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  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on September 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA,   

    From NASA: “NASA Awards Grants to Expand STEM Education” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Sep. 1, 2015

    Sarah Ramsey
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1694
    sarah.ramsey@nasa.gov

    Jeannette Owens
    Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
    216-433-2990
    jeannette.p.owens@nasa.gov

    NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) has selected nine universities for cooperative agreement awards totaling $3.6 million to create and operate a NASA MUREP Aerospace Academy.

    The universities will receive as much as $160,000 per year for two years and up to $100,000 for a third year. The Aerospace Academies will engage historically underserved and underrepresented students in grades K-12 through hands-on activities that reflect each of NASA’s four mission directorates: Science, Aeronautics, Space Technology and Human Exploration and Operations. The academies will also provide access to NASA technology through an Aerospace Education Laboratory, and encourage families and communities to get involved through the Family Café, an interactive forum with activities, workshops and guest speakers.

    The universities selected for Aerospace Academy grants are:

    California State University, Fresno
    Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland
    Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina
    Hartnell College, Salinas, California
    Morgan State University, Baltimore
    Tennessee State University, Nashville
    Texas State University, San Marcos
    The University of Texas at El Paso
    York College, City University of New York

    MUREP awards promote STEM literacy and enhance and sustain the capability of institutions to perform NASA-related research and education. The goals of the program are to expand the nation’s base for aerospace research and development, increase participation by faculty and students at minority serving institutions, and increase the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in NASA-related fields awarded to students from minority serving institutions.

    For more information on the award process, visit:

    http://nspires.nasaprs.com

    For more information on NASA’s education programs, please visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/education

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:15 pm on August 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA   

    From JPL: “NASA to Study Arctic Climate Change Ecosystem Impacts” 

    JPL

    August 31, 2015
    Alan Buis
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
    818-354-0474
    Alan.Buis@jpl.nasa.gov

    Steve Cole
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0918
    Stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

    Rani Gran
    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
    301-286-2483
    rani.c.gran@nasa.gov

    1
    NASA’s ABoVE campaign will combine field work, airborne surveys, satellite data and computer modeling to study the effects of climate change on Arctic and boreal ecosystems, such as this region at the base of the Alaska Range south of Fairbanks. Credit: NASA/Ross Nelson

    As part of a broad effort to study the environmental and societal effects of climate change, NASA has begun a multi-year field campaign to investigate ecological impacts of the rapidly changing climate in Alaska and northwestern Canada, such as the thawing of permafrost, wildfires and changes to wildlife habitats.

    The Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) will bring together on-the-ground research in Alaska and northwestern Canada with data collected by NASA airborne instruments, satellites and other agency programs, including the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), and upcoming Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) and NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) missions.

    NASA SMAP
    NASA SMAP

    NASA OCO satellite
    NASA/OCO

    NASA ICESat
    NASA/ICESat

    NASA ISRO SAR satellite
    NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)

    Over the next decade, scientists from NASA and other public and private organizations will investigate questions about the formidable region that spans about 2.5 million square miles (6.4 million square kilometers).

    “Boreal forests and tundra are critical for understanding the ecological impacts of Earth’s changing climate,” said Jack Kaye, associate director for research in NASA’s Earth Science Division in Washington. “These ecosystems hold a third of the carbon stored on land — in trees, shrubs and the frozen ground of the permafrost. That’s a lot of potential greenhouse gases in play. We need to better understand these ecosystems, and how a warming climate will affect forests, wildlife and communities both regionally and globally.”

    ABoVE includes three project phases and two seasons of intensive airborne surveys. The research activities will be coordinated with other U.S. and Canadian partner organizations. The 21 projects selected for the first phase will investigate topics such as the impacts of wildfire on ecosystems and insect outbreaks on forest health.

    “The region is rapidly changing, and we’ve already seen a lot of that from field measurements and remote sensing,” said Scott Goetz, ABoVE science team lead and deputy director at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “It’s an area that’s warming with climate change, and there’s a lot of potential for permafrost degradation, especially with these massive fires burning off the organic soil layer.”

    The field campaign will provide an opportunity to study how Arctic ecosystems respond to the scorching fires on a regional scale. More than 5 million acres in Alaska and 9.7 million acres in Canada have burned so far this year, making 2015 the second most devastating fire year on record for Alaska, with the most intensive three-week period of burning on record, according to Charles Miller, deputy science team lead for ABoVE at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    ABoVE researchers will survey Alaska’s interior forests to better determine how much carbon is stored in these remote regions. They’ll investigate the extent and thawing rate of permafrost — soils that have been frozen for hundreds of thousands of years, locking in carbon-rich plant and organic matter.

    “Warming air temperatures can thaw permafrost, which acts like unplugging a deep freezer,” said Peter Griffith, ABoVE chief support scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The vegetation and carbon previously frozen in the soil start to rot and decay — like food in an unplugged freezer — releasing methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This increase in greenhouse gases further warms air temperatures, perpetuating the cycle by causing more thawing and more greenhouse gas release.”

    The ABoVE projects also will study impacts on the wildlife of Alaska and northern Canada, including habitat and migration changes for raptors, songbirds, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves and brown bears.

    The socio-ecological impacts of climate change will be a significant focus of the campaign. The Dall sheep study, for example, will examine the effects of their changing habitat on subsistence hunting and tourism. Another research group will work with village residents in the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta of western Alaska to track changes in vegetation, permafrost, fire and lakes.

    “More societal impacts of change will be investigated in future projects, with another call for projects scheduled for 12 to 18 months from now,” Griffith said. “What’s happening in the Arctic is not staying in the Arctic. It certainly matters to the people who live there, but the consequences are far reaching.”

    The ABoVE field campaign’s research agenda was developed through workshops that brought together scientific experts from across the United States and Canada, and builds on ongoing NASA projects including the JPL-managed Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) and Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS) airborne missions.

