US, Jan 27, 2017: Fifty years ago today, January 27, 1967, tragedy struck NASA’s proposed first manned flight of the Apollo capsule when a fire engulfed the craft during a routine test on the launchpad.
All three American astronauts on board died in the fire: Lt. Col. Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Lt. Col. Edward White II and Roger B. Chaffee.
The tragedy stunned the nation, and it temporarily stalled NASA’s push to meet then-president John F. Kennedy’s deadline to reach the lunar surface by the end of the decade
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A NASA probe and congressional hearings concluded previously unidentified fire hazards existed inside the capsule, and the subsequent decision to pressurize it entirely with oxygen created an extremely combustible environment. The hatch opened inward, which made it difficult for the crew to open it and escape.
After the deadly accident, hundreds of changes to the capsule were made, and NASA instituted myriad safety procedures. The redesigned capsules used a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, reducing the fire risk. A new hatch was designed that could be opened in just five seconds.
Only 21 months later, NASA sent humans back into space aboard Apollo 7. And less than a year after that, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed Apollo 11 on the moon.
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To mark the 50th anniversary, NASA is holding a ceremony, which will be broadcast live on NASA television. (VOA)
NASA is seeking US citizens for an eight-month study on social isolation in preparation for missions to Mars and the moon.
The international space agency is preparing for its next spaceflight simulation study and is seeking healthy participants to live together with a small crew in isolation for eight months in Moscow, Russia.
Participants will be staying in a lab located in Moscow, and they will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars that will have crew members from different nations.
NASA is looking for highly motivated and healthy individuals between the ages of 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian. They must also have an MS., PhD, MD. or have completed military officer training.
The space agency will consider other participants with a bachelor’s degree and other qualifications such as military or professional experience.
They will study the psychological and physiological effects astronauts are likely to face as a result of isolation on long missions.
According to NASA, participants will experience environmental aspects similar to those astronauts are expected to experience on future missions to Mars.
A small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months conducting scientific research, using virtual reality and performing robotic operations among a number of other tasks during the lunar mission.
The research is being done to study the effects of isolation and confinement as participants work to complete simulated space missions.
Results from ground-based missions like this help NASA prepare for the real-life challenges of space exploration and provide important scientific data to solve some of these problems and to develop countermeasures.
Participants will be compensated, and there are varying levels of pay depending on whether you’re associated with NASA.
This study builds on a four-month study conducted in 2019. The SIRIUS-19 analog mission had six participants — two US citizens and four Russians — isolated in a metal habitat that acted as their spacecraft, lunar lander and home. (IANS)
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have teamed up with the Juno spacecraft to probe the mightiest storms on the giant planet Jupiter.
The images, part of a multi-year joint programme, revealed that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid.
The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud colour variations.
Three years of imaging observations using the international Gemini Observatory have probed deep into Jupiter’s cloud tops. The ultra-sharp Gemini infrared images complement optical and ultraviolet observations by Hubble and radio observations by the Juno spacecraft to reveal new secrets about the giant planet.
“The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Michael Wong of University of California, Berkeley.
“We used a very powerful technique called lucky imaging,” added Wong.
With lucky imaging, a large number of very short exposure images are obtained and only the sharpest images, when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable, are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.
According to Wong, “These images rival the view from space.”
Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) allows astronomers to peer deep into Jupiter’s mighty storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze but is obscured by thicker clouds high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
This creates a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.
The detailed, multiwavelength imaging of Jupiter by Geminiand Hubble has, over the past three years, proven crucial to contextualizing the observations by the Juno orbiter, and to understanding Jupiter’s wind patterns, atmospheric waves, and cyclones.
The two telescopes, together with Juno, can observe Jupiter’s atmosphere as a system of winds, gases, heat, and weather phenomena, providing coverage and insight not unlike the network of weather satellites meteorologists use to observe Earth.
Because the Hubble and Gemini observations are so important for interpreting Juno data, Wong and his colleagues are making all of the processed data easily accessible to other researchers through the Mikulski Archives for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.