Thu, May 4 2017

Using a World-Class Telescope to Spy on Venus

In late March, I traveled to Puerto Rico to conduct observations of Venus using the Arecibo Observatory telescope. It was the second time I traveled to the observatory to make radar measurements of the surface of Venus. Even though it was my second time there, the size and capability of the telescope still impressed me; the telescope is largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed.

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Radar Image of Venus
Tue, April 18 2017

A Visit to the Giant Among Giants

Of the four known giant planets in our solar system, Jupiter is by far the largest. It is wider than 11 Earths side by side and has more mass than all the other seven planets combined. It is made up mostly of hydrogen and helium and has strong winds and storms.

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Earth vs. Jupiter
Thu, April 13 2017

Nap Time for New Horizons

On April 7, 2017, New Horizons entered a 157-day-long hibernation. New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe and is NASA’s first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. After operating steadily for almost two and a half years, the spacecraft and its systems deserve this much-needed break.

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New Horizons
Tue, March 21 2017

Cassini’s Grand Finale

The Cassini spacecraft has spent almost 13 years exploring the beautiful giant planet Saturn and its amazingly diverse moons. Cassini’s mission will end in September when it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere, but it will leave behind a wealth of knowledge and wonder.

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Saturn Captured by the Cassini Spacecraft
Thu, March 16 2017

One Scientist's Journey from Washing Pots to Studying Planets

Dr. Tom Barclay is a senior research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. He spends his days studying stars and planets and how they formed. But before he became a scientist, he had all kinds of jobs from cleaning toilets to washing pots. He’s got some great advice about finding your own path.

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Kepler-10 System
Fri, March 10 2017

Exploring Science in a Balloon

In the early years of the balloon, explorers employed the lighter-than-air craft to probe the upper reaches of the atmosphere, or float across the arctic wastes in an attempt to reach the North Pole.

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Mon, March 6 2017

How SpaceShipOne Fueled the Dream of Space Tourism

SpaceShipOne signaled the beginning of a new age of spaceflight. The privately built and piloted craft reached space and returned safely to Earth in 2004. The successful flight marked a major milestone toward the future of commercial spaceflight. Despite the success of SpaceShipOne and other private ventures, spaceflight continues to be a logistical and monetary challenge.  If given the opportunity, would you travel into space?  

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SpaceShipOne Nose
Mon, February 6 2017

The First Spacecraft to Use Gravity Assist

Mariner 10 may have been the last of the Mariner spacecraft series, but it was the first to complete many new tasks. It was the first U.S. spacecraft to visit two planets - Venus and Mercury - in one mission. It was also the first to broadcast images of Venus back to Earth. The greatest achievement of the spacecraft was its use of a gravitational assist: Mariner 10 used Venus’ gravitational field to slingshot itself towards Mercury, saving fuel and picking up speed. 

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Mariner 10
Wed, February 1 2017

Advice from an Exoplanet Expert

Hunting for exoplanets is an exciting field as more and more worlds are discovered. Many of these newly discovered planets are in the "Goldilocks Zone" where conditions may be right to support life. Dr. Hannah Wakeford is on the cutting edge of this research.

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Dr. Hannah Wakeford
Tue, January 24 2017

Studying Long-Duration Human Spaceflight

A human mission to Mars will take anywhere from two and a half to three years. That is NASA’s best estimate, with each leg of the trip taking six months and including an 18 to 20 month stay on the Red Planet. That does not sound like an extremely long-term prospect until one considers the fact that the world record for the longest single stay in Earth orbit belongs to Soviet cosmonaut and physician Valeri Poliakov at 437 days and 18 hours aboard the Mir space station in 1994-1995. That is less than half the time it would take to complete a mission to Mars.  

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Mir Cosmonaut Views Discovery