Education Resources

Would you be open to sharing our Request a Resource page with your education visitors (http://educatorlabs.org/request-a-resource/)? Maybe on this page: http://keeptheshuttleflying.com/?page_id=620? And by the way… thank you for the resources there… we added some to our collection, including the NASA link (we love that site!).

I’m passing along some resources below that are in the same fun, educational vein as your NASA resource. Please add them too if you think they’d be a good fit for educators:

Math Activities for Kids

http://www.graphite.org/reviews?subjects=19647&gclid=CKGPkLqe0bwCFYRQ7Aod90AAwQ

89 Financial Literacy Lesson Plans and Teaching Tools for K-12

http://www.mortgagecalculator.org/helpful-advice/finance-lesson-plans.php

Crunch the Numbers: Do More Math, Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

http://www.scholastic.com/browse/unitplan.jsp?id=277

ZoomSci: Science and Engineering Projects for Kids

http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/

Car Physics and Newton’s Laws of Motion

https://www.kanetix.ca/car-physics-and-newton’s-laws-of-motion

Wildlife and Nature Lesson Plans and Resources for Educators

http://www.nwf.org/what-we-do/kids-and-nature/educators.aspx

Forest Fire Safety and Prevention for Kids

http://www.treeremoval.com/kids-guide-to-forest-fires/

Kids Know It Network

http://www.kidsknowit.com/

Logistics Career Exploration Guide for Kids and Students

http://www.camcode.com/asset-tags/logistics-guide-for-kids/

Astronomy for Kids

http://www.planetsforkids.org/

K-8 Space Education Resources

http://www.e-aircraftsupply.com/space-education/

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Security of USA !

With the way the world is today, American security is critical, yet it is being eroded by our leadership, look at border, military.   In order to have security , you must have appropriate weapons systems, however , this government is damaging our design, manufacturing, test & operational capabilities of many of our systems.   Damage occurring by not maintaing certain capabilities  as in shuttle with loss of talented workforce.  Re general Shelton words on Russian rocket we use & retirement of shuttle.   Big lag time in getting many new systems operational.  This is not limited to space systems.!
Some day more spacecraft ( in orbit) ,  airplanes & buildings in the USA will be under attack due to lack of security resulting from inadequate systems / poor leadership & as a result infiltration of enemies into the USA.

Hannity correct, our leaders are not giving this sufficient attention!

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Fwd: It’s time for Congress to fight for our soldiers

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: Senator Jim Inhofe <jim.inhofe@inhofe.enews.senate.gov>
Date: July 26, 2014 9:33:54 AM CDT
To: bobbygmartin1938@gmail.com <bobbygmartin1938@gmail.com>
Subject: It’s time for Congress to fight for our soldiers
Reply-To: 2100118580.75172.297@enews.senate.gov

If you are having trouble viewing this message or would like to share it on a social network, you can view the message online.


July 26, 2014
The Inhofe Informant - James M. Inhofe - U.S. Senator   - Oklahoma

Dear Friends,

We ask a lot of our military men and women. When they volunteer and take an oath to serve our nation in uniform, they understand it will likely mean extended periods away from their loved ones, often in far-off lands and often at great risk to their lives. 

What they shouldn’t expect, however, is that while they’re courageously serving in harm’s way they might receive a pink slip informing them that their services will no longer be needed and that they won’t have a job when they return home. Tragically, that’s exactly what happened to approximately 1,100 Army captains this month.

It was clear to me early on that preserving the readiness and war-fighting capabilities of our military would not be a priority of President Obama. This reality, coupled with the devastating impacts of defense sequestration, is wreaking havoc on the military and forcing our men and women in uniform to shoulder the burden.

In 2011, I warned that defense sequestration would lead to the hollowing out of our military and civilian furloughs, and program reductions would soon turn into our active-duty military receiving pink slips and the canceling of critical weapons programs. We are seeing this happen now with the forced separation of talented military leaders and with soldiers losing their jobs while serving on the front lines.

If defense sequestration continues, it is only going to get worse. Our Army could reach a level of 420,000 soldiers — a size not seen since before World War II. Put simply, more soldiers will receive pink slips in the months and years ahead. It’s devastating for morale and even worse for our national security and Congress must do something about it. 

The Army has told me that they are committed to helping those who face forced retirement or discharge. Officers with less than 18 years of active service will be given 9 months to transition and are eligible for full separation pay as well as transition assistance counseling. However, many of us believe that more can and should be done.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I supported numerous provisions in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that will assist our soldiers being forced out of the military with access to higher education opportunities, ongoing transition counseling, and tools for job placement. We urgently need to bring up the NDAA before the full Senate so that we can debate these issues, go to conference with the House, and pass this vital bill for our military for the 53rd consecutive year. The men and women serving on the front lines and those who received notice of their forced separation continue to do their jobs and, rightfully, expect us in the Senate to do ours.

My heart goes out to these men and women risking their lives and making great sacrifices, yet are now being told they are being separated from the Army and will have no job when they return home to their families. By bringing up the NDAA as soon as possible, we will have an opportunity to provide the support these brave Americans and their families need during this difficult time.

These soldiers made a commitment to support the defense of the United States and we have a commitment to support them while in uniform and as they transition to civilian life. I urge my colleagues to push for the NDAA to come to the Senate floor so that we can fulfill this solemn commitment.

Thank you for taking an interest in what I am doing to best represent you in Washington.

Sincerely,

Jim Inhofe

Sen. Inhofe will appear on MiddleGround on Oklahoma City’s KOKH Fox 25 at 8:30AM CST Sunday morning to talk about our men and women in uniform receiving pink slips.

 

ICYMI:

 

It’s time for Congress to fight for our soldiers

 

Sen. Jim Inhofe Slams Obama Over ‘Alarming’ Move to Cut Army by 1,100

 

Inhofe: Reid Obstruction Endangering U.S. Troops

 

Inhofe Joins Daily Rundown to Discuss President Obama’s DACA Policy

 

Inhofe: Obama invited border kids

 

Inhofe Backs Legislation to Block Funding for DACA, Amnesty

 

Oklahoma Delegation urges Obama Administration to reconsider use of Ft. Sill to house Unaccompanied Alien Children

 

Inhofe Praises Release of Sudanese Christian and Her Family

 

Inhofe: EPA Admits It Currently Can’t Fully Enforce Its CO2 Rule
 

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe announces deal to save program for rural fire departments

Office Locations
Washington, DC Office:
205 Russell Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510 -3603
Main: (202) 224-4721 | Fax: (202) 228-0380
Tulsa, OK Office:
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Tulsa, OK 74104 -6511
Main: (918) 748-5111
Fax: (918) 748-5119
Oklahoma City, OK Office:
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Enid, OK Office:
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Open border bad for country!

Look at the impact of open border

1. More diseases, crime, burden on facilities & resultant costs

Crime—results in more bombing of buildings, downing of aircraft— country will be much more unsafe! Health care will deteriorate due to over loading system!

2. More voter fraud—-this is very significant to balance of power ( between libs/conservative)

3. No end in flow planned——USA as we know it will cease to exist

Sent from my iPad

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Should be implemented– x37c Boeing proposal


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Ought to implement x37C Boeing proposal—-of course does not fit with bho destruction of American plan


Why—damn good question re x37c

Jim  Hillhouse of American Space
March 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm · Reply
Well, after talking to Capitol Hill staffers, they too are suffering the same head issues I am. At least I’m in good company.

