Life in space is almost the same as on earth.The original
seven astronauts selected for the Mercury program are: (front row, left to
right) Walter M. Schirra, Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John H. Glenn, Jr., and
M. Scott Carpenter, (back row, left to right) Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Virgil
I. Grissom and L. Gordon Cooper.cloud a mass of tiny water drops or ice crystals
that float in the air above the earth.
Did you know that the first African-American woman
in space was Dr. Mae Jemison? She was selected for the astronaut program
in June 1987 and served as the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab-J
(September 12-20, 1992). Apollo 10's command module was called "Charlie Brown"
and the lunar module was called "Snoopy."
The third human to walk on the surface of the
Moon was Charles P. "Pete" Conrad -- during the Apollo 12 MissionColumbia
was the first Space Shuttle that traveled to Earth orbit. The next crew to
call the International Space Station home is slated to arrive onboard Oct.
20. After relieving the Expedition 7 crew, Expedition 8 Commander and NASA
ISS Science Officer Michael Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri are
scheduled to spend about six months aboard the orbital outpost maintaining
ISS operations and continuing science investigations.
Team Stardust, NASA's first dedicated sample
return mission to a comet,passed a huge milestone today by successfully navigating
through theparticle and gas-laden coma around comet Wild 2 (pronounced "Vilt-2").
During the hazardous traverse, the spacecraft flew within 240 kilometers
(149 miles) of the comet, catching samples of comet particles and
scoring detailed pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface.
"Things couldn't have worked better in a fairy
tale," said Tom Duxbury,Stardust project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion
"These images are better than we had hoped for
in our wildest dreams,"said Ray Newburn of JPL, a co-investigator for Stardust.
"They will helpus better understand the mechanisms that drive conditions on
"These are the best pictures ever taken
of a comet," said PrincipalInvestigator Dr. Don Brownlee of the University
of Washington, Seattle."Although Stardust was designed to be a comet sample
return mission, the fantastic details shown in these images greatly exceed
The collected particles, stowed
in a sample return capsule onboardStardust, will be returned to Earth for
in-depth analysis. That dramaticevent will occur on January 15, 2006, when
the capsule makes a soft landing at the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training
Range. The microscopic particle samples of comet and interstellar dust collected
by Stardust will be taken to the planetary material curatorial facility at
NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, for analysis.
Stardust has traveled about 3.22
billion kilometers (2 billion miles)since its launch on February 7, 1999.
As it closed the final gap with its cometary quarry, it endured a bombardment
of particles surrounding the nucleus of comet Wild 2. To protect Stardust
against the blast of expected cometary particles and rocks, the spacecraft
rotated so it was flying in the shadow of its "Whipple Shields." The shields
are named for American astronomer Dr. Fred L. Whipple, who, in the 1950s,
came up with the idea of shielding spacecraft from high-speed collisions with
the bits and pieces ejected from comets. The system includes two bumpers at
the front of the spacecraft -- which protect Stardust's solar panels --and
another shield protecting the main spacecraft body. Each shield is built around
composite panels designed to disperse particles as they impact, augmented
by blankets of a ceramic cloth called Nextel that further dissipate and spread
"Everything occurred pretty much
to the minute," said Duxbury. "And with our cometary encounter complete, we
invite everybody to tune in about one million, 71 thousand minutes from now
when Stardust returns to Earth, bringing with it the first comet samples in
the history of space exploration."
Scientists believe in-depth
terrestrial analysis of the samples will reveal much about comets and the
earliest history of the solar system.Chemical and physical information locked
within the cometary particles could be the record of the formation of the
planets and the materials from which they were made. More information on the
Stardust mission is available at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov
Stardust, a part of NASA's
Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused science missions, was built
by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, Colo., and is managed by JPL for
NASA's Office of Space Science,Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California
Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
As each day passes during
the remainder of his stay aboard the International Space Station, Expedition
8 Commander Michael Foale will continue to add to an impressive U.S. space
flight record. At 1:47 p.m. EST Dec. 8, Foale surpassed Carl Walz with the
most cumulative time in space for a U.S. astronaut. Walz has spent 230 days,
13 hours, 3 minutes and 37 seconds in space.
