Malibu, California, but could the place be actually like the planet Mars? The NASA rover Curiosity is about to find out.

6-12th Grade Students, Building 262, Room 180, March 27-28

Since 1994, NASA Ames has hosted an annual Space Settlement Design Contest for 6-12th grade students. Thousands of students and hundreds of teachers from around the world have involved themselves in space settlement, some devoting months of intense effort. Prize winners now find themselves at Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other top universities and at least one flew a zero-gravity experiment for the European Space Agency (ESA). Contestants work at home and send their entries to Ames each March. Extensive reference materials are supplied on the web. All entries are judged in a two-day period by a panel of NASA and contractor personnel. Judges commit to one hour or more anytime on Wednesday and/or Thursday, March 27-28, between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Judging will be in Building 262, Room 180. No experience or specific technical expertise are needed and it is a lot of fun (less expert judges can evaluate entries from the younger students). Contest details are at http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/Contest/

"A new satellite mission designed by university students is entering the advanced stages of development. A new contract appoints ALMASpace, Italy, the prime contractor. The European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) is a micro-satellite mission to low Earth orbit. Newly appointed prime contractor ALMASpace, Italy, will now oversee its final development, integration, testing, and in-orbit commissioning by European university students. The mission's primary goal is to provide students with extensive, hands-on experience of a space project. This will equip them with the necessary skills to confidently enter the high-technology workplace of Europe's future. 'With ESEO, ESA's Education and Knowledge Management Office will continue pursuing its objective of offering hands-on activities to university students across Europe. Working on real space projects has a strong inspirational value and offers the best professional preparation for Europe's future engineers and scientists,' says Piero Galeone, ESA's Head of the Tertiary Education Unit." More

A glimpse of NTREES testing in progress in mid-2012, as a non-nuclear fuel element is heated to more than 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit while hydrogen is funneled through it. (MSFC/Emmett Given)

Advanced propulsion researchers at NASA are a step closer to solving the challenge of safely sending human explorers to Mars and other solar system destinations.

A glimpse of NTREES testing in progress in mid-2012, as a non-nuclear fuel element is heated to more than 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit while hydrogen is funneled through it. (MSFC/Emmett Given)

Advanced propulsion researchers at NASA are a step closer to solving the challenge of safely sending human explorers to Mars and other solar system destinations.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Intricate patchwork fields and a Rolling Stones-esque lake, northern Mexico. pic.twitter.com/qMFc7TAo


A powerful cold front moving from the central United States to the East Coast is wiping out spring-like temperatures and replacing them with winter-time temperatures with powerful storms in between. An image released from NASA using data from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite provides a stunning look at the powerful system that brings a return to winter weather in its wake.

A powerful cold front moving from the central United States to the East Coast is wiping out spring-like temperatures and replacing them with winter-time temperatures with powerful storms in between. An image released from NASA using data from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite provides a stunning look at the powerful system that brings a return to winter weather in its wake.


Using the unique capabilities of ESA's Herschel space observatory, astronomers have accurately 'weighed' a star's disc, finding it still has enough mass to spawn 50 Jupiter-sized planets, several million years after most other stars have already given birth.


NASA successfully launched a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital rocket at 5:50 p.m. EST this evening from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. During the flight, two red-colored lithium vapor trails were produced. Reports from those viewing the launch or vapor trails came from as far away as the Outer Banks, N.C.; eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

NASA successfully launched a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital rocket at 5:50 p.m. EST this evening from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. During the flight, two red-colored lithium vapor trails were produced. Reports from those viewing the launch or vapor trails came from as far away as the Outer Banks, N.C.; eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has placed its drill onto a series of four locations on a Martian rock and pressed down on it with the rover's arm, in preparation for using the drill in coming days.

The rover carried out this "pre-load" testing on Mars yesterday (Jan. 27). The tests enable engineers to check whether the amount of force applied to the hardware matches predictions for what would result from the commanded motions.


The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation.


ESA's Venus Express has made unique observations of Venus during a period of reduced solar wind pressure, discovering that the planet's ionosphere balloons out like a comet's tail on its nightside.

