Nothing is the bridge between the future and the further future. Nothing is certainty. Nothing is any definition of anything.

— Peter Hammill

NASA

<p><a href="https://apod.nasa.gov/apod

APOD - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 8:00pm

What created this giant X in the clouds?


Categories: Astronomy, NASA

NASA Marshall Prepares for Strategic Facilities Updates 

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 6:39pm

4 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is getting ready for the next big step in the evolution of its main campus in Huntsville, Alabama. Through a series of multi-year infrastructure projects, Marshall is optimizing its footprint to assure its place as a vibrant and vital hub for the aerospace community in the next era. 

Near-term plans call for the carefully orchestrated take-down of 19 obsolete and idle structures – among them the 363-foot-tall Dynamic Test Stand, the Propulsion and Structural Test Facility, and Neutral Buoyancy Simulator. These facilities are not required for current or future missions, and the demolitions will help the center transition to a more modern, sustainable, and affordable infrastructure.

Test engineers fire up the Saturn I rocket’s first stage (S-1-10) at the Propulsion and Structural Test Facility, or “T-tower,” at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1964.NASA

“These facilities helped NASA make history – the Dynamic Test Stand was the tallest manmade structure in North Alabama and helped us test both the Saturn V rocket and the space shuttle,” said Joseph Pelfrey, Marshall’s Center Director. “Without these structures, we wouldn’t have the space program we have today. While it is hard to let them go, the most important legacy remaining are the people that built and stewarded these facilities and the missions they enabled. That same bold spirit fuels us, today. We are committed to carrying it forward to inspire the workforce of tomorrow.” 

Built in 1964, the Dynamic Test Stand initially was used to test fully assembled Saturn V rockets. In 1978, engineers there also integrated all space shuttle elements for the first time, including the orbiter, external fuel tank, and solid rocket boosters.

The Propulsion and Structural Test Facility – better known at Marshall as the “T-tower” due to its unique shape – was built in 1957 by the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency and transferred to NASA when Marshall was founded in 1960. There, engineers tested components of the Saturn launch vehicles, the Army’s Redstone Rocket, and shuttle solid rocket boosters.

The Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, including its 1.3-million-gallon tank and control room, was built in the late 1960s. From 1969 until its closing in 1997, the facility enabled NASA astronauts and researchers to experience near-weightlessness, conducting underwater testing of space hardware and practice runs for servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. It was replaced in 1997 by a new facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Astronauts conduct underwater testing on the International Space Station’s power module in the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1995.NASA Honoring the Past, Building the Future

Marshall master planner Justin Taylor said the facilities team looked at every possibility for refurbishing the old sites.

“The upkeep of aging facilities is costly, and we have to put our funding where it does the most good for NASA’s mission,” he said. “These are tough choices, but we have to prioritize function and cost over nostalgia. We’re making way for what’s next.”

To preserve NASA history, the agency has worked with architectural historians over the years on detailed drawings, written histories, and large-format photographs of the sites. Those documents are part of the Library of Congress’s permanent Historic American Engineering Record collection, making their history and accomplishments available to the public for generations to come.

Marshall facilities engineers are still finalizing the details and timeline for the demolitions. Work is expected to begin in late 2024 and end in late 2025. Additionally, to support the center’s employees and all the mission work they are doing, Marshall has a few infrastructure projects in design stages that will include the construction of two state-of-the-art buildings within the decade ahead.

A new Marshall Exploration Facility will offer a two to three story facility at approximately 55,000 square feet located within the 4200 complex. The facility will include an auditorium, along with conferencing, training, retail, and administrative spaces. The new Engineering Science Lab – at approximately 140,000 square feet – will provide a modern, flexible laboratory environment to accommodate a new focus for research and testing capabilities.

Ultimately, NASA’s vision for Marshall is a dynamic, interconnected campus. The center’s master plan features a central greenway connecting its two most densely populated zones – its administrative complex and engineering complex.

“As we look towards the aspirational goals we have as an agency, Marshall’s contributions may look different than our past but be no less important,” said Pelfrey. “And we want our partners, employees, and the community to be part of the evolution with us, bringing complementary skills and capabilities, innovative ideas, and a passion for exploration and discovery.”

To learn more about NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/marshall

Molly Porter

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
256-544-0034
molly.a.porter@nasa.gov 

Share Details Last Updated Apr 29, 2024 Related Terms Explore More 6 min read NASA’s Optical Comms Demo Transmits Data Over 140 Million Miles Article 5 days ago 29 min read The Marshall Star for April 24, 2024 Article 6 days ago 4 min read NASA’s Chandra Releases Doubleheader of Blockbuster Hits Article 6 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA

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NASA Sets Coverage for Boeing Starliner’s First Crewed Launch, Docking

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 2:08pm
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will launch aboard Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test.Credits: NASA

NASA will provide live coverage of prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, which will carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to and from the International Space Station.

Launch of the ULA (United Launch Alliance) Atlas V rocket and Boeing Starliner spacecraft is targeted for 10:34 p.m. EDT Monday, May 6, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The flight test will carry Wilmore and Williams to the space station for about a week to test the Starliner spacecraft and its subsystems before NASA certifies the transportation system for rotational missions to the orbiting laboratory for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner will dock to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 12:48 a.m., Wednesday, May 8.

The deadline for media accreditation for in-person coverage of this launch has passed. The agency’s media credentialing policy is available online. For questions about media accreditation, please email: ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.

NASA’s mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern and subject to change based on real-time operations):

Wednesday, May 1

1:30 p.m. – Virtual news conference at Kennedy with the flight test astronauts:

  • NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore
  • NASA astronaut Suni Williams

Coverage of the virtual news conference will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 1, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

Friday, May 3
12:30 p.m. – Prelaunch news conference at Kennedy (no earlier than one hour after completion of the Launch Readiness Review) with the following participants:

  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Dana Weigel, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, NASA
  • Jennifer Buchli, chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Commercial Crew Program, Boeing
  • Gary Wentz, vice president, Government and Commercial Programs, ULA
  • Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

Coverage of the prelaunch news conference will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

Media may ask questions in person and via phone. Limited auditorium space will be available for in-person participation. For the dial-in number and passcode, media should contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 11:30 a.m., Friday, May 3, at ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

3:30 p.m. – NASA Social panel live stream event at Kennedy with the following participants:

  • Ian Kappes, deputy launch vehicle office manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Amy Comeau Denker, Starliner associate chief engineer, Boeing
  • Caleb Weiss, system engineering and test leader, ULA
  • Jennifer Buchli, chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program

Coverage of the panel live stream event will stream live at @NASAKennedy on YouTube, @NASAKennedy on X, and @NASAKennedy on Facebook. Members of the public may ask questions online by posting questions to the YouTube, X, and Facebook livestreams using #AskNASA.

