Once you can accept the Universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

— Albert Einstein


Sols 4186-4188: Almost there…

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 7:43am

3 min read

Sols 4186-4188: Almost there… NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm, on May 14, 2024, Sol 4184 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 06:58:35 UTC. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Earth planning day: Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The rover planning engineers yet again did a great job navigating through the large bedrock blocks that litter the terrain in front of us. We are getting ever closer to being able to cross the Gediz Vallis channel and associated deposits, a feature we identified long before landing and of high scientific interest. As a member of the group responsible for planning the observations we hope to get on the Gediz Vallis deposits and associated landforms (called the Channel Surfers), I am very excited to finally be at this point in the mission. To help decide where to drive onto the deposit, we are driving a little closer to the edge and taking extra post-drive imaging to aid in that decision. We are also acquiring a large Mastcam mosaic of an area of the deposit we hope to study in more detail, “Arc Pass.”

Before we drive, we will of course acquire lots of science observations from our current location. The workspace in front of the rover contained an interesting textured block that immediately drew all our attention – a polygonally patterned erosional feature (“Tuolumne Meadows”) that we were able to place the rover’s arm on for contact science. We will also be able to brush it and clear the dust before analyzing with APXS for chemistry and MAHLI for the fine-scale texture. ChemCam will also analyze the same spot, as well as the front face of the same block (“Wapama Falls”), which will also be documented by Mastcam. To compare with this block, we are also planning APXS and MAHLI on a separate, more typical looking bedrock block, “Parker Lakes.”

Looking a little further afield, the views continue to be stunning as we climb Mount Sharp, and so of course we wanted to document features of interest. The Yardang unit, high above us on Mount Sharp, is about to disappear from view, so we planned a ChemCam RMI mosaic to capture structures and textures. A little closer to the rover, we will also image another area of the “Pinnacle Ridge” section of the Gediz Vallis deposit to continue documenting the textures and structures associated with this relatively young feature in Gale crater. 

The team also planned a series of observations to monitor environmental and atmospheric conditions. These included Navcam dust devil and suprahorizon movies, a line of sight scan and deck monitoring. Standard DAN and RAD round out this jam-packed plan.

As the APXS strategic planner this week, and as a Channel Surfer, I am excited for the downlink from this plan, and for the upcoming investigations of the Gediz Vallis deposit. To whet our appetite, we got down the results of APXS and MAHLI observations from the previous plan on an interesting textured, included block from the deposit. See the image associated with this post to marvel at the “Tenaya Lake” rock.

Written by Lucy Thompson, Planetary Geologist at University of New Brunswick



Last Updated

May 17, 2024

Related Terms Explore More

3 min read Sols 4184-4185: Look Near! Look Far!


3 days ago

3 min read Sols 4182-4183: We Reached the South Side of Pinnacle Ridge… What’s Next?


7 days ago

3 min read Sols 4180-4181: Imaging fest!


1 week ago

Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA


Mars is no place for the faint-hearted. It’s dry, rocky, and bitter cold. The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars…

All Mars Resources

Rover Basics

Mars Exploration Science Goals

Categories: NASA

Hubble Views Cosmic Dust Lanes

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 7:24am

2 min read

Hubble Views Cosmic Dust Lanes This Hubble Space Telescope image showcases a nearly edge-on view of the lenticular galaxy NGC 4753. ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Kelsey

Featured in this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is a nearly edge-on view of the lenticular galaxy NGC 4753. Lenticular galaxies have an elliptical shape and ill-defined spiral arms.

This image is the object’s sharpest view to date, showcasing Hubble’s incredible resolving power and ability to reveal complex dust structures. NGC 4753 resides around 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo and was first discovered by the astronomer William Herschel in 1784. It is a member of the NGC 4753 Group of galaxies within the Virgo II Cloud, which comprises roughly 100 galaxies and galaxy clusters.

This galaxy is likely the result of a galactic merger with a nearby dwarf galaxy roughly 1.3 billion years ago. NGC 4753’s distinct dust lanes around its nucleus probably accreted from this merger event.

Astronomers think that most of the mass in the galaxy lies in a slightly flattened, spherical halo of dark matter. Dark matter is called ‘dark’ because we cannot directly observe it, but astronomers think it comprises about 85% of all matter in the universe. Dark matter doesn’t appear to interact with the electromagnetic field, and therefore does not seem to emit, reflect, or refract light. We can only detect it by its gravitational influence on the matter we can see, called normal matter.

NGC 4753’s low-density environment and complex structure make it scientifically interesting to astronomers who can use the galaxy in models that test different theories of formation of lenticular galaxies. The galaxy has also hosted two known Type Ia supernovae. These types of supernovae are extremely important in the study of the expansion rate of the universe. Because they are the result of exploding white dwarfs which have companion stars, they always peak at the same brightness — 5 billion times brighter than the Sun. Knowing the intrinsic brightness of these events and comparing that with their apparent brightness allows astronomers to use them to measure cosmic distances, which in turn help us determine how the universe has expanded over time.

Text Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

Download this image

Explore More
Hubble Space Telescope

Tracing the Growth of Galaxies

Galaxy Details and Mergers

Shining a Light on Dark Matter

Facebook logo @NASAHubble


Instagram logo @NASAHubble

Media Contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight CenterGreenbelt, MD



Last Updated

May 17, 2024

Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Terms Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA

Hubble Space Telescope

Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.

Galaxies Stories

Stars Stories

Dark Matter & Dark Energy

Categories: NASA

Aviary: A New NASA Software Platform for Aircraft Modelling

NASA - Breaking News - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 6:00am

4 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) Christopher Bennett, left, and Jason Kirk are seen in an Aeronautics Systems Analysis Branch laboratory at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, discussing computer code that is part of Aviary, a new digital modeling tool that helps engineers innovate new aircraft designs.

NASA has created a new digital modelling tool for aeronautical engineers to innovate new aircraft designs, building on decades of experience using highly advanced computer code for aviation.

Using this tool, researchers can create simulations of conceptual aircraft featuring never-flown technology and receive detailed data about how it would work.

Named “Aviary” for enclosures where birds are kept and studied, the tool creates virtual models of airplanes based on information provided by the user. In this analogy, Aviary is the enclosure, and the birds are the virtual airplane models.

Researchers can input information about an aircraft’s shape, range, and other characteristics. Then, Aviary creates a corresponding digital model of that airplane.

“Aviary is flexible enough that you can decide what you want to learn more about, then configure it to teach you.”

Jennifer Gratz

Aviary Task Lead

Aviary is a significant leap in progress. Unlike past aviation modelling tools, Aviary can link with other codes and programs to expand and customize its capabilities.

“We wanted to make it easy to extend the code and tie it in with other tools,” said Jennifer Gratz, who leads Aviary’s integration and development. “Aviary is intentionally designed to be able to integrate disciplines together more tightly.”

Aviary is free and accessible to all. The code continues to grow as contributions are made by the public. The code is hosted on GitHub, along with its key documentation.

This image of a Transonic Truss Braced Wing airplane represents a digital model created by Aviary, a new computer modelling tool aeronautical engineers can use to innovate new aircraft designs, The Aviary code builds on NASA’s decades of experience using highly advanced computer code for aviation. Aviary is a resource created by NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. Building Aviary from a Legacy

Aviary is a descendant of two prior modelling tools created by NASA decades ago: the Flight Optimization System, and the General Aviation Synthesis Program.

These older legacy codes, however, were comparatively limited in terms of flexibility and detail.

“The older legacy codes were not designed to handle these more modern-day concepts such as hybrid-electric aircraft,” Gratz said. “They viewed certain systems as more separated than they really are in the vehicles we envision now.”

Aviary bridges that gap, enabling researchers to seamlessly incorporate detailed information reflecting the more integrated, enmeshed systems needed to model newer aircraft.

The team began creating Aviary by taking the best parts of the legacy codes and merging them, then adding in new code to make Aviary extendable and compatible with other tools.

“That’s one of its most important characteristics,” Gratz said. “Aviary is flexible enough that you can decide what you want to learn more about, then configure it to teach you.”

Members of the NASA team responsible for developing Aviary, a new computer-based digital modeling tool for designing aircraft, pose for a group picture outside an office building at the Langley Research Center in Virginia. Front row from left: Eric Hendricks, Rob Falck, Jennifer Gratz, Ben Phillips, Eliot Aretskin-Hariton, and Ken Moore. Back row from left: Darrell (DJ) Caldwell, Greg Wrenn, Carl Recine, John Jasa, and Jason Kirk.NASA / Rich Wahls Expanded Capabilities

Learning specific, tailored information ahead of time can inform researchers what direction the aircraft design should take before doing costly flight tests.

