Thursday, December 20, 2012

New Expedition 34 Crew Members Ready for Launch

New Expedition 34 Crew Members Ready for Launch
Final launch preparations are under way at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as three new Expedition 34 crew members are ready to begin a two-day journey to join their crewmates aboard the International Space Station.

Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn, Roman Romanenko and Chris Hadfield are set to launch aboard their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

The new trio will join current station residents Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin when they dock their Soyuz to the Rassvet module at 9:12 a.m. Friday.

Meanwhile aboard the orbiting laboratory, Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin were busy with a variety of science experiments and maintenance duties Tuesday as they await the launch and arrival of their crew mates.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reactor Makes Trash a Power Source

 NASA researchers focusing on the difficulties of traveling into deep space have identified an unusual source for fuel that astronauts will be carrying with them anyway: trash.

Scientists say there is a good chance that food wrappers, used clothing, scraps, tape, packaging and other garbage accumulated by a crew of four astronauts flying beyond low Earth orbit can be turned into valuable methane gas, oxygen and even water using processes and much smaller versions of devices that are already doing the same thing on Earth.

"We're trying to change the mindset, we don't want to just think of waste as something that occurs, we want to think of waste as a resource," said Paul Hintze, task leader of the trash-to-gas project at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Monday, December 17, 2012

A Day in the Life Aboard the International Space Station

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and work in space? Follow astronauts on the International Space Station in a series of videos as they explain their daily routines. Learn where they sleep, and how they eat, exercise, work and spend free time. Compare life in space with life on Earth.

Educators can use this series of videos and resources to enhance K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

NASA - 'FaINT' Side of Sonic Booms

Sonic booms created by aircraft flying faster than the speed of sound certainly aren’t known for being faint, but rather for their loud, make-you-jump startle effect for those who experience them. However, sonic booms have a quieter, fainter side, too.

NASA’s Supersonics Project is embarking on its latest effort to characterize or define that fainter side of sonic booms as a NASA F/A-18 aircraft takes to the air in a project called Farfield Investigation of No Boom Threshold, or FaINT.

As the latest in a continuing progression of NASA supersonics research projects aimed at reducing sonic boom levels, FaINT is designed to enable engineers to better understand evanescent waves, an acoustic phenomenon that occurs at the very edges or just outside of the normal sonic boom envelope.

For an aircraft flying at a supersonic speed of about Mach 1.2 or less at an altitude above 35,000 feet, the shockwaves being produced typically do not reach the ground, so no sonic boom is heard. This is because shockwaves from an aircraft flying supersonically at higher altitudes are refracted, or bent upwards, as they enter warmer air closer to the ground, due to the fact that the speed of sound increases with air temperature.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

International Space Station Salutes the Sun

International Space Station Salutes the Sun

Recently the International Space Station turned itself to position the European Space Agency's SOLAR instrument for a better view of the sun. It was the first time the station changed attitude for scientific reasons alone. 

"The European scientists requested this so they could increase science and bridge over the two solar cycles," said Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program scientist. "The International Space Station Program took a look at the request and we were glad that we could change attitude to support the scientists." 

SOLAR has been monitoring our sun's output since it was installed on ESA's Columbus laboratory module in February 2008. The package will celebrate its fifth anniversary next year. 

"That is quite an achievement," says Nadia This, operations engineer at the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre, which controls SOLAR. "The instrument was designed to work for only 18 months." 

SOLAR needs to be in direct view of the sun to take measurements but the space station's normal orbit obscures the view for two weeks every month.