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News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: spaceref.com

Astronomers have produced a highly detailed image of the Crab Nebula They did so by combining data from telescopes spanning nearly the entire breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves seen by the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to the powerful X-ray glow as seen by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. And, in between that range of wavelengths, the Hubble Space Telescope's crisp visible-light view, and the infrared perspective of the Spitzer Space Telescope. The Crab Nebula, the result of a bright supernova explosion seen by Chinese and other astronomers in the year 1054, is 6,500 light-years from Earth. At its center is a super-dense neutron star, rotating once every 33 milliseconds, shooting out rotating lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and light -- a pulsar (the bright dot at image center). The nebula's intricate shape is caused by a complex interplay of the pulsar, a fast-moving wind of particles coming from the pulsar, and material originally ejected by the supernova explosion and by the star itself before the explosion. This image combines data from five different telescopes: the VLA (radio) in red; Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) in yellow; Hubble Space Telescope (visible) in green; XMM-Newton (ultraviolet) in blue; and Chandra X-ray Observatory (X-ray) in purple. The new VLA, Hubble, and Chandra observations all were made at nearly the same time in November of 2012. A team of scientists led by Gloria Dubner of the Institute of Astronomy and Physics (IAFE), the National Council of Scientific Research (CONICET), and the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina then made a thorough analysis of the newly revealed details in a quest to gain new insights into the complex physics of the object. They are reporting their findings in the Astrophysical Journal. "Comparing these new images, made at different wavelengths, is providing us with a wealth of new detail about the Crab Nebula. Though the Crab has been studied extensively for years, we still have much to learn about it," Dubner said. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: spaceref.com

Supermassive holes are generally stationary objects, sitting at the centers of most galaxies. However, using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, astronomers recently hunted down what could be a supermassive black hole that may be on the move. This possible renegade black hole, which contains about 160 million times the mass of our Sun, is located in an elliptical galaxy about 3.9 billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers are interested in these moving supermassive black holes because they may reveal more about the properties of these enigmatic objects. This black hole may have "recoiled," in the terminology used by scientists, when two smaller supermassive black holes collided and merged to form an even larger one. At the same time, this collision would have generated gravitational waves that emitted more strongly in one direction than others. This newly formed black hole could have received a kick in the opposite direction of those stronger gravitational waves. This kick would have pushed the black hole out of the galaxy's center, as depicted in the artist's illustration. The strength of the kick depends on the rate and direction of spin of the two smaller black holes before they merge. Therefore, information about these important but elusive properties can be obtained by studying the speed of recoiling black holes. Astronomers found this recoiling black hole candidate by sifting through X-ray and optical data for thousands of galaxies. First, they used Chandra observations to select galaxies that contain a bright X-ray source and were observed as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Bright X-ray emission is a common feature of supermassive black holes that are rapidly growing. Next, the researchers looked to see if Hubble Space Telescope observations of these X-ray bright galaxies revealed two peaks near their center in the optical image. These two peaks might show that a pair of supermassive black holes is present or that a recoiling black hole has moved away from the cluster of stars in the center of the galaxy. If those criteria were met, then the astronomers examined the SDSS spectra, which show how the amount of optical light varies with wavelength. If the researchers found telltale signatures in the spectra indicative of the presence of a supermassive black hole, they followed up with an even closer examination of those galaxies. After all of this searching, a good candidate for a recoiling black hole was discovered. The left image in the inset is from the Hubble data, which shows two bright points near the middle of the galaxy. One of them is located at the center of the galaxy and the other is located about 3,000 light-years away from the center. The latter source shows the properties of a growing supermassive black hole and its position matches that of a bright X-ray source detected with Chandra (right image in inset). Using data from the SDSS and the Keck telescope in Hawaii, the team determined that the growing black hole located near, but visibly offset from, the center of the galaxy has a velocity that is different from the galaxy. These properties suggest that this source may be a recoiling supermassive black hole. The host galaxy of the possible recoiling black hole also shows some evidence of disturbance in its outer regions, which is an indication that a merger between two galaxies occurred in the relatively recent past. Since supermassive black hole mergers are thought to occur when their host galaxies merge, this information supports the idea of a recoiling black hole in the system. Moreover, stars are forming at a high rate in the galaxy, at several hundred times the mass of the Sun per year. This agrees with computer simulations, which predict that star formation rates may be enhanced for merging galaxies particularly those containing recoiling black holes. Another possible explanation for the data is that two supermassive black holes are located in the center of the galaxy but one of them is not producing detectable radiation because it is growing too slowly. The researchers favor the recoiling black hole explanation, but more data are needed to strengthen their case. "A Potential Recoiling Supermassive Black Hole CXO J101527.2+625911," D.-C. Kim et al., 2017 May 10, Astrophysical Journal [http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/aa6030, preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/1704.05549]. The first author is Dongchan Kim from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations. Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., May 12, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For the first time in four years, a new team has won NASA's Student Launch, the agency's high-powered rocketry challenge, hosted by and held near NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, April 5-8. The River City...


