Archives

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.

Loading...

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

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield A rare space sight. Most borders are invisible from orbit. This one between Egypt and Israel isn't. pic.twitter.com/MmwTf23F

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - San Francisco Bay Area. The sun glint really shows the water and cloud flow patterns. pic.twitter.com/pJi6JoKz


A nearby short-duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuhauser.

A nearby short-duration gamma-ray burst may be the cause of an intense blast of high-energy radiation that hit the Earth in the 8th century, according to new research led by astronomers Valeri Hambaryan and Ralph Neuhauser. The two scientists, based at the Astrophysics Institute of the University of Jena in Germany, publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Loading...

Bright and dark cloud bands wind around the poles of Venus in this beautiful sequence tracked by ESA's Venus Express as it makes a rollercoaster orbit around the planet.

Astronauts on board the International Space Station captured this view of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area on Sunday, Jan. 20, one day before the public Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

This detailed view shows the Potomac River and its bridges at left, with National Mall at the center, stretching eastward from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument toward the Capitol building, where the inaugural ceremony will be held.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Complex waters off the Bay of Callao, Peru. Charles Darwin's boat, the Beagle, stopped here for provisions in 1835. pic.twitter.com/PKCC6Eob


A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet's early evolution.

A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet's early evolution.

On Saturday morning, Jan. 19, 2013, at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling (JBAB) in Washington, Steve LaDrew, with Capitol Exhibit Services, adjusts the Mastcam on a replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover.

The NASA float will participate in Monday's Inaugural Parade honoring President Barack Obama.

View more images from NASA's participation in Inaugural events in Washington.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - Tonight's Finale: Washington D.C. on Saturday night of the Inaugural Weekend. You can even follow the parade route. pic.twitter.com/EGXe4G1f

A new view of a 20,000-year old supernova remnant demonstrates the upgraded imaging power of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and provides more clues to the history of this giant cloud that resembles a beloved endangered species, the Florida Manatee.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - New Space Station telescope, floating, ready for installation. pic.twitter.com/5AGrjRuC

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - New Space Station telescope, floating, ready for installation. pic.twitter.com/5AGrjRuC

@AstroMarshburn - Thomas H. Marshburn - 90 breath-taking seconds over Patagonia last night pic.twitter.com/6qDubAqt

A nighttime view of Liege, Belgium is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 34 crew member on the International Space Station. To paraphrase the old expression, "all roads lead to Liege" -- or at least one could get that impression from this nighttime photograph. The brightly lit core of the Liege urban area appears to lie at the center of a network of roadways--traceable by continuous orange lighting--extending outwards into the rural, and relatively dark, Belgium countryside.

"NASA engineer Dan Dietrich and a team of scientists at Glenn developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) to monitor the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates of astronauts exercising during long missions. The portable unit was designed to give the crew the ability to move around the spacecraft without being tethered to a large immovable unit. PUMA measures six components to evaluate metabolic function: oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressure, volume flow rate, heart rate, and gas pressure and temperature. From those measurements, PUMA can compute the oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output and minute ventilation (average expired gas flow rate). A small, embedded computer takes readings of each sensor and relays the data wirelessly to a remote computer via Bluetooth." More

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters Office of Education, in cooperation with the NASA Johnson Space Center and other NASA Centers, is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for NASA Internships. On or about January 16, 2013, this CAN will be available electronically through the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and then clicking the link through the menu listings "Solicitations" to "Open Solicitations." Institutions eligible to respond to this CAN are limited to higher education institutions, nonprogit organizations, and consortia or groups of organizations and institutions serving higher education students, whose mission includes capturing student interest and/or improving student performance in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or related fields. The estimated annual value of the award is $3,000,000 to $10,000,000 per year, for a period of performance not to exceed 5 years." More

"Students from two schools, one in Iowa and the other in New York, are the winners of the International Space Station (ISS) Science Challenge, NASA announced Friday. Challenge winners from North Tama Elementary in Traer, Iowa, and Madison Elementary in Massena, N.Y., are being inspired to learn more about the space station's cutting-edge research by designing programs to teach others about specific experiments and what scientists are hoping to learn. This pilot program was created by Darcie Fregoe and Lisa Chizek, contributing teachers with NASA's Endeavour Science Teaching Certificate Project. The program is part of the Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience (INSPIRE). "I believe it is my responsibility as a middle school Earth science and astronomy teacher to educate students about the very valuable contributions ISS science has made in their lives," Fregoe said. "I want them to get excited about NASA and the International Space Station, and I want them to start thinking about possible futures working for NASA." More

This image, acquired by Landsat-7 on 2 January, shows the San Francisco Bay Area in the US state of California. The bay is actually an estuary, where waters from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet the Pacific Ocean. In the upper section of the image, we can see the rivers' delta and the brown, sediment-filled water flowing down into the bay. The colourful patchwork in the centre of the image is a collection of wetland areas including salt ponds, salt marshes and mudflats.

