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Astronaut’s Making Final Preparation For EVA

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Rick Mastracchio (foreground) checks U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock.
Image Credit:NASA

NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata gathered together Thursday to review spacewalk procedures. Mastracchio and Hopkins will exit the station to replace a faulty pump module over a series of spacewalks. Wakata will operate the station’s robotic arm to maneuver the spacewalkers at the worksite.

The first spacewalk is scheduled for Saturday at 8:10 p.m. MYT when the spacewalkers will set up the worksite on the S1 truss. Monday’s spacewalk will include the removal of the old pump module and the installation of a spare pump module. If necessary a third spacewalk would occur on Christmas day to finalize the installation of the new pump module.

NASA Television will begin coverage of the spacewalks an hour before their 8:10 p.m. scheduled start times. The spacewalks are scheduled to last about six hours and 30 minutes. Shortly after the spacewalks conclude, mission controllers will participate in a briefing at Johnson Space Center to discuss the day’s activities.

A briefing was held Wednesday with International Space Station program manager Mike Suffredini, Flight Director Dina Contella and Lead Spacewalk Officer Allison Bolinger. The mission managers discussed how a faulty pump module forced the launch delay of the Cygnus resupply craft and led to the planning for the contingency spacewalks.

The astronauts are also preparing for the possibility of ammonia leaks during their spacewalk. The pump modules are filled with ammonia for cooling and leaks have occurred while disconnecting cables during previous repair spacewalks. If ammonia flakes get on a crew member’s suit, the spacewalkers would go through a series of decontamination steps before re-entering the space station.

In the Russian side of the space station, Commander Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy are preparing for a Dec. 27 pre-planned spacewalk. The cosmonauts with assistance from Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin resized their Orlan spacesuits, checked batteries and reviewed their translation paths to the external worksites.

The duo will install a foot restraint; install medium and high resolution cameras; jettison gear from a pair of external experiments; and install a new experiment as well as a payload boom on the Zvezda service module.

Kotov and Ryazanskiy also participated in a study that monitored their cardiovascular system. Tyurin later worked on the Russian radiation detection experiment Matryeshka that observes radiation absorption in a mannequin.

 

 

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Watching Yutu’s Lunar Lander From Orbit

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China’s moon rover Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rolls down a ramp on the Chang’e 3 lander after touching down on the moon’s Bay of Rainbows on Dec. 14, 2013.
Credit: CNTV

A sharp-eyed NASA spacecraft is keeping tabs on China’s recently arrived lunar lander, all in the name of science.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has added China’s Chang’e 3 lander and associated rover — which touched down on the moon on Saturday (Dec. 14) — to its list of observation targets.

“Repeated imaging of the landing site by LROC [the LRO Camera] will allow for detailed measurements of changes to the surface caused by the landing and movement of the Chang’e 3 rover,” NASA officials wrote in a statement on Friday (Dec. 13).

 

“LROC can image the surface to identify changes caused by Chang’e 3’s descent engine, similar to what has been observed from previous lunar landers,” they added. “The resulting atmospheric and surface changes will provide LRO with a new scientific opportunity to observe the transport of gases on the moon and the effects of local disturbances on the lunar regolith.”

Three other NASA moon probes also were slated to observe the Dec. 14 landing for scientific purposes. The agency’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), for example, kept an eye out for changes to the wispy lunar atmosphere caused by Chang’e 3’s touchdown, officials said.

And the two spacecraft making up NASA’s ARTEMIS mission (short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) did their part as well.

“The first ARTEMIS spacecraft (P1) will pass within 124 miles (200 km) of the lunar surface on December 14,” NASA officials wrote in the Dec. 13 statement. “According to current plans, the spacecraft will look for any plume signatures in the plasma or magnetic field associated with Chang’e 3’s landing. The second spacecraft (P2) will observe pristine solar wind plasma and magnetic field conditions. This information is needed to determine how dust is lofted from the lunar surface.”

The Chang’e 3 success marked China’s first-ever landing on the moon, and the first soft touchdown on the lunar surface since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. NASA’s last soft lunar landing came in 1972, on the Apollo 17 mission.

The Chang’e 3 mission carries a lander and a rover called Yutu, whose name means “Jade Rabbit.” (Yutu is a pet of the goddess Chang’e and travels with her to the moon in Chinese legends.) Both robots will conduct science observations on the lunar surface.

The $504 million LRO spacecraft launched in June 2009. It’s about the size of a Mini Cooper car and carries seven different science instruments, which it uses to observe the moon from an altitude of 31 miles (50 km).

NASA Works Towards Dec. 19 Cygnus Launch; Possible Repair Space Walks

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Flight Engineer Doug Wheelock worked outside the International Space Station in August 2010 to install a spare pump module.

NASA engineers continued efforts Sunday to regulate temperatures in one of two cooling loops on the International Space Station affected by the malfunction last week of a flow control valve in a cooling pump on the station’s starboard truss. A Flow Control Valve in the starboard Pump Module that enables the flow of ammonia to cool station systems stopped positioning itself properly last Wednesday, resulting in a drop of temperature in Cooling Loop A. That necessitated the shutdown of some support systems on the station. The temperature must be warm enough in the cooling lines to allow the system’s heat exchangers to dissipate excess heat from the station through the external radiators on the complex. The primary heat rejection capability for station systems shifted last week to Cooling Loop B that uses a fully operational Pump Module on the port truss.

Efforts overnight to fine-tune the position of an isolation valve associated with the flow control system in the Pump Module into a “sweet spot” to assist the faulty Flow Control Valve in regulating the affected cooling loop’s temperatures were still being evaluated as engineers continue to review the data, valve positioning techniques and additional methods of temperature management in the loop.

Meanwhile, parallel work is ongoing to either enable Orbital Sciences Corp. to launch its Antares rocket and the Cygnus cargo craft from the Wallops Flight Facility, Va. Thursday night at 9:19 p.m. EST on its first resupply mission to the space station, or for Expedition 38 astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins to mount a suite of spacewalks beginning Thursday to replace the faulty pump.

