1. pbsthisdayinhistory:

    Sept. 12, 1992: Dr. Mae Jemison Becomes First African American Woman in Space

    On this day in 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel through space. She served as Mission Specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47.

    WTCI’s Alison Lebovitz discusses the legacy of the first woman of color to travel beyond the stratosphere on “The A List with Alison Lebovitz.” Watch the interview here.

    Photos: NASA

    (via pbsthisdayinhistory)

     

  2. OCO-2 Lifts Off

    On the foggy morning of July 2, 2014, a Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) roared off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The landmark satellite will survey carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and is expected to provide insight into how the planet is responding to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    While sensors on the ground have monitored carbon dioxide for decades, key questions about how carbon cycles between Earth’s atmosphere, ocean, and land surfaces persist. For instance, it isn’t well understood how a significant portion of carbon dioxide emissions get recycled to other parts of the planet rather than remaining in the atmosphere.

    “Half of the carbon dioxide we’re dumping into the atmosphere every year is disappearing somewhere,” explained OCO-2 project scientist David Crisp during a press conference prior to the launch. “We know from measurements that about a quarter of it is dissolving into the ocean, and we assume that the other quarter is going into the land biosphere somewhere—into forests, into trees, into grasslands—but we don’t know where. It is absolutely critical that we learn what processes are absorbing carbon dioxide because we need to understand how much longer they might continue to do us that great favor.”

    There are also unanswered questions about why the atmosphere holds more carbon dioxide during some years than others. “Sometimes almost 100 percent of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere stays there; sometimes almost none does. We don’t know why,” said Crisp. “We need to understand these processes in order to understand how carbon dioxide will build up in our system in the future, and how we might manage carbon dioxide if that’s what policy makers decide to do.”

    NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured this photograph a few seconds after liftoff at 5:56 a.m. Eastern time. The video, shot by NASA TV, shows the first two minutes of the rocket’s flight. The launch was from the West Coast so the spacecraft could enter a polar orbit, a flight path that will see it cross over the Arctic and Antarctic regions during each revolution and get a complete picture of the Earth. It will fly about 438 miles (705 kilometers) above the planet’s surface.

    Photos by Bill Ingalls. YouTube video by NASATV. Caption by Adam Voiland, with information from NASA news releases.

    Instrument(s): Photograph
     

  3. Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke has a little difficulty picking up a hammer dropped on the moon.

     

  4. pbsthisdayinhistory:

    January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 Practice Launch Ends in Tragedy

    On this day in 1967, tragedy struck the space program. Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee had been selected as the crew for Apollo 1, the first flight of the next generation of spacecraft succeeding the Gemini program.

    During a practice launch countdown, a flash fire erupted inside the sealed cockpit. Within seconds the men were unconscious; minutes later they were dead. Because of the pressure of the fire, and the fact that the spacecraft’s hatch opened inward, there was no hope of escape.

    Learn more about the Apollo missions with American Experience's “Race to the Moon.”

    Photo: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, Apollo 1 crew (NASA).

    (Source: nasa.gov)

     

  5. thewoodlanders:

    With one exception, I regarded the other astronauts more as professional comrades than as truly intimate friends. The exception was Ed White.

    The Whites lived catercorner from us, and Ed’s and my off-duty hours were totally oriented towards our wives and children. We weren’t the only family men of course, but being close neighbors in addition to our shared philosophy bought us close together. Yet Ed didn’t limit his friendship to me – I don’t know of any astronaut who was more genuinely liked and admired.

    Ed’s death hit me hard too. We had lost many friends before, but never had we lost someone so close, nor anyone in the space program who had been killed in a spacecraft. He might as well have been the brother I never had, a man of gentle strength and quiet humor.

    Frank speaking about Ed White in Countdown

    2nd photo shows the astronauts paying respect to their comrade and friend. From l-r, Frank (standing separately), Jim L, Buzz, Neil and Pete.

    (via spaceandstuffidk)

     


  6. lightthiscandle:

    I can’t recommend this photo tribute enough. Instead of focusing on the actual tragedy, it focuses on the lives of the crew and shows us why they were so special. (It also contains some great pictures that I’ve never seen before.)

    (via spaceandstuffidk)

     

  7. time-engineer:

    sci-universe:

    Reminder that there are great space agencies out there.

    NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    ESA - European Space Agency
    CNSA - China National Space Administration
    JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
    CSA - Canadian Space Agency
    ROSCOSMOS - Russian Federal Space Agency

    And about 1/2 of them look like the Starfleet symbol

    (Source: knowledgethroughscience, via spaceandstuffidk)

     

  8. Saturn’s rings appear to form a majestic arc over the planet in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

    This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on June 15, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 705 nanometers.

    The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 657,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 2 degrees. Image scale is 37 miles (60 kilometers) per pixel.

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

    For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

    Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

     

  9. CNN: Mercury Seven astronaut Scott Carpenter dies at 88

    Astronaut Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit Earth, died on Thursday, NASA said. He was 88.

    "We, the whole NASA family, are mourning with Scott’s family. We have lost a true pioneer. I shall long remember him not only for his smarts and courage but his incredible humor. He kept us all grounded," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. "We will miss him greatly."

    Carpenter was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts chosen by NASA. He was a backup pilot for John Glenn in the preparation for America’s first manned orbital space flight in February 1962, according to a NASA biography.

    Carpenter flew the second American manned orbital flight in May of that year. Flight time was four hours and 54 minutes.