NASA engineer Dan Dietrich and a team of scientists at Glenn developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) to monitor the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates of astronauts exercising during long missions. The portable unit was designed to give the crew the ability to move around the spacecraft without being tethered to a large immovable unit.

NASA engineer Dan Dietrich and a team of scientists at Glenn developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) to monitor the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates of astronauts exercising during long missions. The portable unit was designed to give the crew the ability to move around the spacecraft without being tethered to a large immovable unit.

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - 16 Jan - Tonight's finale: Undoubtedly one of the coolest space sights on Earth, the Richat Structure of Mauritania. pic.twitter.com/yNQa30dE

@Cmdr_Hadfield - Chris Hadfield - The deep waters of the 'Tongue of the Ocean' lick the reefs of Andros Island, the Bahamas. pic.twitter.com/kQQxrNZS


This image, acquired by Landsat-7 on 2 January, shows the San Francisco Bay Area in the US state of California.

Three months ago I asked the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) some simple questions regarding possible changes to the New Horizons encounter with Pluto based on recent data indicating debris in the region.

"Imagine a young engineer examining an artifact from the Apollo era that helped send people on humankind's first venture to another world. The engineer has seen diagrams of the rocket engine. She has even viewed old videos of the immense tower-like Saturn V rocket launching to the moon. Like any curious explorer, she wants to see how it works for herself. She wonders if this old engine still has the "juice." Like a car mechanic who investigates an engine of a beloved antique automobile, she takes apart the engine piece by piece and refurbishes it. This is exactly what a small team of young NASA engineers did. The engineers, who have been trained in fields from rocket propulsion to materials science, took apart and refurbished parts from Saturn V F-1 engines--the most powerful American rocket engines ever built. Why resurrect an Apollo-era rocket engine? The answer is simple: to mine the secrets of the F-1 -- an engine that last flew before these engineers were born -- and use it as inspiration for creating new advanced, affordable propulsion systems." More

A Saturn V F-1 engine arrives at Marshall. (NASA/MSFC)

Imagine a young engineer examining an artifact from the Apollo era that helped send people on humankind's first venture to another world. The engineer has seen diagrams of the rocket engine. She has even viewed old videos of the immense tower-like Saturn V rocket launching to the moon. Like any curious explorer, she wants to see how it works for herself. She wonders if this old engine still has the "juice." Like a car mechanic who investigates an engine of a beloved antique automobile, she takes apart the engine piece by piece and refurbishes it.

A Saturn V F-1 engine arrives at Marshall. (NASA/MSFC)

Imagine a young engineer examining an artifact from the Apollo era that helped send people on humankind's first venture to another world. The engineer has seen diagrams of the rocket engine. She has even viewed old videos of the immense tower-like Saturn V rocket launching to the moon. Like any curious explorer, she wants to see how it works for herself. She wonders if this old engine still has the "juice." Like a car mechanic who investigates an engine of a beloved antique automobile, she takes apart the engine piece by piece and refurbishes it.

As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon, scientists with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the spacecraft from Earth.

As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon, scientists with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the spacecraft from Earth.


Titan's siblings must be jealous. While most of Saturn's moons display their ancient faces pockmarked by thousands of craters, Titan -- Saturn's largest moon -- may look much younger than it really is because its craters are getting erased. Dunes of exotic, hydrocarbon sand are slowly but steadily filling in its craters, according to new research using observations from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Titan's siblings must be jealous. While most of Saturn's moons display their ancient faces pockmarked by thousands of craters, Titan -- Saturn's largest moon -- may look much younger than it really is because its craters are getting erased. Dunes of exotic, hydrocarbon sand are slowly but steadily filling in its craters, according to new research using observations from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.


As the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) science team completes final assessments of the mission's first drilling target in the bedrock at Yellowknife Bay, Curiosity is roving through "a whole different world," uncovering evidence for rocks saturated with water and other diverse and unexpected aqueous clues that hint of an ancient and very wet environment at Gale Crater.

"Welcome to Planet Four, a citizen science project designed to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don't exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before! We need your help to find and mark 'fans' and 'blotches' on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking 'fans' and 'blotches' over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars' climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change." More

"TopCoder, Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, today announced the Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge, a $30,000, open to the public competition to make the energy-gathering solar arrays of the International Space Station (ISS) more efficient by eliminating the shadows it casts upon itself at different points during orbit. Registration for the three week long competition is now open with competition ending Wednesday, February 6 th at 18:00 GMT. Contestants must be TopCoder members in good standing. Community membership and challenge registration are free. Top prizes include $10,000 for the best solution with second and third placed solutions earning $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. Bonus prizes of mission stickers which have actually orbited the Earth on Space Shuttle Endeavour will be awarded to the top 5 finishers." More


ESA's Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year.