ESA's Venus Express has made unique observations of Venus during a period of reduced solar wind pressure, discovering that the planet's ionosphere balloons out like a comet's tail on its nightside.

The ionosphere is a region of weakly electrically charged gas high above the main body of a planet's atmosphere. Its shape and density are partly controlled by the internal magnetic field of the planet.

The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size.


Networks of narrow ridges found in impact craters on Mars appear to be the fossilized remnants of underground cracks through which water once flowed, according to a new analysis by researchers from Brown University.

Fossilized hydrology A 3-D image of an impact crater in the Nilosyrtis area on the Martian surface shows long pipe-like ridges, fossilized evidence of ancient subsurface water flow. Credit: NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Networks of narrow ridges found in impact craters on Mars appear to be the fossilized remnants of underground cracks through which water once flowed, according to a new analysis by researchers from Brown University.


This composite image shows the superbubble DEM L50 (a.k.a. N186) located in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 160,000 light-years from Earth.

This composite image shows the superbubble DEM L50 (a.k.a. N186) located in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 160,000 light-years from Earth. Superbubbles are found in regions where massive stars have formed in the last few million years. The massive stars produce intense radiation, expel matter at high speeds, and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. The winds and supernova shock waves carve out huge cavities called superbubbles in the surrounding gas.

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ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano from Italy is the first of Europe's new generation of astronauts scheduled to fly into space. He'll soon be making a long-duration stay onboard the International Space Station, launching from Baikonur end of may in a Russian Soyuz capsule with two fellow crew members. His preparation for this mission has involved training with the Station's international partners, including a stint at Star City near Moscow - where, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, he's gained experience on full-scale mockups of the Soyuz capsule and the Russan segment of the International Space Station. This A & B-roll shows Mission training at Star City with interviews of Luca Parmitano in English, Italian and French.


According to Iran state media, Iran launched a suborbital rocket last week with a monkey onboard and recovered the capsule a short time later with the monkey still alive. The space capsule was code-named Pishgam (Pioneer).

"NASA and government agencies worldwide will host the second International Space Apps Challenge April 20-21, with events across all seven continents and in space. Participants are encouraged to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth. The two-day event will provide an opportunity for government to harness the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges. During the event, representatives of NASA and other international space agencies will gather with scientists and participants to use publicly released open data to create solutions for 50 software, hardware and visualization challenges, including robotics, citizen science platforms and applications of remote sensing data. Challenges selected to be worked on during the event will be published online prior to the event. The 2012 challenge engaged more than 2,000 participants who collaborated on more than 100 open source solutions to 71 featured challenges." More


Jupiter's volcanic moon Io spews out volcanic gas, which reaches its atmosphere and becomes ionized, forming what is known as the Io plasma torus. This plasma torus can interact with Jupiter's magnetosphere, possibly affecting auroral activity there.

NASA wants to know how you can improve the International Space Station as a technology test bed. NASA's International Space Station National Laboratory and Technology Demonstration offices are asking for proposals on how the space station may be used to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies. NASA also is seeking proposals about how new approaches, technologies and capabilities could improve the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost.


In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team has successfully drilled through 800 meters (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team has successfully drilled through 800 meters (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, Expedition 34 flight engineer, moves a stowage container in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. ISS034-E-029995 (15 Jan. 2013) - high res (1.8 M) low res (142 K)

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, Expedition 34 flight engineer, moves a stowage container in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. ISS034-E-029995 (15 Jan. 2013) - high res (1.8 M) low res (142 K)

Polar mesospheric clouds over the South Pacific Ocean are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 34 crew member on the International Space Station.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, launch site of my first 2 spaceflights, and where our Dragon will launch from in March. pic.twitter.com/OmCRO96Z

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - our nation's capital Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/5BQeahHm

@AstroMarshburn - Thomas H. Marshburn - Where desert and mountains meet - we're over the edge of the Gobi. pic.twitter.com/szrtfWu1


Spring is a dynamic season on the dunes surrounding Mars' north pole. When frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, deposited as a winter ice cap on Mars sublimates - changes directly from a solid to a gas - in the spring it causes a variety of geologic changes to the Martian surface, research led by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Candice Hansen has shown.

