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13 Reasons to Have an Out of This World Friday (the 13th)

1. Know that not all of humanity is bound to the
ground

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Since 2000, the International
Space Station has been continuously occupied by humans. There, crew members
live and work while conducting important research that benefits life on Earth
and will even help us eventually travel to deep space destinations, like Mars.

2. Smart people are up all night working in control
rooms all over NASA to ensure that data keeps flowing from our satellites and
spacecraft

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Our satellites and spacecraft help scientists study Earth
and space. Missions looking toward Earth provide information about clouds,
oceans, land and ice. They also measure gases in the atmosphere, such as ozone
and carbon dioxide, and the amount of energy that Earth absorbs and emits. And
satellites monitor wildfires, volcanoes and their smoke.

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Satellites and spacecraft that
face toward space have a variety of jobs. Some watch for dangerous rays coming
from the sun. Others explore asteroids and comets, the history of stars, and
the origin of planets. Some fly near or orbit other planets. These spacecraft
may look for evidence of water on Mars or capture close-up pictures of Saturn’s
rings.

3. The spacecraft, rockets and systems developed to
send astronauts to low-Earth orbit as part our Commercial Crew Program is also
helping us get to Mars

Changes to the human body during
long-duration spaceflight
are significant challenges to solve ahead of a
mission to Mars and back. The space station allows us to perform long duration
missions without leaving Earth’s orbit. 

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Although they are orbiting
Earth, space station astronauts spend months at a time in near-zero gravity,
which allows scientists to study several physiological changes and test
potential solutions. The more time they spend in space, the more helpful the
station crew members can be to those on Earth assembling the plans to go to
Mars.

4. Two new science missions will travel where no
spacecraft has gone before…a Jupiter Trojan asteroid and a giant metal
asteroid!

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We’ve selected
two missions
that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest
eras in the history of our solar system
– a time less than 10 million years
after the birth of our sun!

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The first mission, Lucy, will
visit six of Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids. The Trojans are thought to
be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system, and may
have formed far beyond Jupiter’s current orbit.

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The second mission, Psyche,
will study a unique metal asteroid that’s never been visited before. This giant
metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, is about three times farther away from the
sun than is the Earth. Scientists wonder whether Psyche could be an exposed
core of an early planet that could have been as large as Mars, but which lost
its rocky outer layers due to a number of violent collisions billions of years
ago.

5. Even astronauts eat their VEGGIES’s

NASA astronaut Shane
Kimbrough
collected the third and final harvest
of the latest round of the Veggie
investigation, testing the capability to grow fresh vegetables on the
International Space Station. 

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Understanding how plants respond to microgravity
is an important step for future long-duration space missions, which will require
crew members to grow their
own food
. Crew members have previously grown
lettuce
and flowers
in the Veggie
facility
. This new series of the study expands on previous validation
tests.

6. When you feel far away from home, you can think of
the New Horizons spacecraft as it heads toward the Kuiper Belt, and the Voyager
spacecrafts are beyond the influence of our sun…billions of miles away
 

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Our New Horizons spacecraft completed its Pluto flyby in
July 2015 and has continued on its way toward the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft continues to send back
important data as it travels toward deeper space at more than 32,000 miles per
hour, and is nearly 3.2 billion miles from Earth.

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In addition to New Horizons,
our twin Voyager
1 and 2 spacecraft
are exploring where nothing from Earth has flown before.
Continuing on their more-than-37-year journey since their 1977 launches, they
are each much farther away from Earth and the sun than Pluto. In August 2012, Voyager
1 made the historic entry into interstellar space, the region between the
stars, filled with material ejected by the death of nearby stars millions of
years ago.

7. Earth has a magnetic field that largely protects it
from the solar wind stripping away out atmosphere…unlike Mars

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Findings from our MAVEN mission have identified the process that appears
to have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm
and wet environment to the cold, arid planet Mars is today. MAVEN data have
enabled researchers to determine the rate at which the Martian atmosphere
currently is losing gas to space via stripping by the solar wind. Luckily,
Earth has a magnetic field that largely protects it from this process. 

8. There are humans brave enough to not only travel in
space, but venture outside space station to perform important repairs and
updates during spacewalks

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Spacewalks
are
important events where crew members repair, maintain and upgrade parts
of the International Space Station. These activities can also be referred to as
EVAs – Extravehicular Activities. Not only do spacewalks require an enormous
amount of work to prepare for, but they are physically demanding on the
astronauts. They are working in the vacuum of space in only their spacewalking
suit. 

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When on a spacewalk,
astronauts use safety tethers to stay close to their spacecraft. One end of the
tether is hooked to the spacewalker, while the other end is connected to the
vehicle. Spacewalks typically last around 6.5 hours, but can be extended to 7
or 8 hours, if necessary.

9. We’re working to create new aircraft that will dramatically
reduce fuel use, emissions and noise…meaning we could change the way you fly! 

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The nation’s airlines could
realize more than $250
billion dollars in savings
in the near future thanks to green-related
technologies that we are developing and refining. These new technologies could
cut airline fuel use in half, pollution by 75% and noise to nearly one-eighth
of today’s levels!

10. You can see a global image of your home planet…EVERY
DAY

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Once a day, we will post at
least a dozen new color images of Earth acquired from 12 to 36 hours
earlier. These images are taken by our EPIC camera from one million miles away
on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Take a look HERE.

11. Employees of NASA have always been a mission
driven bunch, who try to find answers that were previously unknown

The film “Hidden Figures,”
focuses on the stories of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan,
African-American women who were essential to the success of early spaceflight. 

Today, we embrace their
legacy and strive to include everyone who wants to participate in our ongoing
exploration. In the 1960’s, we were on an ambitious journey to the moon, and
the human computers portrayed in Hidden Figures helped get us there. Today, we
are on an even more ambitious journey to Mars. We are building a vibrant,
innovative workforce that reflects a vast diversity of discipline and thought,
embracing and nurturing all the talent we have available, regardless of gender,
race or other protected status. Take a look at our Modern Figures HERE.

12. A lot of NASA-developed tech has been transferred
for use to the public
 

[VIDEO]

Our Technology Transfer Program highlights technologies
that were originally designed for our mission needs, but have since been
introduced to the public market. HERE are a few spinoff technologies that you might not
know about.

13. If all else fails, here’s an image of what we
(Earth) and the moon look like from Mars  

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From the most powerful
telescope orbiting Mars comes a new
view of Earth and its moon
, showing continent-size detail on the planet and
the relative size of the moon. The image combines two separate exposures taken
on Nov. 20 by our High
Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)
camera on our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

In the image, the reddish feature near the
middle of the face of Earth is Australia.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Source: NASA

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13 Reasons to Have an Out of This World Friday (the 13th)

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