ESA's Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year.

Reull Vallis, the river-like structure in these images, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant Martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin.


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 colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

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 colours, visible in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. The tour includes scenes of each of the station's modules and research facilities with a running narrative by Williams of the work that has taken place and which is ongoing aboard the orbital outpost.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Wednesday a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Wednesday a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a two-year technology demonstration.


NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Wednesday a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat technology.

ESA agreed with NASA today to contribute a driving force to the Orion spacecraft planned for launch in 2017. Ultimately, Orion will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle technology.

The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion's crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.

ESA agreed with NASA today to contribute a driving force to the Orion spacecraft planned for launch in 2017. Ultimately, Orion will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle technology.

The ATV-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion's crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.


On the left of this new image there is a dark column resembling a cloud of smoke. To the right shines a small group of brilliant stars. At first glance these two features could not be more different, but they are in fact closely linked.

On the left of this new image there is a dark column resembling a cloud of smoke. To the right shines a small group of brilliant stars. At first glance these two features could not be more different, but they are in fact closely linked. The cloud contains huge amounts of cool cosmic dust and is a nursery where new stars are being born. It is likely that the Sun formed in a similar star formation region more than four billion years ago.

MOTHERBOARD today premieres the latest in its Spaced Out series, The Space Composer, investigating the art of turning data from the sun into sound. Sonification specialist Robert Alexander takes us through the solar cycle as it rises and falls, using the solar data to create some of the most interesting and unique music to have ever graced the planet.

A classically trained composer transforms solar data into tunes on VICE's tech channel's documentary series Spaced Out NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 16, 2013) - MOTHERBOARD today premieres the latest in its Spaced Out series, The Space Composer, investigating the art of turning data from the sun into sound. Sonification specialist Robert Alexander takes us through the solar cycle as it rises and falls, using the solar data to create some of the most interesting and unique music to have ever graced the planet.


ESA agreed with NASA today to contribute a driving force to the Orion spacecraft planned for launch in 2017. Ultimately, Orion will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle technology.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers' approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.


NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1988, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.

By Jeffrey Donenfeld, Special to the Antarctic Sun: As tradition dictates, on New Year's Day the geographic South Pole marker was moved to its freshly surveyed position, and the new brass-and-copper plaque that tops the marker was revealed. The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits on a moving sheet of ice more than two miles thick.

Pleiades 1B First Image - Lorient harbour, Brittany, France. Courtesy of CNES

Pleiades 1B, the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Earth observation satellite, has captured its first images using e2v high performance imaging sensors. Two types of e2v sensors (for panchromatic and multispectral imaging) equip the satellites high-resolution optical imaging instrument; these were selected by Thales Alenia Space, who is providing the HR instrument to Astrium, developed under CNES contract.

"NASA's Space Technology Program is looking for visionary advanced concepts. This year's annual call for NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC) is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new missions or significantly improve current approaches to achieve aerospace objectives. NIAC studies visionary aerospace architecture, system or mission concepts that are exciting and unexplored, yet credible and executable. The concepts are early in development -- generally 10 years or more from operation. They are chosen based on peer review of the potential impact, technical strength and benefits of the proposed study. "While Goddard or Tsiolkovsky envisioned rockets taking humans to space, the rest of the world focused on the industrial revolution and challenges of the early 20th century," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "These visionaries had radical ideas of space travel and exploration that would take dozens to hundreds of years for maturation, but were worth waiting for. NASA's NIAC seeks proposals from today's visionaries who have futuristic concepts that may transform how we live, work and explore the high frontier." More

Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Expedition 34 flight engineer, looks through a Rodnik tank in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. Romanenko performed a water transfer from a Rodnik tank in the Progress to a Rodnik tank in the Zvezda Service Module. Note the multiple refractions of the cosmonaut's head and shoulders in the bubbles. ISS034-E-010446 (31 Dec. 2012) - high res (1.0 M) low res (82 K)


This circular crack is very odd-looking. When you zoom in to HiRISE scale, the crack looks a lot like a graben.

This circular crack is very odd-looking. When you zoom in to HiRISE scale, the crack looks a lot like a graben.

Canyonlands, Utah is a great place to see grabens on Earth. Grabens form when solid rock is pulled apart. Two cracks form at distinctive angles, and the material between the cracks collapses downward, forming a straight-walled canyon. Well, they're usually straight-walled, but this one is circular, which is unusual.

An international team of nuclear astrophysicists has shed new light on the explosive stellar events known as novae.


Residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside in mid-January 2013 as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history.

Residents of Beijing and many other cities in China were warned to stay inside in mid-January 2013 as the nation faced one of the worst periods of air quality in recent history. The Chinese government ordered factories to scale back emissions, while hospitals saw spikes of more than 20 to 30 percent in patients complaining of respiratory issues, according to news reports.

"Operating droids in space was no obstacle for a German-Italian alliance to reach the finish line of the Zero Robotics tournament. The European winners commanded mini-robots to dodge virtual dust clouds and rendezvous with disabled satellites, all in the weightlessness of the International Space Station. This year's competition gave over 130 high-school students from across Europe the opportunity to operate droids in space by coding software. Six alliances made of teams from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal witnessed how their computer codes worked in the Space Station from ESA's ESTEC space research and technology centre in the Netherlands The RetroSpheres space game involved two mini-robots racing through a course using the least amount of fuel. During the three-minute programmed dance, the volleyball-sized spheres moved using 12 squirts of compressed gas. Competitors could collect extra fuel from decommissioned satellites and deorbit the satellites for extra points while navigating through their opponent's dust clouds." More

"ESA's Proba-V microsatellite is now assembled and midway through testing to ensure it is fully spaceworthy. The miniature Earth-observer, designed to chart global vegetation every two days, will be launched in April. The testing at the specialised Intespace facility in Toulouse, France, includes rigorous simulations of Proba-V's take-off conditions and the hard vacuum and temperature extremes it must endure in orbit. It comes after Proba-V's assembly was completed by prime contractor QinetiQ Space at its facility in Kruibeke, Belgium last month. Building it was a complex operation. Although smaller than a cubic metre, the satellites carries a wide-angle telescope for its main Earth-monitoring instrument, a pair of radiation sensors, a fibre optic connector experiment, a prototype radio transmitter based on the semiconductor gallium nitride, and a test receiver to track aircraft in flight all around the globe." More

NASA and its international partners have named several future International Space Station expedition crews. They include NASA astronauts Steve Swanson, Reid Wiseman, Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts.


On Jan. 13, 2013, at 2:24 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME. Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.

On Jan. 13, 2013, at 2:24 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME. Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Expedition 34 flight engineer, prepares to install an interior radiation area monitor overlay panel during maintenance operations in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. ISS034-E-021225 (9 Jan. 2013) - high res (1.1 M) low res (100 K)

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Expedition 34 flight engineer, prepares to install an interior radiation area monitor overlay panel during maintenance operations in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. ISS034-E-021225 (9 Jan. 2013) - high res (1.1 M) low res (100 K)

On Jan. 4 a large presence of stratocumulus clouds was the central focus of camera lenses which remained aimed at the clouds as the Expedition 34 crew members aboard the International Space Station flew above the northwestern Pacific Ocean about 460 miles east of northern Honshu, Japan. This is a descending pass with a panoramic view looking southeast in late afternoon light with the terminator (upper left). The cloud pattern is typical for this part of the world. The low clouds carry cold air over a warmer sea with no discernable storm pattern. ISS034-E-016601 (4 Jan. 2013) - high res (1.6 M) low res (106 K)

Loading...

Eight years ago today, ESA's Huygens bounced, slid and wobbled its way to rest on the surface of Saturn's moonTitan, the first time a probe had touched down on an alien world in the outer Solar System."


On January 10th NASA held a news briefing to discuss the upcoming launch of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) scheduled for February 11. This mission is a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Astronomers have discovered hundreds of previously unknown sites of massive star formation in the Milky Way, including the most distant such objects yet found in our home galaxy. Ongoing studies of these objects promise to give crucial clues about the structure and history of the Milky Way.

"A squadron of mini satellites on the International Space Station will wake up this Friday to obey remote commands from students across Europe. Up until now the students have run their code in a virtual world, but this Friday the high-school finals will be held using the real thing: robotic droids on the International Space Station. This year's RetroSpheres scenario involves using the Spheres, which move using jets of compressed gas, to push simulated space debris out of orbit. Six alliances made of European finalists from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal will confront each other and see their computer code operate robots in space for the first time. ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers will provide commentary from ESA's space research and technology centre, ESTEC, in the Netherlands, as NASA's Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn set up the games on the Station. Over 130 students will be at ESTEC with Andre to learn more about robotics and run their code on the Spheres floating in the Space Station." More

What if you had a "Wayback Television Set" and could watch an entire month of ancient prehistory unfold before your eyes in real time? David Rubin of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) presented just such a scenario to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Long Beach, CA, when he announced the discovery of a striking astronomical object: a Type Ia supernova with a redshift of 1.71 that dates back 10 billion years in time. Labeled SN SCP-0401, the supernova is exceptional for its detailed spectrum and precision color measurement, unprecedented in a supernova so distant.