The International Space Station Program continues to keep both options on the table pending further engineering analysis and troubleshooting efforts on the station’s cooling system.

While the engineering work on the station’s cooling loop continued, technicians at Wallops prepared to load time-critical science cargo in the Cygnus spacecraft Sunday afternoon to preserve several days of launch opportunities beginning Thursday night. The current schedule calls for the vehicle fairing to be installed on the Antares upper stage around Cygnus on Monday. The Antares rocket and attached Cygnus are scheduled to rollout to the launch pad at Wallops in the wee hours Tuesday.

Meanwhile, aboard the space station, Mastracchio and Hopkins continued to prepare their spacesuits and other equipment in the Quest airlock Sunday should they be called upon to conduct spacewalks to replace the Pump Module.

Chris Hadfield Became Discovery News “Person Of The Year”

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On March 3, Hadfield oversaw the successful berthing of the robotic SpaceX Dragon resupply vehicle, using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to grab onto the second commercial delivery to the orbiting outpost. Coincidentally, Hadfield first rose to fame when, in 2001, he became the first Canadian to carry out a spacewalk, helping to install that same Canadarm2.

Colonel Chris Hadfield is a man of firsts. He was the first Canadian to carry out a spacewalk, the first Canadian to command the International Space Station and the first person in history to record a produced music video in space. Because of his unique ability to captivate the world, bringing a focus on space station science and what it’s like to live in space, Discovery News is proud to announce that Hadfield has been selected as the first Discovery News Person of the Year!

VIDEO: DNEWS Favorite Chris Hadfield Moments

Few would question Hadfield’s popularity. He was already known by millions as an astronaut who loves to share his experiences in orbit. He undoubtedly cemented his cosmic fame when he released the first authentic space music video a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in May 2013 during the final days of his tenure as space station commander.

VIDEO: Chris Hadfield cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”

After returning to Earth on May 13 and retiring from his astronaut career of 21 years, the 54 year-old Ontario native moved back to Canada to begin a new chapter of his life. Inundated by requests for speaking engagements, book tours and even a new job as adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, could Hadfield’s retirement actually be busier than when he was an astronaut?

“People say that, and it makes me laugh!” Hadfield told me over the phone. “People have no idea how busy and demanding the life of an astronaut is.”

After more than two decades working as an astronaut (and a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot before that), Hadfield gave me a small taste of the duties that were expected of him as a Canadian space man, culminating in an epic five month adventure on the orbiting outpost. Between the endless study, preparation, working with other astronauts and various leadership roles, very little time was left.

But the world is most familiar with Hadfield’s ability to share his experiences using all the tools at his disposal, most notably throughhis Twitter account @Cmdr_Hadfield. He became so effective at communicating with the world during Expedition 35 that the public had a very warped view on how much time he spent on Twitter.

“I think people get a kind of misperception about the amount of time that I was putting into social media,” he said. “It’s so simple to send a tweet. I’m taking photos regardless, all astronauts do, and I think I took 45,000 photographs in the five months on the space station. Once you get in the Cupola, who wouldn’t!”

The Cupola, a European-built module of the ISS where astronauts have an uninterrupted view of the Earth, was often used by Hadfield for some terrestrial photography, as well as a location to contemplate the orbital experience.

“To a large degree, that is what had the biggest impact — just a couple of minutes every day in amongst the 24 hours that I worked, most of them,” Hadfield continued. “So it was by no means the focus of what I did; the space station is a big, complex scientific laboratory and a complex structure that took a lot of work, but I’d try to send pictures of it on a daily basis and not just keep (the experience) to myself.”

Hadfield attributes his ability to connect with the world through social media as being behind his promotion to a household name.

ANALYSIS: What Happens When You Wring a Washcloth in Orbit?

“It’s enabled completely by technology. The beauty of social media is in the first word: it’s social,” he said. “This is a huge difference (from traditional media). Instead of telling people what we are doing on the space station, you can invite them on board to sharewhat we are doing on the space station.”

Commending NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, Hadfield pointed out that very little of the outreach he did would have been possible if it weren’t for the space agencies’ foresight to enable the technology on the ISS.

Though certainly not the first to showcase experiments on the space station, Hadfield — with his unique “bent” on teaching — became very well known for some key demonstrations he videoed, to the delight of his growing fan base. From what happens when you cry in space, to the physics of water surface tension when you wring a wet tea towel in microgravity, every video became a Youtube sensation.

“It’s something that I was resolved to do since I was nine — if I get to (go into space), I want to share it and show folks what it’s really like,” Hadfield explained. “I tried to do it on the previous two flights, but I was limited by the technologies that existed.”

Hadfield’s previous spaceflight missions included STS-74, a shuttle Atlantis mission to the Russian Mir space station in November 1995, and STS-100, an Endeavour mission to the International Space Station to install the Canadarm2 robotic arm in April 2001. It was during the latter mission that he became the first Canadian to complete a spacewalk.

Then, on Dec. 19, 2012, he launched in the Russian Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft to begin his long-duration stay as a part of Expedition 35 with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. When he took command (after the Expedition 34 crew departed the station in March 2013), it was only the second time that neither a NASA astronaut nor Russian cosmonaut was in command of the ISS.

During his stay on the space station, Hadfield was responsible for the lives of five other crewmembers and helped to run dozens of scientific experiments; he also oversaw the berthing of the second SpaceX commercial cargo run.

PHOTOS: Astronaut Guide: How to Train Your Dragon

Through his expert social media skills, he quickly amassed a huge number of followers. So, ending his mission on a high note, the talented astro-musician combined his passion for space with his passion for music and starred in the first professionally-crafted music video shot in space.

Taking on the roles of “Ground Control” and “Major Tom,” Hadfield sung the David Bowie classic “Space Oddity,” a video that will be forever cemented in spaceflight history. But why did he choose to do it?

“I was just trying to be a good dad!” Hadfield said with a laugh. “I mean really, at the start, my son was insistent. He was like ‘Dad, you have to do this, everyone wants you to do it!’ It was one of those ‘Right, OK, I’ll try to squeeze it in’ projects.”

