This Week at NASA | This Week @ NASA: The Science of Eclipse-Like Events
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The Science of Eclipse-Like Events
Natural phenomena such as the Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse can inspire awe, but scientists can also use eclipse-like events to learn more about the universe. For instance, a total eclipse, or an occultation in scientific terms – happens when a celestial body completely blocks light from a star, like our sun. This type of event can help astronomers learn more about an object’s atmosphere, including whether it might be surrounded by rings or other planetary matter. During a similar event, called a transit, variations in light that result when a closer object passes in front of a star, but only blocks a small part of the star, have been used by missions such as our Kepler space telescope, to discover new planets outside our solar system.
SpaceX Launches Science, Supplies to Space Station
On Aug. 14 SpaceX launched an unpiloted Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. Two days later the Dragon arrived at the station with more than 6,400 pounds of cargo, supplies and research – including experiments to better understand Parkinson’s disease and the origin of cosmic rays. This is SpaceX’s 12th commercial resupply mission to the station.
New Communications Satellite Launched
On Aug. 18, we launched our third generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, known as TDRS-M, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. TDRS-M will join the fleet of satellites that provides critical high data-rate communications to a host of spacecraft including the International Space Station and its resupply vehicles, the Hubble Space Telescope and many of NASA’s Earth-observing spacecraft.
Cassini Begins Final Five Orbits around Saturn
On Aug. 14 our Cassini spacecraft began its last five orbits around Saturn. The spacecraft is in the Grand Finale phase of its mission and has embarked on a set of ultra-close passes that will bring it to between 1,010 to 1,060 miles above Saturn’s cloud tops. The mission is scheduled to end on Sept. 15 with Cassini collecting a wealth of science data as it plunges into the planet’s atmosphere.
Spacewalk aboard the Space Station
On Aug. 17, cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos conducted a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. The goal of the outing was to check on the condition of the exterior of the Russian segment of the station, to install struts and handrails for future spacewalks and to deploy five small scientific nanosatellite investigations. This was the 202nd spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.(c)2017 NASA | SCVTV