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Radar Strip Showing Crater Bessel

November 19, 2009 1 comment
Radar Strip Showing Crater Bessel

Mini-RF S-band zoom synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image strip through central Mare Serenitatis on the near side of the Moon (approximate longitude of strip ~ 18° E; center latitude ~ 20° N). The radar strip runs through the crater Bessel (inset; 15 km (9 mile) diameter; center at 21.8° N, 17.9° E) and covers the highlands of the Haemus Mts. (rim of Serenitatis basin) in its southern (bottom) third. The full-resolution SAR data are 30 m (90 feet). The streaks of bright and dark material in the walls of Bessel probably reflect the blockiness of landslides within the crater, brighter streaks having more blocks of the 10-cm (4-inch) scale. The radar strip covers a major geological boundary in Mare Serenitatis; the darker, lower maria has higher titanium content than central Serenitatis. We see this geological boundary in the Mini-RF radar image, caused by higher absorption of RF energy by the high content of the iron-titanium oxide mineral ilmenite. Thus, Mini-RF SAR images can be used to map the titanium content of the lunar maria. The background image is part of the Clementine global mosaic.

Glenn Helps Ares I-X Soar

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

The future of new rocket design was successfully tested when the Ares I-X blasted off on October 28, 2009. The test vehicle launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and travelled for six minutes until it splashed down 150 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean. Ares I-X, at 327 feet tall and 1.8 million pounds, was comprised of components fabricated at several NASA centers. The Upper Stage Simulator (USS), all 430,000 pounds and 110 feet of it, was developed, designed and constructed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

view of ARES I -X launch from distance

The Ares I-X Flight Test blasts off from the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
Vince Bilardo, Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator Project Manager at Glenn, lead the project from its beginning four years ago through the extraordinary apex of the launch. He shares his thoughts on Ares I-X and Glenn’s essential role in its success.

How did the launch go?
Vince Bilardo: The launch was nearly flawless! Once we got past the weather issues, the countdown and flight went just as planned. The vehicle flew the exact trajectory that was planned. All the data was successfully telemetered to the ground during the flight, the cameras all worked great and provided spectacular images of the flight. We proved conclusively that we can successfully control a tall, slender rocket by small movements in a single rocket nozzle.

How did the Glenn component, the USS, perform?
VB: The Glenn-built Upper Stage Simulator (USS) performed flawlessly, as best as we can determine so far. And that was not just during launch but in all phases of the ground assembly and launch processing prior to the flight. Contrary to speculation, the USS motion after First Stage separation was predicted in several of the “dispersion cases” or simulations that we ran prior to flight. And the entire stage held together after separation all the way down to the water, contrary to some analyses which predicted that it might break apart due to high loads during the tumble down to the sea. It all adds up to a strong endorsement of the robust design and manufacturing concept that our in house team implemented.

ARES I-X at night

>Ares I-X, including the Upper Stage Simulator (USS) built at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, is illuminated the night before launch. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
What was the experience of being at the launch like?
VB: I was part of the Launch Support Team, which was located in one of the backup launch control rooms called Hangar AE, on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station side. All of the Integrated Product Team personnel that designed and developed the Ares I-X hardware and software were located in Hangar AE. We had to be “on station” at our consoles by 4:00 am for the countdown each of the two launch attempts on October 27 and 28. Then, we had to work some contingency loads analyses to take into account the winds on the actual day of launch and their potential affect on the vehicle structure. So it was a very busy time leading up to the final countdown coming out of the planned hold at the T-4 minute point.

As we got close to this point, the weather uncertainty took over, and it made for an emotional roller coaster as we thought we had a go, then the weather window would close, then open again another 30 minutes later, and so on. Once we got the count restarted, the final four minutes were very quiet in the room, then once we got to T-0 and saw the vehicle lift off there was elation and cheering, followed by more quiet as we watched closely to for each event during the overall six minute mission. As each of those milestones were hit, there was more cheering, followed by a big round of applause once we saw the FS parachutes open up.