Working with friends and fellow Canadians Emm Gryner, an award-winning musician, and Joe Corcoran, a music producer based in LA, Hadfield crafted the vocals. Then his son Evan urged him to record the now-famous music video.

“’Space Oddity’ really (came about) because my son was insistent … and he was right. The worldwide response was phenomenal and continues to be.”

By this point, Hadfield had reached a million followers on Twitter and had garnered a huge following on Reddit, Tumblr and Facebook (to name just a few social networks), but being in space meant that he wasn’t fully aware of how his popularity on the ground had skyrocketed.

“I wasn’t all that aware … Once in a while I’d get a tweet from William Shatner or from another celebrity and that was kind of delightful,” he said. “It was like ‘Hey, other people are paying attention to what we are doing!’ but I think that that is the slice that people see, they thought that was the priority of what I was doing.”

ANALYSIS: Space Station Astronaut Calls for Syria Peace

Despite the huge social media following Hadfield still enjoys, it is still the tangible, everyday experiences that he holds most dear.

“The scope of the response is wonderful. It’s been really delightful for me. Everywhere that I go I am stopped by people that I’ve never met telling me that they’re proud of me. I don’t know of a bigger complement or privilege – no matter what awards you win or what people say for numbers, a parade of strangers stopping me to say how proud they are is a delightful position to be in.”

To find out more about Chris Hadfield’s odyssey in space, his massively popular book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything” is now available.

Astronomical Almanac 2014

2013 will wrapped up soon, Have you made ​​plans for the next year of observation? Still do not know what will happen next?

Let’s refer to the Astronomical Almanac 2014 ..

Celestial phenomenon that has been adapted for us in Malaysia and countries in southeast asia.

To download, simply click on the images and click save.

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© 2013 by Daniel R, Junior.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Daniel R, Junior.

Heat Shield for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is just about ready to turn up the heat. The spacecraft’s heat shield arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Wednesday night aboard the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft.

The heat shield, the largest of its kind ever built, is to be unloaded Thursday and is scheduled for installation on the Orion crew module in March, in preparation for Orion’s first flight test in September 2014.

>< Video: Textron team readies Orion heat shield for shipment to Kennedy

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Orion’s heat shield is loaded onto the Super Guppy in Manchester, N.H., for transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Image Credit: NASA

“The heat shield completion and delivery to Kennedy, where Orion is being prepared, is a major step toward Exploration Flight Test-1 next year,” said Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. “Sending Orion into space for the first time is going to give us crucial data to improve our design decisions and develop Orion to send humans on future missions to an asteroid and Mars.”

The heat shield began its journey in January 2012 in Colorado, at Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin’s Waterton Facility near Denver. That was the manufacturing site for a titanium skeleton and carbon fiber skin that give the heat shield its shape and provide structural support during landing. They were shipped in March to Textron Defense Systems near Boston, where they were used in construction of the heat shield itself.

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NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft takes off from Manchester, N.H., carrying the heat shield that will protect Orion on its first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, to Kennedy Space Center for installation.
Image Credit: NASA

Textron installed a fiberglass-phenolic honeycomb structure on the skin, filled each of the honeycomb’s 320,000 cells with the ablative material Avcoat, then X-rayed and sanded each cell to match Orion’s design specifications. The Avcoat-treated shell will shield Orion from the extreme heat it will experience as it returns to Earth. The ablative material will wear away as it heats up during Orion’s re-entry into the atmosphere, preventing heat from being transferred to the rest of the capsule.

“Many people across the country have poured a tremendous amount of hard work into building this heat shield,” said Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer. “Their efforts are a critical part of helping us understand what it takes to bring a human-rated spacecraft back safely from deep space.”

Before and during its manufacture, the heat shield material was subjected to arc-jet testing NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Arc jets heat and expand gasses to very high temperatures and supersonic and hypersonic speeds, thus simulating the heating conditions that a returning spacecraft will experience.

The heat shield delivered to Kennedy will be used during Exploration Flight Test-1, a two-orbit flight that will take an uncrewed Orion capsule to an altitude of 3,600 miles. The returning capsule is expected to encounter temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere at up to 20,000 mph, faster than any spacecraft in the last 40 years.

Data gathered during the flight will influence decisions about design improvements on the heat shield and other Orion systems, authenticate existing computer models, and innovative new approaches to space systems and development. It also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for future Orion missions, which include exploring an asteroid and Mars.

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POST IS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON NASA.GOV

Cassini’s Best Look Yet At Saturn’s Crazy Hexagon

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This colorful view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is the highest-resolution view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole known as “the hexagon.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University)

Yes, I said hexagon. If you haven’t heard, our solar system’s second-largest planet has another curious feature besides its sprawling rings; it’s also in possession of an uncannily geometric six-sided jet stream encircling its north pole — at the heart of which lies a churning hurricane-like vortex over 1,800 miles wide. This hexagon has been known about since the days of Voyager, and now NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has presented us with the highest-resolution look yet at this odd atmospheric phenomenon.

Image This colorful view from NASA’s Cassini mission is the highest-resolution view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn’s north pole known as “the hexagon.” This movie, made from eight images obtained by Cassini’s imaging cameras over 10 hours on Dec. 10, 2012, is the first to show the hexagon in color filters and the first movie to show a complete view from the north pole down to about 70 degrees north latitude.

Click to play the animation full-size.

Scientists can see the motion of a wide variety of cloud structures that reside within the hexagon in this movie. There is a massive hurricane tightly centered on the north pole, with an eye about 50 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Numerous small vortices are also present, which appear as reddish ovals. Some of these vortices spin clockwise while the hexagon and hurricane spin counterclockwise. Some of those smaller features are swept along with the jet stream of the hexagon, as if on a racetrack.  The biggest of these vortices, seen near the lower right corner of the hexagon and appearing whitish, spans about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers), approximately twice the size of the largest hurricane on Earth.