Rather than talk about what Congress will or will not pay for, let’s review what Congress has done since 2010 on space funding.

Congress has, on its own and despite both opposition from the Administration and aggressive delaying tactics on the SLS and Orion programs from NASA, appropriated those amounts needed to keep both Orion and SLS on track. And just as it’s done since 2010, Congress is going to do what it wants on HSF, which is fund Orion and SLS fully.

What Congress sees is not a justification for Commercial Crew. Far from it. Congressional staffers are well aware of the true progress of that program and no, none of those players are getting us to ISS anytime soon. That’s largely NASA’s fault since Congress has informed it that the CCP program needed to down-selected years ago to better focus limited resources for faster progress. But NASA’s leadership didn’t do that for political reasons. Loose Boeing and CCP looses luster and respectability. Loose Sierra Nevada and we working on three capsule programs. And if you want to make engineers working in GN&C or ELSS laugh, tell them that one of the CCP companies will be flying crews by 2016. Guffaws galore.

And those in Congress specializing in space are well aware that, had getting independent access to ISS for our nation really been Job #1 for NASA’s leadership, then the Administration would have approved Boeing’s proposal for the X-37B follow-on, the 5 crew X-37C. We are talking about a dependable spacecraft that can sit in orbit for over a year and NASA said no to making it a crewed vehicle. Why?

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/03/x-37b-expanded-capabilities-iss-missions/

What Congress does see is that if we had not gone through the nonsense of 2010, we would be much closer to our own capability to launch crews to ISS than we are today. Instead, Neil Armstrong was right–the Administration changed our nation’s HSF course in secret, without consultation, and mucked things up.

When it comes to the Moon, Congress is funding $3.5B annually on the DDTE for Orion and SLS. Anything else will have to wait for a new Administration as there is zero trust right now in Congress of anything the White House or NASA HQ are selling about human spaceflight.

———-

The x37-b is a fine spacecraft.  However it is MUCH smaller than space Shuttle.  It was deliberately designed to not have the extra weight, life support, and astronaut flying capabilites.  So to add humans would take 5-7 years and significantly modify the design and add a lot of weight meaning much less cargo.  Having said that, It could with enough NASA money be modified to carry about 3, maybe four humans into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Right now NASA is spending $500 Million per year to entice 3 companies to provide commercial crew service to ISS.  So contrast that with the NASA budget of $2.8 Billion in 2014 to build the new rocket (Space Launch System SLS and Orion crew capsule) and capsule to go to an asteroid.  That is nearly SIX times more to build a new NASA rocket and capsule that does not go to ISS!!  Does that balance make sense.  Is LEO commercial transportation to ISS an important objective of NASA compared to what they are spending to a maybe futurestunt to return an asteroid rock by humans?
 
Frank Thomas Buzzard

Sent from my iPad

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US Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Passes 500 Days in Orbit

http://www.space.com/25611-x37b-military-space-plane-500-days.html

Sent from my iPad

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Fwd: Remembering STS-93, First Flight Helmed by a Female Shuttle Commander

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Gary Johnson” <gjohnson144@comcast.net>
Date: July 24, 2014 9:39:50 AM CDT
To: “Gary Johnson” <gjohnson144@comcast.net>
Subject: FW: Remembering STS-93, First Flight Helmed by a Female Shuttle Commander

 

 

AmericaSpace

AmericaSpace

For a nation that explores
July 23rd, 2014 

 

“A Woman in the Driver’s Seat”: Remembering STS-93, First Flight Helmed by a Female Shuttle Commander

By Emily Carney

 

The STS-93 crew poses with a model of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. This shuttle mission also entered into the history books for having the first female commander (Eileen Collins, here joined by Steven Hawley, Jerry Ashby, Michel Tognini, and Cady Coleman). Photo Credit: NASA

The STS-93 crew poses with a model of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. This shuttle mission also entered into the history books for having the first female commander (Eileen Collins, here joined by Steven Hawley, Jerry Ashby, Michel Tognini, and Cady Coleman). Photo Credit: NASA

The 2009 book Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, written by Tanya Lee Stone, details the struggles encountered by the “Mercury 13,” a group of women pilots subjected to many of the same tests undergone by the Mercury astronauts – but who were denied the right to fly into space based upon their gender. One of the final chapters in the book is entitled, “We Want to See a Woman Driving the Bus, Not Sitting in the Back.”

On July 23, 1999, decades after this intrepid group of women dared to even dream of space, a woman was finally “driving the bus”: an Air Force flyer, Eileen Collins, became the first woman to command a space shuttle on STS-93 (Columbia). Today marks 15 years since that pioneering milestone in spaceflight history.

While many women had flown into space (physicist Sally Ride had become the first U.S. woman in space sixteen years earlier on STS-7 in 1983), a woman had never commanded a shuttle mission. Members of the Mercury 13 were present at Collins’ launch, thrilled to see their goal finally come to fruition. In the chapter, it details the breathless excitement these women felt – “And back at Cape Canaveral, Eileen Collins was sitting in the left seat – the driver’s seat – of the space shuttle Columbia. She was the commander. She was about to fly that shuttle… The eyes of the world were on her – the first woman ever to command a space shuttle.”

STS-93's crew in orbit. Clockwise from top: Steven Hawley, Jerry Ashby, Cady Coleman, Michel Tognini, and Commander Collins. Photo Credit: NASA

STS-93?s crew in orbit. Clockwise from top: Steven Hawley, Jerry Ashby, Cady Coleman, Michel Tognini, and Commander Collins. Photo Credit: NASA

A Syracuse grad, Collins dreamed of flying since she was a child. After joining the USAF, she earned her pilot wings at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. She was the second female to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School located at Edwards Air Force Base in California, once the bastion of masculine test pilot bravado. In 1990, she was selected as part of NASA Group 13 (nicknamed “The Hairballs”) as the first woman pilot. Following astronaut training, she was assigned to pilot STS-63, which would rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir in February 1995 (in 1997, she piloted STS-84, which also met up with Mir). Despite all of her firsts in military and space history, one glass ceiling remained to shatter: to fly as a shuttle commander.

On this day in July 1999, the world finally saw a “woman at the wheel,” but Collins’ first journey into space as a shuttle commander was not without its own struggles. In the 2000 book Disasters and Accidents in Spaceflight written by David Shayler, the gripping launch was recounted: “Just five seconds after lift-off a voltage drop was recorded in one of the vehicle’s electrical circuits. This resulted in the shut down of one of two redundant main engine controllers – one that served two of the three main engines… Then, nearing the peak of the ascent, the MECO command occurred seconds before it was programmed, due to lack of fuel being fed to the engines.” These issues were later traced to faulty wiring and a hydrogen leak.

Despite being left seven miles lower than its planned orbit, Collins successfully maneuvered Columbia into its desired orbit using its Orbital Maneuvering System. However, Shayler’s wrote, “It was not until the results of the investigation were released that the seriousness of the situation became evident and it was appreciated how close Collins had come to being forced to attempt the first, very risky Return to Launch Site (RTLS) abort.”