Monday, May 6

6:30 p.m. – Launch coverage begins on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

10:34 p.m. – Launch

Launch coverage on NASA+ will end shortly after Starliner orbital insertion. NASA Television will provide continuous coverage leading up to docking and through hatch opening and welcome remarks.

Tuesday, May 7

12 a.m. – Postlaunch news conference with the following participants:

  • NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy
  • Ken Bowersox, associate administrator, NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Dana Weigel, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Commercial Crew Program, Boeing
  • Gary Wentz, vice president, Government and Commercial Programs, ULA

Coverage of the postlaunch news conference will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

NASA+ will resume coverage and NASA Television’s media channel will break from in-orbit coverage to carry the postlaunch news conference. Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA Television’s public channel and the agency’s website. Once the postlaunch news conference is complete, NASA+ coverage will end, and mission coverage will continue on both NASA channels.

Media may ask questions in person and via phone. Limited auditorium space will be available for in-person participation. For the dial-in number and passcode, media should contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 10:30 p.m., Monday, May 6, at ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

10:15 p.m. – Arrival coverage resumes on NASA+, the NASA app, and YouTube, and continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Wednesday, May 8
12:48 a.m. – Targeted docking to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module

2:35 a.m. – Hatch opening

3:15 a.m. – Welcome remarks

4:15 a.m. – Post-docking news conference at Johnson with the following participants:

  • NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Dana Weigel, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Commercial Crew Program, Boeing

Coverage of the post-docking news conference will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

All times are estimates and could be adjusted based on operations after launch. Follow the space station blog for the most up-to-date operations information.

Audio Only Coverage

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240 or -7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” countdown activities without NASA Television launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135.

Launch audio also will be available on Launch Information Service and Amateur Television System’s VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz and KSC Amateur Radio Club’s UHF radio frequency 444.925 MHz, FM mode, heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

Live Video Coverage Prior to Launch

NASA will provide a live video feed of Space Launch Complex-41 approximately 48 hours prior to the planned liftoff of the mission. Pending unlikely technical issues, the feed will be uninterrupted until the prelaunch broadcast begins on NASA Television, approximately four hours prior to launch. Once the feed is live, find it here: http://youtube.com/kscnewsroom.

NASA Website Launch Coverage

Launch day coverage of the mission will be available on the agency’s website. Coverage will include live streaming and blog updates beginning no earlier than 6:30 p.m., May 6 as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff.

For questions about countdown coverage, contact the Kennedy newsroom at 321-867-2468. Follow countdown coverage on the commercial crew or the Crew Flight Test blog.

Attend the Launch Virtually

Members of the public can register to attend this launch virtually. NASA’s virtual guest program for this mission also includes curated launch resources, notifications about related opportunities or changes, and a stamp for the NASA virtual guest passport following launch.

Watch and Engage on Social Media

Let people know you’re following the mission on X, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtags #Starliner and #NASASocial. You can also stay connected by following and tagging these accounts:

X: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @NASASocial, @Space_Station, @ISS_Research, @ISS National Lab, @BoeingSpace, @Commercial_Crew

Facebook: NASA, NASAKennedy, ISS, ISS National Lab

Instagram: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @ISS, @ISSNationalLab

Coverage en Espanol

Did you know NASA has a Spanish section called NASA en Espanol? Check out NASA en Espanol on X, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for additional mission coverage.

Para obtener información sobre cobertura en español en el Centro Espacial Kennedy o si desea solicitar entrevistas en español, comuníquese con Antonia Jaramillo: 321-501-8425; antonia.jaramillobotero@nasa.gov; o Messod Bendayan: 256-930-1371; messod.c.bendayan@nasa.gov.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has delivered on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States through a partnership with American private industry. This partnership is changing the arc of human spaceflight history by opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, science, and commercial opportunities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

For NASA’s launch blog and more information about the mission, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

-end-

Joshua Finch / Claire O’Shea
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov / claire.a.o’shea@nasa.gov

Steven Siceloff / Danielle Sempsrott / Stephanie Plucinsky
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
321-867-2468
steven.p.siceloff@nasa.gov / danielle.c.sempsrott@nasa.gov / stephanie.n.plucinsky@nasa.gov

Leah Cheshier
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
leah.d.cheshier@nasa.gov

Share Details Last Updated Apr 29, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

The Horse’s Mane

NASA Image of the Day - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 2:04pm
Rising from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33, which resides roughly 1,300 light-years away. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has captured the sharpest infrared images to date of one of the most distinctive objects in our skies, the Horsehead Nebula. Webb’s new view focuses on the illuminated edge of the top of the nebula’s distinctive dust and gas structure.
Categories: Astronomy, NASA

The Horse’s Mane

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 2:02pm
Rising from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33, which resides roughly 1300 light-years away. The NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope has captured the sharpest infrared images to date of one of the most distinctive objects in our skies, the Horsehead Nebula. Webb’s new view focuses on the illuminated edge of the top of the nebula’s distinctive dust and gas structure.

This image of part of the Horsehead Nebula, captured by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and released on April 29, 2024, shows the nebula in a whole new light, capturing the region’s complexity with unprecedented spatial resolution. Located roughly 1,300 light-years away, the nebula formed from a collapsing interstellar cloud of material, and glows because it is illuminated by a nearby hot star. The gas clouds surrounding the Horsehead have already dissipated, but the jutting pillar is made of thick clumps of material and therefore is harder to erode. Astronomers estimate that the Horsehead has about 5 million years left before it too disintegrates.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, K. Misselt (University of Arizona) and A. Abergel (IAS/University Paris-Saclay, CNRS)

Categories: NASA

NASA Sets Coverage for Dragon Spacecraft Relocation on Space Station

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 1:33pm
The SpaceX Dragon crew spacecraft pictured from the International Space Station.Credit: NASA

In preparation for the arrival of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, four crew members aboard the International Space Station will relocate the SpaceX Dragon crew spacecraft to a different docking port Thursday, May 2, to make way for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

NASA will provide live coverage of the move beginning at 7:30 a.m. EDT on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

NASA astronauts Matt Dominick, Mike Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, will undock from the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module at 7:45 a.m. The spacecraft will then autonomously dock with the module’s space-facing port at 8:28 a.m.

The relocation, supported by flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, will free up Harmony’s forward-facing port for the docking of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft for its first flight with astronauts in May. Starliner will autonomously dock to the forward-facing port of the Harmony module, delivering NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the space station.

