Archive for April 6, 2012

NASA Holds News Conference with Station Crew Members

Three of the six crew members living aboard the International Space Station will take questions from reporters during a news conference on Wednesday, April 11, at 9:15 a.m. CDT. The conference will air live on NASA Television and will be streamed on the agency’s website.

The news conference will link up reporters with NASA Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers.

The crew members will discuss research they are conducting, the myriad of cargo delivery vehicles visiting the station — including SpaceX Dragon, the first American commercial vehicle — and the return of Burbank and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin in their Soyuz spacecraft later this month.

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Space Astronomy Archive & Supernova Named for Sen. Mikulski

One of the world’s largest astronomy archives, containing a treasure trove of information about myriad stars, planets, and galaxies, has been named in honor of the United States Senator from Maryland Barbara Mikulski.

Called MAST, for the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, the huge database contains astronomical observations from 16 NASA space astronomy missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope.

“In celebration of Sen. Mikulski’s career-long achievements, and particularly this year, becoming the longest-serving woman in U.S. Congressional history, we sought NASA’s permission to establish the Senator’s permanent legacy to science by naming the optical and ultraviolet data archive housed here at the Institute in her honor,” said Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.

STScI is the science operations center for Hubble and its upcoming successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.

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Kepler Planet-Hunting Mission Extended 4 Years

NASA has extended the Kepler mission through fiscal year 2016, adding four years to Kepler’s search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and allowing LASP to continue our work operating the spacecraft.

A team of 20 University of Colorado students and 16 LASP professionals control the Kepler spacecraft from the LASP Mission Operations Center. The mission’s extension, based on a recommendation by a NASA Senior Review of its operating missions, will allow LASP to continue providing students with hands-on spacecraft mission operations experience.

Bill Possel, Director of Mission Operations and Data Systems at LASP, said, “We are very excited to have the Kepler mission extended. Kepler is one of the most exciting missions ever operated by LASP, and the scientific findings are truly remarkable.”

The Kepler mission surveys the galaxy for Earth-sized planets with the potential to support life. To date, the Kepler Science Team has confirmed 61 planets in the Milky Way habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.


The Dark Heart of a Cosmic Collision

Image Credits: Far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/C.D. Wilson, MacMaster University, Canada; X-ray: ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC

Image Credits: Far-infrared: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/C.D. Wilson, MacMaster University, Canada; X-ray: ESA/XMM-Newton/EPIC

Two of ESA’s space observatories have combined to create a multi-wavelength view of violent events taking place within the giant galaxy of Centaurus A. The new observations strengthen the view that it may have been created by the cataclysmic collision of two older galaxies.

Centaurus A is the closest giant elliptical galaxy to Earth, at a distance of around 12 million light-years. It stands out for harbouring a massive black hole at its core and emitting intense blasts of radio waves.

While previous images taken in visible light have hinted at a complex inner structure in Centaurus A, combining the output of two of ESA’s observatories working at almost opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum reveals the unusual structure in much greater detail.

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