Instead of having to use built-in estimates for certain parameters such as a battery’s power level, as would be done with past tools, Aviary users can easily use information generated by other tools with specific information catered to batteries.

Another capability Aviary touts is gradients. A gradient, essentially, is how much a certain value affects another value when changed.

Say a researcher is considering how powerful a battery should be to successfully power an aircraft. Using older systems, the researcher would have to run a separate simulation for each battery power level.

But Aviary can accomplish this task in one simulation by considering gradients.

“You could tell Aviary to figure out how powerful a battery should be to make using it worthwhile. It will run a simulated flight mission and come back with the result,” Gratz said. “Older tools can’t do that without modification.”

Aviary can simulate all these concepts simultaneously – no other modelling tool can easily consider prior legacy tools, separate tools introduced by users, and gradients.

“Other tools have some of these things, but none of them have all of these things,” Gratz said.

What’s more, Aviary comes with extensive documentation.

“Documentation is another important part of Aviary,” Gratz said. “If nobody can understand the tool, nobody can use it. By having a good record of Aviary’s development and changes, more people can benefit. You don’t have to be an expert to use it.”

NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ames Research Center in California, and Langley Research Center in Virginia contributed to Aviary.

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.

Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More 4 min read NASA to Start Designing More Sustainable Jet Engine Core Article 2 days ago 4 min read NASA’s X-59 Passes Milestone Toward Safe First Flight  Article 5 days ago 4 min read NASA Teammates Recall Favorite Memories Aboard Flying Laboratory Article 6 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA


Humans in Space

NASA History

Aeronautics STEM

Share Details Last Updated May 16, 2024 EditorJim BankeContactDiana Fitzgeralddiana.r.fitzgerald@nasa.gov Related Terms
Categories: NASA

NASA Earns Best Place to Work in Government for 12 Straight Years

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 6:31pm
2023 image capturing the Sun’s glint in between a cloudy stretch of the south Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina.Credits: NASA

NASA was named Thursday as the 2023 Best Place to Work in the Federal Government – large agency – for the 12th year in a row by the Partnership for Public Service. The title serves as a reflection of employee satisfaction with the workplace and functioning of the overall agency as NASA explores the unknown and discovers new knowledge for the benefit of humanity.

“Once again, NASA has shown that with the world’s finest workforce, we can reach the stars,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Through space exploration, advances in aviation, groundbreaking science, new technologies, and more, the team of wizards at NASA do what is hard to achieve what is great. That’s the pioneer spirit that makes NASA the best place to work in the federal government. With this ingenuity and passion, we will continue to innovate for the benefit of all and inspire the world.”

The agency’s workforce explored new frontiers in 2023, including shattering an American record for longest astronaut spaceflight, announcing the Artemis II crew, launching the Deep Space Optical Communications experiment, partnering on a sustainable flight demonstration later designated as X-66, and celebrating a year of science gathered from the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope. Feats beyond our atmosphere persisted with NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer) mission – the first U.S. mission to collect an asteroid sample. Insights from the asteroid data will further NASA’s studies on celestial objects, while the agency also continues its pursuit to return astronauts to the Moon as part of the Artemis campaign.

Along with being the 65th anniversary of the agency, 2023 brought new climate data with the launching of the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Center and Earth Information Center, new perspectives on Earth’s surface water through NASA’s SWOT (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) mission, and accrued air quality data from NASA’s TEMPO (Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution) mission.

The Partnership for Public Service began to compile the Best Places to Work rankings in 2003 to analyze federal employee’s viewpoints of leadership, work-life balance, and other factors of their job. A formula is used to evaluate employee responses to a federal survey, dividing submissions into four groups: large, midsize, and small agencies, in addition to their subcomponents.

Read about the Best Places to Work for 2023 online.

To learn more about NASA’s missions, visit:



Faith McKie / Cheryl Warner
Headquarters, Washington
faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov

Share Details Last Updated May 16, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

NASA, European Space Agency Unite to Land Europe’s Rover on Mars

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 2:54pm
NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Nicky Fox and ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration Daniel Neuenschwander sign an agreement on the Rosalind Franklin mission at ESA’s headquarters in Paris, France on May 16, 2024.Credits: ESA/Damien Dos Santos

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) announced Thursday they signed an agreement to expand NASA’s work on the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, an ESA-led mission launching in 2028 that will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.

With this memorandum of understanding, the NASA Launch Services Program will procure a U.S. commercial launch provider for the Rosalind Franklin rover. The agency will also provide heater units and elements of the propulsion system needed to land on Mars. A new instrument on the rover will be the first drill to a depth of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep below the surface to collect ice samples that have been protected from surface radiation and extreme temperatures.

“The Rosalind Franklin rover’s unique drilling capabilities and onboard samples laboratory have outstanding scientific value for humanity’s search for evidence of past life on Mars,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “NASA supports the Rosalind Franklin mission to continue the strong partnership between the United States and Europe to explore the unknown in our solar system and beyond.”

Through an existing, separate partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), NASA is contributing key components to the Rosalind Franklin rover’s primary science instrument, the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, that will search for the building blocks of life in the soil samples.

NASA has a longstanding partnership with the Department of Energy to use radioisotope power sources on the agency’s space missions and will be partnering again with the Energy Department for the use of lightweight radioisotope heater units for the rover.  

The Rosalind Franklin rover mission complements the Mars Sample Return multi-mission campaign led by both agencies.

For more information on NASA’s research on Mars, visit:



Katherine Rohloff
Headquarters, Washington

Share Details Last Updated May 16, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

Space Physics and Space Weather Scientist Dr. Yihua (Eva) Zheng

NASA Image of the Day - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 2:26pm
"For the girls or women in science — or in any profession or job — opportunities are more abundant than they were previously. Sometimes you need to take bold steps. Just a little push, and then you will get there." — Dr. Yihua (Eva) Zheng, Space Physics and Space Weather Scientist, Heliophysics Science Division, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Categories: Astronomy, NASA

How NASA Tracked the Most Intense Solar Storm in Decades

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 2:01pm
5 Min Read How NASA Tracked the Most Intense Solar Storm in Decades

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of the solar flare on May 14, 2024 — as seen in the bright flash on the right side. These images show a subset of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the extremely hot material in flares and which is colorized in royal blue and gold. This flare shows ongoing activity from the same region active during the storm.


May 2024 has already proven to be a particularly stormy month for our Sun. During the first full week of May, a barrage of large solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) launched clouds of charged particles and magnetic fields toward Earth, creating the strongest solar storm to reach Earth in two decades — and possibly one of the strongest displays of auroras on record in the past 500 years.

We’ll be studying this event for years. It will help us test the limits of our models and understanding of solar storms.

Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla

Acting Director of NASA’s Moon to Mars (M2M) Space Weather Analysis Office

“We’ll be studying this event for years,” said Teresa Nieves-Chinchilla, acting director of NASA’s Moon to Mars (M2M) Space Weather Analysis Office. “It will help us test the limits of our models and understanding of solar storms.”

From May 3 through May 9, 2024, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observed 82 notable solar flares. The flares came mainly from two active regions on the Sun called AR 13663 and AR 13664. This video highlights all flares classified at M5 or higher with nine categorized as X-class solar flares.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The first signs of the solar storm started late on May 7 with two strong solar flares. From May 7 – 11, multiple strong solar flares and at least seven CMEs stormed toward Earth. Eight of the flares in this period were the most powerful type, known as X-class, with the strongest peaking with a rating of X5.8. (Since then, the same solar region has released many more large flares, including an X8.7 flare — the most powerful flare seen this solar cycle — on May 14.)

On May 14, 2024, the Sun emitted a strong solar flare. This solar flare is the largest of Solar Cycle 25 and is classified as an X8.7 flare.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Traveling at speeds up to 3 million mph, the CMEs bunched up in waves that reached Earth starting May 10, creating a long-lasting geomagnetic storm that reached a rating of G5 — the highest level on the geomagnetic storm scale, and one that hasn’t been seen since 2003.

“The CMEs all arrived largely at once, and the conditions were just right to create a really historic storm,” said Elizabeth MacDonald, NASA heliophysics citizen science lead and a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

When the storm reached Earth, it created brilliant auroras seen around the globe. Auroras were even visible at unusually low latitudes, including the southern U.S. and northern India. The strongest auroras were seen the night of May 10, and they continued to illuminate night skies throughout the weekend. Thousands of reports submitted to the NASA-funded Aurorasaurus citizen science site are helping scientists study the event to learn more about auroras.

“Cameras — even standard cell phone cameras — are much more sensitive to the colors of the aurora than they were in the past,” MacDonald said. “By collecting photos from around the world, we have a huge opportunity to learn more about auroras through citizen science.”