This will be the fourth port relocation of a Dragon spacecraft with crew, following previous relocations during the Crew-1, Crew-2, and Crew-6 missions.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission launched March 3 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the space station March 5. Crew-8, targeted to return this fall, is the eighth rotational crew mission from NASA and SpaceX as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook, ISS Instagram, and the space station blog.

-end-


Joshua Finch / Claire O’Shea
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov / claire.a.o’shea@nasa.gov


Sandra Jones / Anna Schneider
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
sandra.p.jones@nasa.gov / anna.c.schneider@nasa.gov

Share Details Last Updated Apr 29, 2024 LocationJohnson Space Center Related Terms
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NASA Scientists Gear Up for Solar Storms at Mars

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 12:53pm
This coronal mass ejection, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, erupted on the Sun Aug. 31, 2012, traveling over 900 miles per second and sending radiation deep into space. Earth’s magnetic field shields it from radiation produced by solar events like this one, while Mars lacks that kind of shielding.NASA/GFSC/SDO

The Sun will be at peak activity this year, providing a rare opportunity to study how solar storms and radiation could affect future astronauts on the Red Planet.

In the months ahead, two of NASA’s Mars spacecraft will have an unprecedented opportunity to study how solar flares — giant explosions on the Sun’s surface — could affect robots and future astronauts on the Red Planet.

That’s because the Sun is entering a period of peak activity called solar maximum, something that occurs roughly every 11 years. During solar maximum, the Sun is especially prone to throwing fiery tantrums in a variety of forms — including solar flares and coronal mass ejections — that launch radiation deep into space. When a series of these solar events erupts, it’s called a solar storm.

Earth’s magnetic field largely shields our home planet from the effects of these storms. But Mars lost its global magnetic field long ago, leaving the Red Planet more vulnerable to the Sun’s energetic particles. Just how intense does solar activity get on Mars? Researchers hope the current solar maximum will give them a chance to find out. Before sending humans there, space agencies need to determine, among many other details, what kind of radiation protection astronauts would require.

Learn how NASA’s MAVEN and the agency’s Curiosity rover will study solar flares and radiation at Mars during solar maximum – a period when the Sun is at peak activity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SDO/MSSS/University of Colorado

“For humans and assets on the Martian surface, we don’t have a solid handle on what the effect is from radiation during solar activity,” said Shannon Curry of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Curry is principal investigator for NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter, which is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “I’d actually love to see the ‘big one’ at Mars this year — a large event that we can study to understand solar radiation better before astronauts go to Mars.”

Measuring High and Low

MAVEN observes radiation, solar particles, and more from high above Mars. The planet’s thin atmosphere can affect the intensity of the particles by the time they reach the surface, which is where NASA’s Curiosity rover comes in. Data from Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, has helped scientists understand how radiation breaks down carbon-based molecules on the surface, a process that could affect whether signs of ancient microbial life are preserved there. The instrument has also provided NASA with an idea of how much shielding from radiation astronauts could expect by using caves, lava tubes, or cliff faces for protection.

When a solar event occurs, scientists look both at the quantity of solar particles and how energetic they are.

“You can have a million particles with low energy or 10 particles with extremely high energy,” said RAD’s principal investigator, Don Hassler of the Boulder, Colorado, office of the Southwest Research Institute. “While MAVEN’s instruments are more sensitive to lower-energy ones, RAD is the only instrument capable of seeing the high-energy ones that make it through the atmosphere to the surface, where astronauts would be.”

The Radiation Assessment Detector on NASA’s Curiosity is indicated in this annotated image from the rover’s Mastcam. RAD scientists are excited to use the instrument to study radiation on the Martian surface during solar maximum.NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) near Mars. The spacecraft observes radiation, solar particles, and more from high above the Red Planet.NASA/GFSC

When MAVEN detects a big solar flare, the orbiter’s team lets the Curiosity team know so they can watch for changes in RAD’s data. The two missions can even assemble a time series measuring changes down to the half-second as particles arrive at the Martian atmosphere, interact with it, and eventually strike the surface.

The MAVEN mission also leads an early warning system that lets other Mars spacecraft teams know when radiation levels begin to rise. The heads-up enables missions to turn off instruments that could be vulnerable to solar flares, which can interfere with electronics and radio communication.

Lost Water

Beyond helping to keep astronauts and spacecraft safe, studying solar maximum could also lend insight into why Mars changed from being a warm, wet Earth-like world billions of years ago to the freezing desert it is today.

The planet is at a point in its orbit when it’s closest to the Sun, which heats up the atmosphere. That can cause billowing dust storms to blanket the surface. Sometimes the storms merge, becoming global.

While there’s little water left on Mars — mostly ice under the surface and at the poles — some still circulates as vapor in the atmosphere. Scientists wonder whether global dust storms help to eject this water vapor, lofting it high above the planet, where the atmosphere gets stripped away during solar storms. One theory is that this process, repeated enough times over eons, might explain how Mars went from having lakes and rivers to virtually no water today.

If a global dust storm were to occur at the same time as a solar storm, it would provide an opportunity to test that theory. Scientists are especially excited because this particular solar maximum is occurring at the start of the dustiest season on Mars, but they also know that a global dust storm is a rare occurrence.

More About the Missions

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN mission. Lockheed Martin Space built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. JPL provides navigation and Deep Space Network support. The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder is responsible for managing science operations and public outreach and communications. 

Curiosity was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The RAD investigation is supported by NASA’s Heliophysics Division as part of NASA’s Heliophysics System Observatory (HSO).

Additional information about the missions can be found at:

https://mars.nasa.gov/maven/

and

http://mars.nasa.gov/msl

News Media Contacts

Nancy Neal Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-286-0039
nancy.n.jones@nasa.gov

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Charles Blue
NASA Headquarters, Washington
301-286-6284 / 202-802-5345
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov

2024-052

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NASA Administrator Names New Stennis Space Center Director

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 12:31pm
John Bailey, director, John C. Stennis Space Center

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Monday named John Bailey as director of the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, effective immediately. Bailey had been serving as acting director since January. 

“John will build on his nearly 35 years of federal service to lead our talented workforce at Stennis,” said Nelson. “So much of NASA runs through Stennis. It is where we hone new and exciting capabilities in aerospace, technology, and deep space exploration. I am confident that John will lead the nation’s largest and premier propulsion test site to even greater success.”