The lush landscapes of Ireland, Great Britain and northern France are pictured in this rare cloud-free view from the Envisat satellite.

To the west, thousands of lakes speckle the island of Ireland, made up of the Republic of Ireland (covering the majority of the island to the south) and Northern Ireland (top eastern corner). The largest lake in the region is Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.

Brown rugged cliffs along the island's west coast frame its plush green interior.

An international collaboration including researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has discovered that the Earth's core formed under more oxidizing condition's than previously proposed.

Researchers at the Centre of Astrobiology have identified microorganisms that live inside salt deposits in the acidic and ferrous environment of the Tinto River in Huelva, Spain. The extreme conditions of these microniches appear to be similar to those of the salt deposits on Mars and Jupiter's moon, Europa. This possibility should be borne in mind on missions operating in these places, such as Curiosity.

Like many of us, New Horizons is starting the new year with a workout regimen. After six months of cruising quietly through the outer solar system, NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft came out of hibernation last weekend for three weeks of activity that include system checks, a new flight software upload and science data downloads.

This video of the moon was taken by the NASA GRAIL mission's MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) camera aboard the Ebb spacecraft on Dec. 14, 2012. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the northern hemisphere of the moon's far side, in the vicinity of the Jackson impact crater.

This video of the moon was taken by the NASA GRAIL mission's MoonKAM (Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) camera aboard the Ebb spacecraft on Dec. 14, 2012. At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the northern hemisphere of the moon's far side, in the vicinity of the Jackson impact crater.

DARPA's SeeMe program aims to give mobile, US warfighters overseas access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide timely imagery to warfighters of their immediate surroundings via handheld devices.

DARPA's SeeMe program aims to give mobile, US warfighters overseas access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide timely imagery to warfighters of their immediate surroundings via handheld devices.

DARPA's SeeMe program aims to give mobile, US warfighters overseas access to on-demand, space-based tactical information in remote and beyond-line-of-sight conditions. If successful, SeeMe will provide timely imagery to warfighters of their immediate surroundings via handheld devices.

On July 12, 2011, spacewalking astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan successfully transferred the Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, module from the Atlantis shuttle cargo bay to a temporary platform on the International Space Station's Dextre robot. (NASA)

On July 12, 2011, spacewalking astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan successfully transferred the Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, module from the Atlantis shuttle cargo bay to a temporary platform on the International Space Station's Dextre robot. (NASA)

As the International Space Station and Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft were making their relative approaches on Dec. 21, one of the Expedition 34 crew members on the orbital outpost captured this photo of the Soyuz backdropped by the Sahara Desert. Inside the arriving spacecraft were astronaut Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko of Russia's Federal Space Agency and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn. The image center is at 31.7 degrees north latitude and 2.0 degrees east longitude, on the south side of the Atlas Mountains and on the northern margin of a huge dune field known as Grand Erg Occidental, located in north central Algeria. ISS034-E-009924 (21 Dec. 2012) - high res (0.6 M) low res (48 K)


After weeks of searching, the Mars rover Curiosity's science and engineering teams have selected a fine-grained slab of Martian rock as the candidate target for the first rock drilling on Mars, a significant first in planetary exploration.


This new infrared image from ESO's VISTA telescope shows the globular cluster 47 Tucanae in striking detail. This cluster contains millions of stars, and there are many nestled at its core that are exotic and display unusual properties.

Lakes on Saturn's moon Titan reflect radio waves in varying ways in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Scientists think the variations in reflectivity, or brightness, have to do with the smoothness or texture of the surface. If a lake is fully liquid, it looks dark, but if it is only partially liquid, it looks brighter.

This new infrared image from ESO's VISTA telescope shows the globular cluster 47 Tucanae in striking detail. This cluster contains millions of stars, and there are many nestled at its core that are exotic and display unusual properties. Studying objects within clusters like 47 Tucanae may help us to understand how these oddballs form and interact. This image is very sharp and deep due to the size, sensitivity, and location of VISTA, which is sited at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile.

As the long winter night deepens at Enceladus' south pole, its jets are also progressively falling into darkness. The shadow of the moon itself is slowly creeping up the jets making the portions closest to the surface difficult to observe by the Cassini spacecraft.

Cassini looks toward the night side of Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) in this image. Enceladus is lit by light reflected off Saturn rather than by direct sunlight.


In their search for habitable worlds, astronomers have started to consider exomoons, or those likely orbiting planets outside the solar system. In a new study, a pair of researchers has found that exomoons are just as likely to support life as exoplanets.