What was it like being a key participant in the Ares I-X launch? What did you and your Glenn team learn from being a part of the project?
VB: It was a thrilling experience, and without a doubt the highlight of my career to date. I believe this is true for all of our USS team members at GRC and across the agency, for this truly was a once-in-a-career historic mission: the first flight of a new rocket vehicle in over a generation, since the Space Shuttle was developed in the 1970s.

We have learned a tremendous amount being part of this endeavor, starting with the hands-on, in house engineering, design, analysis, manufacturing, handling, and transportation we performed with civil servants and in-house contractor team members. We developed rigorous flight hardware processes and procedures, and we put in place improved manufacturing tools and techniques. We also gained the experience of processing the flight hardware for launch in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

We have truly built our capacity to be a space flight development center during the execution of Ares I-X.

NASA EDGE Nominated for Best Video Podcast

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

NASA EDGE Nominated for ‘Best Video Podcast’ in the 5th Annual Podcast Awards!

›› Vote Now for NASA EDGE!

NASA EDGE

Vote now for NASA EDGE, Best Video Podcast at www.podcastawards.com!

NASA EDGE continues their unprecedented, unscripted journey through the world of video podcasting with their very first award nomination. This is no small accomplishment considering that only two and half years ago, they weren’t sure that they would find an audience.

Well, they have. Almost three years and 3.2 million downloads later, NASA EDGE is now recognized in the company of such internet greats and fellow nominees as “Buzz out Loud,” “Diggnation” and “Filmriot” just to name a few.

In fact, the 5th Annual Podcast Awards, managed by Podcast Connect Inc., mentioned on their Web site that this year’s competition received more than 321,000 nominations for over 3,500 different shows.

Be sure to vote for NASA EDGE

You can vote once a day from November 13 to November 30, 2009 by visiting www.podcastawards.com. NASA EDGE is listed in the “Best Video Podcast” category with nine other video podcasts.

If you’re already a fan of NASA EDGE, please vote for them. If you haven’t seen or heard of NASA EDGE, visit their home page at www.nasa.gov/nasaedge and download any or all of their 46 video podcasts. You will not be disappointed.

NASA EDGE Co-Host and outsider Blair Allen

NASA EDGE Co-host, Blair Allen

What is NASA EDGE?

NASA EDGE is different. Unscripted and unpredictable, NASA EDGE takes a unique look in and around the greatest space program on the planet. They have hosted the Great Moonbuggy Race, examined NASA spinoff technology at the X Games, followed the Desert-RATS with an unconventional set of duct tape boots, coined the term Magnetospherence and even made an appearance on ESPN’s nationally syndicated “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show.

Check out their latest Vodcast, which added a new wrinkle. In October they covered NASA’s historic Ares I-X Flight Demonstration live on the Web. That show featured the entire broadcast team and an attempt at defining and redefining ‘triboelectrification.’

Of course, NASA EDGE isn’t just a video podcast. If you have questions, comments or thoughts about NASA or NASA EDGE, you can friend them on facebook and ask questions, chat or check out some exclusive facebook videos.

Or if you just want to keep up with their latest shows or activities you can follow them on twitter (@NASA_EDGE).

If all goes well, you’ll hear from them the second they win their very first award!

LCROSS Impact Data Indicates Water on Moon

November 14, 2009 Leave a comment
The Visible camera image showing the ejecta plume at about 20 seconds after impact.

The visible camera image showing the ejecta plume at about 20 seconds after impact.
Credit: NASA

Data from the down-looking NIR spectrometer.

Data from the down-looking near-infrared spectrometer. The red curve shows how the spectra would look for a “grey” or “colorless” warm (230 C) dust cloud. The yellow areas indicate the water absorption bands.
Credit: NASA

Data from the Ultraviolet/Visible spectrometer taken shortly after impact.