NASA Stennis also is a unique federal city, home to more than 50 resident tenants with a combined workforce of over 5,200. The center tested the SLS (Space Launch System) core stage that helped launch the Artemis I mission. It also is testing all RS-25 engines to help power SLS launches and will conduct flightworthy testing of the agency’s new exploration upper stage prior to its use in space on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond.

The center is a leader in partnering and working with commercial aerospace companies to support their propulsion test projects. It also is expanding as an aerospace and technology hub, and in development of intelligent and autonomous systems needed for deep space exploration.

“This is an exciting time for NASA Stennis, and I am deeply honored to lead its great family of employees who make up this amazing workforce,” Bailey said. “We are dedicated to continuing to provide frontline support to the agency’s missions and initiatives. I look forward to our shared future and success.”

Bailey has more than three decades of federal service with the U.S. Air Force and NASA. As a communications engineer with the U.S. Air Force, Bailey led electronic communications testing worldwide. He joined the NASA Stennis team in 1999 and subsequently served in a variety of roles, managing and leading technical and non-technical organizations and supervising employees with a wide range of skills and backgrounds.

Bailey was tapped in 2015 to lead the NASA Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate, managing critical rocket propulsion test assets exceeding $2 billion in value and projects more than $221 million. He was named NASA Stennis associate director in 2018 and selected as the center’s deputy director in 2021.

An Alabama native, Bailey holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Alabama.

Access Bailey’s online biography at:

https://www.nasa.gov/people/john-w-bailey-jr/

-end-

Cheryl Warner 
Headquarters, Washington 
202-358-1600 
cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov

C. Lacy Thompson
Stennis Space Center, Bay St. Louis, Miss.
228-363-5499
calvin.l.thompson@nasa.gov

Categories: NASA

Major Martian Milestones

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 12:00pm
1 Min Read Major Martian Milestones The horizon of Mars showing water-ice and dust in the atmosphere, as seen by the NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission on May 9, 2023. To find layers of ice and dust like these in Mars’s atmosphere, participants in the Cloudspotting on Mars project analyze data from a different infrared instrument, the Mars Climate Sounder on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. More information on this image (including an animation) can be found here: https://mars.nasa.gov/resources/27816/odysseys-themis-views-the-horizon-of-mars/?site=msl.

There’s good news from NASA’s Cloudspotting on Mars project! That’s the project that invites you to help identify exotic clouds high in the Martian atmosphere.

  • Thanks to your help, the Cloudspotting on Mars project reached ahuge milestone. Another full Mars year, Mars Year 30 (Oct 2009 – Sep 2011), has been completed! That’s the second full Mars year of observations that has been analyzed since the project began. 
  • A new project from the Cloudspotting on Mars team has started its beta testing phase! In this new project, you’ll pick out cloud shapes in data from NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) Mission.  If you’re willing to help beta test this project and provide feedback before it launches, please send an email to the team. We’ll let everyone know when this project officially launches, of course!

Congratulations to the Cloudspotting on Mars team and all the volunteers who have helped spot Martian clouds!

Facebook logo @DoNASAScience @DoNASAScience Share Details Last Updated Apr 29, 2024 Related Terms Explore More 6 min read Pushing the Limits of Sub-Kilowatt Electric Propulsion Technology to Enable Planetary Exploration and Commercial Mission Concepts Article 6 days ago 5 min read Why is Methane Seeping on Mars? NASA Scientists Have New Ideas Article 1 week ago 5 min read Hubble Goes Hunting for Small Main Belt Asteroids Article 2 weeks ago
Categories: NASA

Innovation that Impacts All NASA Missions: Improving How We Engineer Our Systems

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 10:11am

Download PDF: Innovation that Impacts All NASA Missions: Improving How We Engineer Our Systems

John F. Kennedy set the tone for NASA’s culture in 1961 during his famous speech on going to the Moon, “We choose to go to the Moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone…”  

 That culture has never faded, even across NASA’s diverse spectrum of missions. The continuous challenge to do what is hard or near impossible includes the requirement for innovation. Innovation is the importance of what we do, but also how we do it. With a goal of improving the way NASA’s workforce engineers its systems, the Systems Engineering (SE) Technical Discipline Team (TDT) has partnered with numerous facets of the NASA workforce to better enable innovation in how we work. Over the past year, three diverse teams made progress toward that goal by looking at the way we levy technical standards, improving understanding and integrated risk (cost, schedule, and technical), reducing project risk by better management of mass growth, and moving SE into the model based digital domain. A brief summary of each team’s efforts follows. 

a). MBSE is being applied to help architect the ExMC, which is pushing the boundary of space medical systems to care for future astronauts. b). A proposed Mars sample return mission development project would benefit from using the NASA-endorsed ANSI/AIAA standard: Mass Properties Control for Space Systems

ExMC: Systems Analysis and Integration Using MBSE 

Via its Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) Infusion And Modernization Initiative (MIAMI), the NESC SE TDT partnered with the Human Research Program’s Exploration Medical Capability (ExMC) Element (https://www.nasa.gov/hrp/elements/exmc) at JSC. ExMC has adopted SE principles and tools (MBSE and the Systems Modeling Language) to develop an initial architecture and requirements for a future exploration medical system. MIAMI is assisting the ExMC work by providing an MBSE modeler who is matrixed to ExMC, one NASA MBSE Community of Practice (CoP) meeting per month dedicated to responding to ExMC’s needs, and any available/needed Agency MBSE infrastructure. In return, MIAMI is receiving modeling lessons learned, feedback to the MIAMI Leadership Team on available MBSE resources, and data needed to communicate MBSE successes and challenges to their SE TDT peers.The partnership has been mutually beneficial to ExMC, the SE TDT, and the greater NASA MBSE community. With MIAMI support, ExMC architected their system model, developed a model management plan, better defined their MBSE hiring and training needs, provided guidance to junior modelers, and developed ideas to push the boundaries of model usage. 

 As a return benefit, the MBSE community received a sample model architecture, an updated model management plan template, and valuable discussions at the MBSE CoP, where the ExMC presented ideas that had not been considered before. Ideas included the characteristics of good system modelers, how to manage model configuration, and using models with non-modeling tools. Notes from all these lively and well-attended CoP discussions are on the NASA Engineering Network MBSE website (https://nen.nasa.gov/web/mbse/). Beyond this, ExMC’s input on what will be necessary to grow NASA’s MBSE community and capability (e.g., modeler skillsets) continues to inform and ground in reality MIAMI’s recommendations to NASA’s Digital Transformation initiative.