In 2007, Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson joined STS-120 Commander Pam Melroy in space - it was the first time two women mission commanders were in space at the same time. Photo Credit: NASA

In 2007, Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson joined STS-120 Commander Pam Melroy in space – it was the first time two women mission commanders were in space at the same time. Photo Credit: NASA

With the launch and subsequent maneuvers out of the way, STS-93 and its crew of five (also including astronauts Jerry Ashby, Steven Hawley, Cady Coleman and CNES/ESA astronaut Michel Tognini) successfully deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which is still in operation. Following her historic flight, Collins made one more excursion into orbit as commander. In 2005, she commanded STS-114 Discovery, the shuttle program’s second “return to flight” mission (in 2003, all shuttles were grounded after the STS-107 reentry accident). Collins became the first shuttle commander to perform a 360-degree pitch maneuver in space, while the crew on the International Space Station (ISS) observed the shuttle for tile damage that could have been incurred during launch.

While Collins retired from NASA in 2006, resonances were still felt in spaceflight thanks to her pioneering STS-93 flight. In 2007, astronaut Pam Melroy became the second woman to command a shuttle on STS-120 (Discovery). During that mission, Discovery docked with the ISS, which at the time housed Expedition 16?s crew, commanded by astronaut Peggy Whitson (who was the first female to lead an ISS increment). This occasion would mark the first time two female commanders of missions were in space together.

Thanks to pioneers such as Melroy, Whitson, and Collins (also, Sally Ride, who passed away two years ago today), young girls and women can freely dream of a career in space.

 

Copyright © 2014 AmericaSpace – All Rights Reserved

 

 



 

 

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Marco Rubio: Illegal Immigration Children Need To Be Deported – Shark Tank

http://shark-tank.com/2014/07/24/marco-rubio-illegal-immigration-children-need-deported/

Sent from my iPad

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Trashing shuttle

Look at the money & time we put into shuttle development. Billions over 30 years

USA needs this capability disparately . USA security depends on this capability.

Our ability to make & maintain complex weapon systems depends on a talented work force much of which dismissed after shuttle retirement. Look at the Russian we use & gen. Shelton's comments.

As time goes on we are more vulnerable each day!

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Fwd: NASA and Human Spaceflight News – Friday – July 25, 2014 and JSC Today

Sent from my iPad

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Moon, Larry J. (JSC-EA411)” <larry.j.moon@nasa.gov>
Date: July 25, 2014 11:13:51 AM CDT
To: “Moon, Larry J. (JSC-EA411)” <larry.j.moon@nasa.gov>
Subject: FW: NASA and Human Spaceflight News – Friday – July 25, 2014 and JSC Today

Have a great weekend.   Our next NASA retirees luncheon is August 7th.   Be safe everyone.
 
 
 
Friday, July 25, 2014 Read JSC Today in your browser View Archives
 


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    JSC TODAY CATEGORIES
  1. Headlines
    NASA TV Coverage Set: European Cargo Ship Launch
    Astronomical Quilts! Block Challenge – Due Aug. 1
  2. Organizations/Social
    CoLabs: Featuring NASA@Work
    Mark Your Calendar for the JSC NMA Luncheon
  3. Community
    Save the Date: Rise of Independence – Aug. 14

President Nixon Greets the Returning Apollo 11 Astronauts
 
 
 
   Headlines

  1. NASA TV Coverage Set: European Cargo Ship Launch
NASA TV will broadcast live the launch and docking of the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) fifth and final Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5) cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).
Loaded with more than seven tons of supplies for the station crew, ATV-5 is scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 rocket at 6:47 p.m. CDT Tuesday, July 29, from Kourou, French Guiana (8:47 p.m. local time). NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:15 p.m. and include commentary from both NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and ESA’s launch provider, Arianespace.
The 13-ton “George Lemaitre” spacecraft was named by ESA in honor of the 20th century Belgian astronomer and physicist credited with proposing the theory of the expansion of the universe.
ATV-5 is scheduled for a 14-day flight to the station, with docking to the aft port of the Russian Zvezda service module at 8:34 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 12. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 7 a.m. During its trip to the space station, the “Georges Lemaitre” will fly four miles below the space station Friday, Aug. 8, to test sensors for potential use on future European spacecraft before beginning the final phase of its rendezvous with the orbital laboratory.
The “Georges Lemaitre” is expected to remain docked until late January 2015.
JSC, Ellington Field, Sonny Carter Training Facility and White Sands Test Facility employees with hard-wired computer network connections can view the events using the JSC EZTV IP Network TV System on channel 404 (standard definition) or channel 4541 (HD). Please note: EZTV currently requires using Internet Explorer on a Windows PC or Safari on a Mac. Mobile devices, Wi-Fi, VPN or connections from other centers are currently not supported by EZTV.
First-time users will need to install the EZTV Monitor and Player client applications:
  1. For those WITH admin rights (Elevated Privileges), you’ll be prompted to download and install the clients when you first visit the IPTV website
  2. For those WITHOUT admin rights (Elevated Privileges), you can download the EZTV client applications from the ACES Software Refresh Portal (SRP)
If you are having problems viewing the video using these systems, contact the Information Resources Directorate Customer Support Center at x46367 or visit the FAQ site.
Event Date: Tuesday, July 29, 2014   Event Start Time:6:15 PM   Event End Time:7:00 PM
Event Location: NASA TV

Add to Calendar

JSC External Relations, Office of Communications and Public Affairs x35111 http://www.nasa.gov/station

[top]

  1. Astronomical Quilts! Block Challenge – Due Aug. 1
While aboard the International Space Station, Karen Nyberg created a star-themed quilt block that returned to earth with her. Her block will be combined with other blocks submitted by quilters from around the world to create a quilt that will be displayed at the 2014 International Quilt Festival in Houston from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.
You too can be a part of this exciting project by submitting your own star-themed block!
Details:
1. Create a star-themed 9.5-inch square unfinished block (so that when quilted, it will be a 9-inch finished block).
2. The theme should be any variation on a star. All types are welcome—traditional, modern and artsy variations. Limit one block per person.
3. Use any color scheme and techniques you would like, but please do not use any embellishments.
4. Sign your unfinished block on the font with a permanent marker. Please include your name and your location.
5. Mail your block by Aug. 1 to:
Star Block Challenge
Attn: Rhianna Griffin
7660 Woodway, Ste. 550
Houston, TX 77063

   Organizations/Social

  1. CoLabs: Featuring NASA@Work
CoLabs is building a go-to technology-focused community to eliminate redundancy in development, break down organizational silos and create partnerships around and outside JSC by providing demonstrations of the newest technologies to be applied to human spaceflight.
This month, CoLabs will join with NASA@Work to brainstorm technology-based challenges and solutions while leveraging this unique crowdsourcing platform.
Bring a friend and join us for this Lunch and Learn at Mom Alones today at noon!
Event Date: Friday, July 25, 2014   Event Start Time:12:00 PM   Event End Time:1:00 PM
Event Location: MomAlones on Nasa Rd. 1

Add to Calendar

Elena Buhay 281-792-7976 https://plus.google.com/communities/104838054476769665235

[top]

  1. Mark Your Calendar for the JSC NMA Luncheon
The JSC National Management Association (NMA) luncheon featuring Arturo Machuca, manager of Business Development Houston Airport Systems, will take place on July 30 at 11:30 a.m. in the Gilruth Alamo Ballroom. Machuca will speak on the “Ellington Spaceport” during this special event. For more information, check out the JSC NMA website.
Event Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2014   Event Start Time:11:30 AM   Event End Time:1:00 PM
Event Location: Gilruth – Alamo Ballroom

Add to Calendar

Leslie N. Smith x46752

[top]

   Community

  1. Save the Date: Rise of Independence – Aug. 14
On Aug. 14, the public is invited to see a giant crane lift the space shuttle replica Independence to its permanent home atop Space Center Houston’s historic shuttle carrier aircraft.
This free event, Rise of Independence, will culminate as a team of skilled engineers use a crane to lift the massive orbiter to its resting place at 8 a.m. (weather permitting).
The ceremony preceding the lift begins at 7:15 a.m. There is limited viewing available on a first-come, first-served basis. The event will be postponed to another date in the event of rain or high winds, but updates will posted on both Space Center Houston’s website and Facebook page.
Mark your calendar for Thursday, Aug. 14, and cheer on a chapter from NASA’s illustrious history at Space Center Houston—JSC’s visitor center.
Event Date: Thursday, August 14, 2014   Event Start Time:7:15 AM   Event End Time:9:00 AM
Event Location: Space Center Houston

Add to Calendar

JSC External Relations, Office of Communications and Public Affairs x35111

[top]

 
 
 
JSC Today is compiled periodically as a service to JSC employees on an as-submitted basis. Any JSC organization or employee may submit articles.
Disclaimer: Accuracy and content of these notes are the responsibility of the submitters.