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Cassini image of Saturn’s north pole and hexagon from Nov. 27, 2013 (NASA/JPL/SSI)

The differences in this version of the movie, in which different wavelengths of light from ultraviolet to visible to infrared have been assigned colors, show a distinct contrast between the types of atmospheric particles inside and outside the hexagon. Inside the hexagon there are fewer large haze particles and a concentration of small haze particles, while outside the hexagon, the opposite is true. The jet stream that makes up the hexagon seems to act like a barrier, which results in something like the “ozone hole” in the Antarctic.

This movie shows a view from directly over the north pole, keeping up with the rotation of the planet so that all the motion seen on the screen is the motion of the hexagonal jet stream or the storms inside of it, without any added motion from the spinning of the planet itself. The original images were re-projected to show this polar view.

High-resolution views of the hexagon have only recently become possible because of the changing of the seasons at Saturn and changes in the Cassini spacecraft’s orbit. The north pole was dark when Cassini first arrived in July 2004. The sun really only began to illuminate the entire interior of the hexagon in August 2009, with the start of northern spring.  In late 2012, Cassini began making swings over Saturn’s poles, giving it better views of the hexagon.

(Source: NASA press release)

ImageEDITOR’S NOTE:

POST IS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON LIGHTS IN THE DARK’s BLOG

Comet ISON Spotted From Space Station

Comet ISON Spotted From Space Station

A close inspection of this image, photographed by one of the Expedition 38 crew members aboard the International Space Station, reveals a pin-head sized view of an object which is actually the comet ISON, seen just to the right of center and a little below center in the frame. Hardware components of the orbital outpost and Earth’s atmosphere above the horizon take up most of the image. Most of the other bright dots in the sky are heavenly bodies. The comet is distinguishable by its tail.
Photo credit: NASA

Apollo 11, July 13, 1969.

Apollo 11, July 13, 1969.

This picture is of the gold replica of an olive branch, the traditional symbol of peace, which was left on the moon’s surface by Apollo 11 crewmembers. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, was in charge of placing the small replica (less than half a foot in length) on the moon. The gesture represents a fresh wish for peace for all mankind.

(credit: NASA-JSC)

Comet ISON likely broke up into pieces

STOCKHOLM: Once billed as the comet of the century, Comet ISON apparently was no match for the sun.

 Scientists said images from NASA spacecraft showed the comet approaching for a slingshot around the sun on Thursday, but just a trail of dust coming out on the other end. 

“It does seem like Comet ISON probably hasn’t survived this journey,” U.S. Navy solar researcher Karl Battams said in a Google+ hangout. 

Phil Plait, an astronomer who runs the “Bad Astronomy” blog, agreed, saying “I don’t think the comet made it.” 

Still, he said, it wouldn’t be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old space rock broke up into pieces, because astronomers might be able to study them and learn more about comets. 

“This is a time capsule looking back at the birth of the solar system,” he said. 

The comet was two-thirds of a mile wide as it got within 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) of the sun, which in space terms basically means grazing it. 

NASA solar physicist Alex Young said it would take a few hours to confirm ISON’s demise, but admitted things were not looking good. 

He said the comet had been expected to show up in images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft at around noon eastern time (1700 GMT), but almost four hours later there was “no sign of it whatsoever.” 

“Maybe over the last couple of days it’s been breaking up,” Young told The Associated Press. “The nucleus could have been gone a day or so ago.” 

 Images from other spacecraft showed a light streak continuing past the sun, but Young said that was most likely a trail of dust continuing in the comet’s trajectory.

“The comet itself is definitely gone, but it looks like there is a trail of debris,” he said. 

Comet ISON was first spotted by a Russian telescope in September last year. 

Some sky gazers speculated early on that it might become the comet of the century because of its brightness, although expectations dimmed as it got closer to the sun. 

Made up of loosely packed ice and dirt, it was essentially a dirty snowball from the Oort cloud, an area of comets and debris on the fringes of the solar system. 

Two years ago, a smaller comet, Lovejoy, grazed the sun and survived, but fell apart a couple of days later. 

“That’s why we expected that maybe this one would make it because it was 10 times the size,” Young said. 

It may be a while before there’s a sun-grazer of the same size, he said. 

“They are pretty rare,” Young said. “So we might not see one maybe even in our lifetime.”

 

This NASA image obtained November 27, 2013 shows Comet ISON, in this five-minute exposure taken at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and captured using a color CCD camera attached to a 14″ telescope located at Marshall on November 8, 2013 at 5:40 a.m. EST. US astrophysicists are split over what will happen when the comet ISON passes near the sun November 28, 2013, but a majority think it will break apart. Comets are frozen balls of space dust left over from the formation of stars and planets billions of years ago.So when one of them zips close to a hot star, like the Sun, sometimes the icy core… melts. “Many of us think it could break up into pieces, and some people think it won’t survive at all” after its brush near the Sun, said comet expert Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory during a telephone press conference. But he conceded, there are others who think the icy mass “will actually survive and come back out” on the other side of the sun, albeit somewhat shrunken down from its encounter with the Sun’s heat.

Clock Ticking for 2018 Private Manned Mars Mission

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An artist’s illustration of the manned spacecraft for the Inspiration Mars mission to send two astronauts on a Mars flyby mission in 2017-2018.
Credit: Inspiration Mars

A private manned Mars mission won’t get off the ground as planned in January 2018 unless it secures the support of the federal government within the next few months, officials say.

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Celebrating 15 Years of The International Space Station

Nov. 20, 1998, was a day to mark in history. The Russian Space Agency , now known as Roscosmos, launched a Proton rocket that lifted the pressurized module called Zarya, or “sunrise,” into orbit. This launch would truly be the dawn of the largest international cooperation effort in space to ever come to light.

