Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via NASA http://ift.tt/1tQC8v9
The next launch opportunity for the Orion flight test is 7:05 a.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 5. The spacecraft will orbit Earth twice, reaching an altitude of approximately 3,600 miles above Earth before landing in the Pacific Ocean. No one will be aboard Orion for this flight test, but the spacecraft is designed to allow us to journey to destinations never before visited by humans, including an asteroid and Mars.
Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via NASA http://ift.tt/1yjtHz6
Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via NASA http://ift.tt/12vrCmv
Mars is a rich destination for scientific discovery and robotic and human exploration as we expand our presence into the solar system. Its formation and evolution are comparable to Earth, helping us learn more about our own planet’s history and future. Mars had conditions suitable for life in its past. Future exploration could uncover evidence of life, answering one of the fundamental mysteries of the cosmos: Does life exist beyond Earth?
While robotic explorers have studied Mars for more than 40 years, NASA’s path for the human exploration of Mars begins in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station. Astronauts on the orbiting laboratory are helping us prove many of the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space, including Mars. The space station also advances our understanding of how the body changes in space and how to protect astronaut health.
Our next step is deep space, where NASA will send a robotic mission to capture and redirect an asteroid to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft will explore the asteroid in the 2020s, returning to Earth with samples. This experience in human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit will help NASA test new systems and capabilities, such as Solar Electric Propulsion, which we’ll need to send cargo as part of human missions to Mars. Beginning in FY 2018, NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will enable these “proving ground” missions to test new capabilities. Human missions to Mars will rely on Orion and an evolved version of SLS that will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever flown.
A fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers already are on and around Mars, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover measured radiation on the way to Mars and is sending back radiation data from the surface. This data will help us plan how to protect the astronauts who will explore Mars. Future missions like the Mars 2020 rover, seeking signs of past life, also will demonstrate new technologies that could help astronauts survive on Mars.
Engineers and scientists around the country are working hard to develop the technologies astronauts will use to one day live and work on Mars, and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity. NASA also is a leader in a Global Exploration Roadmap, working with international partners and the U.S. commercial space industry on a coordinated expansion of human presence into the solar system, with human missions to the surface of Mars as the driving goal. Follow our progress at http://ift.tt/11EgZee and www.nasa.gov/mars.
> NASA’s Orion Flight Test and the Journey to Mars
Image Credit: NASA via NASA http://ift.tt/1tIhSLf
The spacecraft will orbit the Earth twice, including one loop that will reach 3,600 miles above Earth. No one will be aboard Orion for this flight test, but the spacecraft is being designed and built to carry astronauts on exploration missions into deep space. Launch is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7:05 a.m. EST, the opening of a 2 hour, 39-minute window for the day.
Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett via NASA http://ift.tt/1rN4OKr
A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
How Big Are Black Holes?
Black holes can be big or small. Scientists think the smallest black holes are as small as just one atom. These black holes are very tiny but have the mass of a large mountain. Mass is the amount of matter, or “stuff,” in an object.
More information on black holes.
Artwork Credit: NASA, and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center) via NASA http://ift.tt/1xZVGT3
This image of the printer, with the Microgravity Science Glovebox Engineering Unit in the background, was taken in April 2014 during flight certification and acceptance testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, prior to its launch to the station aboard a SpaceX commercial resupply mission. The first objects built in space will be returned to Earth in 2015 for detailed analysis and comparison to the identical ground control samples made on the flight printer prior to launch. The goal of this analysis is to verify that the 3-D printing process works the same in microgravity as it does on Earth.
The printer works by extruding heated plastic, which then builds layer upon layer to create three-dimensional objects. Testing this on the station is the first step toward creating a working “machine shop” in space. This capability may decrease cost and risk on the station, which will be critical when space explorers venture far from Earth and will create an on-demand supply chain for needed tools and parts. Long-term missions would benefit greatly from onboard manufacturing capabilities. Data and experience gathered in this demonstration will improve future 3-D manufacturing technology and equipment for the space program, allowing a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility for astronauts.
Image Credit: NASA/Emmett Given via NASA http://ift.tt/1rkkxQS
This visualization shows magnetic field loops in a portion of the sun, with colors representing magnetic field strength from weak (blue) to strong (red). The simulation was run on the Pleiades supercomputer at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
The knowledge gained through simulation results like this one help researchers better understand the sun, its variations, and its interactions with Earth and the solar system.
Image Credit: Robert Stein, Michigan State University; Timothy Sandstrom, NASA/Ames
> Related: NASA showcased more than 35 of the agency’s exciting computational achievements at SC14, the international supercomputing conference, Nov. 16-21, 2014, in New Orleans. via NASA http://ift.tt/15nMzkC
Image Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via NASA http://ift.tt/1y5xz5c