For more information, contact Kerry McGuire, kerry.m.mcguire@nasa.gov

 NASA/JPL: Enterprise Approach to Mass Properties Control  

In August 2019, a team of NESC and NASA subject matter experts (SME) issued a report regarding mass growth. It included recommendations to initiate the development and sustainment of an expanded mass growth database as an Agency resource and reforms in how programs and projects estimate, manage, and report mass properties based on the NASA-endorsed ANSI/AIAA S-120A-2015 [2019] standard, Mass Properties Control for Space Systems. The intent is to reap the benefits of a more common approach across NASA in managing and controlling mass growth and of using a common terminology among NASA Centers and its contractors. Historical mass growth data, consolidated in a single place, will help programs and projects in establishing Mass Growth Allowance (MGA) factors and mass margins above MGA that can reduce the risk of mass issues and potential cost overruns. To date, the NESC recommendations have resulted in major changes in mass management and control requirements and recommended best practices at JPL and other NASA Centers. Beyond Center-level actions, the NESC has engaged with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to promote the use of the ANSI/AIAA standard’s terminology and calculations in future data collections for NPR 7120.5-mandated Cost Analysis Data Requirements documents.

For more information, contact Robert Shishko, robert.shishko@jpl.nasa.gov

New approaches to streamlining design and constructions standards will benefit projects like the Gateway Power and Propulsion and Habitation and Logistics Outpost.

HALO: Modernized Application of Design & Construction Standards 

The NASA Technical Standards Process Improvement pilot activity initiated by the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) Project seeks to improve the way that NASA levies and manages technical standards by 1) moving from document-centric to data-centric (databases) management of the requirements; 2) incorporating important attributes into the database so that applicability, tailoring, and information management is streamlined; and 3) providing technical recommendations on acceptable approaches for compliance evidence. The effort is a fleet-leader on how to streamline the standards deployment, assessment, and long-term verification process, while also improving the allocation of resources based on mission risk.   

 NASA Technical Fellows participated in this review and provided important input and support for the assessment of Design and Construction (D&C) standards for the HALO project. The approach “shredded” the requirements documents into a database of individual requirements with fields to populate describing the requirement type and compliance approach. Overall, the pilot activity is an important first step in properly assessing and flowing D&C standards to NASA’s contractors and partners. NESC systems engineering and integration SMEs reviewed the HALO pilot deployment activity for managing and implementing design and construction standards. The SMEs identified advantages and disadvantages of the pilot activity and offered suggestions for improving the standards streamlining effort in the future.

For more information, contact Jennifer Devolites, jennifer.devolites@nasa.gov 

Categories: NASA

NASA Uses Small Engine to Enhance Sustainable Jet Research

NASA - Breaking News - Mon, 04/29/2024 - 6:00am

3 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) The DGEN380 Aero-Propulsion Research Turbofan (DART) is a small-scale jet engine NASA uses to test new aviation technology. DART is seen here inside its host facility, the Aero-Acoustic Propulsion Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. This soundproofed chamber ensures researchers can understand the level of noise the engine is producing, as well as keeping the volume low outside.NASA/Bridget Caswell

Located inside a high-tech NASA laboratory in Cleveland is something you could almost miss at first glance: a small-scale, fully operational jet engine to test new technology that could make aviation more sustainable

The engine’s smaller size and modestly equipped test stand means researchers and engineers can try out newly designed engine components less expensively compared to using a more costly full-scale jet engine test rig. 

Named DGEN380 Aero-Propulsion Research Turbofan, or DART, the engine is tiny enough to fit on a kitchen table, measuring at just 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) long. That’s about half the length of engines used on single-aisle airliners. 

DART – not to be confused with NASA’s asteroid redirect mission of the same name – enables the agency to boost its sustainable aviation technology research because of its accessibility.  

A hidden gem located inside the Aero-Acoustic Propulsion Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the DART engine was made by a French company named Price Induction (now Akira) and was acquired by NASA in 2017. 

“DART’s small size makes it appealing,” said Dan Sutliff, who coordinates research for the engine at NASA Glenn. “It’s a great way to explore new technology that hasn’t yet reached the level of a full-scale operation.” 

Small Steps Towards Big Goals

Several key NASA activities studying jet engines used DART in the past. 

For example, it helped researchers learn more about incorporating materials that can help reduce engine noise. These technologies could be incorporated for use in next-generation airliners to make them quieter. 

Now, NASA researchers plan to use the DART engine to investigate ideas that could help develop new ultra-efficient airliners for use during the 2030s and beyond. If all goes well, the technology could proceed to more exhaustive tests involving larger facilities such as NASA’s wind tunnels. 

“DART is a critical bridge between a design and a wind tunnel test,” Sutliff said. “Technologies that work well here have a greater chance of achieving successful inclusion on future aircraft engines. The test rig helps NASA save resources and contribute to protecting our environment.” 

DART tests are run from the Mobile Control Unit – a large van converted into a high-tech control facility with video monitors reporting live data from the engine. In this image, two engineers supervise an engine test, with the nearest researcher operating DART’s thrust lever.NASA/Bridget Caswell

Among its features, DART has a high bypass ratio, which is a measure of how much air passes through the turbofan and around the main core of the engine as opposed to entering it. Having a high bypass ratio means that DART is more characteristic of larger high-bypass ratio engines on commercial aircraft. 

This design is more fuel efficient than other jet engines and makes DART ideal for testing new propulsion methods alongside NASA’s efforts in developing a small-core, fuel efficient jet engine for commercial airliners in the 2030s. 

The DART engine also can test many other aspects of a jet engine including engine noise, operating controls, coatings used to protect engine parts, sensors and other instrumentation, and much more. 

More information can be found on NASA’s Aero-Acoustic Propulsion Laboratory webpage

About the AuthorJohn GouldAeronautics Research Mission Directorate

John Gould is a member of NASA Aeronautics' Strategic Communications team at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. He is dedicated to public service and NASA’s leading role in scientific exploration. Prior to working for NASA Aeronautics, he was a spaceflight historian and writer, having a lifelong passion for space and aviation.

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APOD - Sun, 04/28/2024 - 4:00pm

Yes, but can your volcano do this?


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NASA to Provide Coverage as Dragon Departs Station with Science

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 3:52pm
The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft pictured from the International Space Station. Dragon will carry more than 4,100 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments back to Earth (Credits: NASA)

Editor’s note: This advisory was updated April 28, 2024 to correct the launch location.

NASA and its international partners are set to receive scientific research samples and hardware as a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft departs the International Space Station on Sunday, April 28 weather permitting.

The agency will provide coverage of undocking and departure beginning at 12:45 p.m. EDT on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

Dragon will undock from the station’s zenith port of the Harmony module at 1:05 p.m. and fire its thrusters to move a safe distance away from the station after receiving a command from ground controllers at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California.

