Posts tagged astronaut

9 reasons why Yuri Gagarin may be the most mantastic man ever

50 years ago, on April 12th, a human went into space for the first time. Let’s say that again, for emphasis: a human went into space. In a rocket. To space. His name was Yuri Gagarin and he is an undeniable legend.

Sure, his fame might be overshadowed somewhat by those showoff Americans Buzz Adrin and Neil Armstrong (though we still love you guys, big time), and his tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 31 also limited his potential awesomeness, but there’s no man alive who could deny that Yuri was an absolute boss.

A hero in Russia — more than a hero, in fact, more like a god — he’s celebrated to this day, year after year, for his amazing feat of being the first man in space, and for showing those Yanks the Russkies had the power to send a ruddy bloody man into ruddy bloody space.

Continue reading at Asylum.co.uk

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

NASA plans for shuttle Endeavour to liftoff as per schedule

Space shuttle endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour rolls to launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center January 6, 2010 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Coolant hoses on board the to-be-launched Tranquility module failed pre-launch checks. Credit: Matt Stroshane / Getty Images

NASA is still hoping to launch the shuttle Endeavour in early February as engineers scramble to repair broken hoses on the new space station module set to ride aboard the orbiter.

Endeavour is slated to launch the new Tranquility module to the International Space Station on Feb. 7 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But two of the module’s four ammonia coolant hoses have failed standard pre-launch checks, forcing engineers to come up with a repair plan while others try to build new hoses from scratch, station managers said Monday.

“Folks are working really hard to get the hoses checked out, completed, certified [and] tested,” said Pete Hasbrook, NASA manager for the Expedition 22 mission aboard the space station. “We are still working toward the Feb. 7 launch date.”

Read the rest at MSNBC

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Fossil Fireballs Spotted By Suzaku, 17 million degrees celsius

Fossil fireballs spotted by Suzaku

Studies of two supernova remnants using the Japan-U.S. Suzaku observatory have revealed never-before-seen embers of the high-temperature fireballs that immediately followed the explosions. Even after thousands of years, gas within these stellar wrecks retain the imprint of temperatures 10,000 times hotter than the sun’s surface.

“This is the first evidence of a new type of supernova remnant — one that was heated right after the explosion,” said Hiroya Yamaguchi at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Japan.

A supernova remnant usually cools quickly due to rapid expansion following the explosion. Then, as it sweeps up tenuous interstellar gas over thousands of years, the remnant gradually heats up again.

Capitalizing on the sensitivity of the Suzaku satellite, a team led by Yamaguchi and Midori Ozawa, a graduate student at Kyoto University, detected unusual features in the X-ray spectrum of IC 443, better known to amateur astronomers as the Jellyfish Nebula.

The remnant, which lies some 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Gemini, formed about 4,000 years ago. The X-ray emission forms a roughly circular patch in the northern part of the visible nebulosity.

Suzaku’s X-ray Imaging Spectrometers (XISs) separate X-rays by energy in much the same way as a prism separates light into a rainbow of colors. This allows astronomers to tease out the types of processes responsible for the radiation.

Some of the X-ray emission in the Jellyfish Nebula arises as fast-moving free electrons sweep near the nuclei of atoms. Their mutual attraction deflects the electrons, which then emit X-rays as they change course. The electrons have energies corresponding to a temperature of about 12 million degrees Fahrenheit (7 million degrees Celsius).

Several bumps in the Suzaku spectrum were more puzzling. “These structures indicate the presence of a large amount of silicon and sulfur atoms from which all electrons have been stripped away,” Yamaguchi said. These “naked” nuclei produce X-rays as they recapture their lost electrons.

But removing all electrons from a silicon atom requires temperatures higher than about 30 million degrees F (17 million Celsius); hotter still for sulfur atoms. “These ions cannot form in the present-day remnant,” Yamaguchi explained. “Instead, we’re seeing ions created by the enormous temperatures that immediately followed the supernova.”

Continue reading…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

NASA: Coolant lines a concern for February 7 shuttle launch

Tranquility NASA

NASA is reviewing a problem with coolant hoses that could force a delay to the planned Feb. 7 launch of Endeavour.

“We’re still targeting Feb. 7, but it has the potential to do that,” said Allard Beutel, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman. “We are looking at this as an issue.”