A coronal aurora appeared over southwestern British Columbia on May 10, 2024. NASA/Mara Johnson-Groh

By one measure of geomagnetic storm strength, called the disturbance storm time index which dates back to 1957, this storm was similar to historic storms in 1958 and 2003. And with reports of auroras visible to as low as 26 degrees magnetic latitude, this recent storm may compete with some of the lowest-latitude aurora sightings on record over the past five centuries, though scientists are still assessing this ranking.

“It’s a little hard to gauge storms over time because our technology is always changing,” said Delores Knipp, a research professor in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Science Department and a senior research associate at the NCAR High Altitude Observatory, in Boulder, Colorado. “Aurora visibility is not the perfect measure, but it allows us to compare over centuries.”

MacDonald encourages people to continue submitting aurora reports to Aurorasaurus.org, noting that even non-sightings are valuable for helping scientists understand the extent of the event.

Leading up to the storm, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, which is responsible for forecasting solar storm impacts, sent notifications to operators of power grids and commercial satellites to help them mitigate potential impacts.

Warnings helped many NASA missions brace for the storm, with some spacecraft preemptively powering down certain instruments or systems to avoid issues. NASA’s ICESat-2 — which studies polar ice sheets — entered safe mode, likely because of increased drag due to the storm.  

Looking Forward

Better data on how solar events influence Earth’s upper atmosphere is crucial to understanding space weather’s impact on satellites, crewed missions, and Earth- and space-based infrastructure. To date, only a few limited direct measurements exist in this region. But more are coming. Future missions, such as NASA’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) and Dynamical Neutral Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling (DYNAMIC), will be able to see and measure exactly how Earth’s atmosphere responds to the energy influxes that occur during solar storms like this one. Such measurements will also be valuable as NASA sends astronauts to the Moon with the Artemis missions and, later, to Mars.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an X5.8 solar flare peaking at 9:23 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2024. The image shows a subset of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the extremely hot material in flares. NASA SDO

The solar region responsible for the recent stormy weather is now turning around the backside of the Sun, where its impacts can’t reach Earth. However, that doesn’t mean the storm is over. NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO), currently located at about 12 degrees ahead of Earth in its orbit, will continue watching the active region an additional day after it is no longer visible from Earth.

“The active region is just starting to come into view of Mars,” said Jamie Favors, director for the NASA Space Weather Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We’re already starting to capture some data at Mars, so this story only continues.”

By Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Media Contact:
Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



Last Updated

May 16, 2024

Editor Abbey Interrante Location NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Related Terms Explore More

5 min read Multiple Spacecraft Tell the Story of One Giant Solar Storm


2 months ago

11 min read How Scientists Around the World Track the Solar Cycle

Every morning, astronomer Steve Padilla takes a short walk from his home to the base…


4 years ago

4 min read NASA Announces Monthly Themes to Celebrate the Heliophysics Big Year

This October, NASA is launching the Heliophysics Big Year ­– a global celebration of solar…


9 months ago

Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA


Humans in Space

Climate Change

Solar System

Categories: NASA

FY2024 TEAM II NOFO Announcement

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 1:46pm

2 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Next Gen STEM’s Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) program is pleased to announce an upcoming FY2024 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that will expand the current program from a two-tier to a three-tier system by adding a mid-level funding tier. The NOFO is expected to be released in the third quarter of FY2024 (April-June). The new mid-level funding tier was created in response to feedback from the informal education community.

The new “STEM Innovator” tier will fund awards of approximately $250,000. In addition, the highest tier award will be designated the “National Connector” award and fund initiatives up to $900,000.  The “Community Anchor” tier will continue to offer awards up to $50,000. The Community Anchor tier opportunity will be offered each fiscal year, and the STEM Innovator and National Connector tiers will be offered in alternating years. The FY2024 NOFO will include the Community Anchor and STEM Innovator tiers and the FY2025 NOFO will focus on the Community Anchor and National Connector tiers. By adding the mid-level tier, NASA and Next Gen STEM aim to broaden the number and type of awards made to Informal Education Institutions for creating innovative, NASA-inspired programming for K-12 students and their families.

Categories: NASA

NASA Recognizes 5 Early Career Planetary Scientists

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 11:59am

3 min read

NASA Recognizes 5 Early Career Planetary Scientists

NASA has selected five early-career scientists for its 2023 Planetary Science Early Career Award (ECA) based on their demonstrated leadership, involvement in the planetary science community, and potential for future impact.

The ECA program supports exceptional early-career scientists who play a meaningful role in the planetary science community to pursue professional development in areas relevant to NASA’s Planetary Science Division. The goal of each proposal is to identify a need in the community and propose a project to address that need. Each project is facilitated by a grant of up to $200,000 to each of the selected principal investigators.

NASA’s 2023 Planetary Science Early Career Award (ECA) winners: Emily Costello, Christopher Fowler, Peter James, Kelly Miller, Laura Rodriguez

The selected projects span the full breadth of planetary science research, and the principal investigators are based at U.S. universities and research institutes:

Emily Costello, University of Hawai’i at Manoa: Dr. Costello’s project, “Navigating by Moonlight: The Art of Planetary Science,” will link planetary science and art to the local indigenous culture native to Oahu, Hawai’i.

Christopher Fowler, West Virginia University in Morgantown: Dr. Fowler’s project, “Bringing Planetary Science to West Virginia,” will increase the visibility of and capacity for planetary science research at West Virginia University and engage underserved high school students in West Virginia with planetary science data sets and NASA missions.

Peter James, Baylor University in Waco, Texas: Dr. James’ project suite of research tasks, “Origins of porosity on rocky planetary surfaces,” will address the creation and evolution of porosity in the crusts of rocky planets. This project will also involve the development of a cratering workshop (“Crater Bootcamp”) with undergraduate students at the University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa and outreach talks through Mayborn Museum in central Texas.

Kelly Miller, Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio: Dr. Miller’s project, “Carbon-Based Connections: From Earth to the Outer Solar System,” will establish carbon-based connections across the solar system and will include outreach efforts with middle schools in San Antonio.

Laura Rodriguez, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston: Dr. Rodriguez’s project, “Supporting Planetary Science and Mission Work with the Astrobiology Spectral Database,” will create an Astrobiology Spectral Database to house and facilitate exploration of mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy data.

Individuals interested in applying for NASA’s ECA program must have a funded ROSES (Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science) award from the past two ROSES cycles and must be within 10 years of receiving their terminal degree. Proposals for ECA-2024 are due Dec. 5, 2024.

For more information about NASA’s planetary science, visit:


Karen Fox / Charles Blue
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1257 / 202-802-5345
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov

Facebook logo @NASA


Instagram logo @NASA

Linkedin logo @NASA

Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA

Planetary Science

Early Career Workshop


Solar System

Categories: NASA

Students Across US to Hear from NASA Astronaut Aboard Space Station

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 10:15am
An image of NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps using the glovebox BioFabrication Facility in the Columbus European Laboratory during Expedition 71 on April 10, 2024. Credits: NASA/Michael Barratt

Students of a volunteer service organization will have the opportunity next week to hear from NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps aboard the International Space Station.

The Earth-to-space call will stream live at 11:40 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 21, on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Media interested in covering the event must RSVP no later than 5 p.m., Monday, May 20, by contacting Kimberly Sweet at knoelsweet@gmail.com or 601-260-1208.

Junior chapters of The Links, Incorporated, and the National Society of Black Engineers across the United States will ask pre-recorded questions and host a live viewing event. The Links is an international, not-for-profit, volunteer service organization focused on the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other people of African ancestry.

For more than 23 years, astronauts have continuously lived and worked aboard the space station, testing technologies, performing science, and developing skills needed to explore farther from Earth. Astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory communicate with NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston 24 hours a day through SCaN (Space Communications and Navigation) Near Space Network.

Important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the International Space station benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for other agency missions. As part of NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency will send astronauts to the Moon to prepare for future human exploration of Mars. Inspiring Artemis Generation explorers and ensuring the United States will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.

See videos and lesson plans highlighting space station research at:



Gerelle Dodson
Headquarters, Washington

Sandra Jones 
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Share Details Last Updated May 16, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

Accounts Payable

NASA - Breaking News - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 9:18am
6 Min Read Accounts Payable Welcome to NSSC Accounts Payable where we process all accounts payable invoices, centrally billed accounts, and government charge card transactions for the Agency.

Vendor Payment

NASA is committed to expedient and accurate payment of invoices.  Any questions or inquiries should be addressed to the Contracting Officer designated on your award or to the NSSC Customer Contact Center.