Data from the ultraviolet/visible spectrometer taken shortly after impact showing emission lines (indicated by arrows). These emission lines are diagnostic of compounds in the vapor/debris cloud.
Credit: NASA

The argument that the moon is a dry, desolate place no longer holds water.

Secrets the moon has been holding, for perhaps billions of years, are now being revealed to the delight of scientists and space enthusiasts alike.

NASA today opened a new chapter in our understanding of the moon. Preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the Oct. 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus cater near the moon’s south pole.

The impact created by the LCROSS Centaur upper stage rocket created a two-part plume of material from the bottom of the crater. The first part was a high angle plume of vapor and fine dust and the second a lower angle ejecta curtain of heavier material. This material has not seen sunlight in billions of years.

“We’re unlocking the mysteries of our nearest neighbor and by extension the solar system. It turns out the moon harbors many secrets, and LCROSS has added a new layer to our understanding,” said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Scientists have long speculated about the source of vast quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected.

Permanently shadowed regions could hold a key to the history and evolution of the solar system, much as an ice core sample taken on Earth reveals ancient data. In addition, water, and other compounds represent potential resources that could sustain future lunar exploration.

Since the impacts, the LCROSS science team has been working almost nonstop analyzing the huge amount of data the spacecraft collected. The team concentrated on data from the satellite’s spectrometers, which provide the most definitive information about the presence of water. A spectrometer examines light emitted or absorbed by materials that helps identify their composition.

“We are ecstatic,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.”

The team took the known near infrared spectral signatures of water and other materials and compared them to the spectra collected by the LCROSS near infrared spectrometer of the impact.

“We were only able to match the spectra from LCROSS data when we inserted the spectra for water,” said Colaprete. “No other reasonable combination of other compounds that we tried matched the observations. The possibility of contamination from the Centaur also was ruled out.”

Additional confirmation came from an emission in the ultraviolet spectrum that was attributed to hydroxyl, one product from the break-up of water by sunlight. When atoms and molecules are excited, they release energy at specific wavelengths that are detected by the spectrometers. A similar process is used in neon signs. When electrified, a specific gas will produce a distinct color. The ultraviolet visible spectrometer detected hydroxyl signatures just after impact that are consistent with a water vapor cloud in sunlight.

Data from the other LCROSS instruments are being analyzed for additional clues about the state and distribution of the material at the impact site. The LCROSS science team along with colleagues are poring over the data to understand the entire impact event, from flash to crater, with the final goal being the understanding of the distribution of materials, and in particular volatiles, within the soil at the impact site.

“The full understanding of the LCROSS data may take some time. The data is that rich,” said Colaprete. “Along with the water in Cabeus, there are hints of other intriguing substances. The permanently shadowed regions of the moon are truly cold traps, collecting and preserving material over billions of years.”

LCROSS was launched June 18, 2009 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After separating from LRO, the LCROSS spacecraft held onto the spent Centaur upper stage rocket of the launch vehicle, executed a lunar swingby and entered into a series of long looping orbits around the Earth.

After traveling approximately 113 days and nearly 5.6 million miles (9 million km), the Centaur and LCROSS separated on final approach to the moon. Traveling as fast as a speeding bullet, the Centaur impacted the lunar surface shortly after 4:31 a.m. PDT Oct. 9 with LCROSS watching with its onboard instruments. Approximately four minutes of data was collected before the LCROSS itself impacted the lunar surface.

Working closely with scientists from LRO and other observatories that viewed the impact, the LCROSS team is working to understand the full scope of the LCROSS data. LRO continues to make passes over the impact site to give the LCROSS team additional insight into the mechanics of the impact and its resulting craters.

What other secrets will the moon reveal? The analysis continues!

Take Me Out to the Ballpark – On Mars!