 
 
 
NASA and Human Spaceflight News
Friday – July 25, 2014
HEADLINES AND LEADS
Comic-Con 2014: Bobak Ferdowsi gets ‘fangirl’ about Buzz Aldrin and more during NASA panel
Beatriz Valenzuela – Los Angeles Daily News
Science fiction and science fantasy have always had a place at San Diego Comic-Con International. Fans of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica,” among others, flood the San Diego Convention Center floor year after year.
Apollo 11′s Vintage Tech: The Most Amazing Moon Landing Innovations
Elizabeth Howell – Space.com
While the Apollo 11 landing was on the cutting-edge of technology in 1969, today it’s a demonstration of how much could be accomplished with so little.
GAO study says NASA’s Space Launch System may come up $400 million short
Lee Roop – Alabama Live
Government accountants say NASA’s new deep space rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) may fall $400 million short of the money needed to launch for the first time in 2017 as Congress has ordered.
Found in Space: Congressional Collegiality
Congress is ignoring crises at home and abroad, but at least it has a close eye on the thermosphere.
Alex Brown – National Journal
It’s a rare occasion when members of Congress let elementary-school students compose their queries for a hearing. It’s rarer still when the government officials being questioned are traveling 17,000 mph in a nearly weightless metal box, hundreds of miles overhead.
Local astronaut to launch to International Space Station
Mt. Juliet native and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will join the next crew to launch to the International Space Station.
Caitlin Rickard – The Mt Juliet (TN) News
Mt. Juliet native and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will join the next crew to launch to the International Space Station.
Astronauts Simulate Deep-Space Mission in Underwater Lab
Elizabeth Howell – Space.com
Plenty of astronauts practice spacewalks in the water, but a crew currently living in an underwater lab plans to introduce a surprising twist to its aquatic excursions: They will create a 10-minute communications delay with Mission Control, simulating what speaking with people on Earth could be like in deep space.
Underwater ‘Aquanaut’ Mission Simulates Life in Space
Megan Gannon – LiveScience
There aren’t any places on Earth where astronauts in training can experience — all at once — the isolation, cramped quarters and microgravity of life in space. But one lab comes close.
Is Space Like Under Water (for Astronauts)?
Eric Niiler – Discovery Channel
NASA has thrown together four astronauts into an underwater tin can — well, OK, a habitation module — sitting on the seafloor a few miles off the Florida Keys for a nine-day stretch beginning this week.
Study: Colorado River Basin drying up faster than previously thought
Reid Wilson – The Washington Post
Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.
Surprised scientists come up ‘nearly dry’ in search for water on ‘hot Jupiter’ planets
Abby Ohlheiser – The Washington Post
Astronomers tried to find water on three planets circling sun-like stars. Instead, they found a cliche: the search for water, using NASA’s Hubble telescope, has “come up nearly dry.”
Space Junk Is Becoming a Serious Security Threat
Mark Strauss – io9
Theresa Hitchens wants to make the world safer. She’s director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, but one of her biggest concerns floats above national boundaries. She told io9 about the growing dangers of orbital space debris, and the obstacles standing in the way of cleaning it up.
 
