Find us on Google+

Isolation, Hazard of the Mind

by
Isolation, Hazard of the Mind

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com.A human journey to Mars, at first glance, offers an inexhaustible amount of complexities. To bring a mission to the Red Planet from fiction to fact, our Human Research Program has organized hazards astronauts will encounter on a continual basis into five classifications. (View the first hazard). Let’s dive into the second hazard:

image

Overcoming the second hazard, isolation and confinement, is essential for a successful mission to Mars. Behavioral issues among groups of people crammed in a small space over a long period of time, no matter how well trained they are, are inevitable. It is a topic of study and discussion currently taking place around the selection and composition of crews.

image

On Earth, we have the luxury of picking up our cell phones and instantly being connected with nearly everything and everyone around us. 

image

On a trip to Mars, astronauts will be more isolated and confined than we can imagine. 

image

Sleep loss, circadian desynchronization (getting out of sync), and work overload compound this issue and may lead to performance decrements or decline, adverse health outcomes, and compromised mission objectives.

image

To address this hazard, methods for monitoring behavioral health and adapting/refining various tools and technologies for use in the spaceflight environment are being developed to detect and treat early risk factors. Research is also being conducted in workload and performance, light therapy for circadian alignment or internal clock alignment, and team cohesion.

image

Exploration to the Moon and Mars will expose astronauts to five known hazards of spaceflight, including isolation and confinement. To learn more, and find out what the Human Research Program is doing to protect humans in space, check out the “Hazards of Human Spaceflight” website. Or, check out this week’s episode of “Houston We Have a Podcast,” in which host Gary Jordan further dives into the threat of isolation and confinement with Tom Williams, a NASA Human Factors and Behavior Performance Element Scientist at the Johnson Space Center. 

image

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

Source: NASA


Posted in NASA and tagged by with no comments yet.

Parker Solar Probe is Go for Launch

by
Parker Solar Probe is Go for Launch

Tomorrow, Aug. 11, we’re launching a spacecraft to touch the Sun.

image

The first chance to launch Parker Solar Probe is 3:33 a.m. EDT on Aug. 11 from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch coverage on NASA TV starts at 3 a.m. EDT at nasa.gov/live.

After launch, Parker Solar Probe begins its daring journey to the Sun’s atmosphere, or corona, going closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history and facing brutal heat and radiation.

Though Parker Solar Probe weighs a mere 1,400 pounds — pretty light for a spacecraft — it’s launching aboard one of the world’s most powerful rockets, a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy with a third stage added.

image

Even though you might think the Sun’s massive means things would just fall into it, it’s surprisingly difficult to actually go there.
Any object leaving Earth starts off traveling at about 67,000 miles per
hour, same as Earth — and most of that is in a sideways direction, so
you have to shed most of that sideways speed to make it to the Sun. All
that means that it takes 55 times more launch energy to go to the Sun
than it does to go to Mars. On top of its powerful launch vehicle,
Parker Solar Probe will use seven Venus gravity assists to shed sideways
speed.

Even though Parker Solar Probe will lose a lot of sideways speed, it’ll still be going incredibly fast as its orbit draws closer to the Sun throughout its seven-year mission. At its fastest, Parker Solar Probe will travel at 430,000 miles per hour — fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in one second — setting the record for the fastest spacecraft in history.

image

But the real challenge was to keep the spacecraft from frying once it got there.

We’ve always wanted to send a mission to the corona, but we literally haven’t had the technology that can protect a spacecraft and its instruments from its scorching heat. Only recent advances have enabled engineers to build a heat shield that will protect the spacecraft on this journey of extremes — a tricky feat that requires withstanding the Sun’s intense radiation on the front and staying cool at the back, so the spacecraft and instruments can work properly.

image

The 4.5-inches-thick heat shield is built like a sandwich. There’s a
thin layer of carbon material like you might find in your golf clubs or
tennis rackets, carbon foam, and then another thin piece of
carbon-carbon on the back. Even while the Sun-facing side broils at
2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, the back of the shield will remain a balmy 85
degrees — just above room temperature. There are so few particles in
this region that it’s a vacuum, so blocking the Sun’s radiation goes a
long way towards keeping the spacecraft cool.

