NASA Hack Space: July 2011

NASA has released the NASA Visualization Explorer, "the coolest way to get stories about NASA's space-based Earth science research. Download it now and see a world of often intangible data brought to life in stunning and beautiful form. Only for the iPad." Download

In a partnership between amateur and professional astronomers, the recent discovery of a dying star's last gasps could help resolve a decades-old debate among astronomers. That is, are stellar companions key to the formation and structure of planetary nebulae? The discovery, by Austrian amateur astronomer Matthias Kronberger, is featured at an International Astronomical Union symposium on planetary nebulae this week in Spain's Canary Islands. The research team's work features a striking image of the new nebula obtained with the Gemini Observatory. More

NASA has selected four universities to design habitat and science concepts that could be used by future deep space explorers. The teams will participate in the second eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation.

The teams are from Oklahoma State University; University of Maryland, College Park; Ohio State University; and University of Bridgeport, Conn. The undergraduate students will design, manufacture, assemble and test their concepts and hardware. A panel of engineers and scientists will assess their progress at each stage of the competition. The National Space Grant Foundation will fund the cost of the teams' design development and their participation in testing next summer at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

NASA is gearing up for a conference in San Francisco that aims to improve the quality of Information Technology (IT) at the agency, while drawing on the expertise and innovative spirit of California's Silicon Valley.

The second NASA IT Summit will take place Aug. 15-17 at San Francisco's Marriott Marquis Hotel. The theme of this year's event is, "Making IT Stellar at NASA." NASA's Chief Information Officer (CIO) Linda Cureton will host the event.

An innovative summer internship program will give 42 U.S. middle and high school teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA's latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with agency technical mentors.

It is not unusual for college students to take lessons learned in the classroom and see how they can be applied out in the real world. But for some exceptional students, their efforts this summer are literally "out-of-this-world" as they live a 10-week hands-on research or engineering experience interning at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C.

NASA, through the Harvard-NASA Tournament Laboratory, is supporting an online challenge for artists to design a T-shirt commemorating the final space shuttle mission and the program's contributions to exploration. The challenge is run by Threadless, an online design site, and the Harvard-NASA Tournament Laboratory. The lab is administered by Harvard University, which is under contract to NASA to study crowd sourced innovation that leads to tournaments for scientific and engineering challenges.

NASA has equipped a trio of SPHERES with a Nexus S by Google smartphone to head to the International Space Station. Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), a leading mobile phone provider and the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S. 1, and Google(TM) today announced Nexus(TM) S is aboard NASA's final space shuttle. As a leader in technology and innovation, Samsung is pleased to be a part of this moment which will most certainly be marked in history. Nexus S from Google is part of research that will equip small, free-flying satellites called Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) used by the astronauts to provide a broader range of capabilities and give better communication between land and sky.

The X PRIZE Foundation announced today that Alexandra Hall has joined the Foundation as the Senior Director of the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public. Hall brings a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors in USA and Europe to the X PRIZE Foundation. As the co-founder and former CEO of Airship Ventures, a company that uses airships for passenger flights, science research and media purposes, Hall is credited with breaking new ground in aviation by bringing Zeppelin airships back to the U.S. after 70 years.

University of Wisconsin students topped two other university teams to win the 2011 NASA eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge - a competition to design and build a space habitat. The team will now take its inflatable space loft to NASA's annual Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) field test in Arizona in September. It will be tested as part of a simulated astronaut mission to an asteroid.