Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, an expansive flat basaltic basin that covers approximately 17 percent of the Moon’s near side, is surrounded by a series of linear gravitational anomalies (shown in red), as revealed by NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft. These anomalies indicate that the large basin was formed by volcanic processes rather than an asteroid impact, according to a new study. Image Credit: Kopernik Observatory/NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/Goddard Space Flight Center
It’s one of the most prominent features on the surface of our natural satellite, readily identifiable by anyone who has ever looked up at a Full Moon: a series of dark patches that create the illusion of a human face that smiles back at the us. The dark areas that create this pareidolic image of the so-called “Man in the Moon” however, in reality compose a vast 3,000-km-wide (1,860-mile) “mare,” or “sea,” called Oceanus Procellarum, or Ocean of Storms, an expansive flat basaltic basin that covers approximately 17 percent of the Moon’s near side, filled with solidified magma that welled up from the Moon’s interior billions of years ago. It was long thought that its flat plains constituted an ancient impact basin that was probably formed when a giant asteroid slammed onto the lunar surface during the Late Heavy Bombardment, a period of cataclysmic asteroid collisions early in the history of the Solar System. Yet a recently published research based on data from NASA’s GRAIL mission is casting doubt on this long-held hypothesis, while providing new evidence which indicate that Oceanus Procellarum was likely formed by internal geologic processes instead.
Continue reading New Study Points to Alternative Origin for the ‘Man in the Moon’
The crew of STS-41G, 1984: Seated (from left) are Jon McBride, Sally Ride, Kathy Sullivan, and Dave Leestma, with (from left) Paul Scully-Power, Bob Crippen, and Marc Garneau standing. This mission proved to be a watershed moment in spaceflight diversity in a year of firsts. Photo Credit: NASA
Thirty years ago yesterday (Oct. 5, 1984), STS-41G made history as Space Shuttle Challenger rocketed into orbit. Mission-wise, it was ambitious; according to an AmericaSpace article published days ago by Ben Evans, “On-board was the largest crew ever launched … During their eight days aloft, the crew of 41G deployed a large Earth resources satellite [Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, or ERBS], imaged the Home Planet with powerful synthetic aperture radar, and embarked on a risky EVA to rehearse techniques for the on-orbit fueling of future spacecraft.” (For those enamored of the early shuttle era, the IMAX film The Dream is Alive contains many highlights from this mission.)
Continue reading Space for Everyone: 30 Years Since STS-41G, Progress in Spaceflight Diversity
Dave Leestma (with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Kathy Sullivan work on the refuelling experiment during their historic EVA. Photo Credit: NASA
Thirty years ago, today (on 5 October 1984), history was made when Shuttle Challenger rocketed into orbit on Mission 41G, an ambitious science and technology flight. On-board was the largest crew ever launched—a seven-strong team, commanded by veteran shuttle flier Bob Crippen—which included the first U.S. woman to embark on a second spaceflight, the first U.S. female spacewalker, Canada’s first man in space, and the first Australian-born astronaut. During their eight days aloft, the crew of 41G deployed a large Earth resources satellite—as described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article—and imaged the Home Planet with powerful synthetic aperture radar, as well as embarking on a risky EVA to rehearse techniques for the on-orbit fueling of future spacecraft.
Continue reading ‘Desk in the Middle of a Prairie': 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 41G and America’s First Female Spacewalk (Part 2)
On Mission 41G, which took place 30 years ago, this week, Kathy Sullivan became the first U.S. female spacewalker. Photo Credit: NASA
Thirty years ago, this week, on 5 October 1984, history was made when Shuttle Challenger rocketed into orbit on Mission 41G, an ambitious science and technology flight. On-board was the largest crew ever launched—a seven-strong team, commanded by veteran shuttle flier Bob Crippen—which included the first U.S. woman to embark on a second spaceflight, the first U.S. female spacewalker, Canada’s first man in space, and the first Australian-born astronaut. During their eight days aloft, the crew of 41G deployed a large Earth resources satellite, imaged the Home Planet with powerful synthetic aperture radar, and embarked on a risky EVA to rehearse techniques for the on-orbit fueling of future spacecraft.