To mark the occasion,
Foale received a call from Walz, who was at NASA Headquarters in Washington,
D.C., moments before the record fell. Walz congratulated Foale on the accomplishment.
"Records are meant
to be broken," Walz said. "I am certainly glad that after your pioneering
efforts on Mir that you had a chance to break this record."
Foale is currently
in the middle of his sixth mission in space, which began Oct. 18 with the
launch of the ISS Soyuz 7 spacecraft. He is on the Station with Russian Cosmonaut
Alexander Kaleri, who is serving as Expedition 8's flight engineer. If his
stay in space concludes as scheduled in late April 2004, Foale will have amassed
375 days in space.
It's been three
years since the first human inhabitants took up residence aboard the International
Space Station (ISS). Since then, the ISS has been home to eight resident crews
who have performed fantastic research in the microgravity of Earth orbit.
But none of this would have been possible without America's first space station:
From its launch
on May 14, 1973, until the return of its third and final crew on Feb. 8,
1974, the Skylab program proved that humans can live and work in outer space
for extended periods of time.
Pete Conrad, Paul
Weitz and Joe Kerwin spent 28 days in orbit as the first crew of Skylab. The
second crew - Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott - spent 59 days in
space. The final Skylab crew spent 84 days in space and consisted of Jerry
Carr, Bill Pogue and Edward Gibson. Each Skylab crew set new spaceflight duration
records. The record set by the
final crew was not broken by an American astronaut until the Shuttle-Mir
program more than 20 years later.
as the greatest solar observatory of its time, a microgravity lab, a medical
lab, an Earth-observing facility, and, most importantly, a home away from
home for its residents. The program also led to new technologies. Special
showers, toilets, sleeping bags, exercise equipment and kitchen facilities
were designed to function in microgravity.
as the program was, the first two crews had to overcome some unexpected challenges.
During the station's launch, airflow caused a meteoroid shield to come off,
tearing off one of two solar panels and preventing the other from deploying.
The damage resulted in reduced power for the station. When the first crew
arrived 11 days later, their first task was to repair the damage. Once repairs
were complete, full power was restored.
finds a suspected piece of shuttle debris should call the Columbia Recovery
Office at 1-866-446-6603.
On October 14, 1947,
in the rocket powered Bell X-1, Capt. Charles E. Yeager flew faster than sound
for the first time.The term "aeronautics" originated in France, and was derived
from the Greek words for "air" and "to sail."Since the Russian Zarya ("sunrise"
in Russian) Control Module was launched in November 1998 as the first element
of the International Space Station, the ISS has grown into the largest spacecraft
ever to fly and a shining example of international cooperation. Less than
a month later, it was joined in orbit by the first U.S. component, Node 1,
which is also known as the Unity Connecting Module.
Five years later,
the Station contains more than a dozen components and weighs 415,209 pounds
and is 171 feet long, 240 feet wide and 90 feet high.It contains 15,000 cubic
feet of habitable volume, which is larger than a three-bedroom house.
are contributing to the ISS Program, and more than 100,000 workers around
the world support ISS operations, including flight controllers at Mission
Control Centers in Houston, Texas, and Moscow, Russia, and the Science Payloads
Operations Center in Huntsville, Ala.
For many of us,
work involves driving to an office and sitting in front of a computer all
day. Other people spend their days building or fixing things, while scientists
work to study our planet and the universe around us.The crew begins each workday
by looking at their schedule on one of the station's laptop computers. Any
technical information they need to do their work is also on the computer.
begin working though, they talk to flight controllers at the U.S. and Russian
Mission Control Centers and science experts at the Payload Operations Center.
This Daily Planning Conference ensures everyone understands what they're supposed
to do that day. As they go through their day, the crew continues to talk
to the flight controllers and the science support staff to make sure everything
is done correctly.
Space station crewmembers
work Monday through Friday and spend Saturday mornings cleaning the station.
They have Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday off, though they often work
on their station To Do list in their free time.
When a star like
our Sun grows old, it becomes a red giant, expanding to more than 50 times
its original diameter. Most of the carbon and particulate matter in the universe
comes from red giant stars.