Members of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) team celebrate at the Lockheed Martin operations center in Littleton, Colorado, Sunday night, after getting confirmation that the spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars, and will soon begin taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.

Credit: Lockheed Martin
By nasa.gov

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft lifts off on the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, carrying about 5,000 pounds of NASA science investigations and cargo are on their way to the International Space Station.The mission is the company’s fourth cargo delivery flight to the space station.

One of the new Earth science investigations heading to the orbital laboratory is the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer. ISS-RapidScat monitors ocean winds from the vantage point of the space station. This information will be useful for weather forecasting and hurricane monitoring. Dragon also will deliver the first-ever 3-D printer in space, biomedical hardware and other biological research including a new plant study.

Dragon is scheduled to be grappled at 7:04 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23, by Expedition 41 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, using the space station’s robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in mid-October for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing from the space station almost 3,200 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies.

Credit: NASA/Sandy Joseph and Kevin O’Connell
By nasa.gov

ISS041-E-009477 (13 Sept. 2014) — One of the Expedition 41 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station on Sept. 13, 2014 captured this image of a starry sky. The white panel at left belonging to the ATV-5 spacecraft, which is docked with the orbital outpost, obstructs the view of Scorpius. The red star Antares is directly to the left of the bottom of the second ATV panel from the top. The two stars that are close together and on the lower left of the photo comprise Shaula, the tip of the scorpion’s tail. The open cluster close to Shaula is M7. The hardware at bottom right is part of one of the station’s solar panels.

Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

This red plane is a DHC-3 Otter, the plane flown in NASA’s Operation IceBridge-Alaska surveys of mountain glaciers in Alaska.

Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region’s summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at work studying how rising temperatures are affecting the Arctic.

NASA researchers this summer and fall are carrying out three Alaska-based airborne research campaigns aimed at measuring greenhouse gas concentrations near Earth’s surface, monitoring Alaskan glaciers, and collecting data on Arctic sea ice and clouds. Observations from these NASA campaigns will give researchers a better understanding of how the Arctic is responding to rising temperatures.

The Arctic Radiation – IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment, or ARISE, is a new NASA airborne campaign to collect data on thinning sea ice and measure cloud and atmospheric properties in the Arctic. The campaign was designed to address questions about the relationship between retreating sea ice and the Arctic climate.

 Image Credit: NASA/Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks
By nasa.gov

Powerful, Pulsating Core of Star

September 22, 2014

The blue dot in this image marks the spot of an energetic pulsar — the magnetic, spinning core of star that blew up in a supernova explosion. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, discovered the pulsar by identifying its telltale pulse — a rotating beam of X-rays, that like a cosmic lighthouse, intersects Earth every 0.2 seconds.

The pulsar, called PSR J1640-4631, lies in our inner Milky Way galaxy about 42,000 light-years away. It was originally identified by as an intense source of gamma rays by the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in Namibia. NuSTAR helped pin down the source of the gamma rays to a pulsar.

The other pink dots in this picture show low-energy X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

In this image, NuSTAR data is blue and shows high-energy X-rays with 3 to 79 kiloelectron volts; Chandra data is pink and shows X-rays with 0.5 to 10 kiloeletron volts.

The background image shows infrared light and was captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO
By nasa.gov

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image of Florida to Louisiana just before dawn, taken from the International Space Station, and posted it to social media on Friday, Sept. 12. Wiseman, Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst began their first full workweek Monday as a three-person crew aboard the space station, while the three additional flight engineers who will round out the Expedition 41 crew spent the day training for next week’s launch to the orbiting complex.

Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

Crescent Mimas

September 22, 2014

A thin sliver of Mimas is illuminated, the long shadows showing off its many craters, indicators of the moon’s violent history.

The most famous evidence of a collision on Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers across) is the crater Herschel that gives Mimas its Death Star-like appearance. See PIA12568 for more on Herschel.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn hemisphere of Mimas. North on Mimas is up and rotated 40 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 20, 2013.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 100,000 miles (200,000 kilometers) from Mimas and at a Sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 130 degrees. Image scale is 4,000 feet (1 kilometer) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
By nasa.gov

The largest spacecraft welding tool in the world, the Vertical Assembly Center, officially is open for business at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The 170-foot-tall, 78-foot-wide giant completes a world-class welding toolkit that will be used to build the core stage of America’s next great rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).

SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and eventually Mars. The core stage, towering more than 200 feet tall (61 meters) with a diameter of 27.6 feet (8.4 meters), will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the rocket’s RS-25 engines.

The Vertical Assembly Center is part of a family of state-of-the-art tools designed to weld the core stage of SLS. It will join domes, rings and barrels to complete the tanks or dry structure assemblies. It also will be used to perform evaluations on the completed welds. Boeing is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, including avionics.

> Release: NASA Unveils World’s Largest Spacecraft Welding Tool for Space Launch System

Image Credit: NASA
By nasa.gov

Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA rests in a chair outside the Soyuz Capsule just minutes after he and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), landed in their Soyuz TMA-12M capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev returned to Earth after more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
By nasa.gov

Ground support personnel are seen at the landing site after the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft landed with Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev returned to Earth after more than five months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews.Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
By nasa.gov