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Imagine Mars logo

NASA and JPL have partnered with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to host a workshop for kids on Sat., Nov. 7, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Image credit: NASA/JPL Students in fourth through seventh grade will work to create the ultimate baseball experience “on Mars,” even designing the rules for how to play a game on the Red Planet. NASA and JPL have partnered with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to host a workshop for kids on Sat., Nov. 7, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

At the Imagine Mars workshop, kids will learn about the Martian environment and baseball. They will create uniforms, stadium concepts and rules for playing a baseball game, taking into consideration things like Mars’ gravity, which is 38 percent that found on Earth. This means that if you weigh 100 kilograms (220 pounds) on Earth you would only weigh about 38 kilograms (83 pounds) on Mars. Mars scientist Jim Bell from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., who works on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission, will be a guest speaker.

For more information, see the news release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

More information on the Mars Exploration Rover mission is available at http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html .

A Splendid Day for Flying Glaciers

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

From: Kathryn Hansen, Science Writer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

pen3vel

A last-minute change in flight plans made for another great science flight on Nov. 4. Initial plans were to make a high-altitude flight, according to program director Jim Yungel of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.  But a forecaster in the Punta Arenas airport weather office advised crew of the potential for weather to interfere with the high-altitude measurements for the mission’s LVIS instrument.

With a new flight plan in place, NASA’s DC-8 took off just a few minutes after the scheduled 11 a.m. departure time. The new plan called for low-altitude flights over the Antarctic Peninsula.

“The forecaster was completely correct,” Yungel wrote to colleagues after the flight. “We flew into sunny conditions with occasional very light high cirrus over flight lines, resulting in an outstanding data set over the Larsen Ice Shelf and many impressive glaciers.”

Instruments that collect data at lower altitudes, including the Airborne Topographic Mapper, had a successful 11.3-hour flight.

“Much of this flight surveyed a grid over the Larsen C Ice Shelf,” Yungel wrote. “Later in the flight we surveyed several significant glaciers in the central Peninsula area, including the Atlee, Flask, Crane, Hektoria, and Drygalski glaciers. It was a splendid day for flying glaciers!”

DSC03014

Despite the busy flight, Yungel managed to capture these images of the landscape from the aircraft window …

HANSEN

ESA calls for ideas for climate change experiments from ISS

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

image

ESA is looking for ideas to use the International Space Station as a platform to conduct research into global climate change.

The International Space Station (ISS) is a manned orbital platform with a permanent crew of six. Its assembly will be completed next year, providing a multipurpose research facility in low orbit until 2015 and possibly beyond.

Europe’s scientific community is already using the ISS in a multitude of areas such as life and microgravity sciences, and now Earth science

and climate change initiatives are to be considered too. Potentially, it can be used as an observation platform for studies into global change, supplementing observations from dedicated satellites.

“The ISS is the obvious laboratory on which, with which and from which we can really help our planet, understand it and develop countermeasures to protect it, and to protect ourselves,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight.

“On the ISS we are developing and testing technologies that find a direct application in improving life back on Earth. As we are about to complete the ISS and look into extending its lifetime to 2020 and beyond, using it as a platform to collect data and study Earth phenomena is the clear demonstration that human spaceflight does serve terrestrial needs.

“This is the case since the first astronauts realised how fragile our Earth is as seen from space. I hope therefore that this Call for Ideas finds a lot of resonance within the Earth science community and I am looking forward to many interesting proposals.”

Instruments can be attached outside the Station, especially on Europe’s Columbus laboratory, as well as positioned inside to view through windows. The orbit inclination of 51.6* and altitude of 350-460 km are different to those of most Earth observation satellites, offering other ground patterns over an area that covers about 95% of Earth’s population.

ESA has issued a Call for Ideas to gauge the interest in deploying remote-sensing instruments for global change experiments on the ISS. Depending on the level of interest and the suitability of the research proposals, it may be followed by a specific Announcement of Opportunity for instruments or multi-user payloads.

Letter of Interest due: 21 December 2009

ESA Feedback to proposers on ideas: 21 March 2010