The spacecraft arrived at the station March 23 and delivered more than 6,000 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and station hardware after it launched March 21 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

After re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will splash down off the coast of Florida. NASA will not broadcast the splashdown, but updates will be posted on the agency’s space station blog.

Dragon will carry back to Earth more than 4,100 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments designed to take advantage of the space station’s microgravity environment. Splashing down off the coast of Florida enables quick transportation of the experiments to NASA’s Space Systems Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, allowing researchers to collect data with minimal sample exposure to Earth’s gravity.

Scientific hardware and samples returning to Earth include Flawless Space Fibers-1, which produced more than seven miles of optical fiber aboard the space station. The investigation tests new hardware and processes for producing high-quality optical fibers in space and drew more than half a mile of fiber in one day, surpassing the previous record of 82 feet for the longest fiber manufactured in space.

Other studies include GEARS (Genomic Enumeration of Antibiotic Resistance in Space), which surveys the space station for antibiotic-resistant organisms. Genetic analysis could show how these bacteria adapt to space, providing knowledge that informs measures designed to protect astronauts on future long-duration missions.

Also returning on Dragon is MISSE-18 (Materials International Space Station Experiment-18-NASA), which analyzes how exposure to space affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. MISSE-18 includes coatings, quantum dots, a lunar regolith simulant composite, and other materials. The samples returning home were exposed to the harsh environment of space for six months.

Additionally, samples from Immune Cell Activation will return to Earth for analysis. The ESA (European Space Agency) sponsored experiment seeks to understand whether microgravity influences the incorporation of magnetic nanoparticles into immune and melanoma cells. In this experiment, immune cells were modified with nano-vectors that are intended to carry therapeutic agents specifically to their target cells. Results could help develop novel therapeutics  targeting central nervous system diseases and skin cancers such as melanoma.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through NASA’s Artemis campaign.

Get breaking news, images and features from the space station on Instagram, Facebook, and X.

Learn more about the International Space Station at:

https://www.nasa.gov/international-space-station/

-end-

Josh Finch / Claire O’Shea
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100
joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov / claire.a.o’shea@nasa.gov

Sandra Jones
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
sandra.p.jones@nasa.gov

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Site-Wide Environmental Assessment for Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 3:45pm

2 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) Pictured at sunset is Marshall Space Flight Center’s Propulsion R&D Lab, Building 4205.NASA/Charles Beason

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzes the environmental impacts of implementing continuing and future mission support activities at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama.

The EA evaluated the potential environmental effects associated with air quality; climate change and greenhouse gases; land use; water resources; biological resources; geology and soils; noise; traffic and transportation; socioeconomics; children’s environmental health and safety; environmental justice and equity; hazardous materials and wastes, solid waste, and pollution prevention; public and occupational health and safety; utilities and infrastructure; cultural resources; and airspace. The EA found that the Proposed Action would not result in, or contribute to, significant impacts to any of these resources.

Public comments will be accepted through March 4, 2024 and can be submitted to msfc-environmental@mail.nasa.gov or the mailing address below. Copies of the Draft EA are available at the following library locations: Huntsville-Madison County Public Library   (915 Monroe Street SW, Huntsville, AL) and the Madison Public Library  (142 Plaza Boulevard, Madison, AL). The EA will also be posted on the NASA NEPA Public Reviews webpage (https://nasa.gov/news-release/site-wide-environmental-assessment-for-marshall-space-flight-center-alabama/).

To request additional information or submit written comments, please contact:

Hannah McCarty

Marshall Space Flight Center

Building 4249/Mail Code AS10

Huntsville, AL 35812

Downloads Draft Site-Wide Environmental Assessment for Marshall Space Flight Center

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Apr 26, 2024

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NASA-Led Study Provides New Global Accounting of Earth’s Rivers

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 1:13pm

5 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) The Colorado River supplies water to more than 40 million people as it snakes through seven U.S. states, including the part of southeastern Utah seen in this photo snapped by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The Colorado basin was identified in a NASA-led study as a region experiencing intense human water use.NASA

The novel approach to estimating river water storage and discharge also identifies regions marked by ‘fingerprints’ of intense water use.

A study led by NASA researchers provides new estimates of how much water courses through Earth’s rivers, the rates at which it’s flowing into the ocean, and how much both of those figures have fluctuated over time — crucial information for understanding the planet’s water cycle and managing its freshwater supplies. The results also highlight regions depleted by heavy water use, including the Colorado River basin in the United States, the Amazon basin in South America, and the Orange River basin in southern Africa.

For the study, which was recently published in Nature Geoscience, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California used a novel methodology that combines stream-gauge measurements with computer models of about 3 million river segments around the world.

A NASA-led study combined stream-gauge measurements with computer models of 3 million river segments to create a global picture of how much water Earth’s rivers hold. It estimated that the Amazon basin contains about 38% of the world’s river water, the most of any hydrological region evaluated. NASA

The scientists estimate that the total volume of water in Earth’s rivers on average from 1980 to 2009 was 539 cubic miles (2,246 cubic kilometers). That’s equivalent to half of Lake Michigan’s water and about 0.006% of all fresh water, which itself is 2.5% of the global volume. Despite their small proportion of all the planet’s water, rivers have been vital to humans since the earliest civilizations.

Although researchers have made numerous estimates over the years of how much water flows from rivers into the ocean, estimates of the volume of water rivers collectively hold — known as storage — have been few and more uncertain, said JPL’s Cédric David, a co-author of the study.

He likened the situation to spending from a checking account without knowing the balance. “We don’t know how much water is in the account, and population growth and climate change are further complicating matters,” David said. “There are many things we can do to manage how we’re using it and make sure there is enough water for everyone, but the first question is: How much water is there? That’s fundamental to everything else.”

The NASA-led study estimated flow through 3 million river segments, identifying locations around the world marked by intense human water use, including parts of the Colorado, Amazon, Orange, and Murray-Darling river basins, shown as gray here. NASA

Estimates in the paper could eventually be compared with data from the international Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite to improve measurements of human impacts on Earth’s water cycle. Launched in December 2022, SWOT is mapping the elevation of water around the globe, and changes in river height offer a way to quantify storage and discharge.

‘Fingerprints’ of Water Use

The study identified the Amazon basin as the region with the most river storage, holding about 204 cubic miles (850 cubic kilometers) of water — roughly 38% of the global estimate. The same basin also discharges the most water to the ocean: 1,629 cubic miles (6,789 cubic kilometers) per year. That’s 18% of the global discharge to the ocean, which averaged 8,975 cubic miles (37,411 cubic kilometers) per year from 1980 to 2009.