NSSC Customer Contact Center telephone: 1-877-677-2123 (1-877-NSSC123)
Fax: 1-866-779-6772 (1-866-779-NSSC)

Vouchers and invoices are to be submitted in the Treasury’s Invoice Processing Platform for awards that include the new voucher or invoice submission clause, 48 CFR § 1852.232-80.


  • In the case of commercial item contracts, electronic invoicing is allowed via the IPP Portal.
  • Invoices for awards in closeout should be submitted via hardcopy/e-mail/fax to one of the addresses at the bottom of the page.

For assistance with IPP, please use the contact information below:

If your award does not include 48 CFR § 1852.232-80, invoices are to be submitted in one of the following ways until you receive a modification from the NASA Contracting Officer to change your invoice/voucher submission:

via e-mail to:  NSSC-AccountsPayable@nasa.gov
via hardcopy paper to: 
NSSC – FMD Accounts Payable
Building 1111, Jerry Hlass Road
Stennis Space Center, MS  39529

Payment Status

For payment status questions or problems, vendors and employees should contact the NSSC Customer Contact Center.

How to Avoid Delayed Payment from the NSSC

We try very hard to ensure all payments arrive in a timely fashion. Occasionally, payments take longer to process than expected. Sometimes, invoices are returned to the vendor because they do not comply with the payment terms of the contract or problems processing the invoice delay payment. To facilitate processing of your invoice and to expedite your payment, we compiled the following list of reasons payments are delayed:

The invoice does not contain the following information per the Prompt Payment Act:

  • Vendor name
  • Contract/purchase order number
  • Date
  • Amount
  • Shipping and/or payment terms
  • Invoice number
  • Description of service/good invoiced
  • The invoice was not sent to the correct Designated Billing Office (DBO).
    Check your contract/purchase order to ensure that the NSSC is the proper Designated Billing Office.
  • Incorrect banking information for payment
  • Partial shipments or billings not stated in terms or conditions of contract
  • Submission of multiple invoices in one e-mail or fax
  • Encryption of email
  • Embedding multiple invoices or instructions and complicated attachments in e-mails
  • Invoice or file is not in a standard print format (Word, Excel or PDF)
  • Submission of documents as Microsoft Document Writer images and some TIFF applications

If your invoice form does not contain this information you may want to use the Standard Form (SF) 1034.

Check the Status of an Invoice Payment from NASA

To check the status of your payment or if you have a payment problem, you can contact the NSSC by:

Calling the NSSC Customer Contact Center at: 1-877-677-2123 (1-877-NSSC123)
Faxing your inquiry to: 1-866-829-6772

When you contact the NSSC, please have the following information on hand:

Vendor Name
Contract/Purchase Order Number
Date Submitted to Designated Billing Office
Invoice Number
Invoice Amount
Applicable NASA Center

Collections for NASA Vendor Over-Payments

Vendor overpayments that are due back to NASA can be made via cash, checks, or electronically at the Pay NASA link.
Pay.gov Payments
Payments may also be made using the Pay.gov payment system.  Pay.gov has been developed to meet the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service Division’s commitment to process collections electronically.

  • Pay.gov is a secure, government-wide, internet collection portal.
  • Pay.gov provides the ability to make payments by check, credit card, or debit card 24 hours a day.  
  • Pay.gov is web based, allowing customers to make payments from any computer with Internet access.
  • Pay.gov does NOT require a login ID or password to use the service.

For check payments in Pay.gov you will need:

  • Company/Contact Information
  • ABA Routing Number
  • Checking Account Number
  • Check Number
  • NASA Center to be paid
  • Bill or Debt ID #

For credit or debit card payments, you will need:

  • Company/Contact Information
  • Debit or Credit Card
  • NASA Center to be paid
  • Bill or Debt ID #

For more information, please visit the Accounts Receivable page.

Payment Cut-Off Dates

In order for the NSSC to receive confirmation of vendor disbursements by Treasury, payments are cut off (not processed) three business days prior to the last day of the month.

For FY2023 the last day for processing vendor payments to Treasury is September 26, 2023.  The next day for payments will begin on October 2, 2023.

The established monthly cut-off dates for payments are listed below:

Vendor References

IRS 1099-MISC Form Instructions

Prompt Payment Rule

NASA FAR Supplement

Small Business Administration

Submitting Proper Invoices to NASA

Make certain your invoice contains all the information stipulated in the Invoicing clause of your contract to avoid delays and expedite the payment process. Generally, each Invoicing clause requires the following:

  • Name and Address
  • Invoice Date/Number
  • Contract/Purchase Order Number
  • Description of Goods or Services (CLIN, QTY, U/P), Quantity, Unit Price, Total Amount of Invoice
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) (if applicable)

All vouchers for cost reimbursable contracts have to be submitted through IPP. 

Before you submit your invoice for payment, please check each contract/purchase order to see where invoices for each contract/purchase order are to be submitted.

System for Award Management (SAM) for NASA Vendors

System for Award Management (SAM) for NASA Vendors

Payments against NASA contracts and other procurement actions are made by the NSSC. In order to better align with Federal-wide vendor databases, NASA uses the System for Award Management (SAM) to validate vendor information across all of the Agency’s Integrated Enterprise Management (IEM) business systems. NASA payments to vendors are processed using the banking information in SAM.

To ensure continued accurate and prompt payments, please maintain a current registration, including banking information in SAM.  SAM can be accessed at www.sam.gov.
If you need assistance registering or have questions about SAM, contact the SAM Help Desk at www.fsd.gov.
NASA will use the clause at FAR 52.232-33 in contracts as the default Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) requirement. 

Please note that any information provided in your registration may be shared with authorized federal government offices. Registration does not guarantee business with the federal government. 

Categories: NASA

Simulation: Two Black Holes Merge

APOD - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 4:00am

Relax and watch two black holes merge.

Categories: Astronomy, NASA

Expedition 70 Astronauts to Share Mission in NASA Welcome Home Event

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 4:58pm

May 15, 2024


NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara along with JAXA astronuat Satoshi Furukawa and ESA astronaut Andreas MogensenNASA

Expedition 70 Astronauts to Share Mission in NASA Welcome Home Event

Four astronauts will participate in a welcome home ceremony at Space Center Houston after recently returning from a mission aboard the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, will share highlights from their mission beginning at 5:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, May 16 during a free, public event at NASA Johnson Space Center’s visitor center. The crew will also recognize key contributors to its mission success in an awards ceremony following their presentation.

The astronauts will be available for media interviews immediately before the event. Reporters may request an in-person interview no later than 5 p.m. May 16 by emailing Dana Davis at dana.l.davis@nasa.gov.

Moghbeli, Mogensen, Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov launched as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission, lifting off Aug. 26, 2023. The crew spent 199 days in space, completing hundreds of scientific experiments and maintaining the orbiting laboratory. Mogensen served as commander for Expedition 70. Mogensen and Furukawa have logged 209 and 366 days in space respectively over the course of their careers. It was the first spaceflight for Moghbeli and Borisov. Crew-7 returned to Earth on March 12.

O’Hara flew with an international crew, launching aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft on Sept. 15, 2023. The six-month research mission was the first spaceflight of her career, and she logged 204 days in space across Expedition 69 and 70. She conducted one spacewalk alongside Moghbeli, spending 6 hours, 42 minutes, suited up outside of the space station. She saw the arrival of eight visiting vehicles and the departure of seven over the course of her mission. She returned to Earth on April 6.

Members of the Expedition 70 crew participated in the CIPHER (Complement of Integrated Protocols for Human Exploration Research on Varying Mission Durations) investigation. It examines physiological and psychological changes that humans undergo during spaceflight. The crew also tended to tomato plants grown for the Plant Habitat-06 investigation to see how spaceflight affects plant immune function and production. Expedition 70 also saw the release of two small satellites called CubeSats from the space station. Both were created by students in Japan.

Stay current on space station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the station Facebook and Instagram accounts and the space station blog.



Chelsey Ballarte
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Dana Davis
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Categories: NASA

The Marshall Star for May 15, 2024

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 4:04pm
15 Min Read The Marshall Star for May 15, 2024 Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Visits Marshall

Navy Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his wife Christine Grady, and son Luke Grady talk with Nick Benjamin, right, a payload operations director for the International Space Station, at the Payload Operations Integration Center during the vice chairman’s tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on May 6. (NASA/Charles Beason)

› Back to Top

Marshall Team Members Honored with Space Flight Awareness Awards

Astronaut Victor Glover, far right, and Bill Hill, second from right, director of safety and mission assurance at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center join Marshall honorees for a photo op at the Space Flight Awareness Honoree Ceremony on May 4 in Orlando, Florida. Honoree awards recognize civil servants and industry partners for outstanding work and dedication to astronaut safety. From left, Cody Goodman, David Starrett, John Ivester, Lisa Hughes, Greg Snell, Megan Vansant, Megan Hines, Karl Nelson, Les Johnson, Shawn Reagan, Hill, and Glover. Marshall honorees also include Maggie Freeman, who was unable to attend the awards event. (NASA)

› Back to Top

NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test Eyes Next Launch Opportunity

NASA, Boeing, and ULA (United Launch Alliance) teams continue working remaining open tasks in preparation for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station. The teams now are targeting a launch date of no earlier than 3:43 p.m. CDT May 21, to complete additional testing.

