This Week at NASA | Astronomical Highlights
New NASA astrophysics findings were highlighted at the 227th American Astronomical Society meeting, Jan. 4-8 in Kissimmee, Florida. The findings, which ranged from runaway stars to a burping galaxy, were made with the help of several NASA observation instruments, including the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array and others. Also, Next space station crew preparing for mission, Economical new era of aviation, A new level of coral reef studies and more.
NASA astronomical findings highlighted
New NASA astrophysics findings highlighted at the 227th American Astronomical Society meeting, Jan. 4-8 in Kissimmee, Florida included the detection of some extremely fast moving stars by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. The so-called runaway stars, which create bow shocks ahead of themselves, may have been put into motion by the explosion of other stars.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has seen one of the nearest supermassive black holes to Earth expelling gas, or burping. The black hole is part of a galaxy about 26 million light years away that is merging with a larger galaxy. Astronomers believe the interaction between the two galaxies is causing the black hole’s outbursts of gas.
And NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured the best high-energy X-ray view yet of a portion of Andromeda – Earth’s nearest large, neighboring galaxy. The “X-ray binaries” observed by NuSTAR will help researchers better understand their role in the evolution of our universe.
Next space station crew preparing for mission
During a Jan. 7 news conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Expedition 47/48 crew, featuring NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams, discussed its upcoming mission to the International Space Station. Williams, who will serve as Commander of Expedition 48, is serving on his third long-duration mission to the space station. He, and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, will launch to the station on March 18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Economical new era of aviation
Green-related technologies developed and refined over the past six-years through a NASA aeronautics research program could mean future savings for the airline industry – while also helping to “save” the environment. The new technologies, developed through NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project, could significantly reduce fuel use, pollution and noise – and help the industry realize over $250 billion in operational savings between 2025 and 2050.
A new level of coral reef studies
A new three-year NASA field expedition gets underway this year that will use advanced instruments on airplanes and in the water to survey more of the world’s coral reefs in far greater detail than has ever been assessed before. The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will measure the condition of these threatened ecosystems and create a unique database of uniform scale and quality.
Senator Mikulski visits Goddard
During a Jan. 6 visit to Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Senator Barbara Mikulski talked with Director Chris Scolese and the Goddard workforce about some of the programs being developed at the Center. 2016 will be a busy year for Goddard – with involvement in several launches as well as testing of technologies and operational procedures to support NASA’s science and exploration missions – including the Journey to Mars.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.
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