#astronomy; #V404Cygni'sblackhole; #JamesMiller-Jones; #ICRAR; #VeryLongBaselineArray
Australia, Apr 30 (Canadian-Media): Astronomers have discovered rapidly swinging jets coming from a black hole almost 8000 light-years from Earth, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Australia research said.
Image Credit: ICRAR/Schematic artist's impression of the changing jet orientation in V404 Cygni. Each segment (as separated by the clock hands) shows the jets at a different time, oriented in different directions as seen in our high angular resolution radio imaging
Published today in the journal Nature, the research shows jets from V404 Cygni's black hole behaving in a way never seen before on such short timescales.
The jets appear to be rapidly rotating with high-speed clouds of plasma—potentially just minutes apart—shooting out of the black hole in different directions.
Lead author Associate Professor James Miller-Jones, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said black holes are some of the most extreme objects in the Universe.
"This is one of the most extraordinary black hole systems I've ever come across," Associate Professor Miller-Jones said.
"Like many black holes, it's feeding on a nearby star, pulling gas away from the star and forming a disk of material that encircles the black hole and spirals towards it under gravity.
"What's different in V404 Cygni is that we think the disk of material and the black hole are misaligned."This appears to be causing the inner part of the disk to wobble like a spinning top and fire jets out in different directions as it changes orientation."
Image Credit: ICRAR/Artist's impression of V404 Cygni seen close up. The binary star system consists of a normal star in orbit with a black hole. Material from the star falls towards the black hole and spirals inwards in an accretion disk, with powerful jets being launched from the inner regions close to the black hole.
V404 Cygni was first identified as a black hole in 1989 when it released a big outburst of jets and radiation.
Astronomers looking at archival photographic plates then found previous outbursts in observations from 1938 and 1956.
Associate Professor Miller-Jones said that when V404 Cygni experienced another very bright outburst in 2015, lasting for two weeks, telescopes around the world tuned in to study what was going on.
"Everybody jumped on the outburst with whatever telescopes they could throw at it," he said.
"So we have this amazing observational coverage."
When Associate Professor Miller-Jones and his team studied the black hole, they saw its jets behaving in a way never seen before.
Where jets are usually thought to shoot straight out from the poles of black holes, these jets were shooting out in different directions at different times.
And they were changing direction very quickly—over no more than a couple of hours.
Associate Professor Miller-Jones said the change in the movement of the jets was because of the accretion disk—the rotating disk of matter around a black hole.
He said V404 Cygni's accretion disk is 10 million kilometres wide, and the inner few thousand kilometres was puffed up and wobbling during the bright outburst.
"The inner part of the accretion disk was precessing and effectively pulling the jets around with it," Associate Professor Miller-Jones said.
"You can think of it like the wobble of a spinning top as it slows down—only in this case, the wobble is caused by Einstein's theory of general relativity."
The research used observations from the Very Long Baseline Array, a continent-sized radio telescope made up of 10 dishes across the United States, from the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean to Hawaii.
Co-author Alex Tetarenko—a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Alberta and currently an East Asian Observatory Fellow working in Hawaii—said the speed the jets were changing direction meant the scientists had to use a very different approach to most radio observations.
"Typically, radio telescopes produce a single image from several hours of observation," she said.
"But these jets were changing so fast that in a four-hour image we just saw a blur.
"It was like trying to take a picture of a waterfall with a one-second shutter speed."Instead, the researchers produced 103 individual images, each about 70 seconds long, and joined them together into a movie.
"It was only by doing this that we were able to see these changes over a very short time period," Dr. Tetarenko said.
Study co-author Dr. Gemma Anderson, who is also based at ICRAR's Curtin University node, said the wobble of the inner accretion disk could happen in other extreme events in the Universe too.
"Anytime you get a misalignment between the spin of a black hole and the material falling in, you would expect to see this when a black hole starts feeding very rapidly," Dr. Anderson said.
"That could include a whole bunch of other bright, explosive events in the Universe, such as supermassive black holes feeding very quickly or tidal disruption events, when a black hole shreds a star."
#astrophysicists; #soundsofStars; #astroseismology; UnivofWisconsin; #stellarstructure; #astronomy
United States, Apr 29 (Canadian-Media): Sound may not be able to travel through the vacuum of space but that doesn't stop stars from unleashing a symphony of subsonic notes as their nuclear furnaces power complex vibrations, University of Wisconsin-Madison Astronomy Department study said.
