Archives for posts with tag: nasa

This is the portable x-ray diffraction machine I’m using for my second research project with Brian. We’re analyzing rocks from volcanic environments.

portable XRD!
XRD tuning fork

This big tuning fork is used to shake the sample, since you can’t move the x-ray emitter around the sample, as you normally would, when you’re on Mars. In the top photo I’ve put the sample in the well, in the bottom photo I’ve turned on the external shaker, and the sample was moved into the tiny windowed area, ready to be analyzed.

This XRD is a duplicate of the XRD onboard the Mars Science Laboratory! See its sister ‘in action’ in this MSL animatic:

Curiosity’s Sky Crane, heat shield, parachute, scattered around Gale Crater.

front cam image from Mars Curiosity, just after touchdown, relayed by Odyssey

Oh the little rover that could! The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were only meant to last for 90 Martian-days (~92 Earth-days). Opportunity is still out there, exploring the surface of Mars (and soon to be joined by her cousin, the Mars Science Laboratory), but Spirit, five years and almost four months after landing on Mars, became stuck in a patch of soft ground. This video is composed of stills, and shows the rover traveling across Mars, conducting experiments, and finally, sadly, becoming stuck. I like to imagine that someday we’ll find Spirit, buried in the Martian soil, and once we clean off the solar panels and give her some power she’ll spring back to life.

Picture of Spirit taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

via Wikipedia – click to embiggen

Traverse maps


click to embiggen

View of the Sun Today from the SDO Mission

Credit: NASA/SDO

The Solar Dynamics Observatory sends images of the Sun. This image taken by SDO’s AIA instrument at 171 Angstrom shows the current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun.

Sea Ice Patterns

NASA/Kathryn Hansen

On July 20, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy steamed south in the Arctic Ocean toward the edge of the sea ice.

The ICESCAPE mission, or “Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment,” is NASA’s two-year shipborne investigation to study how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the ocean’s chemistry and ecosystems. The bulk of the research takes place in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in summer 2010 and 2011.

For updates on the five-week ICESCAPE voyage, visit the mission blog at:
go.usa.gov/WwU

be sure to rollover ‘notes’ to see photo captions!

Skipped the lines for the parts I saw last time and went straight for the vacuum chamber space simulator and the microdevices and in-situ laboratories. I saw the Harrison Ford-narrated video, “Journey to the Planets and Beyond”, which was really inspiring just when I needed it.

by Juan Carlos Casado – click to embiggen

Via NASA:

In a clear sky from a dark location at the right time, a faint band of light is visible across the sky. This band is the disk of our spiral galaxy. Since we are inside this disk, the band appears to encircle the Earth. The above spectacular picture of the Milky Way arch, however, goes where the unaided eye cannot. The image is actually a deep digital fusion of nine photos that create a panorama fully 360 across. Taken recently in Teide National Park in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, the image includes the Teide volcano, visible near the image center, behind a volcanic landscape that includes many large rocks. Far behind these Earthly structures are many sky wonders that are visible to the unaided eye, such as the band of the Milky Way, the bright waxing Moon inside the arch, and the Pleiades open star cluster.

See an annotated panorama here.

Fare thee well, Discovery!

somewhat related: cool flash timeline of the construction of the international space station. You can click on each part to get more info about it too. Very cool!

Reid Gower:

I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is the most fascinating, adventurous, epic institution ever devised by human beings, and their media sucks. Seriously. None of their brilliant scientists appear to know how to connect with the social media crowd, which is now more important than ever. In fact, NASA is an institution whose funding directly depends on how the public views them.

In all of their brilliance, NASA seems to have forgotten to share their hopes and dreams in a way the public can relate to, leaving one of humanities grandest projects with terrible PR and massive funding cuts. I have a lot of ideas for a NASA marketing campaign, but I doubt they’d pay me even minimum wage to work for them. I literally have an MSWord document entitled NASAideas.doc full of ideas waiting to share. I thought maybe, just maybe someone might be able to work their magic for me on that. But the primary point of this post is to vent my frustration with NASA. Sure, they’ve fallen victim to budget cuts but I honestly think cutting media will seal NASA’s own fate. Unless they can find a way to relate to the general public, support for their projects will always be minimal, and their funding will follow suit. A social media department would easily pay for itself in government grants because it could rekindle the public interest in the space program.

via eric

NASA’s Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system.

[...]

“This planet is unequivocally rocky, with a surface you could stand on,” commented team member Dimitar Sasselov, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge and a Kepler co-investigator.

Read more at NASA.

here!

today i went to the JPL open house and got to see the deep space control room, the mars science lab mid-assembly and lots of robots and scale models. pretty great nerd stuff, and the whole thing had a very science fair-y vibe. scientists with tables set up – from photos and diagrams on poster boards to a model of orbiting stars and an actual model of an interferometer outputting data to a big plasma screen. my favorite part was actually the big shop where they manufacture parts for the probes and satellites.

…i also had a really good giant burrito.