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NASA Marks 60 Years Since Legal Inception

NASA officially celebrates its 60th anniversary on October 1 - the day the agency formally opened for business

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NASA image.
Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Pixabay

America’s dream of space exploration took its first official step 60 years ago Sunday when President Dwight Eisenhower signed a law authorizing the formation of NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Although humanity had been staring at the stars and wondering since they were living in caves, it took the Cold War to fire man into space.

The world was stunned when the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, launched Sputnik — the first man-made object to orbit the Earth.

The United States was humiliated at being caught short — not just technologically, but militarily.

Eisenhower ordered government scientists to not only match the Soviets in space, but beat them.

NASA
This image provided by NASA shows the Orbital ATK Antares rocket being rolled to its launch pad Oct. 13, 2016, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. (VOA)

NASA and its various projects — Mercury, Gemini and Apollo — became part of the language.

Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Six year later, an Apollo spacecraft linked with a Soviet Soyuz in orbit, turning rivalry into friendship and cooperation.

NASA followed that triumph with the space shuttle, Mars landers and contributions to the International Space Station. A manned mission to Mars is part of NASA’s future plans.

Also Read: NASA’s TESS Satellite Begins Science Operations: a Quest for Exoplanets

Last month, President Donald Trump called for the formation of a “space force” to be the sixth U.S. military branch.

NASA officially celebrates its 60th anniversary on October 1 – the day the agency formally opened for business. (VOA)

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Scientists Create Map of Wind Circulation in the Upper Atmosphere of Mars

Scientists map winds in Mars' upper atmosphere for first time

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Mars
The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate. (Representational image). Pixabay

Using data from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, researchers have created the first-ever map of wind circulation in the upper atmosphere of Mars.

The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate, giving them a more accurate picture of its ancient past and its ongoing evolution.

“The observed global circulation provides critical inputs needed to constrain global atmospheric models,” said Mehdi Benna of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“These are the same models that are used to extrapolate the state of the Martian climate into the distant past,” added Benna in the first paper published in the journal Science.

MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission) celebrated the five-year anniversary of its entrance into orbit around Mars on September 21.

Mission Mars
The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations. (Representational image). Pixabay

The primary scientific goal of the mission is to study what is left of Mars’ atmosphere to determine how, in the distant past, an ocean-covered and potentially habitable Mars became the dry and desolate place it is today.

“The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations, but other times can be quite different,” said Kali Roeten of University of Michigan.

“These winds can also be highly variable on the timescale of hours, yet in other cases, are consistent throughout the observation period, said Roeten in the second paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.

Upper atmospheric winds on Earth have already been mapped in detail.

Winds drive a series of processes in the atmosphere that can affect the propagation of radio waves, which are crucial for communications purposes for those on the surface, and the prediction of paths satellites will take in their orbit around Earth.

Mapping Martian winds, therefore, is a crucial step towards understanding characteristics of extraterrestrial atmospheres beyond what we know about processes on Earth.

Also Read- Google Assistant Rolls out Interpreter Mode for Smartphones

The upper atmospheric winds on both Earth and Mars are in the planets’ respective thermospheres, which are areas where temperature increases with height.

This discovery was the first detection of topography-induced gravity wave ripples in the thermosphere of any planet, even Earth. (IANS)