Image credit: COO Public domain
Telescopes can spot these vibrations as fluctuations in the brightness or temperature on the surface of a star.
Understand these vibrations, and we can learn more about the inner structure of the star that is otherwise hidden from view.
"A cello sounds like a cello because of its size and shape," says Jacqueline Goldstein, a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin–Madison astronomy department. "The vibrations of stars also depend on their size and structure."
In her work, Goldstein studies the connection between stellar structure and vibrations by developing software that simulates diverse stars and their frequencies. As she compares her simulations to real stars, Goldstein can refine her model and improve how astrophysicists like her peer under the surface of stars by surveying their subtle sounds.
With frequencies repeating on the order of minutes to days, you'd have to speed up stellar vibrations by a thousand or a million times to bring them within the range of human hearing. These reverberations might most accurately be called starquakes after their seismic cousins on Earth. The field of study is called astroseismology.
#metal-poorstar; #astronomy; #ScienceXNewsletter; #MilkyWay; #PopulationIIIprogenitorstar; #ThomasNordlander;
Australia, Apr 26 (Canadian-Media): An international team of astronomers has detected a new ultra metal-poor star with the lowest ever measured abundance of iron, Science X Newsletter reports said.
Image Credit: Nordlander et al., 2019: Upper panel: Fit of the effective temperature to the first three Balmer lines (labeled) in the MIKE high-resolution spectrum, compared to models at the preferred Teff = 4850 K. The lines are shown on a velocity scale centred on each line, and have been offset vertically. The grey shaded blocks represent the wavelength ranges used in the χ2 minimisation. Middle panel: Fit of the surface gravity to the WiFeS medium-resolution spectrophotometry, with a zoomed inset showing the Balmer jump region, at the preferred log g = 2.0. Lower panel: Example fits to lines of Fe and Mg in the MIKE high-resolution spectrum. In all panels additional models illustrate the sensitivity, and the legend lists the models as shown from top to bottom.
Designated SMSS J160540.18−144323.1, the newly found object is the most iron-deficient star for which iron has been detected. The finding is presented in a paper published April 16 on the arXiv pre-print repository.
Metal-poor stars are rare objects as only few stars with iron abundances [Fe/H] below –5 have been discovered so far. Currently, SMSS J0313–6708, with metallicity below –7.3, is the most iron-poor star known to date. However, the most iron-poor star where iron has actually been detected is HE 1327−2326 with metallicity at a level of −5.7.
Astronomers are interested in expanding the still short list of metal-poor stars as such objects have the potential to improve our knowledge of the chemical evolution of the universe. The early evolution of the universe is believed to be dependent on the properties of the first generation of metal-free stars.
Searching for such stars using the SkyMapper telescope in Australia and spectrographs on other ground-based telescopes, a group of astronomers led by Thomas Nordlander of Australian National University, has identified a new addition to the list of stars with extremely low metallicities. The observations found that the star SMSS J160540.18−144323.1 (SMSS 1605−1443 for short), located in the Milky Way's halo, most likely some 36,000 light years away, has an ultra low abundance of iron.
"We report the discovery of SMSS J160540.18−144323.1, a new ultra-metal poor halo star discovered with the SkyMapper telescope," the researchers wrote in the paper.
The research found that SMSS 1605−1443 is a red giant branch star with an effective temperature of about 4,850 K, and has a remarkably low abundances of heavier elements, including an extremely low abundance of iron at a level of -6.2.
While chemical abundances of other elements of SMSS 1605−1443 turned out to be compatible with alpha-enhanced chemical composition typical of halo stars, the studied object showcases strong carbon enhancement. This, according to the study, suggests an enrichment from a Population III (the first generation of metal-free stars) mixing-and-fallback supernova.
"Population III stars exploding as fallback supernovae may explain both the strong carbon enhancement and the apparent lack of enhancement of odd-Z and neutron-capture element abundances," the astronomers noted.
In concluding remarks, the researchers underlined that SMSS 1605−1443 has the lowest metallicity among the stars for which iron has been detected, exhibits carbon overabundance, and that it does not show strong enhancement nor a strong abundance trend among elements heavier than carbon. Further observations of this star, studying higher-quality spectra, could deliver more detailed chemical analysis, what in result could provide more hints into the nature of its Population III progenitor star.