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NASA Damage Map Helps in Typhoon Disaster Response

NASA Damage Map Helps in Typhoon Disaster Response

When Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on Earth, struck the Philippines Nov. 8, 2013, it tore a wide swath of destruction across large parts of the island nation. To assist in the disaster response efforts, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, generated this image of the storm’s hardest-hit regions, depicting its destruction.
The 40-by-50 kilometer damage proxy map, which covers a region near Tacloban City, where the massive storm made landfall, was processed by JPL’s Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team using X-band interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation. The technique uses a prototype algorithm to rapidly detect surface changes caused by natural or human-produced damage. The assessment technique is most sensitive to destruction of the built environment. When the radar images areas with little to no destruction, its image pixels are transparent. Increased opacity of the radar image pixels reflects damage, with areas in red reflecting the heaviest damage to cities and towns in the storm’s path. The time span of the data for the change is Aug. 19–Nov. 11, 2013. Each pixel in the damage proxy map is about 30 meters across.
ARIA is a JPL- and NASA-funded project being developed by JPL and Caltech. It is building an automated system for providing rapid and reliable GPS and satellite data to support the local, national, and international hazard monitoring and response communities. Using space-based imagery of disasters, ARIA data products can provide rapid assessments of the geographic region impacted by a disaster, as well as detailed imaging of the locations where damage occurred.

Launch Readiness Review Gives ‘Go’ for MAVEN Launch

ImageA Launch Readiness Review ended this morning with NASA and contractor managers giving MAVEN the “go” for launch at 1:28 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 18, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Today’s review is the final mission review for MAVEN and its ride into space, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V was also…

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Expedition 37 Crew, Olympic Torch Land in Kazakhstan

Three Expedition 37 crew members have landed after 166 days in space, completing a 70.3 million mile mission spanning more than 2,600 orbits of the Earth since their launch to the International Space Station in May.

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Expedition 37 Crew Heads Back to Earth

Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano undocked their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from aft end the International Space Station’s Zvezda service module at 7:26 a.m. MYT Sunday to begin the journey home. At the time of the undocking, the complex was orbiting 262 miles over northeast Mongolia.

A deorbit burn at 9:55 a.m. will put the Soyuz on track for a parachute-assisted landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of Dzhezkazgan at 10:49 a.m. (8:49 a.m. Monday, Kazakh time).

Returning to Earth along with Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano is the torch that will be used to light the Olympic flame at the Feb. 7 opening ceremonies of the 2013 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Expedition 37 Bids Farewell to Station Crewmates

ISS Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano bid farewell to their International Space Station crewmates and closed the hatch to their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module at 4 a.m. MYT.

When their Soyuz undocks at 7:26 a.m., it will mark the end of Expedition 37 and the start of Expedition 38 under the command of Oleg Kotov. Yurchikhin passed the helm of the station over to Kotov during a change of command ceremony Sunday.

A deorbit burn at 9:55 a.m. will put the Soyuz on track for a parachute-assisted landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of Dzhezkazgan at 10:49 a.m. ( 8:49 a.m. Monday, Kazakh time).

Expedition 37 Crew Returns Home Today

It is a busy weekend as three new crew members are adjusting to life aboard the International Space Station. A pair of cosmonauts is also getting ready for a Saturday morning spacewalk. Finally, three other station residents are packing up for their return home Sunday.

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Olympic Torch Highlights Station Spacewalk

Two Russian cosmonauts clad in Orlan spacesuits conducted an out-of-this-world hand-off of the Olympic torch at the start of Saturday’s 5-hour, 50-minute spacewalk to perform maintenance on the International Space Station.

Expedition 37 Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy opened the hatch to the Pirs docking compartment at 9:34 a.m. EST and floated outside to begin a photo opportunity with the unlit torch.

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India Successfully Launched Mars Probe

An Indian rocket has blasted off on the country’s first mission to Mars as it aims to become the only Asian nation to reach the Red Planet.

The rocket carrying the unmanned probe took off at 9.08am GMT from the Sriharikota spaceport, close to Chennai.

It entered orbit around Earth 44 minutes later, the country’s space agency confirmed.

The gold-coloured probe, which weighs 1,350kg (2,976lb), is about the size of a small car and is being carried by a 350-tonne rocket – much smaller than the US or Russian equivalents.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield: “I couldn’t run for about four months”

Col. Chris Hadfield, author of “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” discusses the effect of space on the human body, as well as how his body felt after he returned to Earth after living aboard the International Space Station.

Hybrid Solar Eclipse Wows Skywatchers Across The Globe

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The diamond ring effect of the 2013 total solar eclipse is seen in this amazing photo by eclipse-chasing photographer Ben Cooper, who captured the image from an airplane at 43,000 feet on Nov. 3, 2013 during a rare hybrid annual/total solar eclipse.
Credit: Ben Cooper/LaunchPhotography.com

A rare solar eclipse that began as a “ring of fire” and transformed into a spectacular total eclipse of the sun amazed skywatchers from North America to Africa today (Nov. 3), and they captured the photos to prove it.

The Sunday eclipse was a rare hybrid solar eclipse, which began over the Atlantic Ocean as an annular eclipse and transitioned into a full total solar eclipse for observers along the narrow path of totality in the eastern Atlantic and over parts of Africa. Observers along the U.S. East Coast and parts of Canada, meanwhile, awoke to a partial solar eclipse at sunrise.

“We witnessed totality here, and it was stunning,” said Paul Cox, who hosted a live webcast of the solar eclipse from Kenya for the online community observatory Slooh.com. The webcast included feeds from the GLORIA robotic telescope project and Slooh’s remotely operated observatory in the Canary Islands off Africa’s western coast. 

Cox and GLORIA project eclipse chasers set up telescopes and cameras near Kenya’s Lake Turkana and were prepared to witness about 14 seconds of totality as the moon crossed in front of the sun as seen from the region. A surprise sandstorm hammered the area just as the moon began its trip across the sun’s face, then clouds threatened to spoil the view.

But a last-minute thinning of the clouds allowed observers to observe the solar eclipse, Cox. Cheers could be heard in the Slooh webcast during totality and the sky clearly darkened visibly.

“It was alien … it was like nothing else I’ve seen,” Cox said in the webcast, adding that it was his first total solar eclipse experience. “It’s not a normal kind of dark. This is one of the most eerie … wow.”