    For more information about the ABoVE campaign, visit:

    http://above.nasa.gov/

    NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

    For more information on NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/earth

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo
    jpl

     
  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on August 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA, Schlieren imaging   

    From NASA Armstrong: “Schlieren Images Reveal Supersonic Shock Waves” 

    NASA

    NASA

    NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

    Aug. 25, 2015
    Peter Merlin, Public Affairs
    NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

    1
    This schlieren image dramatically displays the shock wave of a supersonic jet flying over the Mojave Desert. Researchers used NASA-developed image processing software to remove the desert background, then combined and averaged multiple frames to produce a clear picture of the shock waves.
    Credits: NASA Photo

    NASA is using a 21st century version of schlieren imagery, invented by a German physicist in 1864, to visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight.
    Credits: NASA Photo

    NASA researchers in California are using a modern version of a 150-year-old German photography technique to capture images of shock waves created by supersonic airplanes. Over the past five years scientists from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base and Ames Research Center at Moffett Field have teamed up to demonstrate how schlieren imagery, invented in 1864 by German physicist August Toepler, can be used to visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight. The results will help engineers to design a quiet supersonic transport. Although current regulations prohibit unrestricted overland supersonic flight in the United States, a clear understanding of the location and relative strength of shock waves is essential for designing future high-speed commercial aircraft.

    Schlieren imaging reveals shock waves due to air density gradient and the accompanying change in refractive index. This typically requires the use of fairly complex optics and a bright light source, and until recently most of the available schlieren imagery of airplanes was obtained from scale model testing in wind tunnels. Acquiring schlieren images of an aircraft in flight is much more challenging. Ground-based systems, using the sun as a light source, have produced good results but because of the distances involved did not have the desired spatial resolution to resolve small-scale shock structures near the aircraft.

    More recently, synthetic schlieren techniques have been developed based on image processing methods. One, called background oriented schlieren (BOS), has been particularly successful in wind tunnel tests. First, researchers obtain an image of a speckled background pattern. Next, they collect a series of images of an object in supersonic flow in front of the same pattern. Shock waves are deduced from distortions of the background pattern resulting from the change in refractive index due to density gradients. This method requires very simple optics and a variety of background patterns, including natural ones, may be used. The complexity with this method is in the image processing and not the hardware or positioning, thus making BOS an attractive candidate for obtaining high-spatial-resolution imaging of shock waves in flight.

    In April 2011 the first phase of air-to-air flight-testing at Armstrong, dubbed AirBOS 1, showed positive results and proved the feasibility of using the BOS technique for imaging supersonic shock waves created by a NASA F-18. A high-speed camera on the underside of a NASA Beechcraft B200 King Air captured 109 frames per second while the supersonic target aircraft passed several thousand feet underneath in straight-and-level flight at speeds up to Mach 1.09 (Mach 1 is the speed of sound, which varies with altitude, but is about 768 mph at sea level). Researchers acquired imagery with a relatively simple system consisting of a laptop with a frame grabber and using natural desert vegetation as the speckled background pattern, a method the team dubbed “Tumbleweed Tech.”

    “Air-to-air schlieren is an important flight-test technique for locating and characterizing, with high spatial resolution, shock waves emanating from supersonic vehicles,” said Dan Banks, Armstrong’s principal investigator on the project. “It allows us to see the shock wave geometry in the real atmosphere as the target aircraft flies through temperature and humidity gradients that cannot be duplicated in wind tunnels.”

    “After much planning and a little luck we were able to acquire in-flight images and process the data, achieving results the first time out,” said J.T. Heineck, the NASA Ames principal investigator who originally proposed the idea of using the background oriented air-to-air technique. Ed Schairer, Heineck’s colleague at Ames, where a provisional copyright for AirBOS technology and related flow visualization applications has been filed, wrote the code with which these images were processed. This technique shows not only shock waves but all density changes including vortices and engine plume effects. Future work may include imaging subsonic aircraft flow fields.

    2
    A T-38C from the Air Force Test Pilot School served as a target for NASA’s schlieren imaging system. Credits: U.S. Air Force Photo

    The next step was to advance the technology, optimize it wherever possible, and determine the feasibility of using AirBOS to obtain imagery beyond the top-down view. The second AirBOS campaign conducted flights in September and October 2014 at Armstrong, and involved both NASA F-18 and F-15 aircraft as targets. For this series, Heineck designed an imaging system with higher resolution and faster frame rate cameras in order to acquire more images per pass and then average the results from each image.

    NASA technicians installed the two state-of-the-art high-definition, high-speed cameras in the King Air in addition to the original AirBOS equipment. Images from the new cameras represented a dramatic improvement over those produced by the original system. The use of different lens and altitude combinations and knife-edge aircraft maneuvers by the pilot of the target aircraft provided the opportunity to obtain side-on images.

    Researchers continued to refine and improve techniques during the AirBOS 3 series in February 2015. Supersonic target aircraft included a NASA F-15 anda T-38C from the Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards. Air Force test pilots Maj. Jonathan Orso and Maj. Jeremy Vanderhal spent several weeks working with NASA to plan the T-38 flights and determine how to precisely align the jet’s flight path beneath that of the B200 to capture the schlieren images.

    Synchronizing the flight paths of the supersonic T-38 and subsonic King Air required complex integration of the airplanes’ navigation systems to ensure that both would be properly positioned over the background target area.

    “Safely coordinating two very dissimilar aircraft, operating in close proximity and with a rapid closure rate required a total team effort between NASA, the 412th Test Wing, and TPS,” Orso said.

    To obtain detailed images, Orso and Vanderhal had to fly the T-38 directly underneath the King Air. According to Vanderhal, “These passes posed a unique safety and technical challenge due to the small window of time during which the camera could view the target aircraft.”

    Following each flight the AirBOS team used NASA-developed image processing software to remove the desert background and reveal rough shock wave images. Next, researchers combined and averaged multiple frames to produce clean and clear images of the shock waves.