Although it’s not possible for a river to have negative discharge — the study’s approach doesn’t allow for upstream flow — for the sake of accounting, it is possible for less water to come out of some river segments than went in. That’s what the researchers found for parts of the Colorado, Amazon, and Orange river basins, as well as the Murray-Darling basin in southeastern Australia. These negative flows mostly indicate intense human water use.

“These are locations where we’re seeing fingerprints of water management,” said lead author Elyssa Collins, who conducted the analysis as a JPL intern and doctoral student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

A New Way to Quantify Rivers

For decades, most estimates of Earth’s total river water were refinements of a 1974 United Nations figure, and no study has illustrated how the amount has varied with time. Better estimates have been hard to come by, David said, due to a lack of observations of the world’s rivers, particularly those far from human populations.

Another issue has been that there are many more stream gauges monitoring the levels and flow of large rivers than there are of small ones. There’s also broad uncertainty in estimates of land runoff — the rainwater and snowmelt that flow into rivers.

The new study started from the premise that runoff flowing into and through a river system should roughly equal the amount that gauges measure downstream. Where the researchers found inconsistencies between simulated runoff from three land surface models and gauge measurements taken from approximately 1,000 locations, they used the gauge measurements to correct the simulated runoff numbers.

Then they modeled the runoff through rivers on a high-resolution global map developed using land-elevation data and imagery from space, including from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. This approach yielded discharge rates, which were used to estimate average and monthly storage for individual rivers and the planet’s rivers in total. 

Using a consistent methodology enables comparisons in flow and human drawdown between different regions. 

“That way we can see where in the world the most amount of river water is stored, or where the most amount of water is being emptied into oceans from rivers,” said Collins, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

News Media Contacts

Andrew Wang / Jane J. Lee
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
626-379-6874 / 818-354-0307
andrew.wang@jpl.nasa.gov / jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov

2024-051

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Hubble Spots a Magnificent Barred Galaxy

NASA Image of the Day - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 1:01pm
The magnificent central bar of NGC 2217 (also known as AM 0619-271) shines bright in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog), in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Roughly 65 million light-years from Earth, this barred spiral galaxy is a similar size to our Milky Way at 100,000 light-years across.
Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Hubble Spots a Magnificent Barred Galaxy

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 12:57pm
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope images showcases the galaxy NGC 2217.ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Dalcanton; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

The magnificent central bar of NGC 2217 (also known as AM 0619-271) shines bright in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog), in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Roughly 65 million light-years from Earth, this barred spiral galaxy is a similar size to our Milky Way at 100,000 light-years across. Many stars are concentrated in its central region forming the luminous bar, surrounded by a set of tightly wound spiral arms.

The central bar in these types of galaxies plays an important role in their evolution, helping to funnel gas from the disk into the middle of the galaxy. The transported gas and dust are then either formed into new stars or fed to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center. Weighing from a few hundred to over a billion times the mass of our Sun, supermassive black holes are present in almost all large galaxies.

This image was colorized with data from the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS).

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

Media Contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbelt, MD
claire.andreoli@nasa.gov

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Identification of Noise Sources During Launch Using Phased Array Microphone Systems

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 12:02pm

Identification of Noise Sources During Launch Using Phased Array Microphone Systems 

Every part of a launch vehicle, launch pad, and ground operation equipment is subjected to the high acoustic load generated during lift-off [1]. Therefore, many extreme measures are taken to try to suppress this acoustic environment by damping with a water deluge system and diverting engine plumes away from the vehicle via flame trenches. Even single decibel reductions of the acoustic levels can translate into a sizable reduction of acoustic loadings, certification needs, operational costs, and even vehicle weight. Therefore, lowering the acoustic level via various mitigation schemes is an important aspect of a launch pad design.   

In 2011 and 2012, the NESC sponsored research into the effectiveness of a microphone phased array (MPA) to identify noise sources and tested the array during an Antares launch from the Wallops Flight Facility [2]. This simple prototype array was able to identify impingement-related noise sources during the launch.  

Today, building on this previous work, a new open-space truss MPA architecture is in development and test for use during the Artemis II launch. This truss structure consists of an aluminum tubular frame holding 70 microphones mounted in optimized positions over a dome-shaped surface (Figure 1). The center canister structure holds visible and infrared cameras as well as the amplifier electronics that transfer and relay microphone signals out to data cables that send information to the ground-mounted data acquisition system. The collected data are postprocessed using a functional-orthogonal beamforming routine that minimizes the effects of side lobes and reflections on the acoustic signal [3]. This produces a much cleaner image of primary noise impingement sources emanating from the vehicle and launch pad structures. 

Figure 1. Overall view of the MPA, cable bundle, and data acquisition cabinet.  

The NESC activity is performing verification and validation tests to determine the MPA’s environmental survivability and validate the beamforming capability. This is being done using a phased testing approach. Phase 1 testing performed at ARC elevated the MPA (Figure 2) and used horns and speakers of known intensity to ensure its ability to identify and separate noise sources (Figure 3). 

Figure 2. Setup for the outdoor test using a train horn and a long-range acoustic device (LRAD) speaker. The MPA was raised to test heights by a Telehandler.  Figure 3. Comparison between different beamform schemes at a fixed f=1338 Hz with array center 100 ft. horizontal and 10 ft. above LRAD speaker. 

In phase 2, the system was subjected to an actual engine noise environment during a static fire test at SSC. The MPA viewed the A-1 engine test stand during an RS-25 engine test from 460 feet, a similar distance from KSC Pad 39B to the lightning tower, where the MPA will be mounted for Artemis II (Figure 4). Results successfully identified and pinpointed the transient engine acoustic sources during the test (Figure 5). 

Figure 4. Scaffold system used to mount MPA and location of the array with respect to the SSC A-1 test stand. Right Image Credit: Google Maps  Noise sources identified at the indicated third-octave center frequencies using functional-orthogonal beamform.

The final test occurred during the NG-19 Antares launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in July 2023. The MPA tracked the plume and acoustic environment during the launch, showing transition from initial engine thrust to the overpressure environment flowing from the flame trench as the vehicle lifted off (Figure 6). The array was able to collect meaningful data while mounted outside, under acoustic conditions similar to those expected during the Artemis II launch and also subjected to heat, humidity, salt air, and extreme weather. 

Figure 6. Time evolution of noise source generation during the NG-19 launch. The acoustic intensity of the redirected flow from the flame trench opening evolves to become a much stronger noise source, while acoustics from the plume are effectively mitigated by the sound suppression on the launch pad surface.  