In their search for habitable worlds, astronomers have started to consider exomoons, or those likely orbiting planets outside the solar system. In a new study, a pair of researchers has found that exomoons are just as likely to support life as exoplanets.

The research, conducted by Rene Heller of Germany's Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam and Rory Barnes of the University of Washington and the NASA Astrobiology Institute, will appear in the January issue of Astrobiology.


A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory's most advanced adaptive optics (AO) system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth's atmosphere.

A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory's most advanced adaptive optics (AO) system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth's atmosphere. The photo, featuring an area on the outskirts of the famous Orion Nebula, illustrates the instrument's significant advancements over previous-generation AO systems.


ESA's Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.

ESA's Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.

Catalogued as asteroid (99942) Apophis (previously 2004 MN4), it is often nicknamed 'the doomsday asteroid' in popular media, after initial observations made after its discovery in 2004 gave it a 2.7% chance of striking Earth in April 2029.

A 2-dimensional vision of the solar wind turbulence at the smallest scale seen yet, thanks to observations by Cluster satellites. The approximate location of the measurements is indicated on a graphic illustrating features of Earth's magnetic environment. The inset shows conditions as would be seen facing the solar wind, with current sheets forming at the border of turbulent eddies. The trajectory of the Cluster spacecraft is marked on the inset by the black line and the color gradients represent the magnetic field strength intensity. Background graphic: ESA/ATG Medialab Inset: NASA/J. Dorelli

Our Milky Way is a spiral galaxy - a pinwheel-shaped collection of stars, gas and dust. It has a central bar and two major spiral arms that wrap around its disk. Since we view the Milky Way from the inside, its exact structure is difficult to determine.

Astronomers have identified a new structure in the Milky Way: a long tendril of dust and gas that they are calling a "bone."

Many people around the world were thrilled to see a transit of Venus in June (June 5 in the United States and June 6 in Asia, on the other side of the International Dateline), the dark silhouette of Venus passing in front of the Sun. Jay Pasachoff of Williams College (Williamstown, MA) and the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA) and Glenn Schneider (Steward Observatory, University of Arizona) organized extensive observations of the transit. With support from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society, they observed the six-hours of the transit from the 10,000-foot mountaintop of Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii.

NASA astronaut Kevin Ford (lower right), Expedition 34 commander; along with Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin (left) and Oleg Novitskiy, both flight engineers, pose for a photo in the Cupola of the International Space Station. The Canadarm2 robotic arm's Latching End Effector (LEE) is visible through a window in the background. ISS034-E-010953 (27 Nov. 2012) - high res (2.1 M) low res (78 K)


Hydrae Chasma is a deep, circular depression approximately 50 kilometers across, situated between Juventae Chasma to the north and the large canyon system Valles Marineris to the south.

Hydrae Chasma is a deep, circular depression approximately 50 kilometers across, situated between Juventae Chasma to the north and the large canyon system Valles Marineris to the south. The Chasma has steep walls flanked by numerous landslides and a massive scarp along its southern boundary where the surface has collapsed into this depression.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting the submission of multiinstitutional team-based proposals for research as participating members of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), hereafter referred to as "the Institute."


Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies. The scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.


Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed "weather map" yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.


Newly released NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of a vast debris disk encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut and a mysterious planet circling it may provide forensic evidence of a titanic planetary disruption in the system.

Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have probed the stormy atmosphere of a brown dwarf, creating the most detailed "weather map" yet for this class of cool, star-like orbs. The forecast shows wind-driven, planet-sized clouds enshrouding these strange worlds.

Newly released NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of a vast debris disk encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut and a mysterious planet circling it may provide forensic evidence of a titanic planetary disruption in the system.

Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies. The scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters is releasing a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for initial studies of visionary aerospace concepts. NNH13ZUA001N, entitled NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts: Phase I Studies, will be available as of January 15, 2013. This solicitation represents continuation of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which issued its first solicitation on March 1, 2011. This NRA will solicit multiple studies, each of which will investigate an architecture, mission, or system concept with the potential to enable a great leap in space or aeronautics. NIAC is part of the Space Technology Program in the Office of Chief Technologist. Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts proposed for NIAC Phase I studies must be exciting, unexplored, far-term, and credible. Proposals for narrow technology or subsystem development, or incremental or near-term advancement, are explicitly out of scope for this program. Finally, while NIAC encourages daring vision and accepts the accompanying risk, proposals must be technically credible and plausibly implementable." More


A new paper by scientists on NASA's Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn's moon Titan.

It's not exactly icing on a cake, but it could be icing on a lake. A new paper by scientists on NASA's Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon on Saturn's moon Titan. The presence of ice floes might explain some of the mixed readings Cassini has seen in the reflectivity of the surfaces of lakes on Titan.