#NASA; #SpaceX; InternationalSpaceStation; #TissueChipsTechnology;
NASA'SOrbitingCarbonObservatory-3; #SpaceTes Program-Houston6;
#NASA’sKennedySpaceCenter; #CanadianSpaceAgency; #Dragon; #GenesinSpace; #HermesFacility; #NASA’sJetPropulsionLaboratory; #TissueChipsinSpace
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting no earlier than 4:22 a.m. EDT Tuesday, April 30, for the launch of its next resupply mission to the International Space Station, NASA reports said.
Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Monday, April 29, with prelaunch events.
This is the 17th SpaceX mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The Dragon spacecraft will deliver supplies and critical materials to support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 59 and 60. The spacecraft’s unpressurized trunk will transport NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) and Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6).
OCO-3 will be installed robotically on the exterior of the space station’s Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility Unit, where it will measure and map carbon dioxide from space to increase our understanding of the relationship between carbon and climate. STP-H6 is an X-ray communication investigation that will be used to perform a space-based demonstration of a new technology for generating beams of modulated X-rays. This technology may be useful for providing efficient communication to deep space probes, or communicating with hypersonic vehicles where plasma sheaths prevent traditional radio communications.
The spacecraft will take two days to reach the space station before installation on Thursday, May 2. When it arrives, astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will grapple Dragon, with NASA astronaut Nick Hague serving as backup. NASA astronaut Christina Koch will assist by monitoring telemetry during Dragon’s approach. After Dragon capture, mission control in Houston will send commands to the station’s arm to rotate and install the spacecraft on the bottom of the station’s Harmony module.
Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Monday, April 29
Tuesday, April 30
Thursday, May 2
Dragon will remain at the space station until May 31, when the spacecraft will return to Earth with research and return cargo.
The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed, but for information about media accreditation, email email@example.com
#NASA; #2019WebbyAwards; #NASA’sMarsInSightmission;; #MarsLanding;
Washington, Apr 25 (Canadian-Media): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s social media presence, which has grown from a few accounts more than a decade ago to dozens of channels with millions of followers, was honored Tuesday with a pair of Webbys and People’s Voice awards as part of the 2019 Webby Awards, NASA reports said.
“Social media has become NASA’s primary way of connecting with the public,” said Bettina Inclán, NASA’s associate administrator for Communications. “It lets us reach out directly to people and share the excitement of exploration across all of NASA’s programs. More importantly, it fosters conversation and builds shared goals, which will be essential as the agency drives forward to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024.”
There may be no better example of that connection than NASA’s Mars InSight mission, which won a social media People’s Voice Award for Education & Discovery. After landing on Mars in November 2018, the mission generated more than one million social media posts from members of the public. The hashtag #MarsLanding even trended higher than #cybermonday on the Monday after Thanksgiving, known as Cyber Monday.
Two other agency digital properties received the People’s Voice award in their categories: NASA.gov, the agency’s primary website, won its 11th People’s Voice award in Government & Civil Innovation; and the Solar System Exploration site won its third People’s Voice award in the Science category.
NASA’s Climate Change website was also nominated in the Green category, and the video “The Call of Science” was nominated in the 360-degree Video category.
The agency’s reach on social media extends beyond its own programs. When the Event Horizon Telescope released the first image of a black hole on April 10, NASA’s follow up post on Instagram received 3.4 million likes and 33,500 comments. Social media also lets NASA join conversations about pop culture, leading to online interactions, such as those with singer Ariana Grande and Marvel Studios.
The agency’s use of social media really took off in 2008, when Veronica McGregor, news manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, began tweeting in the voice of the Mars Phoenix Lander. Since then, the agency has added channels across a variety of platforms. On Twitter, NASA has 66 million followers, with 60 million on Facebook and 51 million on Instagram.
This year’s Webbys are the second and third for NASA’s overall social media presence, having won both the Webby and People’s Voice award in 2017.
NASA’s social media presence and the NASA.gov website are managed by NASA’s Office of Communications. The Mars InSight Lander social media account, Climate Change, and Solar System Exploration websites are managed by JPL, which also produced “The Call of Science” video.
Established in 1996, The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. This year there were more than 13,000 entries, and more than 3 million votes were cast for the People’s Voice awards.
Washington, Apr 19 (Canadian-Media): This Earth Day, April 22, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invites you to celebrate our beautiful home planet by participating in a global social media event and local events around the country, NASA reports said.