The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped this series of pictures of sand dunes in the north polar region of Mars. The progression of false color pictures begins in early spring (panel a) when the ground is covered by a seasonal layer of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) about 2 feet thick. As spring progresses the ice cracks (panel b), releasing dark sand from the dune below. When pressurized gas trapped below the ice layer is released it carries along sand and dust to the top of the ice layer where it is dropped in fan-shaped deposits downhill and downwind (panels c and d). The final panel shows more and more of the dark dunes as the overlying layer of seasonal ice evaporates back into the atmosphere.  Image credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


Flying high over Antarctica, a NASA long duration balloon has broken the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size. The record-breaking balloon, carrying the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER) experiment, has been afloat for 46 days and is on its third orbit around the South Pole.

Flying high over Antarctica, a NASA long duration balloon has broken the record for longest flight by a balloon of its size.

The record-breaking balloon, carrying the Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (Super-TIGER) experiment, has been afloat for 46 days and is on its third orbit around the South Pole.

This Envisat image from 19 March 2012 shows the elongated islands of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago on the left, the mainland of northwestern Russia to the right and an ice-covered Kara Sea in the centre. The Barents Sea is off the islands' west coast.

Located completely within the Arctic Circle, Novaya Zemlya is an extension of the Ural Mountains. Average temperatures range from about 22oC in January to just over 6oC in July.


The NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is beginning its 10th year roving Mars, completing nine years of "shocking" performance and historic discoveries that began with a bouncing airbag roll into tiny Eagle crater on Jan. 24, 2004.

This movie shows two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) erupting from the sun on Jan. 23, 2013. The first was not directed at Earth; the second one is, but is not expected to have a strong impact. The movie was captured by the joint ESA/NASA mission the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), beginning at 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 22 and ending at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 23. Credit: ESA, NASA/SOHO/Goddard Space Flight Center > Download video (19 MB mov)

The ring-region Saturnian moons Prometheus and Pan are both caught "herding" their respective rings in this image. Through their gravitational disturbances of nearby ring particles, one moon maintains a gap in the outer A ring and the other helps keep a ring narrowly confined.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Huge swirls in the sea off of Mumbai, India pic.twitter.com/hqbSVTvh

@AstroMarshburn - Thomas H. Marshburn - New Zealand offers beautiful, but rare and fleeting glimpses as it passes by. pic.twitter.com/8dTeyebn

Inserting new capabilities into a satellite is no simple task. Doing so as that satellite hurdles through space 22,000 miles above the Earth is a bit more challenging still. DARPA's Phoenix program, which hopes to repurpose retired satellites while they remain in orbit, seeks to fundamentally change how space systems could be designed here on earth and then sustained once in space.

Inserting new capabilities into a satellite is no simple task. Doing so as that satellite hurdles through space 22,000 miles above the Earth is a bit more challenging still. DARPA's Phoenix program, which hopes to repurpose retired satellites while they remain in orbit, seeks to fundamentally change how space systems could be designed here on earth and then sustained once in space.

Inserting new capabilities into a satellite is no simple task. Doing so as that satellite hurdles through space 22,000 miles above the Earth is a bit more challenging still. DARPA's Phoenix program, which hopes to repurpose retired satellites while they remain in orbit, seeks to fundamentally change how space systems could be designed here on earth and then sustained once in space.

In orbit at 18,000 miles an hour, day and night change places every 90 minutes. Darkness and light, sleep and wake: it's tough to focus on precise tasks floating outside the International Space Station. But not if you're a robot. NASA's Robotic Refueling Mission puts that proposition to the test, with a first-of-its-kind demonstration of a simulated fuel transfer in space, no human in sight. But first, there's a pile of prep before the operation can commence.

