Those of us from the Washington, DC region recognize that phrase whenever we ride the Washington Metro. That recorded voice is typically followed by another stern voice, “STAND CLEAR OF THE DOORS!” It doesn’t seem to do much good; there are always one or two passengers who insist on standing in front of the doors, blocking the way for those who wish to get on or off.
It is a remarkable fact that one of the two operational spacecraft that can carry humans into Earth orbit is celebrating its 50th birthday—the other is the Chinese Shenzhou craft. This week, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft turned 50 years old.
Viking 1 and 2 were the first U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on Mars. The two landers were equipped to complete Viking’s core mission: search for life on Mars. The landers were essentially laboratories, and could run tests on site. Though no evidence of Martian life was found, the wealth of planetary data and photographs the Viking spacecraft sent to back Earth made a great impact on planetary science.
Black Friday is upon us. If you are looking for ways to avoid being mauled and crushed at your local Mall, but you want to somehow observe the day in spirit, why not explore what it takes to discover a really massive and dense object, a black hole.
This week is National Geography Awareness Week, an opportunity to reflect on the significance of place and how we affect it. One fantastic way to explore geography is from above. When viewing the Earth from a high altitude or even from space, we can begin to see and record natural and man-made features and events. We can see the remains of civilizations and the aftermath of disasters.
Stardust was the first discovery mission of its kind. Launched in 1999, it was sent to collect samples from Comet Wild 2. When Stardust returned in 2006, scientists found exciting results that expanded our understanding of the universe.
Credits: Archival material provided by NASA
How did Sojourner, the first rover NASA successfully landed on Mars, get its name? The rover and its flight spare were named through a contest open to all students under 18. First place was Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist. The flight spare was named after Marie Curie, the famous physicist and chemist. The Pathfinder Sojourner mission was not only a successful mission to Mars, but it engaged the public in planetary exploration.
The Lockheed U-2 is an incredibly versatile, and successful intelligence gathering aircraft designed for high-altitude flight. Satellites are still unable to rival the precision and speed in which the U-2 can complete tasks. It is one of the few aircraft that has been in service for over 50 years and continues to serve today.
Credits: Select archival material provided by NASA and the U.S. Air Force
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezo’s private rocket company, passed an in-flight test of its launch escape system Wednesday—a method of detaching a crew capsule from a launch rocket. The successful test moves Blue Origin one step closer to its goal of carrying tourists into space.
How to bring crews safely back to Earth in the event something goes wrong during a launch has always been a concern. Launch escape systems have been engineered into nearly all ventures into space.