On May 11, the ULA team successfully replaced a pressure regulation valve on the liquid oxygen tank on the Atlas V rocket’s Centaur upper stage. The team also performed re-pressurization and system purges, and tested the new valve, which performed normally.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test on May 4 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.NASA/Joel Kowsky

The Atlas V and Starliner remain in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, still in preflight quarantine, returned to Houston on May 10 to spend extra time with their families as prelaunch operations progress. The duo will fly back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the coming days.

Wilmore and Williams are the first to launch aboard Boeing’s Starliner to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The astronauts will spend about a week at the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth and making a parachute and airbag-assisted landing in the southwestern United States.

After successful completion of the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station.

› Back to Top

I Am Artemis: Lauren Fisher

Not many music majors get to be hands-on with building a Moon rocket, but Lauren Fisher has always enjoyed the unusual.

Now a structural materials engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Fisher works on a key adapter for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for the first crewed missions of NASA’s Artemis campaign.

Lauren Fisher stands in front of the launch vehicle stage adapter for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. The hardware will be used for the agency’s Artemis III mission that will land astronauts on the lunar surface. Fisher works with a number of teams across the agency and believes her background in music education has been an asset to her work as an engineer: “Teaching skills help you look at things from a different perspective and helps with understanding how others might approach a situation – all very helpful when I’m working with teams.”NASA/Sam Lott

Manufactured at Marshall by NASA, lead contractor Teledyne Brown Engineering, and the Jacobs Space Exploration Group’s ESSCA contract, the cone-shaped launch vehicle stage adapter partially encloses the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage and connects it to the core stage below and the Orion stage adapter above. The launch vehicle stage adapter also protects avionics and electrical devices from extreme vibration and acoustic conditions during launch and ascent.

Fisher and the thermal protection system team develop and apply the spray-on foam that acts as insulation and protects the adapter and all its systems from the extreme pressures and temperatures it’ll face during flight. The thermal protection system for the component, unlike other parts of the rocket, is applied by hand using a spray gun. When first applied, the insulation is yellow, but after time and exposure to the Sun, it turns orange.

“We’re taking the same stuff someone might use to insulate their attic, except making it for cryogenic atmospheres, and spraying it all over a giant piece of hardware that will help launch us to the Moon,” Fisher said. “With my work for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, I get to play with foam and glue. I like to call it arts and crafts engineering!”

Although engineering runs in her family, Fisher initially graduated from University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in music performance and an interest in music education. She developed an interest in carbon-based polymers, and decided to go back to school, completing a chemical engineering degree with a polymeric materials track from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her new degree led to an opportunity to work for the thermal protection system team at Marshall.

When Fisher isn’t in the office, she likes travelling to unusual places and checking items off her self-described “Bizarre Bucket List.” Recently, she went to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to watch the famous groundhog predict an early spring.

Being part of the Artemis Generation is incredibly inspiring for Fisher, who takes pride in her work supporting the first three Artemis missions, including Artemis II, the first crewed mission under Artemis, in 2025.

“I’m literally building the hardware that will send the first woman to deep space,” Fisher says. “Watching our rocket take shape, I’m like ‘you see that thing? I did that; that’s mine. See that one? My team did that one. We did that, and see this?’” She beams with pride. “You can do that, too. Just being a part of the generation that’s changing the workforce and changing the space program — it gives me goosebumps.”

NASA is working to land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft and Gateway in orbit around the Moon and commercial human landing systems, next-generational spacesuits, and rovers on the lunar surface. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.

› Back to Top

NASA Licenses 3D-Printable Superalloy to Benefit US Economy

NASA’s investment in a breakthrough superalloy developed for the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions of air and spaceflight is on the threshold of paying commercial dividends.

The agency is licensing its invention, dubbed “GRX-810,” to four American companies, a practice that benefits the United States economy as a return on investment of taxpayer dollars.

The NASA insignia is 3D printed using the GRX-810 superalloy.NASA/Jordan Salkin

GRX-810 is a 3D-printable high-temperature material that will lead to stronger, more durable airplane and spacecraft parts that can withstand more punishment before reaching their breaking point.

The co-exclusive license agreements will allow the companies to produce and market GRX-810 to airplane and rocket equipment manufacturers as well as the entire supply chain.

The four co-exclusive licensees are:

  • Carpenter Technology Corporation of Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Elementum 3D, Inc. of Erie, Colorado
  • Linde Advanced Material Technologies, Inc. of Indianapolis
  • Powder Alloy Corporation of Loveland, Ohio

GRX-810 is one example of many new technologies NASA’s Technology Transfer Program managers review and file for patent protection. The team also works with inventors to find partners interested in commercialization. 

Darren Tinker, left, from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and Tim Smith, from the agency’s Glenn Research Center, inspect the GRX-810 nozzle and injector following hot-fire testing in 2023 at Marshall. NASA/Paul Gradl

“NASA invests tax dollars into research that demonstrates direct benefit to the U.S. and transfers its technologies to industry by licensing its patents,” said Amy Hiltabidel, licensing manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

NASA engineers designed GRX-810 for aerospace applications, including liquid rocket engine injectors, combustors, turbines, and hot-section components capable of enduring temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

“GRX-810 represents a new alloy design space and manufacturing technique that was impossible a few years ago,” said Tim Smith, materials researcher at NASA Glenn.

Hot-fire testing of GRX-810 injector and nozzle components at Marshall Test Stand 115 using liquid oxygen and liquid methane propellants. NASA

Smith co-invented the superalloy along with his Glenn colleague Christopher Kantzos using a time-saving computer modeling and laser 3D-printing process that fuses metals together, layer-by-layer. Tiny particles containing oxygen atoms spread throughout the alloy enhance its strength.

Compared to other nickel-base alloys, GRX-810 can endure higher temperatures and stress and can last up to 2,500 times longer. It’s also nearly four times better at flexing before breaking and twice as resistant to oxidation damage.

“Adoption of this alloy will lead to more sustainable aviation and space exploration,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. “This is because jet engine and rocket components made from GRX-810 will lower operating costs by lasting longer and improving overall fuel efficiency.”

Research and development teams include those from Glenn, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Ohio State University, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where the most recent testing included 3D-printed rocket engine parts.

Marshall completed a successful hot-fire test series at Test Stand 115 in 2023. This test series demonstrated GRX-810 injectors and regeneratively cooled nozzles for liquid rocket engines. The center is working to advance additive manufacturing for propulsion applications, but also developing 3D-printing technologies to deploy in space for manufacturing. Marshall has capabilities for the entire design, analysis, manufacturing, hot- fire testing, and certification lifecycle of complex additively manufactured propulsion components and engine systems to enable high performance for NASA, government, and commercial space missions.

NASA develops many technologies to solve the challenges of space exploration, advance the understanding of our home planet, and improve air transportation. Through patent licensing and other mechanisms, NASA has spun off more than 2,000 technologies for companies to develop into products and solutions supporting the American economy.

› Back to Top

Agency’s New Mobile Launcher Stacks Up for Future Artemis Missions 

The foundation is set at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launching crewed missions aboard the agency’s larger and more powerful SLS (Space Launch System) Block 1B rocket in support of Artemis IV and future missions. On May 9, teams with NASA’s EGS (Exploration Ground Systems) Program and contractor Bechtel National Inc. transferred the primary base structure of the mobile launcher 2 to its permanent mount mechanisms using the spaceport’s beast-mode transporter – the crawler.  

Teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program and primary contractor Bechtel National Inc. continue moving the base structure of mobile launcher 2 to a permanent mount structure where assembly will be completed at Kennedy Space Center. The 355-foot-tall mobile launcher 2 with a two-story base and a tower will be used to assemble and process the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building on NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon beginning with Artemis IV.NASA/Madison Tuttle

The mobile launcher serves as the primary interface between the ground launch systems, SLS rocket, and Orion spacecraft that will launch the SLS Block 1B rocket, with its enhanced upper stage, to the Moon, allowing the agency to send astronauts and heavier cargo into lunar orbit than its predecessor, SLS Block 1. With Artemis, NASA will land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface and establish long-term exploration for scientific discovery and to prepare for human missions to Mars.  