 

Hybrid solar eclipses occur when the moon and sun align in a way in which, initially, the moon’s shadow falls short of the Earth’s surface, leaving a bright ring of light (the “ring of fire” or annulus) around the moon’s silhouette. As the eclipse progresses along Earth’s surface, the shadow reaches the surface to create the total solar eclipse. 

The last hybrid solar eclipse occurred in April 2005. The next one will not occur until 2023. 

For Cox, who was moved to tears by the experience, witnessing the total solar eclipse was an unforgettable experience. He and his team drove for three days to reach their observing site at Kenya’s Lake Turkana. 

“This is an absolute adventure for me because this is my first total solar eclipse,” Cox said.

 

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Veteran space photographer Ben Cooper captured this spectacular aerial view of the 2013 total solar eclipse from an eclipse-chasing airplane during the rare hybrid solar eclipse of Nov. 3, 2013. The photo was taken from 43,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean aboard a 12-person Falcon 900B jet chartered from Bermuda.
Credit: Ben Cooper/LaunchPhotography.com

Solar eclipse by land, sea and air

Several other eclipse-chasing expeditions on land, sea and air, including a team in Gabon, Africa led by astronomer Jay Pasachoff of Williams College, were also looking forward to observing the event. Pasachoff’s team planned to use the eclipse as a way to study the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, as well as space weather. A trio of cruise ship was also positioned along the eclipse path in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, while at least one chartered jet chased the moon’s shadow across the Atlantic from Bermuda.

Veteran space and launch photographer Ben Cooper, meanwhile, was among the small team who chartered the jet from Bermuda to chase today’s solar eclipse. He captured spectacular photos of the eclipse from an altitude of 43,000 feet (13,106 meters), including a spectacular view of the diamond ring effect as the moon appeared to cover the sun, despite some turbulence.

“For the first time ever, an aircraft was used to intercept an extremely short eclipse, doing so in a perpendicular crossing of the eclipse path. There was zero margin for error, with the plane required to hit a geographic point over the ocean at a precise second,” Cooper wrote on his website LaunchPhotography.com. “It is also just the second time a flight to intercept any very short eclipse (just seven seconds in our case) was accomplished successfully!”

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Photographer James Currie captured this view of the sunrise partial solar eclipse over Norfolk, Va., on Nov. 3, 2013 during a rare hybrid solar eclipse. ‘This was the first time I got to see a solar eclipse!’
Credit: James Currie

Partial solar eclipse views

The first observers of Sunday’s solar eclipse were along the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada, where the moon appeared to bite a chunk from the sunrise.

In West Orange, N.J., where an estimated 100 spectators gathered at the local Eagle Rock Reservation to watch the sunrise over New York City in the distance, the solar eclipse was visible only briefly before it disappeared into a low layer of thick clouds.

“Based on my timestamps, there was about 3 minutes where the eclipse was visible,” observer Nicholas Sperling, who captured an amazing view of the partial solar eclipse over the NYC skyline.

In Norfolk, Va., skywatcher James Currie photographed the solar eclipse from Ocean View Beach and reveled in the view.

“This was the first time I got to see a solar eclipse!” Currie wrote in an email.

In the United Arab Emirates, skywatcher Kristi Larson was expecting to enjoy a serene sunset over Abu Dhabi when she was surprised by the solar eclipse.

“[We] stepped outside tonight to watch the beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE sunset and was very perplexed to see just part of the sun,” adding that she learned of the solar eclipse by checking SPACE.com quickly. “If we would have known this was not your ordinary breath taking Abu Dhabi sunset we would have pulled out the ‘good’ camera, sadly we just snapped the picture with an iPhone.”

Sunday’s solar eclipse was the only total solar eclipse of 2013 and the 

Soyuz Move Sets Stage for Arrival of New Crew (Updated)

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The Soyuz TMA-09M under the command of Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin backs away from the International Space Station’s Rassvet module for a flyaround to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. .

Three International Space Station crew members took their Soyuz for a spin around the block Friday as they prepare for the extremely busy final week of Expedition 37.

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Soyuz Move Sets Stage for Arrival of New Crew

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The Soyuz TMA-09M under the command of Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin backs away from the International Space Station’s Rassvet module for a flyaround to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. .

Three International Space Station crew members took their Soyuz for a spin around the block Friday as they prepare for the extremely busy final week of Expedition 37.

 

Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano undocked their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing side of the station at 4:33 a.m. EDT Friday. After backing the vehicle a safe distance away, Soyuz Commander Yurchikhin rotated the Soyuz and began the flyaround to the rear of the station. Carefully aligning the spacecraft with the docking port on the aft end of the Zvezda service module, which was vacated by the European Space Agency’s fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) on Monday, Yurchikhin guided the spacecraft in for its docking at 4:54 a.m.

 

Coincidentally, Yurchikhin was at the helm for the last Soyuz relocation at the station in June 2010 when he piloted the Expedition 24 crew’s Soyuz TMA-19 vehicle from Zvezda to the then newly installed Rassvet module.

 

Friday’s Soyuz move sets the stage for the launch and arrival of a trio of new station crew members — NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency – who will dock their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft to Rassvet on Nov. 7 about six hours after their launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

 

The arrival of Mastracchio, Wakata and Tyurin will mark the first time since October 2009 that nine people have served together aboard the station without the presence of a space shuttle.

 

Also arriving to the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M will be the Olympic torch, which is making the longest leg of its relay leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian. Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will take the Olympic torch outside the station during a symbolic spacewalk on Nov. 9.  

 

The torch will return to Earth along with Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano on Nov. 10 when they board their Soyuz for the journey home after more than five months in space.

 

The final departure of Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano will free the Zvezda port for the docking of a new Progress resupply vehicle in late November. Program managers prefer to have a Progress or ATV cargo ship docked at Zvezda so it can help reboost the station and adjust its attitude.

Three Space Station Crews Get Ready for Relocation, Launch, Landing

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International Space Station crews commuting to and from their orbiting laboratory will be busy this November, and NASA Television will provide live coverage of their launches, landings and relocations.