    He was born in Boulder, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado, where he studied aeronautical engineering.

    Carpenter’s memoir, “For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut,” was published in 2003.

     

  10. latimes:

    Voyager 1 has officially left the solar system

    It may have taken 36 years of coasting through space, but the Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered interstellar space, becoming the first man-made probe to reach that far-off realm.

    The scientific community has been debating whether Voyager had already left for some time now, but it wasn’t until today that NASA was confident enough to made the estimate official.

    Lead author Don Gurnett, an Iowa State plasma physicist and a Voyager project scientist, said the data showed conclusively that Voyager 1 had exited the heliopause — the bubble of hot, energetic particles that surrounds our sun and planets — and entered into a region of cold, dark space called the interstellar medium. 

    Read more over at Science Now.

    Photos: NASA

     

  11. pbsthisdayinhistory:

    Sept. 12, 1992: Dr. Mae Jemison Becomes First African American Woman in Space

    On this day in 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel through space. She served as Mission Specialist aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47.

    WTCI’s Alison Lebovitz discusses the legacy of the first woman of color to travel beyond the stratosphere on “The A List with Alison Lebovitz.” Watch the interview here.

    Photos: NASA

     

  12. This full-circle view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version. The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.


    Viewers can explore this image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/ .

    This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames - mostly of the rover itself - from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16918 . The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.

    NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.

    Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.

    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

     

  13. August 29, 2013

    Former JPL Director Bruce Murray Dies After a Long Illness

    PASADENA, Calif. - Former JPL Director Bruce C. Murray died [Thursday] at the age of 81 after a long illness. 

    Murray was at the helm of JPL from 1976 to 1982, during a very busy time for planetary exploration - when the Viking spacecraft landed on Mars, and Voyager 1 and 2 were launched and flew by Jupiter and Saturn. 

    After leaving JPL, Murray was a professor of planetary science and geology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which manages JPL for NASA. 

    As JPL director, Murray faced a rapidly shrinking budget, along with the rest of NASA. 

    Murray salvaged for JPL the Galileo mission to Jupiter, brought the American portion of the joint Netherlands/United Kingdom/U.S. Infrared Astronomy Satellite to JPL, and Caltech gained the project’s science data center. 

    "He worked tirelessly to save our nation’s planetary exploration capability at a tumultuous time when there was serious consideration for curtailing future missions," said current JPL Director Charles Elachi. "Long after returning to Caltech as a professor he continued to be an important voice in expressing the importance of space exploration." 

    During Murray’s leadership, JPL launched Seasat, one of the earliest Earth-observing satellites; the Solar Mesosphere Explorer, an Earth-orbiting spacecraft that investigated the ozone in Earth’s upper atmosphere; and Shuttle Imaging Radar-A, which flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia as the first instrument to image Earth using radar pulses, rather than optical light, as illumination. He gained a substantial expansion of JPL’s civil affairs program with a large solar energy research project funded by the Department of Energy. 

    In 1979, Murray joined with the late astronomer Carl Sagan and engineer Louis Friedman to found the Planetary Society, a membership-based nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the solar system and expanding public advocacy for space exploration. 

    Even before becoming JPL director, Murray’s association with JPL and Caltech was longstanding and deep-seated. He was a Caltech geologist and a key member of the Mariner 4 imaging team that captured the first close-up image of Mars in 1964. It was the first of four planetary missions in which he played a vital role as a scientist. 

    Murray earned a Ph.D. in geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. In 1955, Murray worked as a geologist for Standard Oil until 1958, then served two years in the U.S. Air Force. He came to Caltech in 1960, initially working in planetary astronomy, and soon became part of the imaging science team for JPL’s first two missions to Mars, Mariners 3 and 4. He served a similar role on Mariners 6, 7 and 9, using their imagery to begin constructing a geologic history for Mars. 

    Murray published more than 130 scientific papers and authored or co-authored seven books. After he retired as director in late 1982, Murray returned to Caltech’s Geological and Planetary Sciences Division, and was later named an emeritus professor at the campus. 

    Flags at JPL have been lowered to half staff in honor of Murray. 

    He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Moss, five children and grandchildren.

     

  14. Annular Eclipse of the Sun by Phobos, as Seen by Curiosity

    This set of three images shows views three seconds apart as the larger of Mars’ two moons, Phobos, passed directly in front of the sun as seen by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. Curiosity photographed this annular, or ring, eclipse with the telephoto-lens camera of the rover’s Mast Camera pair (right Mastcam) on Aug. 17, 2013, the 369th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars.

    Curiosity paused during its drive that sol for a set of observations that the camera team carefully calculated to record this celestial event. The rover’s observations of Phobos help researchers to make measurements of the moon’s orbit even more precise. Because this eclipse occurred near mid-day at Curiosity’s location on Mars, Phobos was nearly overhead, closer to the rover than it would have been earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. This timing made Phobos’ silhouette larger against the sun — as close to a total eclipse of the sun as is possible from Mars.

    Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Mastcam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the mission’s Curiosity rover for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

    For more about NASA’s Curiosity mission, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mslhttp://www.nasa.gov/mars, andhttp://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.

     

  15. jtotheizzoe:

    If you’re ever bored, might I suggest one of my favorite internet layovers: The Sun Now, daily updated views of our star from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

    It’s the only safe way to stare at the sun.

    Curious about the colors? Check out this post. 

    (via n-a-s-a)