Written by David Weaver
Washington, D.C. – In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.
“We continued to make great progress on our journey to Mars this year, awarding contracts to American companies who will return human space flight launches to U.S. soil, advancing space technology development; and successfully completing the first flight of Orion, the next deep space spacecraft in which our astronauts will travel,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We moved forward on our work to create quieter, greener airplanes and develop technologies to make air travel more efficient; and we advanced our study of our changing home planet, Earth, while increasing our understanding of others in our solar system and beyond.”
Written by Joshua Buck
Washington, D.C. – The International Space Station’s 3-D printer completed the first phase of a NASA technology demonstration by printing a tool with a design file transmitted from the ground to the printer. The tool was a ratchet wrench.
“For the printer’s final test in this phase of operations, NASA wanted to validate the process for printing on demand, which will be critical on longer journeys to Mars,” explained Niki Werkheiser, the space station 3-D printer program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “In less than a week, the ratchet was designed, approved by safety and other NASA reviewers, and the file was sent to space where the printer made the wrench in four hours.”
Washington, D.C. – Christmas Eve, 1968. As one of the most turbulent, tragic years in American history drew to a close, millions around the world were watching and listening as the Apollo 8 astronauts – Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – became the first humans to orbit another world.
As their command module floated above the lunar surface, the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “on the good Earth.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory CubeSat program provides big satellite performance in a small package
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Any way you slice it, space exploration — done right — requires an inordinate range of technical expertise.
From designing the spacecraft, the mission proposal and the circuit boards to testing the flight software and putting together budgets, sending something, anything, into the cosmos depends on good people who know their job.
“Although significantly smaller in size, CubeSats contain analogous payloads and subsystems to larger satellites and require similar technical knowledge and resources to traditional flight projects,” said Shannon Statham, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The training and experience gained by working on CubeSats are directly applicable to larger missions.”
Written by Rob Gutro
Greenbelt, MD – Severe weather in the form of tornadoes is not something people expect on Christmas week but a storm system on December 23rd brought tornadoes to Mississippi, Georgia and Louisiana. As the storm moved, NASA’s RapidScat captured data on winds while NOAA’s GOES satellite tracked the movement of the system.
NASA’s RapidScat instrument flies aboard the International Space Station and captured a look at some of the high winds from the storms that brought severe weather to the U.S. Gulf Coast on December 23rd. In addition, an animation of images from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite showed the movement of those storms and other weather systems from Canada to South America from December 21st to 24th.
Written by Megan Locke Simpson
Fort Campbell, KY – The Super Guppy landed at Fort Campbell Army Airfield, December 11th, to refuel on a cross-country mission.
The mission of the crew aboard the NASA aircraft was to transport a 30-foot, 10,000-pound composite, multi-bay box from Long Beach, California, to Langley Research Center in Virginia. Along for the ride was the “Mighty Planes” television crew, filming an entire episode on the aircraft set to air in 2016.
NASA’s Super Guppy looks much like its name and is an oversized cargo aircraft. A successor to the Pregnant Guppy, only a handful of such planes have been built since its introduction in the 1960s.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun.
NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.
“NuSTAR will give us a unique look at the sun, from the deepest to the highest parts of its atmosphere,” said David Smith, a solar physicist and member of the NuSTAR team at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Written by Elizabeth Landau
Pasadena, CA – There are no garbage trucks equipped to leave the atmosphere and pick up debris floating around the Earth. But what if we could send a robot to do the job?
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working on adhesive gripping tools that could grapple objects such as orbital debris or defunct satellites that would otherwise be hard to handle.
The gecko gripper project was selected for a test flight through the Flight Opportunities Program of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. As a test, researchers used the grippers in brief periods of weightlessness aboard NASA’s C-9B parabolic flight aircraft in August.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Sometimes a horse of a different color hardly seems to be a horse at all, as, for example, in this newly released image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The famous Horsehead nebula makes a ghostly appearance on the far right side of the image, but is almost unrecognizable in this infrared view.
In visible-light images, the nebula has a distinctively dark and dusty horse-shaped silhouette, but when viewed in infrared light, dust becomes transparent and the nebula appears as a wispy arc.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA -NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft makes a comeback with the discovery of the first exoplanet found using its new mission — K2.
The discovery was made when astronomers and engineers devised an ingenious way to repurpose Kepler for the K2 mission and continue its search of the cosmos for other worlds.
“Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”
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