COMPLETE STORIES
 
Comic-Con 2014: Bobak Ferdowsi gets ‘fangirl’ about Buzz Aldrin and more during NASA panel
Beatriz Valenzuela – Los Angeles Daily News
Science fiction and science fantasy have always had a place at San Diego Comic-Con International. Fans of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica,” among others, flood the San Diego Convention Center floor year after year.
Attendees of this year’s convention were able to meet real-life space cowboys, including Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon, and NASA’s Mohawk Guy, Bobak Ferdowsi. The two brought plenty of science fact to the convention with a panel celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission on Thursday.
“I really like space exploration and came here for this,” said Michael Diaz, who traveled from New Mexico, as he pulled the visor of his replica astronaut space suit down to take a picture with Aldrin’s name card.
Diaz works for the New Mexico Museum of Space History and was encouraged to attend the convention by his co-workers.
“When I told them about the panel they told me I needed to come,” he said, laughing.
His co-workers even lent him the replica suit the museum uses at events.
“Don’t worry though, it’s not an actual artifact,” he added.
The room quickly filled with fans of the space program eager to hear about the next step for NASA. They cheered when the panelists and moderator, actor Seth Green, said it was like stepping on Mars — which is apparently going to happen someday.
“I have a plan that puts people there in the 2030s,” said Ferdowsi. “There are a lot of assumptions within that plan including funding. It’s a very really reasonable plan.”
The panel, NASA’s Next Giant Leap, was hosted by Green, and featured NASA’s division director of Planetary Science Jim Green and astronaut Mike Fincke along with Aldrin and Ferdowsi.
Attendees learned about the historic Apollo 11 mission from Aldrin, who became the second person to set foot on the surface on of the moon on July 20, 1969, after Neil Armstrong.
Although Ferdowsi, flight engineer for the Mars Rover mission, has become a celebrity himself and Internet sensation following the landing of the Rover, he says he still becomes a bit star-struck when meeting Aldrin.
“It’s not every day you get to talk to someone who has been on the moon,” he said. “It is one of the rare times I will fangirl a little bit.”
Green didn’t hide his excitement about the program and the thought of possibly one day being able to see someone land on Mars.
“That’s just amazing,” Green said.
When Green asked the panel, why NASA should continue with space exploration and why try to get to Mars when “Earth rocks,” Ferdowsi responded that exploration “helps us be better citizens of out own planet.”
“Today, at NASA, we’re working on the next giant leap — a human mission to Mars, standing on the shoulders of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, in a recent blog post.
While this is the first time NASA has ever held a panel at the convention, Ferdowsi is no stranger to the massive event.
Last year, Ferdowsi served as an expert on a panel tackling the questions of which spacecraft would overpower another in an intergalactic fight. The group spent hours debating the strengths and weaknesses of 16 different crafts.
Ferdowsi said it’s great to be surrounded by people who are passionate, or geeky, about something be it comic books, space, television or science.
“It’s an amazing time,” he said. “It’s really fun to be around people who are excited about things as I’m excited about things,” Ferdowsi said of the convention.
Apollo 11′s Vintage Tech: The Most Amazing Moon Landing Innovations
Elizabeth Howell – Space.com
While the Apollo 11 landing was on the cutting-edge of technology in 1969, today it’s a demonstration of how much could be accomplished with so little.
The computing technology of the average cell phone far exceeds the combined computing power of the two spacecraft that got humans to the moon and home safely.
That doesn’t make Apollo 11′s technological feats any less impressive, however. The lunar module, for example, flew only twice with astronauts inside before Apollo 11. The hand-stitched, walkable spacesuits that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin wore on the moon when they stepped onto its face for the first time 45 years ago this month were not used before landing on the lunar surface.
Here’s a brief look at some of the technology that got the United States to the moon and back:
Saturn V rocket
There were several modes of transportation that NASA could have chosen to take to the moon. For example, engineers could have launched two big rockets and then docked the various spacecraft and components in Earth orbit. But it was lunar-orbit rendezvous that made the Saturn V rocket possible.
There were several NASA engineers that proposed the concept over the years, but one of the most famous is John Hoboult, then the assistant chief of the dynamics load division at NASA Langley. NASA said the main benefit of the approach was the lunar lander only had to be a small craft, since an Earth orbit rendezvous required more fuel to get back home.
The decision to go with this kind of mission made it possible to launch the entire mission on a single Saturn V rocket. Even at that, it was a monster. The three-stage rocket stood 363 feet (111 meters) tall — taller than the Statue of Liberty — and fully fuelled, it weighed about 6.2 million pounds (2.8 million kilograms).
NASA tested the Saturn V twice without humans, in 1967 (Apollo 4) and 1968 (Apollo 6). That same year, NASA elected to use the Saturn V to send humans all the way to the moon. That mission, Apollo 8, made its crew the first humans to go to the moon and orbit it.
After that successful flight, the Saturn V flew the rest of the Apollo missions, including Apollo 11. The last flight of the rocket was in 1973, when (without a crew) it launched the Skylab space station to orbit.
Lunar module
The lunar module (LM) was the first spacecraft designed to operate on another world. Unlike a spacecraft made to function in the atmosphere (like the space shuttle, which looked like a plane) the LM was all strange angles and bumps.
This is because in space, there would be no atmosphere to worry about. Shaving the aerodynamic features helped save weight, cutting down the costs of launching the spacecraft all the way to the moon.
The LM was first tested with humans on Apollo 9, which dubbed its spacecraft “Spider.” The astronauts flew it away from the command module (which was designed to orbit the moon) and practiced a docking. The LM then flew on every subsequent mission.
During a simulated lunar landing approach on Apollo 10, the LM spun for a few momentsjust as it was supposed to make its way back to the command module. The astronauts quickly got the craft under control, which (through a series of small errors) was pointing the wrong way.
Armstrong famously took control of his LM, dubbed “Eagle,” during the landing when he saw the guidance system was moving it towards a rock field. He landed safely with very little fuel left.
The LM successfully made it to the moon on the rest of its missions, save one. On Apollo 13, the command module “Odyssey” experienced an oxygen tank explosion. The astronauts didn’t land on the moon, but they did use the LM “Aquarius” as a “lifeboat” to keep them alive and to make course corrections to bring them back to Earth safely.
Odyssey was the only spacecraft with a heat shield, but Aquarius kept the astronauts safe long enough for them to transfer back to Odyssey for their landing in the Pacific Ocean.
Computers
While the Apollo missions are best remembered for the computers the astronauts operated, there were several other important computers used for the mission. One example is the Saturn V computer that was used to guide the rocket into Earth orbit, automatically. NASA also had large computers on the ground that it could use for things like navigation corrections.
On lunar missions, however, the bulk of the attention was focused on the command module computer and the lunar module computers. The CM was in charge of navigating the crew between the Earth and the moon, while the LM did landings, ascents and rendezvous, according to NASA.
The Cm and LM each had a computer (with different software, but the same design) called the Primary Guidance, Navigation, and Control System (PGNCS, pronounced “pings”). The LM also had a computer which was a part of the Abort Guidance System, to give a backup if the PGNCS failed during the landing.
“Ground systems backed up the CM computer and its associated guidance system so that if the CM system failed, the spacecraft could be guided manually based on data transmitted from the ground,” NASA stated. “If contact with the ground were lost, the CM system had autonomous return capability.”
Spacesuits
Unlike the space shuttle’s spacesuit, each Apollo suit was custom-tailored for its astronaut crew of three people. The suits were designed to be fully operational in the vacuum of space and also to walk around on the moon.
According to NASA, each mission required 15 suits. The main (prime) crew had nine suits between them, with one used for flight, one for training and one as a back-up in case something happened with the flight suit. The backup crew of three people required six suits between them: one for flight and one for training.
The construction of the spacesuit changed over the missions as the requirements of astronauts became more complex. For example, designers changed the suit waistfor Apollo 15, 16 and 17 so that the astronauts could use lunar rovers more easily, allowing them to do more complex geological expeditions further from the lunar module
There were several layers to the suit. The inside was a sort of “long john” fabric that included cooling water tubes sewed to the material, to keep the astronauts cool while working on the lunar surface. After that were several layers of nylon, Kapton, glass-fiber cloth, Mylar and Teflon to maintain pressure and protect the astronauts from radiation and micrometeroids.
Lunar gloves and boots were included to walk around the moon’s surface and pick up rocks. To help the astronauts “feel” things as they pick up, the glove digits included silicone rubber.
Attached to the suit was a polycarbonate helmet, which attached using a neck ring that stayed in place as the astronaut moved his head. Another important supplement to the suit was the portable life support system, a backpack that allowed astronauts to breathe and maintain suit pressure for up to seven hours on the surface.
GAO study says NASA’s Space Launch System may come up $400 million short
Lee Roop – Alabama Live