Parker Solar Probe is also our first mission to be named after a living individual: Dr. Eugene Parker, famed solar physicist who in 1958 first predicted the existence of the solar wind.

image

“Solar wind” is what Dr. Parker dubbed the stream of charged particles that flows constantly from the Sun, bathing Earth and our entire solar system in the Sun’s magnetic fields. Parker Solar Probe’s flight right through the corona allows it to observe the birth of the very solar wind that Dr. Parker predicted, right as it speeds up and over the speed of sound.  

image

The corona is where solar material is heated to millions of degrees and where the most extreme eruptions on the Sun occur, like solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which fling particles out to space at incredible speeds near the speed of light. These explosions can also spark space weather storms near Earth that can endanger satellites and astronauts, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, trigger power outages.

image

Thanks to Parker Solar Probe’s landmark mission, solar scientists will be able to see the objects of their study up close and personal for the very first time.

Up until now, all of our studies of the corona have been remote — that is, taken from a distance, rather than at the mysterious region itself. Scientists have been very creative to glean as much as possible from their remote data, but there’s nothing like actually sending a probe to the corona to see what’s going on.

image

And scientists aren’t the only ones along for the adventure — Parker Solar Probe holds a microchip carrying the names of more than 1.1 million people who signed up to send their name to the Sun. This summer, these names and 1,400 pounds of science equipment begin their journey to the center of our solar system.

Three months later in November 2018, Parker Solar Probe makes its first close approach to the Sun, and in December, it will send back the data. The corona is one of the last places in the solar system where no spacecraft has visited before; each observation Parker Solar Probe makes is a potential discovery.

Stay tuned — Parker Solar Probe is about to take flight.

Keep up with the latest on the mission at nasa.gov/solarprobe or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Source: NASA


Posted in NASA and tagged by with no comments yet.

Packing for a Journey into the Twilight Zone

by
Packing for a Journey into the Twilight Zone

Submitted for your consideration: A team of researchers from
more than 20 institutions, boarding two research vessels, heading into the ocean’s
twilight zone.

The twilight zone is a dimly lit region between 650 and 3300
feet below the surface, where we’re unfolding the mystery of how tiny ocean
organisms affect our planet’s climate.

image

These tiny organisms – called phytoplankton – are plant-like
and mostly single-celled. They live in water, taking in carbon dioxide and
releasing oxygen.

image

Two boats, more than 100 researchers from more than 20
partner institutions, and a whole fleet of robotic explorers make up the EXport
Processes in the Ocean from RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS)
team. We’re learning more
about what happens to carbon dioxide after phytoplankton digest it.

image

The Equipment to Find
Phytoplankton

image

Phytoplankton have predators in the ocean called
zooplankton. They absorb the phytoplankton’s carbon, carrying it up the food
chain. The EXPORTS mission will focus partly on how that happens in the ocean’s
twilight zone, where some zooplankton live.  When phytoplankton die, sometimes their bodies
sink through the same area. All of this carries carbon dioxide into the ocean’s
depths and out of Earth’s atmosphere.

image

Counting Life

Studying the diversity of these organisms is important to
better understand what’s happening to the phytoplankton as they die.
Researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are using a very fine
mesh net to sample water at various depths throughout the ocean to count
various plankton populations.

image

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island are bringing
the tools to sequence the DNA of phytoplankton and zooplankton to help count
these organism populations, getting a closer look at what lives below the
ocean’s surface.

image

Science at 500 Feet

Taking measurements at various depths is important, because
phytoplankton, like plants, use sunlight to digest carbon dioxide. That means that
phytoplankton at different levels in the ocean absorb and digest carbon
differently. We’re bringing a Wirewalker, an instrument that glides up and down
along a vertical wire to take in water samples all along its 500-foot long
tether.

image

This journey to the twilight zone will take about thirty
days, but we’ll be sending back dispatches from the ships. Follow along as we
dive into ocean diversity on our Earth Expeditions blog: https://blogs.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions.

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

Source: NASA


Posted in NASA and tagged by with no comments yet.

Milky Blue Water Near Prince of Wales Island

by
Milky Blue Water Near Prince of Wales Island

Phytoplankton are more than just nature’s watercolors: They’re
tiny ocean organisms that play a key role in Earth’s climate by removing
heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. These
tiny organisms live in the oceans, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing
oxygen, like plants on land. Earth’s oceans absorb about half of the carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere, which feeds phytoplankton.