The ammonia coolant lines were to be attached to the Tranquility module, which is due to be delivered to the launch pad and installed in the shuttle next week, during one of three spacewalks.

But the hoses have experienced failures during pre-flight tests this week by a California supplier, and replacements are not readily available.

Continue reading…

Read the official NASA mission summary here

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 9.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

NASA Focuses Next Mission on Venus, Asteroid or the Moon

NASA has narrowed the choices for its next unmanned space mission down to three potential expeditions: one aimed at Venus and the others promising to return samples of an asteroid or the moon.

But only one of those contenders will get the green light for $650 million in funding (which excludes rocket costs) and a launch sometime before Dec. 30, 2018. The competition is part of NASA’s New Frontiers program to develop medium-class missions to explore the solar system.

“These are projects that inspire and excite young scientists, engineers and the public,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement.

NASA has set aside $3.3 million in seed money for each of the three potential missions in 2010 to flesh out their project concepts, feasibility, costs and management plans. The proposals were submitted in July 2009 and a final selection will be made in mid-2011.

“These three proposals provide the best science value among eight submitted to NASA this year,” Weiler said.

Here’s a look at the top contenders vying for NASA’s next New Frontiers mission slot:

Target: Venus — The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer (SAGE) mission to Venus would send a probe plunging through the planet’s atmosphere to land on its harsh surface. The spacecraft would perform extensive measurements of the Venusian atmosphere and weather on the way down, and then dig into the ground to study surface composition and mineralogy.

Read more here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Water on the Moon, Ares I-X, Logistics on ISS – Future Aspirations Mark 2009

If the first half of 2009 for NASA demonstrated the agency’s unwavering attention to safety, NASA not only continued that trend – upholding the utmost safety standards in the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs – during the second half of the year but also placed itself and its various programs in a tremendous position for the years to come.

Highlighting the second half of 2009 for NASA was the resolution of the Gaseous Hydrogen leaks at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate on the Shuttle launch pad (which resulted in the successful launch of STS-127/Endeavour in July), the midnight ride of Discovery on STS-128 in August, the amazingly successful test flight of the Ares I-X rocket in October, the discovery of water on the moon in October/November from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the logistics run of shuttle Atlantis to the ISS in November.

Read the rest here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 9.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Voyager 2 on a ‘magic mission’ beyond Milky Way

Milky way

A map of the Milky Way. Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Holiday tidings come from NASA’s Voyager 2 this week, offering a view of deep space beyond our sun’s solar system.

Now speeding through space at more than 34,000 miles-per-hour, the 1977 space probe resides more than 8.3. billion miles away from the sun. That is twice as far as Pluto. Two years ago, Voyager 2 passed into the region of space where the sun’s solar wind peters out as it plows into the interstellar gases of our Milky Way galaxy. And now it’s giving us some news from this region, called the “heliosheath,” by astrophysicists.

“This is a magic mission,” says space scientist Merav Opher of George Mason University. in Fairfax, Va.. “After all these years, Voyager 2 is still working and sending us first hand (on-site) data.”

Voyager 2’s vantage, revealed in the Dec. 24 Nature journal in a study led by Opher and colleagues, shows that beyond the solar system, the galaxy’s magnetic field is unexpectedly strong, about twice as much as expected, and unexpectedly tilted. Our galaxy is essentially a twin-armed flat disk of stars 100,000 light years across rotating around a spherical ball of stars in its center (one light year is about 5.9 trillion miles.).

Continue reading…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 10.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Trio of NASA missions in 2010 will probe answers to secrets of the Earth, sun

Earth view from space

Taken by astronaut William Anders from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, this December 1968 photo of Earth rising over the lunar surface would become one of the most famous images of the 20th century. Credit: NASA

NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But that’s not all the agency has planned: There are also launches of three new satellites aimed at better understanding the Earth’s climate and oceans, and the sun.

Two of the probes will examine Earth — specifically the concentration of salt in the world’s oceans and the presence of aerosol particles, such as soot, in the atmosphere. A third mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth.

All three come at a critical time for NASA. Data from the two Earth probes will likely influence global-warming research, and the trio of launches could serve as bright spots in a year otherwise dominated by debate over the future of the agency’s manned space program.