Government accountants say NASA’s new deep space rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) may fall $400 million short of the money needed to launch for the first time in 2017 as Congress has ordered.
A report issued Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) praises NASA for “solid progress on the SLS design” at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
But it says NASA isn’t meeting its own requirements for matching cost and schedule resources with the congressional requirement to launch the first SLS in December 2017. NASA usually uses a calculation it calls the “joint cost and schedule confidence level” to decide the odds a program will come in on time and on budget.
“NASA policy usually requires a 70 percent confidence level for a program to proceed with final design and fabrication,” the GAO report says, and the SLS is not at that level. The report adds that government programs that can’t match requirements to resources “are at increased risk of cost and schedule growth.”
In other words, the GAO says SLS is at risk of costing more than the current estimate of $12 billion to reach the first launch or taking longer to get there. Similar cost and schedule problems – although of a larger magnitude – led President Obama to cancel SLS’s predecessor rocket system called Constellation shortly after taking office.
“The program is satisfying many of NASA’s metrics that measure progress against design goals …,” the report said. “According to the program’s risk analysis, however, the agency’s current funding plan for SLS may be $400 million short of what the program needs to launch by 2017.”
The GAO report identifies two specific challenges. One, NASA has “compressed” the development schedule for the core stage to meet the launch date. Two, NASA still faces challenges using hardware that wasn’t designed for SLS. It is using solid rocket boosters from the earlier Constellation program, but the report says “integrating a new non-asbestos insulating material into the booster design has proven difficult and required changes to the booster manufacturing processes.”
NASA does have a chance to “promote affordability going forward,” the report says, but that depends on the future missions assigned to the evolving SLS models. If NASA gets a clear development path, it can competitively bid future parts and that will help.
An evolved, bigger version of SLS is the rocket NASA says will carry astronauts to Mars, and the agency is proudly pointing to the fact it is bending metal and testing engines for Version 1 now. “This is not a paper rocket,” NASA managers say. They have begun building it.
Found in Space: Congressional Collegiality
Congress is ignoring crises at home and abroad, but at least it has a close eye on the thermosphere.
Alex Brown – National Journal
It’s a rare occasion when members of Congress let elementary-school students compose their queries for a hearing. It’s rarer still when the government officials being questioned are traveling 17,000 mph in a nearly weightless metal box, hundreds of miles overhead.
Such was the case Thursday, when a House committee carved out time from its fast-eroding pre-recess schedule for a video chat with a pair of NASA astronauts.
The tone was decidedly less hostile than the typical congressional hearing.
“I wish I could be you when I grow up,” gushed Democrat Donna Edwards. Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo, a Republican, expressed hope he could “get a congressional trip to the space station in the near future.”
The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has held fierce debates on NASA’s budget and long-term missions, but its members put aside such concerns when given a little face time with the genuine article.
Democratic ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson—in the spirit of a team mom—repeatedly addressed NASA duo Reid Wiseman and Steve Swanson as “my astronauts” in her opening remarks. Meanwhile, Republican Chairman Lamar Smith laudingly noted Wiseman’s substantial Twitter following.
Other members let their constituents weigh in. Democrat Katherine Clark came prepared with questions from students in her Massachusetts district, including how astronauts pack for space and celebrate birthdays in orbit (they get a very small suitcase, and they share a community meal—with no presents).
Steve Stockman, a Republican whose district includes NASA’s Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, displayed his typically cavalier attitude toward the workings of Congress—and a convenient exception to his antispending agenda. “Why, we should vote three times the amount of money we send you right now,” he said. “Or four times, I don’t care.”
Another member focused more on movie stars than the ones that make up the Milky Way. Republican Dana Rohrabacher talked about Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-nominated role in Gravity, eventually leading into a question on space debris.
Meanwhile, a particularly piercing question from Democrat Eric Swalwell led Wiseman to confess that his favorite space food is chocolate pudding cake.
Smith seemed to recognize the contrast between being stuck on Earth with Congress and floating through space. He even expressed jealousy at the station’s one-way-at-a-time audio communication, a marked difference from the typical House hearing. “It must be nice to be an astronaut and not be interrupted,” he lamented.
After about 20 minutes of questions, the astronauts signed off and the representatives returned to the work of bickering over health care and foreign policy. The House members seemed sad to see them go. Swalwell waved a wistful goodbye, while Republican Thomas Massie signed off with an emphatic thumbs-up.
Local astronaut to launch to International Space Station
Mt. Juliet native and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will join the next crew to launch to the International Space Station.
Caitlin Rickard – The Mt Juliet (TN) News
Mt. Juliet native and NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore will join the next crew to launch to the International Space Station.
Wilmore, along with cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), will launch to the ISS Sept. 25 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft.
During the six-month mission, Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyaev will serve as flight engineers for the ISS Expedition 41 until November, at which time Wilmore will assume command of Expedition 42.
They are scheduled to return to Earth in March 2015.
Wilmore, a captain in the United States Navy, was raised in Mt. Juliet and is a graduate of Mt. Juliet High School in the Class of 1981. He is also a graduate of Tennessee Technological University and the University of Tennessee.
During his time as a fleet naval officer and pilot, Wilmore completed four operational deployments, flying the A-7E and FA 18 aircraft. He has accumulated almost 7,000 flight hours and more than 600 carrier landings.
In 2000, Wilmore joined NASA and flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis for STS-129 in November 2009 for his first flight. The mission delivered two Express Logistics Carriers and 30,000 pounds of replacement parts to the space station.
To date, Wilmore has logged more than 259 hours of spaceflight, but will soon log much more time beginning with his newest expedition in September.
Expedition 41 crew members will post flight experiences on Instagram and those interested can follow them @ISS.
Astronauts Simulate Deep-Space Mission in Underwater Lab
Elizabeth Howell – Space.com
Plenty of astronauts practice spacewalks in the water, but a crew currently living in an underwater lab plans to introduce a surprising twist to its aquatic excursions: They will create a 10-minute communications delay with Mission Control, simulating what speaking with people on Earth could be like in deep space.
The four astronauts participating in the nine-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 18 mission will perform underwater “spacewalks” in which they pretend to be on an asteroid far from Earth, where radio communications between the two locales would take minutes, not seconds, as communication from the International Space Station does.
They will do a spacewalk “circuit,” in which crew members will make a rough circle of the area, aiming to come back to the same spot by the time the 10 minutes are up. By then, Mission Control can give astronauts instructions on which spots to sample, crew members said during a news conference Wednesday (July 23).
“We’ll be testing out those tools if we did go to an asteroid,” said Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut who is part of the NEEMO 18 crew. NASA officials hope to send astronauts to an asteroid robotically pulled into orbit around the moon sometime in the mid-2020s.
Epps spoke to members of the press from 62 feet (19 meters) underwater in the Aquarius lab off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet are also living and working in the lab.
Adaptability is key
the mission is a simulation, malfunctions do occur sometimes. Communications problems between the “spacewalkers” and Mission Control affected operations earlier in the mission, said Vande Hei.
“Thomas and I were supposed to spend the entire time doing experiments, while Aki and Jeannette were doing the spacewalk, but because of the communications problems, I had to abort my science,” he said. “Thomas went ahead and did them all, which was great, and I focused on the spacewalks.”
There are many similarities to space in this confined environment, ranging from the need to balance science tasks with maintenance tasks, to living together in close quarters, to having the time tightly scheduled, the astronauts noted.
There is also significant international collaboration, with astronauts from three partner agencies working together this time in the NEEMO 18 crew. When asked by a journalist how space relations are with Russia amid the Ukraine crisis, the astronauts emphasized all was well and that working together is required in space.
“I hope the future holds a lot of cooperation,” Vande Hei said. “The fact we have an international program to explore space has helped us keep the program going between administrators, and regardless of what is going on politically.”
Experiments and cubbyholes
The experiments astronauts are doing during the mission, which began Monday (July 21), range from the physical to the behavioral. For example, each of the crew members sports a sensor that records how close the crew members work with each other inside the school-bus-size habitat.
