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NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) Spacecraft sees Noctilucent Cloud Season begin over Antarctica

 

Written by Lina Tran
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Data from NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, spacecraft shows the sky over Antarctica is glowing electric blue due to the start of noctilucent, or night-shining, cloud season in the Southern Hemisphere – and an early one at that.

Noctilucent clouds are Earth’s highest clouds, sandwiched between Earth and space 50 miles above the ground in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere.

An artist's rendition of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) spacecraft in orbit above Earth. (NASA)

An artist’s rendition of the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) spacecraft in orbit above Earth. (NASA)

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NASA tests news Air Traffic Management Technology

 

Written by Jim Banke
NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – Commercial airline pilots who as children played “Follow the Leader” will have no problem with a new air traffic control innovation NASA and its partners are working on that also will make passengers happier.

It’s called Flight Deck Interval Management, or FIM, and it promises to safely increase the number of airplanes that can land on the same runway at busy airports by more precisely managing the time, or interval, between each aircraft arrival.

At NASA’s Langley Research Center, retired airline pilots test procedures that will be used during upcoming flight tests of a new aircraft spacing tool. The simulator is set up like a 757 jet, similar to one of the aircraft in the ATD-1 flight tests. (NASA Langley / David C. Bowman)

At NASA’s Langley Research Center, retired airline pilots test procedures that will be used during upcoming flight tests of a new aircraft spacing tool. The simulator is set up like a 757 jet, similar to one of the aircraft in the ATD-1 flight tests. (NASA Langley / David C. Bowman)

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NASA’s robot ISAAC to create Composite Materials in Climate-Controlled Clean Room

 

Written by Sam McDonald
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – The celebrated robot ISAAC now has a hermetically sealed workshop where it’s free to follow its prime directive: discovering bold new ways of making composite materials for the air and space vehicles of tomorrow.

The $750,000 air-tight, temperature- and moisture-controlled enclosure — an unusually capable clean room — was completed in July and now keeps the surrounding air pristine for ISAAC, a multi-million-dollar robot on a mission to build experimental composite structures.

Air inside the ISAAC clean room is fully recirculated every two minutes, according to NASA Langley engineer Brian Stewart. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

Air inside the ISAAC clean room is fully recirculated every two minutes, according to NASA Langley engineer Brian Stewart. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

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NASA’s Game Changing Development Program looks for idea for putting spacecraft together in space

 

Written by Joe Atkinson
NASA’s Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – In the 2017 Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge, NASA is engaging university-level students in its quest to reduce the cost of deep space exploration.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program (GCD), managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are seeking novel and robust concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft — particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion (SEP), that transfer payloads from low earth orbit (LEO) to a lunar distant retrograde orbit (LDRO).

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace are seeking novel and robust concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft – particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion, that transfer payloads from low earth orbit to a lunar distant retrograde orbit. (Analytical Mechanics Associates)

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace are seeking novel and robust concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft – particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion, that transfer payloads from low earth orbit to a lunar distant retrograde orbit. (Analytical Mechanics Associates)

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NASA’s Terra Satellite captured images of Blue Cut Fire in California

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On August 16th, 2016, at around 10:30am, a brush fire ignited in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles, just to the west of Interstate 15. Within a matter of hours, extreme temperatures, high winds and low humidity allowed the fire to spread rapidly, burning through brush left tinder-dry by years of drought.

By August 17th, the fire had expanded dramatically, and firefighters continue to battle to save homes and evacuate residents.

The MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

The MISR instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft captured this image of the destructive Blue Cut wildfire east of Los Angeles midday on Aug. 17. (NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL-Caltech, MISR Team)

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NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission moves forward with Robotic Design and Development

 

Written by DC Agle
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B, or KDP-B, was conducted in July and formally approved by agency management August 15th. It is one in a series of project lifecycle milestones that every spaceflight mission for the agency passes as it progresses toward launch. At KDP-B, NASA established the content, cost, and schedule commitments for Phase B activities.

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

This graphic depicts the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle conducting a flyby of its target asteroid. During these flybys, ARM would come within 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), generating imagery with resolution of up to 0.4 of an inch (1 centimeter) per pixel. (NASA )

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NASA tests Orion Capsule with Crash Test Dummies

 

Written by Sasha Ellis
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHampton, VA – Upon re-entry from a deep space mission, NASA’s next generation spacecraft, more commonly known as Orion, will descend under its three main parachutes, swaying in the wind until its final splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

In that brief instant where capsule meets water, astronauts will experience the mission’s greatest deceleration and with that, some of the greatest forces on the human body. That’s where crash-test dummies come into the picture.

Crash-test dummies wearing modified Advanced Crew Escape System suits were installed into the crew seats of an Orion test capsule days before being dropped into NASA Langley Research Center’s Hydro Impact Basin. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

Crash-test dummies wearing modified Advanced Crew Escape System suits were installed into the crew seats of an Orion test capsule days before being dropped into NASA Langley Research Center’s Hydro Impact Basin. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

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NASA to evaluate Crew Safety in Orion Spacecraft using Test Dummies

 

Written by Sasha Ellis
NASA Langley Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Hampton, VA – Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, are preparing for a series of water-impact tests to evaluate the Orion spacecraft and crew safety when they return from deep-space missions and touch down on Earth’s surface.

After venturing thousands of miles beyond Earth, Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. At Langley, engineers are preparing to mimic various mission finale scenarios this year by dropping a mockup of Orion, coupled with the heat shield from the spacecraft’s first flight, into Langley’s 20-foot-deep Hydro Impact Basin.

NASA engineers install a male and female test dummy into a water landing Orion test article. Test dummies are used to collect data on the impact astronauts could experience when splashing down in the Pacific Ocean during a NASA space mission. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

NASA engineers install a male and female test dummy into a water landing Orion test article. Test dummies are used to collect data on the impact astronauts could experience when splashing down in the Pacific Ocean during a NASA space mission. (NASA/David C. Bowman)

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NASA works to bring back Supersonic Travel

 

Written by J.D. Harrington
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The return of supersonic passenger air travel is one step closer to reality with NASA’s award of a contract for the preliminary design of a “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft. This is the first in a series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the award at an event Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

This is an artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. The award of a preliminary design contract is the first step towards the possible return of supersonic passenger travel – but this time quieter and more affordable. (Lockheed Martin)

This is an artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design. The award of a preliminary design contract is the first step towards the possible return of supersonic passenger travel – but this time quieter and more affordable. (Lockheed Martin)

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NASA’s Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) to begin detailed survey of Coral Reefs

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new three-year NASA field expedition gets underway this year that will use advanced instruments on airplanes and in the water to survey more of the world’s coral reefs, and in far greater detail, than ever before.

The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will measure the condition of these threatened ecosystems and create a unique database of uniform scale and quality.

Coral reefs, sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, are home to a quarter of all ocean fish species. They protect shorelines from storms and provide food for millions of people, yet very little of the world’s reef area has been studied scientifically.

Coral reef in the Mariana Islands. (NOAA/David Burdick)

Coral reef in the Mariana Islands. (NOAA/David Burdick)

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