Traffic starts to pick up Friday, Nov. 1. Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency will climb into their Soyuz spacecraft, back out of one Russian Earth-facing docking spot and fly a short distance to another one at the end of the station. NASA TV coverage starts at 4 p.m. MYT. The 24-minute maneuver begins with undocking at 4:34 p.m.

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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Comes to Life

NASA’s first-ever deep space craft, Orion, has been powered on for the first time, marking a major milestone in the final year of preparations for flight.

 

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Technicians work inside the Orion crew module being built at Kennedy Space Center to prepare it for its first power on. Turning the avionics system inside the capsule on for the first time marks a major milestone in Orion’s final year of preparations before its first mission, Exploration Flight Test

Orion’s avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. Preliminary data indicate Orion’s vehicle management computer, as well as its innovative power and data distribution system — which use state-of-the-art networking capabilities — performed as expected.

All of Orion’s avionics systems will be put to the test during its first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1(EFT-1), targeted to launch in the fall of 2014.

“Orion will take humans farther than we’ve ever been before, and in just about a year we’re going to send the Orion test vehicle into space,” said Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. “The work we’re doing now, the momentum we’re building, is going to carry us on our first trip to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. No other vehicle currently being built can do that, but Orion will, and EFT-1 is the first step.”

Orion provides the United States an entirely new human space exploration capability — a flexible system that can to launch crew and cargo missions, extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and enable new missions of exploration throughout our solar system.

EFT-1 is a two-orbit, four-hour mission that will send Orion, uncrewed, more than 3,600 miles above the Earth’s surface –15 times farther than the International Space Station. During the test, Orion will return to Earth, enduring temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit while traveling 20,000 miles per hour, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans. The data gathered during the flight will inform design decisions, validate existing computer models and guide new approaches to space systems development. The information gathered from this test also will aid in reducing the risks and costs of subsequent Orion flights.

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Technicians work inside the Orion crew module being built at Kennedy Space Center to prepare it for its first power on. Turning the avionics system inside the capsule on for the first time marks a major milestone in Orion’s final year of preparations before its first mission, Exploration Flight Test

 

“It’s been an exciting ride so far, but we’re really getting to the good part now,” said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager. “This is where we start to see the finish line. Our team across the country has been working hard to build the hardware that goes into Orion, and now the vehicle and all our plans are coming to life.”

Throughout the past year, custom-designed components have been arriving at Kennedy for installation on the spacecraft — more than 66,000 parts so far. The crew module portion already has undergone testing to ensure it will withstand the extremes of the space environment. Preparation also continues on the service module and launch abort system that will be integrated next year with the Orion crew module for the flight test.

The completed Orion spacecraft will be installed on a Delta IV heavy rocket for EFT-1. NASA is also developing a new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will power subsequent missions into deep space, beginning with Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

NASA Prepares to Launch First Mission to Explore Martian Atmosphere

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Oct. 21, 2013 — Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians perform a spin test of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft. The operation is designed to verify that MAVEN is properly balanced as it spins during the initial mission activities. (NASA)

 

A NASA spacecraft that will examine the upper atmosphere of Mars in unprecedented detail is undergoing final preparations for a scheduled 1:28 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Pathfinding Operations for Orion Spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center

Pathfinding Operations for Orion Spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center

At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Orion ground test vehicle has been lifted high in the air by crane in the transfer aisle of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The ground test vehicle is being used for pathfinding operations, including simulated manufacturing, assembly and stacking procedures.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. The first unpiloted test flight of Orion, Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 is scheduled to launch in 2014. EFT-1 will be Orion’s first mission, which will send an uncrewed spacecraft 3,600 miles into Earth’s orbit. As part of the test flight, Orion will return to Earth at a speed of approximately 20,000 mph for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Astronaut Karen Nyberg With Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Astronaut Luca Parmitano

Astronaut Karen Nyberg With Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Astronaut Luca Parmitano

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, Expedition 37 flight engineer; Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (center), commander; and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, flight engineer, pose for a photo in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station.

Expedition 38 Station Crew With Olympic Torch

Expedition 38 Station Crew With Olympic Torch

At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (left), Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin (center) and NASA Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio pose for pictures with a model of the Olympic torch following a crew news conference Oct. 22, 2013. The trio is scheduled to launch Nov. 7, Kazakh time, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft for the start of a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Launching with the the crew will be one of the Olympic torches used in the Olympic relay that will culminate with the torch’s arrival at the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next February.

Cygnus Completes Mission

After a month’s stay at the International Space Station, the Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft was un-berthed from the Harmony module Oct. 22 by members of the Expedition 37 crew onboard the station. Cygnus will be commanded to de-orbit to a destructive entry back into Earth’s atmosphere on Oct. 23. The second U.S. commercial resupply ship to service the station, Cygnus arrived at the outpost on Sept. 29 in a demonstration flight that was the forerunner for its first full commercial delivery mission later this year of food and supplies to the residents of the orbital complex.

NASA reopening doors, getting back online after shutdown ends

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NASA is open for business again.

With the government shutdown officially over, space agency employees are trickling back in to the many NASA centers sprinkled throughout the country. Since the shutdown began on Oct. 1, fewer than 600 of NASA’s 18,000 employees were allowed to work.

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Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter, Second American in Orbit, Dies at 88

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Godspeed, Scott Carpenter.

The United States’ fourth astronaut to fly in space and the second to orbit the Earth, Scott Carpenter, 88, died on Thursday (Oct. 10) after suffering a recent stroke.

The original Mercury 7 astronaut was being cared for at a hospice center in Denver when he passed. Carpenter was initially expected to make a full recovery from the stroke, but his condition worsened this week, sources close to his family shared.

Carpenter passed at 5:30 a.m. MDT (7:30 a.m. EDT; 1130 GMT) with his wife Patty at his side, his family confirmed to collectSPACE.com. 

“Today, the world mourns the passing of Scott Carpenter,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was in the first vanguard of our space program — the pioneers who set the tone for our nation’s pioneering efforts beyond Earth.”

“His accomplishments truly helped our nation progress in space from the earliest days to the world leadership we enjoy today,” Bolden said. “We will miss his passion, his talent and his lifelong commitment to exploration.”