With NASA’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building in the background, teams with the agency’s Exploration Ground Systems Program and primary contractor, Bechtel National, Inc. continue construction on the base of the platform for the new mobile launcher.NASA/Isaac Watson

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the SLS Program.

Read more about the mobile launcher.

› Back to Top

Chandra Notices the Galactic Center is Venting

Recent images show evidence for an exhaust vent attached to a chimney releasing hot gas from a region around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, as reported in a press release. In the main image of this graphic, X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) have been combined with radio data from the MeerKAT telescope (red).

Previously, astronomers had identified a “chimney” of hot gas near the Galactic Center using X-ray data from Chandra and ESA’s XMM-Newton. Radio emission detected by MeerKAT shows the effect of magnetic fields enclosing the gas in the chimney.

These images show evidence for an exhaust vent attached to a chimney releasing hot gas from a region around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In the main image of this graphic, X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) have been combined with radio data from the MeerKAT telescope (red).X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Chicago/S.C. Mackey et al.; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/N. Wolk

The evidence for the exhaust vent is highlighted in the inset, which includes only Chandra data. Several X-ray ridges showing brighter X-rays appear in white, roughly perpendicular to the plane of the Galaxy. Researchers think these are the walls of a tunnel, shaped like a cylinder, which helps funnel hot gas as it moves upwards along the chimney and away from the Galactic Center.

A labeled version of the image gives the locations of the exhaust vent, the chimney, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy (called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short) and the plane of the galaxy.

This newly discovered vent is located near the top of the chimney about 700 light-years from the center of the Galaxy. To emphasize the chimney and exhaust vent features the image has been rotated by 180 degrees from the conventional orientation used by astronomers, so that the chimney is pointed upwards.

The authors of the new study think that the exhaust vent formed when hot gas rising through the chimney struck cooler gas lying in its path. The brightness of the exhaust vent walls in X-rays is caused by shock waves – like sonic booms from supersonic planes – generated by this collision. The left side of the exhaust vent is likely particularly bright in X-rays because the gas flowing upwards is striking the tunnel wall at a more direct angle and with more force than other regions.

A labeled version of the image.X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Chicago/S.C. Mackey et al.; Radio: NRF/SARAO/MeerKAT; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/N. Wolk

The researchers determined that the hot gas is most likely coming from a sequence of events involving material falling towards Sgr A*. They think eruptions from the black hole then drove the gas upwards along the chimneys, and out through the exhaust vent.

It is unclear how often material is falling onto Sgr A*. Previous studies have indicated that dramatic X-ray flares take place every few hundred years at or near the location of the central black hole, so those could play important roles in driving the hot gas upwards through the exhaust vent. Astronomers also estimate that the Galactic black hole rips apart and swallows a star every 20,000 years or so. Such events would lead to powerful, explosive releases of energy, much of which would be destined to rise through the chimney vent.

The paper describing these results is published in The Astrophysical Journal and a preprint is available online. The authors of the paper are Scott Mackey (University of Chicago), Mark Morris (University of California, Los Angeles), Gabriele Ponti (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Merate), Konstantina Anastasopoulou (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Palermo), and Samaresh Mondal (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics in Merate).

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.

Read more from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

› Back to Top

Juno Mission Spots Jupiter’s Tiny Moon Amalthea

NASA’s Juno mission captured new views of Jupiter during its 59th close flyby of the giant planet on March 7. They provide a good look at Jupiter’s colorful belts and swirling storms, including the Great Red Spot. Close examination reveals something more: two glimpses of the tiny moon Amalthea.

NASA’s Juno mission captured these views of Jupiter during its 59th close flyby of the giant planet March 7. They provide a good look at Jupiter’s colorful belts and swirling storms, including the Great Red Spot.Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing by Gerald Eichstädt

With a radius of just 52 miles, Amalthea has a potato-like shape, lacking the mass to pull itself into a sphere. In 2000, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft revealed some surface features, including impact craters, hills, and valleys. Amalthea circles Jupiter inside Io’s orbit, which is the innermost of the planet’s four largest moons, taking 0.498 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Amalthea is the reddest object in the solar system, and observations indicate it gives out more heat than it receives from the Sun. This may be because, as it orbits within Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field, electric currents are induced in the moon’s core. Alternatively, the heat could be from tidal stresses caused by Jupiter’s gravity.

At the time that the first of these two images was taken, the Juno spacecraft was about 165,000 miles above Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of about 5 degrees north of the equator.

A close examination of the views of Jupiter reveals two glimpses of the tiny moon Amalthea, highlighted in this image.Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Image processing by Gerald Eichstädt

Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt made these images using raw data from the JunoCam instrument, applying processing techniques to enhance the clarity of the images.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) funded the Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

Learn more about NASA citizen science.

› Back to Top

Hubble Glimpses a Star-Forming Factory

The celestial object showcased in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the spiral galaxy UGC 9684, which lies around 240 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Boötes. This image shows an impressive example of several classic galactic features, including a clear bar in the galaxy’s center, and a halo surrounding its disk.

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope highlights the spiral galaxy UGC 9684. ESA/Hubble & NASA, C. Kilpatrick

The data for this Hubble image came from a study of Type-II supernovae host galaxies. These cataclysmic stellar explosions take place throughout the universe, and are of great interest to astronomers, so automated surveys scan the night sky and attempt to catch sight of them. The supernova which brought UGC 9684 to Hubble’s attention occurred in 2020. It has since faded from view and is not visible in this image, which was taken in 2023.

Remarkably, the 2020 supernova isn’t the only one that astronomers have seen in this galaxy – UGC 9684 has hosted four supernova-like events since 2006, putting it up there with the most active supernova-producing galaxies. It turns out that UGC 9684 is a quite active star-forming galaxy, calculated as producing one solar mass worth of stars every few years. The most massive of these stars are short-lived, a few million years, and end their days as supernova explosions. This high level of star formation makes UGC 9684 a veritable supernova factory, and a galaxy to watch for astronomers hoping to examine these exceptional events.

› Back to Top

Categories: NASA

NASA Invites Media to View NOAA’s Newest Environmental Satellite

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 3:11pm
Technicians monitor movement and guide NOAA’s Geostationary Operation Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) as a crane hoists it on to a spacecraft dolly in a high bay at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA will host a media availability to view NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s) GOES-U (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite U) spacecraft Thursday June 6, at the Astrotech Space Operations payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida.

NASA is targeting a two-hour launch window opening at 5:16 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 25, for the launch of GOES-U on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Ahead of the launch, media will have an opportunity to photograph the satellite and speak with subject-matter experts. As the fourth and final satellite in the GOES-R Series, GOES-U will continue weather observations and include a new compact coronagraph that will image the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere to detect and characterize coronal mass ejections.

Media interested in participating in the June 6 event must RSVP by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, and submit their request online at:


NASA’s media accreditation policy is available online. For questions about accreditation, please email: ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.

Facility Access

Due to spacecraft cleanliness requirements, this invitation is open to a limited number of media with no more than two requests per media organization. This event is open to U.S. citizens who possess an unexpired government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, and proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate.

Media who attend this event must comply with cleanroom guidelines. This includes wearing specific cleanroom garments; avoiding cologne, cosmetics, and high-heeled shoes; cleaning camera equipment under the supervision or assistance of contamination control specialists; and placing all electronics in airplane mode in the designated areas near the spacecraft. NASA will provide detailed guidance to approved media.

About GOES-U

The GOES-R series has improved the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property, and the nation’s economic health and prosperity.

The advanced instruments on the GOES-R series of satellites provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment with sharper resolution and rapid-refresh imagery, as well as real-time mapping of lightning activity and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.

NASA and NOAA collaborate on various missions to enhance our understanding of Earth, its climate, and its environment, enhancing the safety and well-being of all humanity. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the acquisition of the spacecraft and instruments and built the Magnetometer instrument for GOES-T and GOES-U. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, manages the launch services for the GOES missions. Lockheed Martin designs, builds, and tests the GOES-R series satellites. L3Harris Technologies provides the primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, along with the ground system, which includes the antenna system for data reception.

The GOES-U spacecraft is the last of the GOES-R Series satellites, which are planned to operate into the 2030s. Looking forward, NOAA is working with NASA to develop the next generation of operational satellites in geostationary orbit, called Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO). This program will provide new and improved observations of the atmosphere, weather, and ocean to help address emerging environmental issues, respond to the effects of Earth’s changing climate, and improve forecasting and warning of severe weather and hazards. NASA will manage the development of the GeoXO satellites and launch them for NOAA.