An analysis of the first three years of data from NASA's Kepler mission, which already has discovered thousands of potential exoplanets, contains good news for those searching for habitable worlds outside our solar system

An analysis of the first three years of data from NASA's Kepler mission, which already has discovered thousands of potential exoplanets, contains good news for those searching for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

It shows that 17 percent of all Sun-like stars have planets one to two times the diameter of Earth orbiting close to their host stars, according to a team of astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Comets trailing wispy tails across the night sky are a beautiful byproduct of our solar system's formation, icy leftovers from 4.6 billion years ago when the planets coalesced from rocky rubble.


Comets trailing wispy tails across the night sky are a beautiful byproduct of our solar system's formation, icy leftovers from 4.6 billion years ago when the planets coalesced from rocky rubble.


In 2011, a months-long blast of energy launched by an enormous black hole almost 11 billion years ago swept past Earth. Using a combination of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the world's largest radio telescope, astronomers have zeroed in on the source of this ancient outburst.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed first-time use of a brush it carries to sweep dust off rocks.

Nearing the end of a series of first-time uses of the rover's tools, the mission has cleared dust away from a targeted patch on a flat Martian rock using the Dust Removal Tool.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed first-time use of a brush it carries to sweep dust off rocks.

Unlike with some blockbuster films, the sequel to a movie from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is better than the first. This latest movie features a deeper look at a fast moving jet of particles produced by a rapidly rotating neutron star, and may provide new insight into the nature of some of the densest matter in the universe.


The surprising discovery of a massive outburst in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers a tantalizing look at what likely is a powerful belch by a gorging black hole at the galaxy's center. The scientists were conducting a long-term study of molecules in galaxies, when one of the galaxies showed a dramatic change.

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, set its X-ray eyes on a spiral galaxy and caught the brilliant glow of two black holes lurking inside.

The new image is being released Monday along with NuSTAR's view of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif.

In 2011, a months-long blast of energy launched by an enormous black hole almost 11 billion years ago swept past Earth. Using a combination of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the world's largest radio telescope, astronomers have zeroed in on the source of this ancient outburst.

Unlike with some blockbuster films, the sequel to a movie from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is better than the first. This latest movie features a deeper look at a fast moving jet of particles produced by a rapidly rotating neutron star, and may provide new insight into the nature of some of the densest matter in the universe.

The surprising discovery of a massive outburst in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers a tantalizing look at what likely is a powerful belch by a gorging black hole at the galaxy's center. The scientists were conducting a long-term study of molecules in galaxies, when one of the galaxies showed a dramatic change.


NASA's Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's "habitable zone," the region in the planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.

NASA's Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's "habitable zone," the region in the planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.

Based on observations conducted from May 2009 to March 2011, the findings show a steady increase in the number of smaller-size planet candidates and the number of stars with more than one candidate.

Volunteers from the Planethunters.org website, part of the Oxford University-led Zooniverse project, have discovered 15 new planet candidates orbiting in the habitable zones of other stars.

Added to the 19 similar planets already discovered in habitable zones, where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water, the new finds suggest that there may be a "traffic jam" of all kinds of strange worlds in regions that could potentially support life.


Volunteers from the Planethunters.org website, part of the Oxford University-led Zooniverse project, have discovered 15 new planet candidates orbiting in the habitable zones of other stars.

"We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events." More

"This is a Request for Information (RFI) only and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)/Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) will take procurement action in this matter. Further, neither NASA nor the Government will be responsible for any cost incurred in furnishing this information. NASA recognizes the interest by educational institutions, science museums, and other appropriate organizations in the Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Manufacturing of the Wallops 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, Flying the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer, Marketing the Wallops 6U CubeSat Deployer and 6U CubeSat Satellite Structure, and Investing in Deployer Technologies. NASA intends to enter into multiple agreements for technical transfer." More

"NASA/GSFC has a requirement for participation in the PolarTREC (Teachers and Researcher Exploring and Collaborating)program. PolarTREC is a program in which K-12 teachers spend 2-6 weeks participating in hands on field research experience in the polar regions. NASA/GSFC intends to purchase the services from Arctic Research Consortium of The United States (ARCUS). Participating projects, such as IceBridge, are selected through competitive proposals that are selected by a panel. IceBridge submitted a proposal and has been selected to participate in the PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating). The PolarTREC program is manage by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and housed in Fairbanks, Alaska. ARCUS is a member consortium of educational and scientific institution that have a substantial commitment to arctic research. There is no other organization or vendor that offers this kind of specialized education and outreach program for polar research." More


This image is from the high latitudes in the Southern hemisphere, about half-way through southern spring.

This image is from the high latitudes in the Southern hemisphere, about half-way through southern spring.