“They are extraordinary timely,” said Michael Freilich, head of NASA’s Earth-science division, of the two Earth probes. “It is a quest for understanding of the Earth system and [to improve] our ability to predict how our wonderful environment and our planet is going to change in the future.”

Combined, the three missions will cost more than $1.5 billion.

Get the full details here…

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Happy Holidays from orbit17.com – All the best to you and yours :)

Geminid shower in California

Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California’s Mojave Desert Credit: Wally Pacholka, TWAN

Like a silver spear cast from the heavens, the bright streak of a Geminid meteor pierces the night sky over California’s Mojave Desert during the annual meteor shower’s 2009 peak.

Geminids are slower than other shooting stars and are known to make beautiful long arcs across the sky. This could be because they’re born of debris from a dormant comet and so are made mostly of hard, sun-baked rock that takes longer to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, experts suggest.

Geminid Meteor Shower: Rising Star

The Geminids have been historically overlooked, simply because of their timing so close to the busy holiday season and during frigid winter nights, astronomers say.

But that’s beginning to change, thanks to the Geminids’ rising intensity over the past few decades.

In fact, for many astronomers, the December meteors have now dethroned the more popular August Perseid meteor shower as the shooting star event of the year.

“It may come as a surprise to many, but the Geminids are currently richer and are brighter on average,” said Anthony Cook, astronomy observer at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.

Why the sudden illumination?

Earth is plowing deeper every year into an ancient stream of rocky debris left behind by a mysterious 3.1-mile-wide (5-kilometer-wide) object that orbits the inner solar system, he said.

When Earth’s atmosphere crosses paths with that debris cloud, the rocks are superheated and burn out—and new Geminids are born.

Geminids’ Mystery Parent

The Geminid meteors all appear to be chips off a mysterious rocky object called 3200 Phaethon.

Other meteor showers come from material shed by melting comets—which are massive chunks of dirty ice and rock—as they pass close to the sun. (See asteroid and comet pictures.)

But no one knows for sure whether the Geminids’ parent object, first identified in 1983, is an asteroid or the core of an ancient comet that simply sputtered out.

Recent observations of Phaethon, though, suggest it’s a nearly dormant comet, and the Geminids’ parent is now officially classified as such by NASA.

The research revealed that Phaethon is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun, according to NASA.

The shooting stars’ rocky, hard exterior—as well as the fact that they, unprotected by ice, get baked by the sun—may help explain why Geminids are slower and last longer in the sky than other shooting stars, said Peter Brown, a meteor expert at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

“They have the ability to penetrate deeper into Earth’s atmosphere,” Brown said, “and burn up at much lower altitudes than meteors associated with the Perseids and Leonids.”

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 11.0/11 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

Astronauts geared for yuletide space adventure

Astronauts from the United States, Russia and Japan are poised for their holiday season space mission Monday, when they are to blast off to the International Space Station from Russia’s remote space complex in southern Kazakhstan.

Their Soyuz TMA-17 rocket is primed at the Baikonur launch pad — where Yuri Gagarin made the first human trip into orbit in 1961 — for a mission that will boost the number of crew at the orbital laboratory to five members.

American Timothy J. Creamer of NASA, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Soichi Noguchi of Japan are to blast off Monday at 3:52 a.m. local time (4:52 p.m. EST Sunday, 2152 GMT) in the first-ever launch of a Soyuz spaceship on a winter night.

After the liftoff in central Asia, the Soyuz will travel for about two days before docking with the space station 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth.

Striking a festive mood, the space station this week beamed a video Christmas greeting to Earth.

On its Web site, NASA has created a series of virtual postcards for members of the public to send to the space station with their holiday greetings.

The three astronauts will be joining Jeff Williams, another American NASA astronaut, and Russia’s Maxim Surayev, who have been alone on the space station since the start of the month.

The first space station crew arrived in 2000, two years after the first part was launched. Until the May launch, no more than three people lived up there at a time. Prior to that, there were as many as six people aboard for several periods when a space tourist would go up with one crew, spend a week or so aboard and come back with another crew.

With the U.S. shuttle fleet set to be grounded soon, NASA and other international partners will have to rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone to ferry their astronauts to the space station and back.

Credit: The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: 9.0/11 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.7.3_972]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
101.17 0.747.11 -->