Washington, D.C. – Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, January 16th, surrounded by his family.
Cernan, a Captain in the U.S. Navy, left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.
He was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He piloted the Gemini 9 mission with Commander Thomas P. Stafford on a three-day flight in June 1966. Cernan logged more than two hours outside the orbiting capsule.
Written by Mark Garcia
Washington, D.C. – Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet concluded their spacewalk at 12:20pm EST. During the nearly six hour spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully installed three new adapter plates and hooked up electrical connections for three of the six new lithium-ion batteries on the International Space Station.
The new lithium-ion batteries and adapter plates replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays.
Written by Hal Pierce/Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – Widespread flooding has recently caused the deaths of dozens of people in southern Thailand. Frequent and persistent downpours have resulted in record rainfall totals and NASA calculated rainfall over the region from January 5th to January 12th, 2017.
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite is part of a constellation of satellites that can measure rainfall from space. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the data is input into NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data product.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A series of atmospheric rivers that brought drought-relieving rains, heavy snowfall and flooding to California this week is highlighted in a new movie created with satellite data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
The images of atmospheric water vapor were collected by AIRS between January 7th and 11th. They show the amount of moisture present in the atmosphere and its movement across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, where much of it fell as rain or snow.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – NASA scientists, including many from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, are crisscrossing the globe in 2017 — from a Hawaiian volcano to Colorado mountaintops and west Pacific islands — to investigate critical scientific questions about how our planet is changing and what impacts humans are having on it.
Field experiments are an important part of NASA’s Earth science research.
Written by Preston Dyches
Pasadena, CA – After a two-and-a-half-hour descent, the metallic, saucer-shaped spacecraft came to rest with a thud on a dark floodplain covered in cobbles of water ice, in temperatures hundreds of degrees below freezing.
The alien probe worked frantically to collect and transmit images and data about its environs — in mere minutes its mothership would drop below the local horizon, cutting off its link to the home world and silencing its voice forever.
Although it may seem the stuff of science fiction, this scene played out 12 years ago on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The “aliens” who built the probe were us. This was the triumphant landing of ESA’s Huygens probe.
Written by Tracy McMahan
Huntsville, AL – Major construction is complete on NASA’s largest new Space Launch System structural test stand, and engineers are now installing equipment needed to test the rocket’s biggest fuel tank.
The stand is critical for ensuring SLS’s liquid hydrogen tank can withstand the extreme forces of launch and ascent on its first flight, and later on the second flight, which will carry up to four astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on a journey around the moon, into the deep-space proving ground for the technology needed for the journey to Mars.
Written by Felicia Chou
Washington, D.C. – Searching for planets around other stars is a tricky business. They’re so small and faint that it’s hard to spot them. But a possible planet in a nearby stellar system may be betraying its presence in a unique way: by a shadow that is sweeping across the face of a vast pancake-shaped gas-and-dust disk surrounding a young star.
The planet itself is not casting the shadow. But it is doing some heavy lifting by gravitationally pulling on material near the star and warping the inner part of the disk. The twisted, misaligned inner disk is casting its shadow across the surface of the outer disk.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – Monster black holes sometimes lurk behind gas and dust, hiding from the gaze of most telescopes. But they give themselves away when material they feed on emits high-energy X-rays that NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission can detect.
That’s how NuSTAR recently identified two gas-enshrouded supermassive black holes, located at the centers of nearby galaxies.
“These black holes are relatively close to the Milky Way, but they have remained hidden from us until now,” said Ady Annuar, a graduate student at Durham University in the United Kingdom, who presented the results at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, Texas. “They’re like monsters hiding under your bed.”
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – Like anthropologists piecing together the human family tree, astronomers have found that a misfit “skeleton” of a star may link two different kinds of stellar remains. The mysterious object, called PSR J1119-6127, has been caught behaving like two distinct objects — a radio pulsar and a magnetar — and could be important to understanding their evolution.
A radio pulsar is type of a neutron star — the extremely dense remnant of an exploded star — that emits radio waves in predictable pulses due to its fast rotation.
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