    The AirBOS effort was funded by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and managed by the Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) project in the directorate’s Advanced Air Vehicle Program. CST Project goals include providing research and leadership to enable the development of a new generation of supersonic civil transport aircraft. The project’s near term objective is to develop the tools and integrated concepts that will enable demonstration of overland supersonic flight with acceptable sonic boom impacts. The current regulatory prohibition against flight that produces a sonic boom over populated areas is viewed as the principal barrier to future supersonic civil aviation.

    “It is hoped that the AirBOS images can be used to validate or improve current design techniques,” said Brett Pauer, CST project support manager at Armstrong, “In addition, this research technique may be used to validate design models of future prototype and demonstrator low-boom aircraft.”

    According to Tom Jones, CST Project’s associate project manager for flight, “The end goal is to facilitate the ability for a new speed regime and open a new commercial market for civil transportation.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:50 am on August 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA   

    From NASA: “Nine Real NASA Technologies in ‘The Martian'” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Aug. 19, 2015
    Editor: Steve Fox

    Mars has held a central place in human imagination and culture for millennia. Ancients marveled at its red color and the brightness that waxed and waned in cycles over the years. Early observations through telescopes led some to speculate that the planet was covered with canals that its inhabitants used for transportation and commerce. In “The War of the Worlds”, the writer H.G. Wells posited a Martian culture that would attempt to conquer Earth. In 1938, Orson Welles panicked listeners who thought they were listening to a news broadcast rather than his radio adaptation of Wells’s novel.

    The real story of humans and Mars is a little more prosaic but no less fascinating. Telescopes turned the bright red dot in the sky into a fuzzy, mottled disk that gave rise to those daydreams of canals. Just 50 years ago, the first photograph of Mars from a passing spacecraft appeared to show a hazy atmosphere. Now decades of exploration on the planet itself has shown it to be a world that once had open water, an essential ingredient for life.

    The fascination hasn’t waned, even in the Internet Age. A former computer programmer named Andy Weir, who enjoyed writing for its own sake and posted fiction to his blog, started a serial about a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars. The popularity ultimately led him to turn it into a successful novel, “The Martian”, which has been made into a movie that will be released in October 2015.

    “The Martian” merges the fictional and factual narratives about Mars, building upon the work NASA and others have done exploring Mars and moving it forward into the 2030s, when NASA astronauts are regularly traveling to Mars and living on the surface to explore. Although the action takes place 20 years in the future, NASA is already developing many of the technologies that appear in the film.

    Habitat

    On the surface of Mars, Watney spends a significant amount of time in the habitation module — the Hab — his home away from home. Future astronauts who land on Mars will need such a home to avoid spending their Martian sols lying on the dust in a spacesuit.

    At NASA Johnson Space Center, crews train for long-duration deep space missions in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA).

    2
    The “Hab” as seen in “The Martian.”
    6
    The Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Credits: Fox/NASA

    HERA is a self-contained environment that simulates a deep-space habit. The two-story habitat is complete with living quarters, workspaces, a hygiene module and a simulated airlock. Within the module, test subjects conduct operational tasks, complete payload objectives and live together for 14 days (soon planned to increase to up to 60 days), simulating future missions in the isolated environment. Astronauts have recently used the facility to simulate ISS missions. These research analogs provide valuable data in human factors, behavioral health and countermeasures to help further NASA’s understanding on how to conduct deep space operations.

    Plant Farm

    Today, astronauts on the International Space Station have an abundance of food delivered to them by cargo resupply vehicles, including some from commercial industries. On Mars, humans would not be able to rely on resupply missions from Earth – even with express delivery they would take at least nine months. For humans to survive on Mars, they will need a continuous source of food. They will need to grow crops.

    4
    In a scene from “The Martian,” Astronaut Mark Watney harvests potatoes in the Hab
    5
    Real-life NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren harvests lettuce grown from the Veggie experiment while on board the International Space Station.
    Credits: Fox/NASA

    Watney turns the Hab into a self-sustaining farm in “The Martian,” making potatoes the first Martian staple. Today, in low-Earth orbit, lettuce is the most abundant crop in space. Aboard the International Space Station, Veggie is a deployable fresh-food production system. Using red, blue, and green lights, Veggie helps plants grow in pillows, small bags with a wicking surface containing media and fertilizer, to be harvested by astronauts. In 2014, astronauts used the system to grow “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce and just recently sampled this space-grown crop for the first time. This is a huge step in space farming, and NASA is looking to expand the amount and type of crops to help meet the nutritional needs of future astronauts on Mars.

    Water Recovery

    There are no lakes, river or oceans on the surface of Mars, and sending water from Earth would take more than nine months. Astronauts on Mars must be able to create their own water supply. The Ares 3 crew does not waste a drop on Mars with their water reclaimer, and Watney needs to use his ingenuity to come up with some peculiar ways to stay hydrated and ensure his survival on the Red Planet.

    On the International Space Station, no drop of sweat, tears, or even urine goes to waste. The Environmental Control and Life Support System recovers and recycles water from everywhere: urine, hand washing, oral hygiene, and other sources. Through the Water Recovery System (WRS), water is reclaimed and filtered, ready for consumption. One astronaut simply put it, “Yesterday’s coffee turns into tomorrow’s coffee.”

    Liquid presents some tricky problems in space. The WRS and related systems have to account for the fact that liquids behave very differently in a microgravity environment. The part of the WRS that processes urine must use a centrifuge for distillation, since gases and liquids do not separate like they do on Earth.

    NASA is continuing to develop new technologies for water recovery. Research is being conducted to advance the disposable multifiltration beds (the filters that remove inorganic and non-volatile organic contaminants) to be a more permanent component to the system. Brine water recovery would reclaim every drop of the water from the “bottoms product” leftover from urine distillation. For future human-exploration missions, crews would be less dependent on any resupply of spare parts or extra water from Earth.

    The technology behind this system has been brought down to Earth to provide clean drinking water to remote locations and places devastated with natural disasters.

    Oxygen Generation

    Food, water, shelter: three essentials for survival on Earth. But there’s a fourth we don’t think about much, because it’s freely available: oxygen. On Mars, Watney can’t just step outside for a breath of fresh air To survive, he has to carry his own supply of oxygen everywhere he goes. But first he has to make it. In his Hab he uses the “oxygenator,” a system that generates oxygen using the carbon dioxide from the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) fuel generator.

    On the International Space Station, the astronauts and cosmonauts have the Oxygen Generation System, which reprocesses the atmosphere of the spacecraft to continuously provide breathable air efficiently and sustainably. The system produces oxygen through a process called electrolysis, which splits water molecules into their component oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, while the hydrogen is either discarded into space or fed into the Sabatier System, which creates water from the remaining byproducts in the station’s atmosphere.

    Oxygen is produced at more substantial rate through a partially closed-loop system that improves the efficiency of how the water and oxygen are used. NASA is working to recover even more oxygen from byproducts in the atmosphere to prepare for the journey to Mars.

    Mars Spacesuit

    The Martian surface is not very welcoming for humans. The atmosphere is cold and there is barely any breathable air. An astronaut exploring the surface must wear a spacesuit to survive outside of a habitat while collecting samples and maintaining systems.

    Mark Watney spends large portions of his Martian sols (a sol is a Martian day) working in a spacesuit. He ends up having to perform some long treks on the surface, so his suit has to be flexible, comfortable, and reliable.

    NASA is currently developing the technologies to build a spacesuit that would be used on Mars. Engineers consider everything from traversing the Martian landscape to picking up rock samples.

    The Z-2 and Prototype eXploration Suit, NASA’s new prototype spacesuits, help solve unique problems to advance new technologies that will one day be used in a suit worn by the first humans to set foot on Mars. Each suit is meant to identify different technology gaps – features a spacesuit may be missing – to complete a mission. Spacesuit engineers explore the tradeoff between hard composite materials and fabrics to find a nice balance between durability and flexibility.

    One of the challenges of walking on Mars will be dealing with dust. The red soil on Mars could affect the astronauts and systems inside a spacecraft if tracked in after a spacewalk. To counter this, new spacesuit designs feature a suitport on the back, so astronauts can quickly hop in from inside a spacecraft while the suit stays outside, keeping it clean indoors.

    Rover

    Once humans land on the surface of Mars, they must stay there for more than a year, while the planets move into a position that will minimize the length of their trip home. This allows the astronauts plenty of time to conduct experiments and explore the surrounding area, but they won’t want to be limited to how far they can go on foot. Astronauts will have to use robust, reliable and versatile rovers to travel farther.

    In “The Martian,” Watney takes his rover for quite a few spins, and he even has to outfit the vehicle with some unorthodox modifications to help him survive.

    On Earth today, NASA is working to prepare for every encounter with the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV). The MMSEV has been used in NASA’s analog mission projects to help solve problems that the agency is aware of and to reveal some that may be hidden. The technologies are developed to be versatile enough to support missions to an asteroid, Mars, its moons and other missions in the future. NASA’s MMSEV has helped address issues like range, rapid entry/exit and radiation protection. Some versions of the vehicle have six pivoting wheels for maneuverability. In the instance of a flat tire, the vehicle simply lifts up the bad wheel and keeps on rolling.

    7
    While the Dawn spacecraft is visiting the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, NASA Glenn has been developing the next generation of ion thrusters for future missions. NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7-kilowatt ion thruster that can provide the capabilities needed in the future. Credits: NASA

    Ion Propulsion

    Slow and steady wins the race, and ion propulsion proves it.

    In “The Martian,” the Ares 3 crew lives aboard the Hermes spacecraft for months as they travel to and from the Red Planet, using ion propulsion as an efficient method of traversing through space for over 280 million miles. Ion propulsion works by electrically charging a gas such as argon or xenon and pushing out the ions at high speeds, about 200,000 mph. The spacecraft experiences a force similar to that of a gentle breeze, but by continuously accelerating for several years, celestial vessels can reach phenomenal speeds. Ion propulsion also allows the spacecraft to change its orbit multiple times, then break away and head for another distant world.

    This technology allows modern day spacecraft like NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft to minimize fuel consumption and perform some crazy maneuvers.

    NASA Dawn Spacescraft
    Dawn

    Dawn has completed more than five years of continuous acceleration for a total velocity change around 25,000 mph, more than any spacecraft has accomplished on its own propulsion system. Along the way, it has paid humanity’s first visits to the dwarf planet Ceres and the asteroid Vesta.

    8
    Solar panels on the International Space Station. Credits: NASA

    Solar Panels

    There are no gas stations on Mars. No power plants. Virtually no wind. When it comes to human missions to the Red Planet, solar energy can get the astronauts far. The Hermes spacecraft in the book uses solar arrays for power, and Mark Watney has to use solar panels in some unconventional ways to survive on Mars.

    On the International Space Station, four sets of solar arrays generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to power more than 40 homes. The station doesn’t need all that power, but the redundancy helps mitigate risk in case of a failure. The solar power system aboard the space station is very reliable, and has been providing power safely to the station since its first crew in 2000.

    Orion, NASA’s spacecraft that will take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before, will use solar arrays for power in future missions.

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    Orion

    The arrays can gather power while in sunlight to charge onboard lithium-ion batteries. In case no sunlight is available – for instance, if Orion were to go behind the Moon – there would still be plenty of power to allow it to operate.

    RTG

    For more than four decades, NASA has safely used Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) to provide electrical power for two dozen space missions, including Apollo missions to the Moon. Spacecraft such as the Mars rover Curiosity and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover use an updated, next-generation model for electrical power.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover
    Curiosity

    NASA Mars 2020 rover
    Mars 2020

    RTGs are “space batteries” that convert heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 into reliable electrical power. The RTG on Curiosity generates about 110 Watts of power or less – slightly more than an average light bulb uses.

    In “The Martian,” the crew buries the plutonium-based RTG power source for the Mars Ascent Vehicle far away from the Hab in case of radioactive leakage. To prevent any leak, as suggested in the movie, Plutonium-238 has several layers of strong, advanced materials that protect against release even in severe accidents. The RTG mostly emits alpha radiation, which can only travel a few inches in the air and does not penetrate clothing or human skin. It could only affect human health if it were broken into very fine particles or vaporized, and inhaled or ingested. The isotope is manufactured in a ceramic form, so accidentally inhaling or ingesting it is unlikely, particularly as it does not dissolve in liquids.

    In reality, the natural radiation environment on Mars is more extreme than the radiation produced from an RTG. Ionizing radiation raining down on Mars from space is far more hazardous to human health. Current Mars missions are analyzing the Martian radiation environment so that mission planners can design protection systems for future astronauts.

    Future explorers will need assured, reliable and durable power sources for survival in place before they arrive. Power system options might include a mix of more efficient radioisotope power systems, solar power, fuel cells, and nuclear fission.

    The Journey to Mars

    Human spaceflight is a dangerous business. NASA is working to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, but there are many milestones to accomplish to ensure that astronauts come back to Earth safely. Astronaut Scott Kelly, currently aboard the International Space Station for one year, put it perfectly: space is hard. The margin for error is virtually zero for every aspect of spaceflight. However, we learn so much along the journey to Mars that furthers our understanding of the universe, and everything we do and learn is brought right back to Earth to benefit humanity.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:19 pm on August 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: NASA,   

    From NASA: “NASA Awards Grants for Technologies That Could Transform Space Exploration” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Aug. 14, 2015
    Joshua Buck
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1130
    jbuck@nasa.gov

    1
    These petri dishes contain designer microbes lit by LED lights. These microbes are based on tiny organisms called cyanobacterium, and can possibly be used to convert toxic atmospheres of planets like Mars and Venus into more hospitable environments. Synthetic biology involves the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes to develop transformative biological tools and technologies. Credits: NASA

    NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative, early stage technologies that will address high-priority needs of America’s space program.

    The selected proposals for unique, disruptive or transformational space technologies will investigate challenges in the areas of solar cell operations at high temperatures, atmospheric entry model development, synthetic biology applications for space exploration and dynamic tensegrity-based space structures. Tensegrity is a property of structures that employs continuous tension and discontinuous compression to produce exceptionally strong structures for their mass.

    “These early career researchers will provide fuel for NASA’s innovation engine,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “Technology drives exploration, and investments in these technologies and technologists is essential to ensure NASA and the nation have the capabilities necessary to meet the challenges we will face as we journey to Mars. The faculty selected and their colleagues help assure a robust university research community dedicated to advanced space technology development.”

    The awards are approximately $200,000 per year, up to a possible three years of research, for outstanding early-career faculty who research space technologies that are high priorities for NASA missions.

    The selected NASA Early Career Faculty proposals are:

    Robust Planning for Dynamic Tensegrity Structures — Kostas Bekris of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey
    Synthetic Biology for Recycling Human Waste into Food, Nutraceuticals, and Materials: Closing the Loop for Long-Term Space Travel — Mark Blenner of Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina
    Lightweight and Flexible Metal Halide Perovskite Thin Films for High Temperature Solar Cells — Joshua Choi of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville
    Dynamics and Control of Tensegrity Space Manipulators — James Forbes of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Advanced Physical Models and Numerical Algorithms to Enable High-Fidelity Aerothermodynamic Simulations of Planetary Entry Vehicles on Emerging Distributed Heterogeneous Computing Architectures — Matthias Ihme of Stanford University in Stanford, California
    Reduced Order Modeling for Non-equilibrium Radiation Hydrodynamics of Base Flow and Wakes: Enabling Manned Missions to Mars — Marco Panesi of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Engineering Cyanobacteria for the Production of Lightweight Materials — Fuzhong Zhang of Washington University in St. Louis
    High Temperature InGaN-based Solar Cells — Yuji Zhao, Arizona State University, Tempe.

    These proposals have the potential to yield significant rewards for space exploration by:

    allowing solar cells to function at reasonable levels of efficiency in high-temperature environments;
    improving the process of identifying the most effective thermal protection systems for entering various atmospheres;
    providing the means to produce food, medical supplies and building materials on site at distant destinations using synthetic, biology-based approaches; and
    enabling more capable and affordable space missions through the development of tensegrity technologies that permit large, reconfigurable structures such as antennas, solar arrays and observatories, as well as lightweight landers.

    NASA’s Early Career Faculty efforts are an element of the agency’s Space Technology Research Grants Program. This program is designed to accelerate the development of technologies originating from academia that support the future science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies and the commercial space sector.

    For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants Program, visit:

    http://go.nasa.gov/1Wg3hbA

    For more information about the Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:53 pm on August 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA   

    From BBC: “Lost in space? Nasa under pressure” 

    BBC
    BBC

    Aug 12, 2015
    Pallab Ghosh

    1
    Nasa’s Pluto flyby was greeted with patriotic fervour at mission control in Laurel, Maryland. But amid the deserved celebration was there a hint of insecurity?

    The recent flyby of Pluto brought back memories of NASA at its best. But is the space agency’s effort to explore the Solar System with robotic spacecraft in trouble?

    Among NASA’s greatest achievements was sending astronauts to the Moon and returning them safely. An American flag was planted on the lunar surface. It marked a triumph for the US in the space race with the Soviet Union. But Neil Armstrong’s step on the Moon was a moment for the entire planet, briefly bringing together a divided and war-torn world.

    Forty-six years later, almost to the day, the Stars and Stripes was waved and there were chants of “USA!” at mission control as the New Horizons spacecraft flew past an unexplored world.

    America’s space agency and those working on the mission deserve to be congratulated on yet another great moment. No one should begrudge the scientists involved their celebration, but why such patriotic fervour this time?

    Coming just a year after Europe setting down a lander on a comet, India orbiting Mars and not long after China sending a rover to the Moon, could those who work for NASA be feeling a little insecure? If so, say observers, they may have good reason to be.

    Since the New Horizons spacecraft was launched, the US space agency has faced upheaval and a funding crisis.

    2
    In 1969, the flag was planted on the lunar surface – but it was a moment that belonged to the entire world.

    And some of the agency’s robotic exploration projects have been mismanaged and over budget, leading the space agency to cut some of its planetary exploration missions.

    NASA’s James Webb telescope is the successor to its beloved and very successful Hubble Space Telescope and will be able to image some of the most distant objects in the Universe. It was supposed to have cost $1.6bn and to have been launched in 2011. The current projected cost is $8bn with a launch date of 2018. The scientific journal Nature called it “the telescope that ate astronomy”.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    Webb

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    The most recent rover mission to Mars, Curiosity, landed successfully three years ago and has performed admirably. But the mission was around a billion over budget and three years late.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover
    Curiosity

    These events were monitored by former NASA scientist Keith Cowing in his blog NASA Watch.

    “As upset as NASA proclaims to be when these overruns happen, they just go off and do another one. It is an ongoing chronic issue with NASA,” he told BBC News.

    “NASA’s financial management system is still a mess. After doing NASA Watch for 20 years it is almost like I have a key on my keyboard that I press and it says: ‘NASA doesn’t understand what things cost’.”

    A number of factors, including the US financial crisis, have caused the collapse of some collaborations between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) in recent years. These missions included a plan called EJSM/Laplace to explore the icy moons of Jupiter that might be hospitable to life and a joint Mars mission called ExoMars.

    In all these cases ESA either has or will go ahead on its own according to Prof Andrew Coates of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory which is part of University College London. Prof Coates is one of the principle investigators on ExoMars and a successor to EJSM/LaPlace the mission, called Juice, which is due for launch in 2022.

    ESA JUICE
    JUICE

    “What this has done is that it has provided a fantastic opportunity for Europe to take a really leading role in space exploration, which it is doing with ExoMars and Juice,” he told BBC News.

    The Russian space programme has also experienced financial difficulties. Even so, it has plans to begin a series of robotic missions to the Moon with a view to developing a long term presence on the lunar surface and a proposal for a probe to Venus.

    4
    Jupiter’s moon Europa is one of the places in our Solar System where life could currently exist. NASA first scrapped a mission to go there, but has given the go ahead to another at the behest of Congress

    China has had a series of robotic missions to the Moon and has plans for a new orbiting space station. It also has ambitions to send a probe to Mars.

    India too is now arriving at the top table of those exploring space with the arrival of an orbiter at Mars last year. It has plans for a follow-up. Meanwhile, Japan continues to have a strong scientific programme.

    India Mars Orbiter Mission
    Indian Mars Orbiter

    According to Prof John Logsdon, of George Washington University, rival space agencies are catching up fast.

    “NASA has had a series of successes, notably the landing of rovers on Mars, particularly Curiosity. But the planetary exploration programme has struggled for adequate funding. Its funding has been cut by between 10% and 15% and no flagship missions seem to have been put in place under Obama,” he told BBC News.

    NASA’s focus over the last decade has been on Mars. And although the Spirit and Opportunity missions and the Curiosity Rover have been scientific triumphs, Keith Cowing says other interesting worlds have been ignored.

    NASA Mars Spirit
    Spirit

    NASA Mars Opportunity Rover
    Opportunity

    “There are a lot of people that think we have spent too much time on Mars and that Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus (moons of Jupiter and Saturn that could be hospitable to life) are worthy of our financial attention,” he says.

    NASA has reportedly been cajoled by Congress into revive plans to explore Europa as one of its next big missions.

    Two decades ago, NASA administrator Dan Goldin embarked on an effort to develop missions that were faster, better and cheaper – FBC in NASA jargon.

    Typically, a NASA programme can take between 10 and 15 years to develop from approval to launch. The Hubble Space Telescope, for example, took 20 years. Goldin’s aim was to have the turnaround for missions reduced to four years and their cost cut by a quarter.

    Blunders

    But questions were raised about FBC following high profile blunders in two low-cost missions to Mars: Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander, both in 1999. There were no further FBC missions following these missions. But according to Richard Holdaway, former director of RAL Space, that was a mistake.

    “The cost overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope and the Curiosity mission became a significant problem. ‘Faster, better cheaper’ was the right approach, as we have seen with the success of the New Horizons mission,” he said.

    NASA New Horizons spacecraft
    New Horizons

    “But NASA didn’t implement it properly, with its full authority or stick to the criteria it set to cancel projects that were over-running.”

    Instead, NASA New Horizons seems to have lurched from bargain basement space missions back to gargantuan projects where costs have spun out of control – with the exception of the low-cost Discovery class and medium-cost New Frontiers class missions (of which New Horizons is one). According to Prof Coates, the European Space Agency has – generally speaking – a more balanced approach.

    “NASA learned the hard way that you can do two of those (faster, better, cheaper) at the same time but not three. Europe stayed the course on the larger missions such as Rosetta, ExoMars and Juice as well as small ones.”

    ESA Rosetta spacecraft
    Rosetta

    ESA ExoMars
    ExoMars

    So could it be time for NASA to rethink the “faster, better, cheaper” plan?

    “Dan Goldin was prophetic. But the way his idea was put into practice was flawed and inconsistent and insincere,” he says.

    “It’s like having the archetypical pictures of the little mammals running around as the dinosaurs are dying. There is always the seed of the next wave of doing things that emerges from the current way of doing things.”

    However, Prof Logsdon however believes that following a difficult period of transition, NASA is starting to get back on track.

    “Congress has forced it to develop a big new rocket which has constrained the funds available for ambitious new projects.

    “The James Webb is a big hiccup in the progress of robotic science missions – we are in this period of re-establishing our human space flight capability and getting ready to explore. Nasa is recovering and doing well in the missions that it is involved with. So I think the outlook is more positive than not.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 7:50 am on August 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA   

    From NASA: “NASA Opens New CubeSat Opportunities for Low-Cost Space Exploration” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Aug. 10, 2015
    Tabatha Thompson
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1100
    tabatha.t.thompson@nasa.gov

    1
    PhoneSat 2.5, developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and launched in March 2014, uses commercially available smartphone technology to collect data on the long-term performance of consumer technologies used in spacecraft. Credits: NASA

    Space enthusiasts have an opportunity to contribute to NASA’s exploration goals through the next round of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. Applicants must submit their proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 24.

    The CubeSat Launch Initiative provides access to space for CubeSats developed by NASA centers, accredited educational institutions and non-profit organizations, giving CubeSat developers access to a low-cost pathway to conduct research in the areas of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations consistent with NASA’s Strategic Plan. NASA does not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.

    NASA plans to select the payloads by Feb. 19, 2016, but selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Selected experiments will fly as auxiliary payloads on agency rocket launches or be deployed from the International Space Station beginning in 2016 and running through 2019. To date, NASA has selected 105 CubeSats from 30 states. Thirty-seven CubeSats have been launched, and 16 more are scheduled to go into space in the next 12 months.

    The agency has made progress on a goal established during the White House Maker Faire last year to launch a small satellite from at least one participant in each state over the next five years. For this round, NASA is focusing on gaining participation in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 20 states not previously selected for the CubeSat Launch Initiative. These states are: Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming.

    CubeSats are in a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The base CubeSat dimensions are 10x10x11 centimeters (about 4x4x4 inches), which equals one Cube, or 1U. CubeSats supported by this launch effort include volumes of 1U, 2U, 3U and 6U. CubeSats of 1U, 2U and 3U size typically have a mass of 1.33 kilograms (about three pounds) per 1U. A 6U CubeSat typically has a mass of 12 to 14 kilograms (26.5 to 30.9 pounds). The CubeSat’s final mass depends on the selected deployment method.

    For additional information about NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on August 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA   

    From NASA: “NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Aug. 6, 2015
    Editor: Karen Northon

    Steve Cole
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0918
    stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

    Darryl Waller
    Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
    650-604-4789
    darryl.e.waller@nasa.gov

    1
    The new NASA global data set combines historical measurements with data from climate simulations using the best available computer models to provide forecasts of how global temperature (shown here) and precipitation might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Credits: NASA

    NASA has released data showing how temperature and rainfall patterns worldwide may change through the year 2100 because of growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.

    The dataset, which is available to the public, shows projected changes worldwide on a regional level in response to different scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide simulated by 21 climate models. The high-resolution data, which can be viewed on a daily timescale at the scale of individual cities and towns, will help scientists and planners conduct climate risk assessments to better understand local and global effects of hazards, such as severe drought, floods, heat waves and losses in agriculture productivity.

    “NASA is in the business of taking what we’ve learned about our planet from space and creating new products that help us all safeguard our future,” said Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist. “With this new global dataset, people around the world have a valuable new tool to use in planning how to cope with a warming planet.”

    The new dataset is the latest product from the NASA Earth Exchange(NEX), a big-data research platform within the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Center at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. In 2013, NEX released similar climate projection data for the continental United States that is being used to quantify climate risks to the nation’s agriculture, forests, rivers and cities.

    “This is a fundamental dataset for climate research and assessment with a wide range of applications,” said Ramakrishna Nemani, NEX project scientist at Ames. “NASA continues to produce valuable community-based data products on the NEX platform to promote scientific collaboration, knowledge sharing, and research and development.”

    This NASA dataset integrates actual measurements from around the world with data from climate simulations created by the international Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. These climate simulations used the best physical models of the climate system available to provide forecasts of what the global climate might look like under two different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios: a “business as usual” scenario based on current trends and an “extreme case” with a significant increase in emissions.

    The NASA climate projections provide a detailed view of future temperature and precipitation patterns around the world at a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) resolution, covering the time period from 1950 to 2100. The 11-terabyte dataset provides daily estimates of maximum and minimum temperatures and precipitation over the entire globe.

    NEX is a collaboration and analytical platform that combines state-of-the-art supercomputing, Earth system modeling, workflow management and NASA remote-sensing data. Through NEX, users can explore and analyze large Earth science data sets, run and share modeling algorithms and workflows, collaborate on new or existing projects and exchange workflows and results within and among other science communities.

    NEX data and analysis tools are available to the public through the OpenNEX project on Amazon Web Services. OpenNEX is a partnership between NASA and Amazon, Inc., to enhance public access to climate data, and support planning to increase climate resilience in the U.S. and internationally. OpenNEX is an extension of the NASA Earth Exchange in a public cloud-computing environment.

    NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

    Additional information about the new NASA climate projection dataset is available at:

    https://nex.nasa.gov/nex/projects/1356/

    The dataset is available for download at:

    https://cds.nccs.nasa.gov/nex-gddp/

    OpenNEX information and training materials are available at:

    http://nex.nasa.gov/opennex

    For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/earth

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:20 am on July 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA,   

    From Nature: “NASA launches mission to Greenland” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    28 July 2015
    Jeff Tollefson

    Ship and planes will probe water–ice interface in fjords.

    1
    The MV Cape Race is using sonar to map the depth of water around Greenland’s west coast.Maria Stenzel/UCI

    When the retired fishing trawler MV Cape Race sets off along Greenland’s west coast this week, it will start hauling in a scientific catch that promises to improve projections of how the ice-covered island will fare in a warming world. The ship’s cruise is the initial phase of a six-year air and sea campaign to probe interactions between Greenland’s glaciers and the deep, narrow fjords where they come to an end.

    1
    Greenland

    Called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), the US$30-million NASA project will help scientists to predict the future of the Greenland ice sheet, which holds enough water to boost sea levels by around 6 metres and already seems to be melting more rapidly in response to increasing air temperatures. But it is not clear how much the oceans affect the rate of melting along the island’s edges, which depends on poorly known variables such as how warm, saline water interacts with the glaciers.