For more information about the GOES-U mission, visit:



Liz Vlock
Headquarters, Washington

Leejay Lockhart
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Share Details Last Updated May 15, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA

Maintenance on High-Speed Wind Tunnel

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 2:34pm
Clamshell hatch of UPWT 3-stage compressor in the open position. The outer diameter of the case is approximately 24 feet. Stator blades (in green on left) will be inspected and instrumented to determine extent of stator resonance which occurs at different RPMs. NASA/ James Bell

During April and May 2024, maintenance is being conducted within the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel (UPWT) complex at NASA Ames Research Center.  One key part of this maintenance is the inspection of stators in the 3-stage compressor.  Stators are fixed blades that control the flow of air, which can reach a speed of Mach 1.4 (about 1100 miles per hour in air at 100F) within the UPWT.  Blade resonance of the stators may be responsible for significant wear on the compressor.  The figure below shows the opening of the stator clamshell to enable that inspection.

Share Details Last Updated May 15, 2024 Related Terms Explore More 4 min read NASA Teammates Recall Favorite Memories Aboard Flying Laboratory Article 2 days ago 10 min read What Is… Earth’s Atmosphere? Article 2 days ago 5 min read Station Science 101 | Research in Microgravity: Higher, Faster, Longer Article 3 days ago Keep Exploring Discover Related Topics


Humans in Space

Climate Change

Solar System

Categories: NASA

NASA Honors Three Chroniclers for Helping Tell America’s Space Story  

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 2:20pm

Through decades of hard work, three storytellers brought out of this world news down to Earth, providing a lens through which young and old could watch space exploration unfold. This week, NASA recognized the contributions of these Chroniclers during a May 15, 2024, ceremony at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  

NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Associate Director of Management Burt Summerfield was at the spaceport’s Press Site for the unveiling of three brass plates bearing the names of the 2024 honorees – Dan Billow, Michael R. Brown, and Margaret (Maggie) Persinger. 

Dan Billow, Mike Brown, and Maggie Persinger were honored May 15, 2024, during the 2024 Kennedy Chroniclers ceremony at the Press Site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Three brass plates bearing their names were added to the wall of the “bullpen,” where reporters traditionally gather to cover launches and events at NASA Kennedy. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

“The Chroniclers ceremony is one of Press Site’s greatest traditions,” Summerfield said. “We get a chance to extend our deepest thank you to members of the media – and our NASA and industry communicators – who go above and beyond to tell our story to the world,”  

The inductees join the list of 82 other Chroniclers awardees whose names hang proudly on the wall in the “bullpen” at Kennedy’s Press Site, where journalists, photographers and broadcasters have gathered to cover the space industry since 1962. 

The honorees were nominated by other members of the news media and selected by a panel of NASA officials and current space reporters. 

Dan Billow was born in 1960 in Orange County, California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1982 in radio and television from California State University in Fullerton and completed a certificate in meteorology from Mississippi State University in 2008. 

Dan began his career in 1982 as a news reporter at KRCR-TV in Redding, California. From 1985 to 1987, he worked as a news reporter with KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1987, Dan took a job with WESH-TV in Orlando, Florida, as a news reporter and meteorologist. While there, he covered all space shuttle missions from 1988-2011. He also covered NASA’s Earth and other planetary missions, including Mars landings, spacecraft flights to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, the Sun, and Earth’s moon. Dan experienced weightlessness in a NASA KC-135 aircraft in 1998, and he even experienced simulated space shuttle landings in a Shuttle Training Aircraft commanded by astronaut Chris Ferguson in 2011. 

Dan earned the Society of Professional Journalists Silver Medallion in 2003 and the duPont-Columbia Award in 2004 for coverage of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, as well as three regional Emmy awards. 

Dan retired in 2021, settling in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia with his wife of 41 years, Rebecca. They have three adult children: Alex, Jordan, and Marie. 

“Spaceflight is romance – there’s an element of grandeur to it – and that’s the way I covered it,” Billow said. “Spaceflight is beauty, and I will continue to watch the next generation of reporters covering it.” 

Michael R. Brown served in the United States Navy from 1968 to 1972. Following his Navy service, Michael studied photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale from 1974 to 1976 and launched his career as a photojournalist beginning with the Thomasville Times in Georgia in 1977. 

In 1978, Michael accepted a job with Florida Today as a photojournalist. He had many notable accomplishments during his 34-year career with Florida Today, including covering all 135 Space Shuttle launches as well as the launches of hundreds of expendable rockets. Notably, he was recognized as a finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his photo coverage of the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. Michael now lives and works in Florida as a freelance photographer. 

“We had a lot of fun setting up remote cameras during shuttle days to get just the right shots,” Brown said. “If we had an idea for a photo, the people here bent over backwards to make sure we could get what we needed. But working with the people here was what I really enjoyed most.” 

Margaret (Maggie) Persinger began her career at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as an archivist assistant in 1975. As a result of her in-depth research of the space program at Kennedy, she was hired by Technicolor to work as a film file at the Motion Picture Lab at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida from 1978 to 1986. Maggie then moved to the Photo Lab at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where she worked until 1992, ending her time as lead of the Film File Library. 

In 1992, Margaret transferred to Kennedy’s Press Site, providing still imagery to newspapers, wires, and magazines via black and white as well as color photos, slides, and transparencies. With the rise of the digital era, imagery transitioned to include photo CDs and eventually to digital images on the internet. These shifts in technology required learning brand new techniques, procedures, computers, and programs. With her knowledge and experience, Maggie became the Photo Editor at Kennedy. 

In 1995, Maggie’s responsibilities grew to include video, motion picture film, and audio tape releases to the media. Originally this entailed research into the subject matter on VHS, beta tapes, and audio tapes used by TV, motion picture film productions, and radio. It wasn’t long before technology growth changed the nature of her job again with the introduction of high-definition capability and tapes, which added to the already extensive library. Hard copy tapes eventually gave way to digital formats, requiring Maggie to edit video clips that could be rapidly released to the media via computer, thumb drives, or large capacity decks enabling a vast amount of footage. Without a requirement to mail tapes, videos shot at Kennedy to be edited and viewed quickly around the world. 

Maggie’s career saw many advances in film and technology, allowing her the rare opportunity to work with many types of media – newspapers, wires, magazines, TV, documentaries, motion picture film productions, and social media. 

“I was so proud of what NASA is doing and that I could help get word out to the public,” Persinger said. “Back when we worked with print photos and tape, I remember meeting reporters at all hours and at locations like the bowling alley to be sure they had what they needed for their stories.” 

The Chroniclers ceremony is typically held in early May to honor the first U.S. human spaceflight, Mercury-Redstone 3, or Freedom 7, on May 5, 1961. The 15-minute, 28-second flight sent astronaut Alan Shepard into orbit around Earth, ending with a successful splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. 

For more listings of all The Chroniclers, visit: The Chroniclers – NASA 

Categories: NASA

5 Things to Know About NASA’s Tiny Twin Polar Satellites

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 2:17pm
This artist’s concept depicts one of two PREFIRE CubeSats in orbit around Earth. The NASA mission will measure the amount of far-infrared radiation the planet’s polar regions shed to space – information that’s key to understanding Earth’s energy balance.NASA/JPL-Caltech

Called PREFIRE, this CubeSat duo will boost our understanding of how much heat Earth’s polar regions radiate out to space and how that influences our climate.

Twin shoebox-size climate satellites will soon be studying two of the most remote regions on Earth: the Arctic and Antarctic. The NASA mission will measure the amount of heat the planet emits into space from these polar regions — information that’s key to understanding the balance of energy coming into and out of Earth and how that affects the planet’s climate.

The data from the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will help improve our understanding of the greenhouse effect at the poles — specifically, the capacity of water vapor, clouds, and other elements of Earth’s atmosphere to trap heat and keep it from radiating into space. Researchers will use this information to update climate and ice models, which will lead to better predictions of how sea level, weather, and snow and ice cover are likely to change in a warming world.

Each of PREFIRE’s cube satellites, or CubeSats, will use a thermal infrared spectrometer to measure the heat, in the form of far-infrared energy, radiated into space by Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Here are five things to know about this small but mighty mission:

1. The PREFIRE CubeSats will provide new information on how Earth’s atmosphere and ice influence the amount of heat being radiated out to space from the Arctic and Antarctic.

The CubeSats will gather data over the poles using sensors that are sensitive to 10 times more infrared wavelengths than any similar instrument. Information gathered by the mission will advance our understanding of when and where the poles shed heat into space, as well as why the Arctic has warmed more than 2½ times faster than the rest of the planet since the 1970s.