Just like on the Earth, the frost layer that accumulates over the winter will disappear as summer approaches and Mars heats up. However, most of this frost is not made of water ice and snow -- on Mars, most of the frost/ice is made of carbon dioxide (also known as "dry ice").

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield strums his guitar in the International Space Station's Cupola on Dec. 25, 2012. Hadfield, a long-time member of an astronaut band called Max Q, later joined with the other five Expedition 34 crew members in a more spacious location to provide an assortment of Christmas carols for the public. ISS034-E-009787 (25 Dec. 2012) - high res (1.4 M) low res (106 K)

This image was taken on December 27, 2012 and received on Earth December 29, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Prometheus, and the image was taken using the CL1 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: N00199902.jpg

OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Dust Cleaning At 'Vermillion' Targets - sols 3174-3180, Dec. 27, 2012-Jan. 3, 2013:

Opportunity is on the inboard edge of "Cape York" on the rim of Endeavour crater. The rover has been conducting in-situ (contact) science investigations with the robotic arm instruments at a location called "Copper Cliff."

As the International Space Station and Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft were making their relative approaches on Dec. 21, one of the Expedition 34 crew members on the orbital outpost captured this photo of the Soyuz (lower left) and a gibbous moon (upper right). Inside the approaching spacecraft were astronaut Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko of Russia's Federal Space Agency and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn. ISS034-E-009895 (21 Dec. 2012) - high res (0.6 M) low res (29 K)


The sinuous rock feature in the lower center of this mosaic of images recorded by the NASA Mars rover Curiosity is called "Snake River." The images in the mosaic were taken by Curiosity's Navigation Camera during the 133rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Dec. 20, 2012).

The sinuous rock feature in the lower center of this mosaic of images recorded by the NASA Mars rover Curiosity is called "Snake River." The images in the mosaic were taken by Curiosity's Navigation Camera during the 133rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Dec. 20, 2012).

On Sol 147 (Jan. 3, 2013), Curiosity drove about 10 feet (3 meters) to get a closer look at Snake River for before proceeding to other nearby rocks.


Mars will be thrust into international politics during 2013 as India builds toward the planned October launch of its first Mars mission, an orbiter to study the Martian atmosphere and challenge China in a surging Asian space race.


A solar eruption gracefully rose up from the sun on Dec. 31, 2012, twisting and turning. Magnetic forces drove the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the sun's gravity much of the plasma fell back into the sun.

A solar eruption gracefully rose up from the sun on Dec. 31, 2012, twisting and turning. Magnetic forces drove the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the sun's gravity much of the plasma fell back into the sun.

"NASA Television will broadcast the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Kickoff event on Saturday, Jan. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. The event also will be streamed live on NASA's website. As in past years, NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants for almost 250 teams and sponsors four regional student competitions, including a FIRST regional competition in Washington that will be held March 28-30." More


NASA-funded researchers analyzing a small meteorite that may be the first discovered from the Martian surface or crust have found it contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites from unknown origins.

NASA-funded researchers analyzing a small meteorite that may be the first discovered from the Martian surface or crust have found it contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites from unknown origins.


Look up at the night sky and you'll see stars, sure. But you're also seeing planets -- billions and billions of them. At least.

Look up at the night sky and you'll see stars, sure. But you're also seeing planets -- billions and billions of them. At least.

Snow-covered deserts are rare, but that's exactly what the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite observed as it passed over the Taklimakan Desert in western China on Jan. 2, 2013. Snow has covered much of the desert since a storm blew through the area on Dec. 26. The day after the storm, Chinese Central Television (CNTV) reported that the Xinjian Uygyr autonomous region was one of the areas hardest hit.

After more than a month of eruption, lava continues to flow from Tolbachik, one of many active volcanoes on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. The current eruption at Tolbachik began on Nov. 27, 2012. Lava flowed up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) from a line of fissures on the volcano's southern flank.


Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have seen a key stage in the birth of giant planets for the first time.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have seen a key stage in the birth of giant planets for the first time. Vast streams of gas are flowing across a gap in the disc of material around a young star. These are the first direct observations of such streams, which are expected to be created by giant planets guzzling gas as they grow. The result is published on 2 January 2013 in the journal Nature.

Enormous outflows of charged particles from the center of our galaxy, stretching more than halfway across the sky and moving at supersonic speeds, have been detected and mapped with CSIRO's 64-m Parkes radio telescope.

Corresponding to the "Fermi Bubbles" found in 2010, the recent observations of the phenomenon were made by a team of astronomers from Australia, the USA, Italy and The Netherlands, with the findings reported in today's issue of Nature.

As if space travel was not already filled with enough dangers, a new study out today in the journal PLOS ONE shows that cosmic radiation - which would bombard astronauts on deep space missions to places like Mars - could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease.