This Week at NASA | Hubble Sees Individual Stars in Andromeda Galaxy; Exoplanets Now Number 1,000; more
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments for delivery to the International Space Station on CRS-5 – the company’s fifth resupply mission to the ISS. One of the experiments, the Cloud Aerosol Transport System – or CATS, is designed to study the global distribution of clouds and aerosols in our atmosphere. Launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is no earlier than Jan. 10. Also, NASA astronomical findings, Soil moisture mission previewed, Weaving the way to Mars and more.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments for delivery to the International Space Station on CRS-5 – the company’s fifth resupply mission to the ISS. One of the experiments, the Cloud Aerosol Transport System – or CATS, is designed to study the global distribution of clouds and aerosols in our atmosphere. Launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is no earlier than Jan. 10.
New astrophysics findings presented by NASA researchers Jan. 4 through 8 at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, included the largest Hubble Space Telescope image ever assembled … a sweeping bird’s-eye view of a portion of M31- the Andromeda galaxy. Even though M31 is over 2 million light-years away, Hubble was powerful enough to resolve individual stars in a 61,000-light-year-long stretch of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disk. Never before, have astronomers been able to see individual stars inside an external spiral galaxy over such a large contiguous area.
Meanwhile, the total number of verified exoplanet finds by the NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been upped to 1,000, after researchers using Kepler data validated that eight planet-candidates spotted by the telescope are, in fact, planets. Three of the planets are located in their suns’ habitable zone, the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of those three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth.
A Jan. 8 media briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington previewed the upcoming Soil Moisture Active Passive mission. Scheduled to launch Jan. 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the mission will provide the most accurate, highest-resolution global measurements of soil moisture ever obtained from space, and will enhance our understanding of the processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden got a firsthand look at work being done on advanced woven material used on the agency’s Orion spacecraft during a Jan. 9 visit to Bally Ribbon Mills in Bally, Pennsylvania. The company, a leader in high-performance multidimensional woven materials, is weaving the multifunctional thermal protection system padding used to insulate and protect NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Orion will help take astronauts on the journey to Mars and return them safely to Earth with the help of this technology.
NASA Associate Administrator for Science and astronaut John Grunsfeld was on hand at a preview event for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s new exhibit, “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity.” The exhibit opened Jan. 8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first two spacewalks in history, both in 1965. On March 18 of that year, Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov became the first person to walk in space – followed by U.S. astronaut Edward White on June 3, during the Gemini IV mission. Grunsfeld has performed eight spacewalks to service and upgrade NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.
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