Chosen in 1959 among NASA’s first astronauts, Carpenter made his first and only spaceflight on May 24, 1962, when he became the sixth man worldwide to leave the planet.

During his Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, Carpenter circled the Earth three times, conducted some of the first astronaut science experiments, and consumed the first solid space food — small square cubes composed of chocolate, figs, and dates mixed with high-protein cereals.

“You have to realize my experience with zero-g, although transcending and more fun than I can tell you about, was, in the light of current space flight accomplishments, very brief,” Carpenter said in 1999 during a NASA oral history interview. “The zero-g sensation and the visual sensation of space flight are transcending experiences, and I wish everybody could have them.”

He splashed down aboard his “Aurora 7” capsule 4 hours and 56 minutes after his launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. — and 250 miles (400 kilometers) off course. His overshot re-entry was the result of several spacecraft malfunctions, including the intermittent failure of attitude indicators and the retrorockets firing late and underthrust. 

“I had the record for overshooting the target for a long time until some cosmonauts came along some years later and missed theirs by 1,500 miles,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter never flew in space again, the result of an injury to his left arm sustained in a motorcycle accident in 1964. He did however, become an aquanaut, spending a record 30 days on the ocean floor aboard the Navy’s SEALAB II, an experimental habitat located off the coast of California.

Besides his own space and sea adventures, Carpenter is popularly remembered for his radio call “Godspeed, John Glenn,” which heralded his fellow Mercury astronaut’s lift off to become the first American in orbit on Feb. 20, 1962. With Carpenter’s passing, Glenn is the last of the Mercury 7 astronauts alive today.

Malcolm Scott Carpenter was born in Boulder, Colorado, on May 1, 1925, to Dr. Marion Scott Carpenter, a research chemist, and Florence (Noxon) Carpenter. He attended the University of Colorado, where he received his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1949.

Commissioned in the Navy in 1949, Scott Carpenter underwent flight training in Pensacola, Fla. and Corpus Christi, Texas before becoming a Naval Aviator in April 1951. During the Korean War, Carpenter served with patrol Squadron Six, flying anti-submarine, ship surveillance, and aerial mining, and ferret missions in the Yellow Sea, South China Sea, and the Formosa Straits.

After the war and attending the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, Carpenter was assigned to the electronics test division of the Naval Air Test Center, also at Patuxent. In that assignment, he test flew every type of naval aircraft including multi and single-engine jet fighters, propeller-powered fighters, attack planes, patrol bombers, transports and seaplanes.

From 1957 to 1959, Carpenter attended the Navy General Line School and the Navy Air Intelligence School and was then assigned as an air intelligence officer to USS Hornet aircraft carrier. Carpenter was serving on the Hornet when he received secret orders to report to Washington for what he soon learned was NASA’s recruitment effort for Project Mercury astronauts.

Following his Aurora 7 spaceflight and participation in the Navy’s Man-in-Sea Project, Carpenter served as executive assistant to the director of the Manned Spacecraft Center (today, Johnson Space Center in Houston) and was active in designing the Apollo lunar module, as well as advancing the use of underwater training for spacewalks.

He left NASA in 1967, and spent two more years with the Navy’s Deep Submergence Systems Project, prior to his retirement from public service. Carpenter then established and led Sea Sciences, a venture capital corporation aimed at enhancing the use of ocean resources while improving the health of the planet. In pursuit of these goals, he dove in most of the world’s oceans, including the Arctic.

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Later as a consultant, Carpenter contributed to improving diving instruments, including breathing devices, swimmer propulsion units and small submersibles.

A recipient of the National Aeronautic Association’s Collier Trophy, a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and a co-founder of the Mercury 7 Foundation (today the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation), Carpenter told of his “uncommon journey” to become a Mercury astronaut in “For Spacious Skies,” his 2003 autobiography penned with his daughter Kristen Stoever.

He also wrote the “underwater techno-thriller” novels “The Steel Albatross” in 1991 and “Deep Flight” in 1994.

Carpenter is survived by his wife Patty Barrett and seven children, four from his first marriage, two from his second marriage and one from his third. He is also survived by two stepchildren, a granddaughter and five step-grandchildren.

This story was updated at 5:20 p.m. ET to include new comments from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

 

Source: Space.com, Collectspace.com

JUNO Suffers Glitch After Earth Flyby

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A NASA spacecraft bound for Jupiter went into a precautionary safe mode today (Oct. 9), shortly after completing a speed-boosting flyby of Earth.

NASA’s Juno probe detected an anomalous condition and went into safe mode this afternoon after slingshotting around Earth to gain momentum for the long trip to the solar system’s largest planet, according to media reports. While Juno’s handlers are still trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, they’re hopeful that the problem won’t threaten the $1.1 billion mission.

“We believe we are on track as planned to Jupiter,” Juno project manager Rick Nybakken, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told the Associated Press. He described his level of concern as “moderate.”

The Juno mission launched in August 2011 and is slated to arrive at the Jovian system in July 2016. The probe is so heavy — about 8,000 pounds (3,267 kilograms) — that its Atlas 5 rocket couldn’t send it all the way to Jupiter by itself, so mission planners devised the Earth flyby to finish the job.

The flyby, which was highlighted by a close approach that brought Juno within just 347 miles (558 kilometers) of Earth at 3:21 p.m. EDT (1921 GMT), was designed to boost the probe’s speed from 78,000 mph (126,000 km/h) to 87,000 mph (140,000 km/h), mission officials said.

Once Juno enters orbit around Jupiter, it will study the gas giant’s atmosphere, gravitational field and magnetic field with nine science instruments over the course of a full Earth year. Scientists hope the probe’s observations reveal insights about Jupiter’s formation, structure and composition, including whether or not the planet possesses a solid core.

While the main purpose of today’s flyby was to give Juno a speed boost, mission officials also planned to check out the spacecraft’s science gear during the maneuver.

The Juno team was also planning to take pictures of the Earth-moon system. The probe returned surprisingly little data during the flyby, the AP reported.

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