    “It should be a powerful constraint on our knowledge and ability to model ice loss there,” says principal investigator Joshua Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    When simulating glacier dynamics, current global climate models consider only ice’s interactions with the atmosphere, says William Lipscomb, an ice modeller at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He is working to incorporate ice–ocean inter­actions around Antarctica into a climate model being developed by the US Department of Energy. But in Greenland, the intricately carved coastline makes this much more difficult. The department plans to give researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, $466,000 over 2 years to build a detailed model that will link the land ice and oceans around Greenland. OMG data will help to validate that model, says project leader Frank Giraldo.

    Work by OMG participant Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, underscores the importance of detailed data (E. Rignot et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. http://doi.org/6dn; 2015). Using sonar data from one part of western Greenland, Rignot’s team found that existing maps underestimate the depth of three fjords by several hundred metres. It also found that glaciers flowing into all three fjords extended deeper than was thought, far enough below fresh surface waters to reach a warm, salty layer flowing up from the Atlantic Ocean that could accelerate melting and contribute more to sea-level rise than had been believed.

    “With OMG, we are going to reveal the depth of these fjords,” says Rignot.

    The programme will also provide valuable information on the physical characteristics of glacier ice. Last December, geophysicist Beata Csatho of the University at Buffalo in New York and her colleagues reported using surface-elevation data to estimate how much ice mass Greenland had lost between 1993 and 2012 (B. M. Csatho et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 18478–18483; 2014). The data were fairly reliable over the island’s interior, Csatho says, but measurements were more difficult along its edges, where the ice tends to be warmer, thicker and full of crevices. “It’s still a challenge to get the mass of these glaciers,” she says.

    When the aerial phase of OMG begins next year, planes will fly inland from the coast, taking measurements of slight changes in gravitational pull that can be used to produce low-resolution maps of the topography under both water and ice. Planes will also drop more than 200 temperature and salinity probes into fjords and coastal waters, and take radar measurements along the coast to track large-scale ice loss over five years. Analysing that ice loss in light of the new topographical and oceanographic data will help researchers to determine where, and to what extent, deeper saltwater currents affect glaciers.

    Lipscomb says that all these OMG data should help modellers as they incorporate ocean–ice interactions around Greenland into their models. That work is still in its early stages, he says, “but the data that they are getting in this project is exactly what we need”.

    See the full article here.

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:24 am on July 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA   

    From NASA: “NASA Hosts ‘Quest for Quakes’ Data Challenge” 

    NASA

    NASA

    July 24, 2015
    Steve Cole
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0918
    stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

    1
    The “Quest for Quakes” algorithm challenge seeks to develop new software codes to search through data and identify electromagnetic pulses that may precede an earthquake. Credits: topcoder

    A new NASA challenge is looking for evidence to support a theory that electromagnetic pulses (EMP) may precede an earthquake, potentially offering a warning to those in the quake’s path.

    The “Quest for Quakes” two-week algorithm challenge seeks to develop new software codes or algorithms to search through data and identify electromagnetic pulses that may precede an earthquake. Some researchers have speculated such pulses originating from the ground near earthquake epicenters could signal the onset of some quakes.

    “Developing a reliable approach that can separate potential earthquake-induced electromagnetic pulses from the myriad of natural and anthropogenic sources has been a significant challenge,” said Craig Dobson, program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas from this competition and learning more about this controversial phenomenon.”

    The challenge opened for registration on Tuesday. Competitors will be able to submit entries from Monday, July 27 at 1 p.m. ET through Monday, Aug. 9 at 1 p.m. ET.

    Contestants will be provided with electromagnetic signal data collected over three-month periods from multiple sensors in the proximity of past earthquakes. Control data with no earthquakes also will be included. Coders will have two weeks to develop a new approach to extract the signals and identify potential earthquake precursors. The individuals or teams developing winning approaches will share a $25,000 prize.

    The connection between electromagnetic pulses and earthquakes has been debated for years. Researchers have been looking into the causes of distinct ultra-low frequency EMPs emanating from the ground near earthquake epicenters in the weeks leading up to some moderate and large events.

    One theory suggests that fracturing rock in the Earth’s crust creates an electrical charge pulse that travels to the land surface and manifests itself as a small change in the local magnetic field. However, there are a number of natural and human-made electromagnetic ‘noise’ sources, such as lightning, solar storms, commuter trains, and traffic, that can mask or mimic EMPs and could be associated with earthquakes.

    The data for this competition was provided by the QuakeFinder group, a humanitarian research and development project by Stellar Solutions, Inc., Palo Alto, California. QuakeFinder has 125 sensors in California and 40 sensor suites around the world. These ultra-low frequency magnetometers collect and transmit high-rate data to Stellar Solutions’ data center for management and evaluation. Over 65 terabytes of data have been collected from sensors along the San Andreas fault and other faults in California, Chile, Peru, Greece, Indonesia and Taiwan.

    Amazon Web Services (AWS) has contributed a research grant for approximately three terabytes of high-frequency magnetometer data and computational resources to be used by contestants.

    “The “Quest for Quakes” contest is a great example of how the AWS Cloud infrastructure is ideal for many different research and scientific workloads,” said Jamie Kinney, AWS senior manager for scientific computing. “We are looking forward to the innovative applications that contestants develop to address this real-world challenge and may also save lives.”

    The ”Quest for Quakes” challenge is managed by the NASA Tournament Lab established by NASA and the Crowd Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University in 2010 to create the most innovative, efficient and optimal solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers. The lab is using Appirio’s topcoder.com crowdsourcing service to host the challenge, which is open to the public and the more than 815,000 members of the topcoder community.

    For more information about the ‘Quest for Quakes’ competition and registration process, visit:

    http://go.appirio.com/questforquakes

    See the full article here.

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
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