Communications with NEEMO Mission Control is usually constant, and there is the ability to send items to and from the habitat as needed. Also living inside the habitat are two support staff who are assisting with Aquarius maintenance and systems, as required. The crew members also have Internet and phone service to talk with family and friends.
While space is tight in the habitat, Epps said there is a “pretty big” cubbyhole where astronauts can store their T-shirts, shorts, underwear, regular toiletry items and anything more personal. “We’re not really deprived of much,” she said.
Underwater ‘Aquanaut’ Mission Simulates Life in Space
Megan Gannon – LiveScience
There aren’t any places on Earth where astronauts in training can experience — all at once — the isolation, cramped quarters and microgravity of life in space. But one lab comes close.
Called the Aquarius Reef Base, the school-bus-size habitat is anchored on the seafloor 62 feet (19 meters) underwater and six miles (10 kilometers) off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. The lab is currently home to four astronauts (and two technicians) who are part of NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program. The crewmembers are testing equipment and procedures that could one day be used during trips to an asteroid or Mars.
“We’re not really deprived of much,” said Jeanette Epps, who spent more than seven years in the CIA and was selected to become a NASA astronaut in 2009. For their nine-day NASA mission, dubbed NEEMO-18, the crewmembers were allowed to bring iPads, iPhones, regular toiletries and a few sets of clothes.
“We have lots of windows and we got great views out here with fish,” NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei told Live Science yesterday (July 23) in a live news conference from the Aquarius seafloor habitat. “I am certain that none of us have felt claustrophobic.”
Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide — the commander of NEEMO-18, and the only one of the crew who has been to space — agreed and said their living quarters feel similar in size to one or two modules on board the International Space Station. It helps that their hygiene is good, Hoshide said, and they have a real shower — a luxury compared with the no-rinse shampoo and washcloths that astronauts use in space. Though Vande Hei admitted, “We’re probably less sensitive to smell as we stay down here longer and longer.”
The crew can also go outside basically any time they want. They just need to put on scuba gear first.
Life in Aquarius might be easier than it is in space, but sometimes mission controllers intentionally make it hard.
The astronauts have been performing several extravehicular activities, or EVAs, which are really just simulated underwater spacewalks. Being submerged in water is a good way to train for the microgravity environment in space, and by adjusting the weights on their diving gear, the “aquanauts” can even mimic the low gravity of the moon or Mars.
During those ventures outside the habitat, mission controllers often introduce a 10-minute time delay in their communications to mimic the lag astronauts visiting a far-flung celestial body, such as Mars, would experience when talking to mission managers on the ground.
“We have to take this time delay into account in the operations concept and even the design of those spacewalks,” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, of the European Space Agency.
Epps and Hoshide went on a simulated spacewalk on Tuesday (July 22) to test cutting tools, drills and cores astronauts may need when they explore an asteroid or go to the moon or Mars. She described the experience as “intense,” mostly because of the communication challenges.
“I have to understand exactly what they want me to do and I have to show them exactly what I’m seeing,” Epps said.
The crew is participating in more passive experiments, too. When the astronauts sat around the galley table inside the habitat for a series of media interviews, they all showed off badges hanging from lanyards around their necks. Motion trackers on the badges will help behavioral health researchers on land study the way the crewmembers move and interact with each other in a closed environment. The four astronauts are also equipped with sensors that check their heart rate and the amount of light they’re exposed to, as well as their activity levels. Occasionally, the astronauts take a swab of saliva, which will tell scientists what kinds of hormones they’re releasing at certain times of day, Vande Hei said.
The researchers are not the only ones watching the aquanauts; potential observers include anyone with an Internet connection. Aquarius is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but is operated by Florida International University, which is broadcasting six live feeds of the NEEMO 18 mission for those who want to live vicariously through the astronauts, or at least spy on them as they go about their daily tasks.
Is Space Like Under Water (for Astronauts)?
Eric Niiler – Discovery Channel
NASA has thrown together four astronauts into an underwater tin can — well, OK, a habitation module — sitting on the seafloor a few miles off the Florida Keys for a nine-day stretch beginning this week.
The goal is to test some new equipment and procedures, but experts say the real payoff may be in figuring how people get along under pressure, just like a long-duration flight to Mars or beyond.
The NEEMO project (NASA Extreme Environment Missions Operation) is one of several “space analogs” or trial runs for space here on Earth. Others include installations are in Antarctica, the Arizona desert, Devon Island, Canada; and Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
“For any kind of exploration they are essential,” said John Rummel, biology professor at East Carolina University and former NASA senior astrobiologist. “You don’t want that someone going into a difficult situation without the ability of the control center to fix anything to happen for the first time on surface of the moon or Mars.”
Still, going 69 feet underwater is not like going into space. The buoyancy is different, the water provides resistance, divers are on hand to help the “aquanauts” suit up and accomplish certain tasks when they leave the module. And there are fish swimming around.
Perhaps the biggest space analog is the crew, according to Akihiko Hoshide, commander of the four-person team and an astronaut with Japan’s space agency, JAXA.
Hoshide spoke to Discovery News from his underwater home for the next nine days. “We are living and working together and the schedule is pretty tight,” he said. “There are some malfunctions here and there and then you have to deal with it. In that aspect, it really is close to spaceflight.”
Hoshide should know. He spent more than four months on board the International Space Station in 2012.
NASA Astronaut and Army Col. Mark Vande Hei is working on so-called “human factors,” such as how to deal with a 10-minute delay between ground control and someone doing a spacewalk to collect rocks. That’s something he expects to do on a possible NASA mission to land on an asteroid.
Over the next few days, the NASA crew, will be learning to get along in the tight quarters of the 43-foot long, 9-foot wide Aquarius module that includes lab space, computers, power and life support, and kitchen and bathroom facilities. A second NASA team is scheduled to use Aquarius, which is operated by Florida International University, in August.
Despite the political and financial uncertainty about the future of NASA’s human spaceflight mission, Rummel said there’s another reason to put crews together in tough situations: it breeds leadership.
“Expedition leaders are much better at picking teams than anyone else,” Rummel said. “To get expedition leaders into the astronaut corps, the analog is the only way to do it. That’s why you go to those places that are demanding and not personable environments.”
Study: Colorado River Basin drying up faster than previously thought
Reid Wilson – The Washington Post
Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.
In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.
About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.
“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.
While surface water in the Colorado River Basin is closely regulated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, states are left to regulate groundwater on their own. Some states, like California, have no groundwater management rules; others, like Arizona, have gone so far as to transfer surface water from the Colorado River into underground aquifers for later use.
The Bureau of Reclamation allocates water in strict proportions to each of the seven states within the basin, where 40 million people rely on the Colorado River.
Those allocations have gotten smaller as drought has swept the West over the past 14 years. Lake Mead is at its lowest level since it was created, after construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, leaving a “bathtub ring” around the lake. Most years, every drop of water is pumped out of the Colorado River before it empties into the Gulf of California.
But what surprised scientists was how much groundwater had been making up the difference. More than three quarters of the water lost over the past decade came from underground. Groundwater doesn’t replenish as quickly as surface water, which comes from rain and snow, and the heavier-than-expected usage is straining already limited resources.
“You get a wet year, you get some precipitation, and those reservoirs can fill right back up,” Castle said. “It can take years, or hundreds of years, to refill groundwater basins.”
Scientists at U.C.-Irvine, the California Institute of Technology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and NASA observed surface and groundwater levels using the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite.
The authors conclude federal officials allocated 30 percent more water from the Colorado River than was actually available. The gaps were made up by groundwater. Across Western states, the farmers and urban areas that rely on groundwater are already seeing declining water tables, an indication that supply is running low. And while federal officials work to keep water levels high enough at reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell, in Arizona, to generate power, there is no similar strategy in place to husband groundwater supplies.
Climate change and pressures wrought by booming populations in cities like Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego will only stress water supplies more in the coming decades, the study concluded. Those stresses will mean reservoir storage won’t be enough to quench the region’s thirst, putting even more pressure on underground supplies.