In orbit at 18,000 miles an hour, day and night change places every 90 minutes. Darkness and light, sleep and wake: it's tough to focus on precise tasks floating outside the International Space Station. But not if you're a robot. NASA's Robotic Refueling Mission puts that proposition to the test, with a first-of-its-kind demonstration of a simulated fuel transfer in space, no human in sight. But first, there's a pile of prep before the operation can commence.


The Sun's visible surface, or photosphere, is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As you move outward from it, you pass through a tenuous layer of hot, ionized gas or plasma called the corona. The corona is familiar to anyone who has seen a total solar eclipse, since it glimmers ghostly white around the hidden Sun.

The Sun's visible surface, or photosphere, is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As you move outward from it, you pass through a tenuous layer of hot, ionized gas or plasma called the corona. The corona is familiar to anyone who has seen a total solar eclipse, since it glimmers ghostly white around the hidden Sun.

@AstroMarshburn - Thomas H. Marshburn - Outer Banks of NC and Pamlico Sound with Kitty Hawk, where it all started! pic.twitter.com/bjLAVmGE

Astronomers using a CSIRO radio telescope have taken the universe's temperature, and have found that it has cooled down just the way the Big Bang theory predicts.

Using the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has measured how warm the universe was when it was half its current age.

A new image from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) telescope in Chile shows a beautiful view of clouds of cosmic dust in the region of Orion. While these dense interstellar clouds seem dark and obscured in visible-light observations, APEX's LABOCA camera can detect the heat glow of the dust and reveal the hiding places where new stars are being formed. But one of these dark clouds is not what it seems.

Nearly 200,000 light-years from Earth, the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, floats in space, in a long and slow dance around our galaxy. Vast clouds of gas within it slowly collapse to form new stars. In turn, these light up the gas clouds in a riot of colors, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA's Aqua satellite documented the formation of Tropical Storm Oswald in the Gulf of Carpentaria on Jan. 21 and the landfall on Jan. 22 in the southwestern Cape York Peninsula of Queenstown, Australia. Oswald has since become remnant low pressure area over land.

@AstroMarshburn - Thomas H. Marshburn - Beautiful view the other day of Monterey Bay along the sunny California coast pic.twitter.com/UpT8Anjm

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Montevideo, Uruguay - the sharp points of land making cowlicks in Rio de La Plata pic.twitter.com/PoT2icEh


Multiple arcs are revealed around Betelgeuse, the nearest red supergiant star to Earth, in this new image from ESA's Herschel space observatory. The star and its arc-shaped shields could collide with an intriguing dusty 'wall' in 5000 years.

Multiple arcs are revealed around Betelgeuse, the nearest red supergiant star to Earth, in this new image from ESA's Herschel space observatory. The star and its arc-shaped shields could collide with an intriguing dusty 'wall' in 5000 years.

Betelgeuse rides on the shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter. It can easily be seen with the naked eye in the northern hemisphere winter night sky as the orange-red star above and to the left of Orion's famous three-star belt.


Keith Cowing: Former Astronaut Scott Parazynski, M.D. summitted Mt. Everest in 2009. A few weeks ago, Scott visited a variety of locations in Antarctica including the Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole, as director of the UTMB Center for Polar Operations. When Scott went to the summit of Everest he took my old NASA badge from 1990 and a small "Flat Gorbie" - a photo of astronaut Suni Williams' dog "Gorbie" with him. A photo of Gorbie had been on the ISS and made a second trip there last year. When Scott visited the South Pole he happened to have my NASA badge and another Flat Gorbie - the same one that had been undersea during a NEEMO mission.

The Orion space capsule along with NASA Astronauts Lee Morin, Alvin Drew, Kjell Lindgren, Serena Aunon, Kate Rubins, and Mike Massimino pass the Presidential viewing stand and President Barack Obama during the Inaugural Parade on Monday Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Orion will carry future astronauts beyond Earth orbit to farther destinations than ever before. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. Larger Image

A replica of NASA's Curiosity Rover and members of the Mars Science Laboratory science team pass the Presidential viewing stand and President Barack Obama during the Inaugural Parade on Monday Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. Larger image