For Earth Day in Washington, NASA hosts two days of hands-on activities and demonstrations at Union Station, April 22 and 23/ Credits: NASA
Here is a list of the major agency Earth Day activities:
#PictureEarth on Social Media
Celebrate the planet we all call home with NASA’s #PictureEarth social media event. Post a close-up photo on social media of your favorite natural features, such as crashing waves, blooming flowers or stunning sunsets, with the hashtag #PictureEarth. Include the location where the photo was taken in the text of your social media post. On Earth Day, we will share some of NASA's most stunning images of Earth from space to help inspire you. We’ll check Instagram, Twitter and our NASA Earth Facebook event page to find your images and select photos to showcase in future videos and composite images.
Earth Day in the Nation’s Capital
Monday, April 22, and Tuesday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT
Union Station Main Hall, 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington
Learn about Earth, and how NASA explores our home planet and beyond, with more than 20 hands-on activities and demonstrations. Activities range from creating your own cloud in a bottle to using your smartphone to become a citizen Earth scientist.
Public Talk: The Future Is Cloudy
Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. PDT in the Von Kármán Auditorium at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, California
Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m. PDT, in the Caltech, Ramo Auditorium at 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena, California
NASA scientists discuss the critical role clouds play in our planet’s interconnected natural systems and in better understanding Earth’s future climate. Speakers include Kate Marvel from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and Graeme Stephens and Brian Kahn from JPL. The April 18 talk will stream live on Ustream.
NASA Science Live Broadcast: Our Weird Planet
Monday, April 22 at 3 p.m. EDT
The next episode of NASA Science Live highlights our weird and wonderful home: Earth. Join us for a live 30-minute show as experts discuss what makes our planet so special. Liquid water, a protective atmosphere and an active core that gives our planet a defensive shield are just a few of the features that make our home one of the most unique places in the solar system. Ask questions during the program using #askNASA or by commenting on the livestreams on Ustream, Periscope, Facebook Live and YouTube. The program also will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Green Facility Grand Opening
Monday, April 22, Building 4221 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama
Media are invited to Marshall for the grand opening of the center’s latest state-of-the-art facility. Building 4221 is an environmentally-friendly, glass and steel structure designed to federal guidelines on energy and water efficiency. The entire facility is specially insulated, and much of the exterior is covered in low-emissivity glass that deflects heat, thereby reducing cooling costs. Rooftop solar panels absorb energy to augment electrical power. Media interested in covering the event should contact Shannon Segovia at 256-544-0034 no later than 10 a.m. EDT Monday, April 22.
NASA uses the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. The agency’s global observations of Earth’s complex natural environment are critical to understanding how our planet’s natural resources and climate are changing now and could change in the future.
For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit:
#NASA; #InternationalSpaceStation; #GoddardSpaceFlightCenter; #STEMexplorers
Washington, Apr 19 (Canadian-Media): NASA is giving university students an opportunity to interact with agency leadership, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, as well as astronauts abroad the International Space Station, during a live event 2 p.m. EDT Monday, April 29, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, reported NASA yesterday.
As part of an agency-wide session with students for National Intern Day on July 26, 2018, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Interns from Goddard and other NASA centers were able to ask Bridenstine questions about the space agency’s programs and projects. Here, an intern at Goddard poses a question to Bridenstine during a Q&A in the center's Hinners Auditorium.
Credits: NASA/Rebecca Roth
The event, intended to inspire the next generation of STEM explorers skilled in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. It also will stream live on Facebook and Twitter. Viewers can submit questions during the event using the hashtag #askNASA.
Participants at NASA Headquarters include: Administrator Bridenstine; Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Willliam Gerstenmaier; and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen.
In addition, students will be able to ask questions during a live Earth-to-space call with NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague, currently serving as part of the Expedition 59 crew aboard the International Space Station.
As NASA plans a return of American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and eventually going on to Mars, the agency is looking to the next generation of STEM explorers to help achieve its goals. Going forward to the Moon will create new economic opportunities, a sustainable exploration campaign, and a foundation to go on to Mars.
Media interested in attending the event should contact Katherine Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-358-1288 no later than noon, Thursday, April 25. Media interested in how local Space Grant Program colleges and universities are participating in the event should contact Colleen Fava at email@example.com or Susie Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is hosted by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. Partners for the event include the Space Grant Consortium, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.