This year, phytoplankton blooms popped up in the
panhandle region of Alaska and along the coast of British Columbia slightly
later in the year than the main blooms that tend to occur in May.

image

This image was acquired on July 21, 2018, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on
our Terra satellite and shows milky blue waters near Prince of Wales Island.
The discoloration is thought to be caused by a bloom of non-toxic phytoplankton
known as coccolithophores, specifically Emiliania
huxleyi
, which
like warm, stratified, and low nutrient conditions.

This week, our Export Processes in the Ocean from Remote Sensing
(EXPORTS) team is shipping out into the open ocean to study these important
organisms, sailing 200 miles west from Seattle into the northeastern Pacific
Ocean.

Read more about the image and learn more about the EXPORTS campaign here: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/expedition-probes-ocean-s-smallest-organisms-for-climate-answers

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

Source: NASA


Posted in NASA and tagged by with no comments yet.

5 Reasons our Space Launch System is the Backbone for Deep Space Exploration

by
5 Reasons our Space Launch System is the Backbone for Deep Space Exploration

Our Space Launch
System
(SLS) will be the world’s most powerful rocket, engineered to carry
astronauts and cargo farther and faster than any rocket ever built. Here are
five reasons it is the backbone of bold, deep space exploration missions.

image

5. We’re Building This Rocket to Take Humans to the Moon and Beyond

The SLS rocket is a national asset for leading new missions to deep
space. More than 1,000 large and small
companies in 44 states
are building the rocket that will take humans to
the Moon.
Work on SLS has an economic impact of $5.7 billion and
generates 32,000 jobs. Small businesses across the U.S. supply 40 percent of
the raw materials for the rocket. An investment in SLS is an investment in
human spaceflight and in American industry and will lead to applications beyond
NASA.

image

4. This Rocket is Built for Humans

Modern deep space systems are designed and built to keep humans safe
from launch to landing.  SLS provides the
power to safely send the Orion
spacecraft
and astronauts to the Moon. Orion, powered by the European
Service Module
, keeps the crew safe during the mission. Exploration
Ground Systems
at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, safely
launches the SLS with Orion on top and recovers the astronauts and Orion after splashdown.

image

3. This Rocket is Engineered for a Variety of Exploration Missions

SLS is engineered for decades of human space exploration to come. SLS is
not just one rocket but a transportation
system
that evolves to meet the needs of a variety of missions. The
rocket can send more than 26 metric tons (57,000 pounds) to the Moon and can
evolve to send up to 45 metric tons (99,000 pounds) to the Moon. NASA has the
expertise to meet the challenges of designing and building a new, complex
rocket that evolves over time while developing our nation’s capability to
extend human existence into deep space.

image

2. This Rocket can Carry Crews and Cargos Farther, Faster

SLS’s versatile
design
enables it to carry astronauts their supplies as well as cargo
for resupply and send science missions far in the solar system. With its power
and unprecedented ability to transport heavy and large volume science payloads in
a single mission, SLS can send cargos to Mars or probes even farther out in the
solar system, such as to Jupiter’s moon Europa, faster than any other rocket
flying today. The rocket’s large cargo volume makes it possible to design
planetary probes, telescopes and other scientific instruments with fewer complex
mechanical parts.

image

1. This Rocket Complements International and Commercial Partners

The Space Launch System is the right rocket to enable
exploration on and around the Moon and even longer missions
away
from home. SLS makes it possible for astronauts to bring along supplies and
equipment needed to explore, such as pieces of the Gateway,
which will be the cornerstone of sustainable lunar exploration. SLS’s ability
to launch both people and payloads to deep space in a single mission makes
space travel safer and more efficient. With no buildings, hardware or grocery
stores on the Moon or Mars, there are plenty of opportunities for support by
other rockets. SLS and contributions by international and commercial partners
will make it possible to return to the Moon and create a springboard for exploration
of other areas in the solar system where we can discover and expand knowledge
for the benefit of humanity.

image

Learn more about the Space Launch System.

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

Source: NASA


Posted in NASA and tagged by with no comments yet.