2. This mission will focus on the far-infrared portion of the heat Earth emits into space.

Just beyond the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum sits the infrared, a spectrum of longer-wavelength light that can be sensed as heat. Essentially all of Earth’s heat emissions happen at infrared wavelengths between 4 and 100 micrometers. At the planet’s cold polar regions, 60% of the heat emissions occur at far-infrared wavelengths (longer than 15 micrometers). Researchers have relatively little data on which parts of the Arctic and Antarctic are shedding this heat. PREFIRE will help address this lack of knowledge, giving scientists a better idea of how efficiently far-infrared heat is emitted by things like snow and sea ice, and how clouds influence the amount of far-infrared radiation that escapes to space.

3. Data from PREFIRE will help improve polar and global climate models.

By filling in gaps in our knowledge of Earth’s energy budget, PREFIRE will sharpen our understanding of what drives the loss of polar ice on land and sea, and related questions of sea level rise. This will help researchers better predict how the heat exchange between Earth and space will change in the future, and how those changes will affect things like ice sheet melting, atmospheric temperatures, and global weather. PREFIRE data will be available to the public through NASA’s Atmospheric Science Data Center.

4. The PREFIRE CubeSats are designed to answer critical questions using a platform that’s lower-cost than a full-size satellite.

The PREFIRE CubeSats use advances in spectrometry to measure processes associated with ice melt and formation, snow melt and accumulation, and changes in cloud cover. A single satellite that revisits the same region of Earth every several days can monitor seasonal changes that researchers can use to improve climate models. But following the interactions between Earth’s surface and atmosphere, such as the amount of cloud cover temporarily effecting the temperature of the area beneath it, requires more frequent measurements. Two satellites in asynchronous near-polar orbits — passing over a given spot on Earth at different times, looking at the same area within hours of each other — could catch some of these shorter-time-scale phenomena.

5. The PREFIRE mission is helping to train the next generation of satellite climate scientists.

NASA developed PREFIRE with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including team members from the universities of Michigan and Colorado. The mission engages a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students, who make up a significant portion of the science team.

More About the Mission

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages PREFIRE for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate and provided the spectrometers. Blue Canyon Technologies built the CubeSats and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will process the data the instruments collect. The launch services provider, Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Long Beach, California, will launch both PREFIRE CubeSats from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

To learn more about PREFIRE, visit:


Get the PREFIRE fact sheet News Media Contacts

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

Karen Fox / Elizabeth Vlock
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1100 / 202-358-1600
karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / elizabeth.a.vlock@nasa.gov


Share Details Last Updated May 15, 2024 Related Terms Explore More 5 min read NASA’s Juno Provides High-Definition Views of Europa’s Icy Shell Article 18 hours ago 5 min read How ‘Glowing’ Plants Could Help Scientists Predict Flash Drought Article 2 days ago 4 min read NASA Teammates Recall Favorite Memories Aboard Flying Laboratory Article 2 days ago
Categories: NASA

NASA’s X-59 Passes Milestone Toward Safe First Flight 

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 2:14pm

4 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater) NASA and Lockheed Martin test pilots inspect the painted X-59 as it sits on the ramp at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale, California. The X-59 is the centerpiece of NASA’s Quesst mission, which seeks to solve one of the major barriers to supersonic flight over land, currently banned in the United States, by making sonic booms quieter.NASA / Steve Freeman

NASA has taken the next step toward verifying the airworthiness for its quiet supersonic X-59 aircraft with the completion of a milestone review that will allow it to progress toward flight. 

A Flight Readiness Review board composed of independent experts from across NASA has completed a study of the X-59 project team’s approach to safety for the public and staff during ground and flight testing. The review board looked in detail at the project team’s analysis of potential hazards, focusing on safety and risk identification.  

Flight Readiness Review is the first step in the flight approval process. The board’s work will provide the X-59 team with insights and recommendations toward systems checkouts on the ground and first flight. 

“It’s not a pass-fail,” said Cathy Bahm, NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstrator project manager. “We’ll be getting actions from the board and will work with them to resolve those and work toward the Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review.” 

NASA and prime contractor Lockheed Martin are developing the X-59 to reduce the sound of a sonic boom to a quieter “thump.” The aircraft is at the center of NASA’s Quesst mission, which will use it to gather data that could revolutionize air travel, potentially paving the way for a new generation of commercial aircraft that can travel faster than the speed of sound.

Commercial supersonic flight over land has been banned for more than 50 years because of the noise of sonic booms. 

X-59 Team Update

“The Flight Readiness Review focused on specific aspects of the X-59 team’s work on the aircraft, but also served as an overview and update on the entire project,” said Jay Brandon, chief engineer for the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator project.  

 “It gave us the opportunity to stop working for a minute and gather what we’ve done so we could tell our story, not just to the board, but to the whole project team,” Brandon said.  

With the Flight Readiness Review complete, the upcoming Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review will be the next safety milestone.

The Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review board includes senior leaders from several NASA centers and Lockheed Martin. It will review findings from the Flight Readiness Review, as well as the project team’s response to those filings. The board will send a recommendation to NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s director, who signs the airworthiness certificate.  

Finally, the team will provide a technical brief to another review board based on test objectives, how the tests are being carried out, the risks involved, and the risk-mitigation actions the team has taken. The X-59 team would have to address any issues raised in the brief before the board, led by NASA Armstrong chief engineer Cynthia J. “CJ” Bixby, will sign a flight request.  

“It’s really an exciting time on the project,” Bahm said. “It’s not an easy road, but there’s a finite set of activities that are in front of us.” 

Artist illustration of the X-59 in flight over land.Lockheed Martin The Path Forward 

There are significant steps to be completed before flights can begin. The X-59 team is preparing for upcoming major ground tests focused on systems integration engine runs, and electromagnetic interference. 

The X-59 aircraft is a bold, new design, but many of its components are from well-established aircraft, including landing gear from an Air Force F-16 fighter, a cockpit canopy from a NASA T-38 trainer, and a control stick from an Air Force F-117 stealth fighter are among those parts. 

“None of these systems have ever worked and played together before,” said Brad Neal, chairman for the X-59 Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review board. “It’s a brand-new thing that we are developing, even though they’re components that have been on different legacy aircraft. As we get into integration testing here, it’s going to be a great opportunity to learn.’’  

Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More 4 min read NASA Teammates Recall Favorite Memories Aboard Flying Laboratory Article 2 days ago 5 min read Meet NASA Women Behind World’s Largest Flying Laboratory Article 3 days ago 3 min read NASA Licenses 3D-Printable Superalloy to Benefit US Economy Article 7 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA


Humans In Space

Supersonic Flight

Explore NASA’s History

Share Details Last Updated May 15, 2024 EditorLillian GipsonContactKristen Hatfieldkristen.m.hatfield@nasa.govJim Bankejim.banke@nasa.gov Related Terms
Categories: NASA

Artemis Accords Reach 40 Signatories as NASA Welcomes Lithuania

NASA - Breaking News - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 2:08pm
Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuanian Minister of Economy and Innovation, signs the Artemis Accords in the presence of United States Ambassador Kara C. McDonald at a ceremony in conjunction with Vilnius Space Days.Credit: Lithuanian Innovation Agency

A milestone was reached on Wednesday as Lithuania became the 40th nation to join NASA and the international coalition in pursuit of safer space exploration by signing the Artemis Accords. The ceremony took place at the Radisson Blu Lietuva hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania, and signifies a continued push toward transparency and peace as more nations traverse farther into space.

“Welcome to the Artemis Accords family, Lithuania,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our nations are strong partners – and now we expand this partnership to the cosmos. In just four years, a remarkable 40 countries have signed the Artemis Accords. Together, as a global coalition, we will explore the stars openly, responsibly, and in peace.”

United States Ambassador Kara C. McDonald attended the ceremony to speak on behalf of the U.S., and Aušrinė Armonaitė, Lithuanian Minister of Economy and Innovation, signed the Accords.

“The Lithuanian space sector has been growing steadily, with our innovative companies working in this field making significant strides,” Armonaitė said. “The Artemis Accords mark a new chapter and chart a course for future space exploration, underscoring our commitment to a responsible, sustainable, and cooperative presence in space.”

Remarks from NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy also played before the signing.

“Today is a pivotal day for Lithuania,” Melroy said. “We are living in the golden age of space. The days of one nation exploring the cosmos alone are gone. Today, we go together, and we go with international partners.”

The Artemis Accords align with NASA’s Artemis campaign, that will send astronauts including the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut to explore the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and to build the foundation for crewed missions to Mars.

NASA, along with the Department of State and seven other nations, established the Artemis Accords in 2020 to lay out a set of principles grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and three related space treaties. With the commitment of now 40 nations, the accords community will facilitate a long-term and peaceful presence of deep space exploration for the benefit of humanity.

To learn more about the Artemis Accords, visit:



Faith McKie / Lauren Low
Headquarters, Washington
faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / Lauren.e.low@nasa.gov

Share Details Last Updated May 15, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Categories: NASA