For more information about NASA STEM engagement, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/stem and https://twitter.com/nasaedu
#NorthropGrumman'sCygnusspacecraft; #NASA; #Expedition59
Washington, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with about 7,600 pounds of science investigations and cargo after launching at 4:46 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman's 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The spacecraft launched on an Antares 230 Rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops and is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory around 5:30 a.m. Friday, April 19. Coverage of the spacecraft’s approach and arrival will begin at 4 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Expedition 59 astronauts Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus, while NASA’s Nick Hague monitors telemetry. The spacecraft will stay at the space station until July.
This delivery, Northrop Grumman’s 11th cargo flight to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, will support dozens of new and existing investigations. Here are details about some of the scientific investigations Cygnus is delivering to the space station:
Models for growing increasingly complex materials
Advanced Colloids Experiment-Temperature-10 (ACE-T-10) will test gels in a microgravity environment. This research could aid in the development of increasingly complex materials that may serve as the building blocks for a range of applications on Earth including foods, drugs, and electronic devices. The process also may provide an efficient method to build new materials and equipment in space.
Better life science research in a few drops
Although the space station is well equipped for health and life sciences research, the equipment available for cellular and molecular biology still is limited compared to capabilities found in laboratories on Earth. To address this limitation, CSA designed Bio-Analyzer, a new tool the size of a video game console that astronauts on station easily can use to test body fluids such as blood, saliva, and urine, with just a few drops. It returns key analyses, such as blood cell counts, in just two to three hours, eliminating the need to freeze and store samples.
Analyzing aging of the arteries in astronauts
The Vascular Aging investigation uses ultrasounds, blood samples, oral glucose tolerance tests, and wearable sensors to study aging-like changes that occur in many astronauts during their stay on the space station. It’s one of three Canadian experiments exploring the effects of weightlessness on the blood vessels and heart, and the links between these effects and bone health, blood biomarkers, insulin resistance, and radiation exposure. Increased understanding of these mechanisms can be used to address vascular aging in both astronauts and the aging Earth population.
Testing immune response in space
Spaceflight is known to have a dramatic influence on an astronaut’s immune response, but there is little research on its effect following an actual challenge to the body’s immune system. The rodent immune system closely parallels that of humans, and Rodent Research-12: Tetanus Antibody Response by B cells in Space (TARBIS) will examine the effects of spaceflight on the function of antibody production and immune memory. This investigation aims to advance the development of measures to counter these effects and help maintain crew health during future long-duration space missions. On Earth, it could advance research to improve the effectiveness of vaccines and therapies for treating diseases and cancers.
Big buzz for new robot
A fleet of small robots is set to take on big jobs aboard the space station. Building on the success of SPHERES, NASA will test Astrobee, a robotic system comprised of three cube-shaped robots and a docking station for recharging; the first two are aboard Cygnus. The free-flying robots use electric fans for propulsion and cameras and sensors help them navigate their surroundings. The robots also have an arm to grasp station handrails or grab and hold items. Astrobee can operate in automated mode or under remote control from the ground as it assists with routine chores on station, and requires no supervision from the crew. This has the potential to free up astronauts to conduct more research.
These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations that will help us learn how to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Space station research also provides opportunities for other U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions, to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth.
For more than 18 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 230 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,500 research investigations from researchers in 106 countries.
Learn more about Northrop Grumman’s mission at:
#NASA; #Blue Origin; #CommercialSpaceLaunchAct;
Washington, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): Officials from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the private space company Blue Origin have signed an agreement that grants the company use of a historic test stand as the agency focuses on returning to the Moon and on to Mars, and America’s commercial space industry continues to grow.
Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to support testing of their BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. The BE-4 engine was selected to power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket and Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch vehicle – both being developed to serve the expanding civil, commercial and national security space markets.
Under a Commercial Space Launch Act agreement, Blue Origin will upgrade and refurbish Test Stand 4670, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to support testing of their BE-3U and BE-4 rocket engines. Constructed in 1965, Test Stand 4670 served as the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year: Credits: NASA
“This test stand once helped power NASA’s first launches to the Moon, which eventually led to the emergence of an entirely new economic sector – commercial space,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. “Now, it will have a role in our ongoing commitment to facilitate growth in this sector.”
Constructed in 1965, Test Stand 4670 served as the backbone for Saturn V propulsion testing for the Apollo program, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Later, it was modified to support testing of the space shuttle external tank and main engine systems. The facility has been inactive since 1998.