Next, the MPA will be deployed at KSC for the Artemis II launch to measure the acoustic impingement and identify critical noise sources during that event. The data collected will help further refine and optimize the sound suppression systems for Artemis III and future launches. 

References: 

  1. Eldred, K. M. & Jones, G. W., Jr., “Acoustic load generated by the propulsion system,” NASA SP-8072, 1971. 
  1. Panda, J., Mosher, R. N. & Porter, B. J., “Noise Source Identification During Rocket Engine Test Firings and a Rocket Launch,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets,   Vol. 51, No. 4, July-Aug 2014. DOI: 10.2514/1.A32863 
  1. Dougherty, R.P., “Functional Beamforming for Aeroacoustic Source Distributions,” 20th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference, 10.2514/6.2014-3066, 2014. 

For more information, contact:  

Dr. Jayanta Panda jayanta.panda-1@nasa.gov 

Kenneth R. Hamm, Jr. kenneth.r.hamm@nasa.gov 

Joel W. Sills joel.w.sills@nasa.gov 

Categories: NASA

NASA Grant Brings Students at Underserved Institutions to the Stars

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 04/26/2024 - 11:45am

5 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) Julia Chavez examines an experiment within an oxygen-free chamber at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in March. Chavez is one of several students from California State University, Los Angeles who are interning at JPL’s Origins and Habitability Lab.NASA/JPL-Caltech Cathy Trejo (right) shows off a tube filled with pebbles designed to mimic Martian regolith. During experiments, fluid is flushed through the tube many times, giving JPL astrobiology interns like Trejo and Julia Chaves (left) the chance to study how chemicals may have interacted with water on Mars billions of years ago.NASA/JPL-Caltech

At the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interns from Cal State LA are learning key skills studying the origins of life.

What does wastewater management in Los Angeles have to do with the search for life on Mars? Eduardo Martinez certainly didn’t make the connection when he was pursuing a master’s in civil engineering. Not at first. Then his professor pointed him toward an internship opportunity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for astrobiology, the study of life’s origins and the possibility of life beyond Earth.

That professor, Arezoo Khodayari of California State University, Los Angeles, helped Martinez understand the chemistry common to both fields. Soon, Martinez saw that just as phosphorous, nitrogen, and other chemicals in wastewater can fuel algal blooms in the ocean, they can potentially provide energy for microbial life on other planets.

Interns working in JPL’s Origins and Habitability Lab grow fingerlike mineral structures like the one shown here to simulate oceans on early Earth — and possibly other planets. By studying how these structures form in the lab, scientists hope to learn more about potential life-creating chemical reactions. NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Once I got a taste of planetary science, I knew I needed more,” said Martinez, who did the internship while finishing his degree at Cal State LA, where more than 70% of students are Latino and few have historically participated in NASA research. “If not for JPL, I would have stopped with my master’s.” Now he’s pursuing a doctorate in geosciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The inspiration that connects both fields lies at the core of a new NASA grant. Khodayari and Laurie Barge, who runs JPL’s Origins and Habitability Laboratory, have received funding for up to six paid JPL internships over two years. The intent is to help develop the next generation of space-minded scientists from the students at Cal State LA.

The grant — one of 11 recently awarded to emerging research universities by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program — helps underrepresented students learn more about astrobiology and perform NASA-sponsored research.

“As a large employer in Southern California, we have a duty to invest in our local communities,” Barge said of JPL’s role in the effort. “It makes NASA and its science more accessible to everyone.”

JPL’s Laurie Barge (far right) and California State University, Los Angeles’ Arezoo Khodayari (second from left) have collaborated for 10 years to bring interns to Barge’s astrobiology lab. JPL’s Jessica Weber (second from right) is also an astrobiologist in the lab; Julia Chavez (far left) and Cathy Trejo (center) are interns.NASA/JPL-Caltech Building Community

Barge and Khodayari have been informally collaborating for 10 years, designing experiments to try to answer questions in their respective fields. Of the four Cal State LA interns Barge has hosted so far, two — including Martinez — have been lead authors on published research papers.

“It is a great accomplishment to publish in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal, especially as the first author,” Khodayari said. “It’s inspiring to see students from Cal State LA, which is primarily a teaching institution, provided research opportunities that result in these kinds of journal publications.”

She notes that many of her students work multiple jobs, so a paid internship means they can focus entirely on their studies without sacrificing essential income. And, Khodayari added, “they get exposure to a field far from their reality.”

Tools and Skills

In Barge’s lab, dark, fingerlike mineral structures grow in beakers of cloudy liquid meant to simulate oceans on early Earth — and possibly on other planets. By studying how these structures form in the lab, scientists like Barge hope to learn more about the potential life-creating chemical reactions that take place around similar structures, called chimneys, that develop on the ocean floor around hydrothermal vents.

“We learned so much in Laurie’s lab,” said Erika Flores, Barge’s first Cal State LA intern. “Not only are you working independently on your own projects, you’re collaborating with other interns and even other divisions at JPL.”

The middle of five children, Flores was the first in her family to graduate from high school. She initially attended University of California, Berkeley but felt isolated. After returning home, she earned her bachelor’s degree and began studying with Khodayari at Cal State LA.

Although she decided not to become a planetary scientist – “I considered it, but I didn’t want to spend another five years on a Ph.D.; I was ready to get a job” – Flores credits the JPL internship with helping her overcome a case of impostor syndrome. Equipped with a master’s that she completed during her internship, she now works for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, overseeing 13 pumping plants that route wastewater to treatment plants.

Interplanetary Connections

Like Flores, current Cal State LA intern Cathy Trejo wants to improve the world through clean water. She’s studying to be an environmental engineer, with a focus beyond wastewater.

But she was excited to see the parallels between Earth-bound science and planetary science during her internship. Learning to use mass spectrometers has even inspired her. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has a mass spectrometer, the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, that measures the composition of different gases.

“Understanding the instruments we use on Mars has helped me better understand how we study chemistry here on Earth,” Trejo said.

She is fascinated that cumbersome lab instruments can be miniaturized to be taken to other planets, and that scientists are beginning to miniaturize similar instruments that could identify pollutants at Superfund sites.

Barge isn’t giving up hope that Trejo will stick with planetary science, but she’s just happy to help a budding scientist develop. “I hope these student research opportunities offer an appreciation for planetary exploration and how our work at NASA relates to important questions in other fields,” she said.

News Media Contacts

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alise Fisher
NASA Headquarters, Washington
301-286-6284 / 202 358-2546
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alise.m.fisher@nasa.gov

2024-050      

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