Continue reading ‘What Did You Guys Do?’ 30 Years Since Shuttle Mission 41G and America’s First Female Spacewalk (Part 1)
The first launch under NASA’s commercial crew program was set for no-later-than the end of 2017 after recently announced awards to Boeing and SpaceX. Image Credit: NASA / Boeing / Sierra Nevada / AmericaSpace
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL — Construction of America’s next human spaceships carrying our astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) will have to wait longer, because the work has now been ordered “stopped” dead in its freshly trodden tracks by a brand new NASA directive issued barely two weeks after the agency originally announced in mid-September that the winning bids had been awarded to Boeing and SpaceX.
The NASA directive to “stop performance” and halt contract work stems from a new legal challenge filed by the losing bidder, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), AmericaSpace confirmed directly with NASA public affairs today, Oct. 2.
Continue reading NASA Issues ‘Stop Work’ Order on Newly Issued ‘Space Taxi’ Contracts
The crew of Apollo 15 shoots the breeze with TV’s Dick Cavett in 1971. From left, Jim Irwin, Dave Scott, Dick Cavett, and Al Worden. The Apollo program was well-documented in pop culture during that time. Photo Credit: NASA (Provided by Richard Jurek)
Unlike no other time in NASA’s history, people all over the world couldn’t get enough of the pioneering Mercury and Gemini flights, and, ultimately, the Apollo Moon landings. According to an overview of the book Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program (published by The MIT Press in February this year), “In July 1969, ninety-four percent of American televisions were tuned to coverage of Apollo 11’s mission to the Moon.” During this time, entire generations (including some future astronauts, cosmonauts, and space travelers) were inspired by these missions, which enjoyed wide press coverage on radio, by newspapers, and on television. The space agency and its contractors arguably “sold” the aims of The Space Race to the general public through the media, even encompassing advertising and glossy pieces enterprised in the time’s magazines, such as LIFE and Look.
Continue reading Selling the Space Race: An Interview With ‘Marketing the Moon’ Co-Author Richard Jurek
NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of the launch abort motor igniter for the Orion crew capsule’s Launch Abort System (LAS) on Sept. 30, 2014. Photo Credit: ATK
This week ATK successfully completed a static test firing of the launch abort motor igniter for the Launch Abort System (LAS) of NASA’s Orion deep space crew capsule. The test, which was conducted at the company’s facility in Promontory, Utah, is the next step toward qualifying the igniter for production as the clock continues to tick toward the first launch of Orion on the space agency’s giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in 2018.
Continue reading ATK Successfully Fires Up Orion’s Launch Abort Motor Igniter in Latest Test
The United Launch Alliance Delta-IV Heavy tasked with launching NASA’s Orion on the EFT-1 mission being hoisted vertical atop Space Launch Complex-37B this morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this morning (Oct. 1, 2014). Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace
The Florida rainy season is in full swing, and after two consecutive days of weather delays United Launch Alliance (ULA) has now delivered their Delta-IV Heavy rocket to Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-37B for December’s high-profile Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission for NASA. Having waited out the daytime rains and lightning threats for two straight days, ULA took advantage of an overnight opening in between storms and decided to roll out the giant rocket from its Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) to nearby SLC-37B just before 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday night.
Continue reading America’s Most Powerful Rocket Arrives at Launch Pad for Orion’s December Flight Test
An artist’s concept of the formation process of the Solar System out of an interstellar molecular cloud and its enrichment with water. A recent study has indicated that up to half of Earth’s water is older than the Sun itself, likely originating in that cold molecular cloud that spawned our Solar System. Image credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO
The next time you raise a glass of water, take a moment to look at its contents. That water is probably older than the Sun itself, according to the results of a new study.
Continue reading Most of the Water In the Solar System Is Older Than the Sun, New Study Suggests
Eric Boe, pictured in the pilot’s seat of Shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in February-March 2011. Photo Credit: NASA
“It’s great to have the opportunity to participate in the space program,” astronaut Eric Boe told an interviewer on the eve of STS-133, the final flight of Shuttle Discovery, in February 2011. “It hasn’t been that many years ago that we walked on the Moon and, here we are with a fully completed space station. There’s many exciting things happen in space and we’re looking forward to exploration that we know is going to happen in the future, going back to the Moon and on to Mars and on to a lot of other different bodies out in the galaxy and on into the Universe.” And for Boe, who turns 50 today (Wednesday, 1 October) and has been for the past two years Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, he has a front-row seat and a very personal involvement in the post-shuttle transition toward what might be labeled “The Exploration Era,” as NASA moves toward Commercial Crew and its first missions beyond low-Earth orbit in almost five decades.
Continue reading All Hail the (Deputy) Chief: Astronaut Eric Boe Turns 50 Today