“We’re excited to welcome Blue Origin to our growing universe of commercial partners,” said Marshall Center Director Jody Singer. “This agreement ensures the test stand will be used for the purpose it was built.”
NASA identified the 300-foot-tall, vertical firing test stand at Marshall as an underutilized facility and posted a notice of availability in 2017 to gauge commercial interest in its use. Blue Origin responded and a team was commissioned to begin exploring the proposed partnership.
“I am thrilled about this partnership with NASA to acceptance test both BE-4 and BE-3U engines at Test Stand 4670, the historic site for testing the Saturn V first stage and the space shuttle main engines,” said Bob Smith, chief executive officer of Blue Origin. “Through this agreement, we’ll provide for the refurbishment, restoration and modernization of this piece of American history – and bring the sounds of rocket engines firing back to Huntsville.”
Under the agreement, Blue Origin will pay for the investments it makes to prepare the test stand for use, as well as any direct costs NASA incurs as a result of Blue Origin use of the stand, maximizing the value derived from taxpayer investment in government facilities.
To learn more about NASA's strategic partnerships to advance America’s space exploration goals and commercial space industry,
#NASA; #InternationalSpaceStation; #EuropeanSpaceAgency
Washington, Apr 17 (Canadian-Media): National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its International Space Station (ISS) partners have set a new schedule and new crew assignments that will include the first flight of NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, an extended stay for NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, and a record-setting flight for NASA astronaut Christina Koch.
Astronaut Jessica Meir is now set to fly to the International Space Station for the first time in September, and Christina Koch, who is currently in space, has her stay onboard extended to an expected record-setting flight of 328 days. With Koch now scheduled to remain in orbit until February 2020, she will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the previous mark set by Peggy Whitson of 288 days in 2016-17/Credits: NASA
Koch, who arrived at the space station March 14, and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February 2020, will set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, eclipsing the record of 288 days set by former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. She will be part of three expeditions – 59, 60 and 61 – during her current first spaceflight. Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut – 340 days, set by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.
The mission schedule currently is as follows:
June 24: Current Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos will return to Earth. Koch and fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will remain aboard the space station and begin Expedition 60.
July 20: NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to launch to the space station and join Expedition 60, returning the orbiting laboratory’s crew complement to six. Parmitano and Skvortsov will return in February 2020 with Koch, leaving Morgan behind for his extended stay.
Sept. 25: NASA astronaut Jessica Meir is scheduled to launch to the station with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and United Arab Emirates’ Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, a Roscosmos spaceflight participant who will return with Hague and Ovchinin Oct. 3. Meir and Skripochka will return in spring 2
020 with Morgan.
The extended missions of Koch and Morgan will help scientists gather additional data about the effects of long-duration human spaceflight beyond those of the normal six-month station expedition. Such research is essential to support future deep space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.
NASA has gathered vast amounts of data on astronaut health and performance over the past 50 years and has focused recently on extended durations up to one year with the dedicated mission of Scott Kelly and extended mission of Peggy Whitson. These opportunities also have demonstrated that there is a significant degree of variability in human response to spaceflight and it’s important to determine the acceptable degree of change for both men and women.
“Astronauts demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability in response to long duration spaceflight exposure,” said Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts. NASA is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days. Christina’s extended mission will provide additional data for NASA’s Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars.”
This schedule also allows NASA to get the most time dedicated to other research aboard the station, as U.S. commercial crew launch providers prepare for operations to and from U.S. soil and the space station.
Meir’s September launch to the station will mark her first spaceflight. The Caribou, Maine, native was selected as an astronaut in 2013, while serving as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. She holds a bachelor’s in biology from Brown University, a master’s in space studies from International Space University, and a doctorate in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Prior to her selection to the astronaut corps, Meir’s career focused on the physiology of animals in extreme environments, studying emperor penguins in the Antarctic, elephant seals in California, and bar-headed geese in studies at the University of British Columbia and in Mongolia. Meir also previously worked for Lockheed Martin’s Human Research Facility, participated in reduced gravity research flights, took part in diving expeditions to the Antarctic and Belize, and served as a spaceflight analog crewmember for a NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations underwater mission and an ESA caving mission (ESA CAVES).
Morgan will make his first flight into space this summer. A New Castle, Pennsylvania, native, Morgan was selected to be an astronaut in 2013, when he was serving as an emergency physician in the U.S. Army with sub-specialty certification in primary care sports medicine. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.