“We really don’t know how much water is down there. We’ve already depleted a lot of it. There could be more, but when we have to start to dig deeper to access it, that’s a bad sign,” Castle said. “If [ground water basins] continue to be depleted, they don’t come back up.”
The report will be published in a forthcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, the journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Surprised scientists come up ‘nearly dry’ in search for water on ‘hot Jupiter’ planets
Abby Ohlheiser – The Washington Post
Astronomers tried to find water on three planets circling sun-like stars. Instead, they found a cliche: the search for water, using NASA’s Hubble telescope, has “come up nearly dry.”
That’s surprising, according to the researchers, who checked their results against currently-used models for predicting water amounts on other worlds. Those models indicated that the three planets should have a lot more water vapor in their atmospheres.
“It basically opens a whole can of worms in planet formation,” lead researcher Nikku Madhusudhan said in a statement.
However, there’s kind of an upside to the results, as Madhusudhan of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge explained: “Our water measurement in one of the planets, HD 209458b, is the highest-precision measurement of any chemical compound in a planet outside our solar system, and we can now say with much greater certainty than ever before that we’ve found water in an exoplanet.”
That’s despite the “astonishing” lack of water they detected in the first place.
“We have to revisit planet formation and migration models of giant planets. We expected all these planets to have lots of water in them,” Madhusudhan added, noting that the results will particularly impact our understanding of so-called “hot Jupiter” planets.
Those gaseous worlds orbit close to their home stars and carry temperatures between 1,500 and 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Naturally, researchers were looking for water vapor in the atmosphere of these planets.
Madhusudhan also urged researchers looking for water on other kinds of exoplanets (including potentially habitable ones) to lower their expectations, thanks to the results of his “hot Jupiter” study. “We should be prepared for much lower water abundances than predicted when looking at super-Earths (rocky planets that are several times the mass of Earth),” he said.
The study is hardly the only total downer for alien enthusiasts this month: two Penn State scientists recently debunked the discovery of a “Goldilocks” planet orbiting a relatively nearby star. As it turns out, the “planet” was simply an illusion caused by the dwarf star itself.
They also disproved the existence of a second, possibly habitable planet.
Oh well. At least there are still a lot more potential exoplanets to examine.
Space Junk Is Becoming a Serious Security Threat
Mark Strauss – io9
Theresa Hitchens wants to make the world safer. She’s director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, but one of her biggest concerns floats above national boundaries. She told io9 about the growing dangers of orbital space debris, and the obstacles standing in the way of cleaning it up.
Previously, Hitchens was director of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. and led its Space Security Project. But as she told us when we caught up with her in Geneva earlier this week, the problem is that we haven’t even got a decent legal definition of “space” — let alone a plan for dealing with dangers from beyond the boundaries of our atmosphere.
io9: How bad is the current situation?
Theresa Hitchens: Space debris is a serious problem, particularly in the heavily used Low Earth Orbits (LEO). As of 2013, NASA estimated a population of 500,000 pieces of space debris (between 1 and 10 cm in diameter); some 21,000 pieces of which are larger than 10 cm. Unfortunately, NASA estimates that there are more than 100 million pieces of debris smaller than 1 cm that cannot be seen. U.S. space tracking facilities can only routinely see pieces of a certain size: in LEO, about the size of a softball; in Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO), where most large telecommunications orbit, down to the size of about a basketball.
Even more unfortunately, a piece of debris the size of a thumbnail can do serious damage to a satellite, due to the high speeds at which objects travel in space and the resulting impact velocities. As such, debris represents a standing danger for all space operations (there are an estimated 750 active satellites currently in orbit), including the International Space Station. Indeed, the ISS is forced to maneuver out of the way of potentially dangerous debris on average at least once a year.
There are also considerable concerns about the potential for a “chain reaction” or cascade effect of a collision between space objects releasing considerable debris that subsequently crashes into other debris or satellites, which could wreak havoc on satellites and other space objects. This is know as the Kessler Syndrome, after the scientist, Donald Kessler, who first discovered the potential problem in 1978. This is essentially what you are seeing when you watch the movie Gravity, although Hollywood took a lot of poetic license. Rather than being a rapid impact event, like in Gravity, the cascading of debris would happen slowly over time—and it is currently a problem mostly limited to LEO.
Indeed, Kessler himself believes that the cascade has already been underway for nearly a decade. He predicts that while the average time between collisions in space is currently 10 years,; within 20 years it could be down to just five years. That means LEO, in particular, could be unusable in a 100 years time. NASA is worried enough about this to already be funding various concepts for removing debris from LEO (it’s harder up higher and pretty much impossible in GEO, where the recommendations on debris mitigation approved by the UN recommend “boosting” dead satellites into higher orbits to get them out of the way of working satellites).
There have been some suggestions that the UN Committee on the Peaceful Purposes of Outer Space (COPUOS) began studying on how an international effort linking national space agencies might begin to work on so-called “active debris removal” technologies. As of now, however, there is no such thing as a Space Hoover.
What are some of the legal obstacles to reducing space debris?
Outer space law is notoriously difficult. Those few laws and treaty agreements on the books are quite vague—and mostly date from the 1960s-1970s. There is no legal definition of space debris, for example. (To be fair, there is no agreed legal definition of outer space!)
There are two facets to handling debris. One is debris mitigation—that is, methods and practices to reduce the amount of space debris created with each space launch. On this front, there has been considerable progress at the international level. The United Nations General Assembly in 2007 endorsed a set of space debris mitigation guidelines that were put together by the COPUOS. While these are not legally binding, UN member states are pledged to follow those guidelines and encouraged to “legalize” them through national legislation.
The second issue is debris removal. That is whether the legal kettle of fish gets very large. The primary obstacle is that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967—sort of the Magna Carta for space—declares that all space objects, including non-functioning satellites and debris, belong to the country of launch. So a would-be Space Garbage Collector would need the permission of the launching country to remove or otherwise interfere with any given piece of space debris. To further complicate matters, most space debris is small and old, and it can be quite difficult to classify it as belonging to any one former space craft or launcher. Don’t even get me started on the Liability Convention, which governs how liability is assigned for accidents in space or involving spacecraft and rockets. Suffice to say that a zillion lawyers will be dancing on the head of that particular pin for sometime.
Do some of the proposed technologies for removing space debris pose dual-use concerns?
The short answer is yes. In fact, pretty much any technology for removing debris could be used to take down a satellite under hostile circumstances. This is one of the reasons that many in the space community believe such activities will require a multilateral development approach and an international governance structure.
Does space debris pose any risks to international security?
Yes. Given that most space-faring countries do not have the ability to track space debris—the U.S. has the most sophisticated capabilities, followed by the Russians and to a lesser extent the EU— it is highly conceivable that, in a time of crisis, if there were a collision between a piece of debris and a working satellite and the satellite went belly up, then the owner government of the satellite might conclude that it was a deliberate act. Satellites serve national security purposes as “early warning” systems for potentially hostile acts on Earth (monitoring nuclear weapons facilities, troop movements, etc.) and as force multipliers in a conflict. So it is not surprising that military strategists would see them as potential targets in a conflict.
Indeed, and unfortunately, several nations are known to be actively exploring satellite destruction capabilities. The U.S., Russia and China have tested kinetic energy (non-explosive) anti-satellite weapons; India is considering it. Several nations are experimenting on capabilities for docking with non-cooperative satellites—those not specially developed to docked with—for activities such as repair and refueling. These technologies could just as easily be used to harm a satellite.
In a future era where everyone is armed to the teeth with anti-satellite capabilities, the likelihood of a debris strike being mistaken as a deliberate strike by an enemy skyrockets. It would be a very unstable situation, prone to miscalculation and crisis escalation. In my humble opinion, this is why the development and deployment of overt anti-satellite weapons systems would be a mistake. There is enough latent capability (going back to the dual-use issue) currently inherent in the space programs of major space-faring powers to be concerned about miscalculation; we don’t need any more fuel for possible flames.
[Theresa Hitchens' views are expressed in a personal capacity and may not under any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the United Nations]
 
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