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: phys.org

This possible renegade black hole, which contains about 160 million times the mass of our Sun, is located in an elliptical galaxy about 3.9 billion light years from Earth. Astronomers are interested in these moving supermassive black holes because they may reveal more about the properties of these enigmatic objects. This black hole may have "recoiled," in the terminology used by scientists, when two smaller supermassive black holes collided and merged to form an even larger one. At the same time, this collision would have generated gravitational waves that emitted more strongly in one direction than others. This newly formed black hole could have received a kick in the opposite direction of those stronger gravitational waves. This kick would have pushed the black hole out of the galaxy's center, as depicted in the artist's illustration. The strength of the kick depends on the rate and direction of spin of the two smaller black holes before they merge. Therefore, information about these important but elusive properties can be obtained by studying the speed of recoiling black holes. Astronomers found this recoiling black hole candidate by sifting through X-ray and optical data for thousands of galaxies. First, they used Chandra observations to select galaxies that contain a bright X-ray source and were observed as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Bright X-ray emission is a common feature of supermassive black holes that are rapidly growing. Next, the researchers looked to see if Hubble Space Telescope observations of these X-ray bright galaxies revealed two peaks near their center in the optical image. These two peaks might show that a pair of supermassive black holes is present or that a recoiling black hole has moved away from the cluster of stars in the center of the galaxy. If those criteria were met, then the astronomers examined the SDSS spectra, which show how the amount of optical light varies with wavelength. If the researchers found telltale signatures in the spectra indicative of the presence of a supermassive black hole, they followed up with an even closer examination of those galaxies. After all of this searching, a good candidate for a recoiling black hole was discovered. The left image in the inset is from the Hubble data, which shows two bright points near the middle of the galaxy. One of them is located at the center of the galaxy and the other is located about 3,000 light years away from the center. The latter source shows the properties of a growing supermassive black hole and its position matches that of a bright X-ray source detected with Chandra (right image in inset). Using data from the SDSS and the Keck telescope in Hawaii, the team determined that the growing black hole located near, but visibly offset from, the center of the galaxy has a velocity that is different from the galaxy. These properties suggest that this source may be a recoiling supermassive black hole. The host galaxy of the possible recoiling black hole also shows some evidence of disturbance in its outer regions, which is an indication that a merger between two galaxies occurred in the relatively recent past. Since supermassive black hole mergers are thought to occur when their host galaxies merge, this information supports the idea of a recoiling black hole in the system. Moreover, stars are forming at a high rate in the galaxy, at several hundred times the mass of the Sun per year. This agrees with computer simulations, which predict that star formation rates may be enhanced for merging galaxies particularly those containing recoiling black holes. Another possible explanation for the data is that two supermassive black holes are located in the center of the galaxy but one of them is not producing detectable radiation because it is growing too slowly. The researchers favor the recoiling black hole explanation, but more data are needed to strengthen their case. A paper describing these results was recently accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal and is available online. The first author is Dongchan Kim from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra's science and flight operations. Explore further: Oxymoronic black hole RGG 118 provides clues to growth More information: D.-C. Kim et al. A Potential Recoiling Supermassive Black Hole, CXO J101527.2+625911, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa6030 , On Arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/1704.05549


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: motherboard.vice.com

It's not every day that a colossal rocket engine designed to blast humans to Mars is loaded onto a specialized barge for a cruise along the Gulf Coast. But on April 28, that's exactly what went down at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Aerial drone footage, released on Tuesday, captures the delicate transfer of a test version of the core stage engine section for the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA's "Mars shot" megarocket in development, to the trusty Pegasus barge, which has been ferrying the agency's random rocket accessories around since 1999. At over 200 feet tall and 27.6 feet wide, the engine is an aeronautic beast that will one day contain a clutch of four smaller RS-25 engines. But first, the core engine needs to go through the ringer of stress tests that will ensure it is up to the challenge of launching NASA's Orion crewed spacecraft to distant targets like the Moon, Mars, or asteroids. Read More: Watch as NASA Tests the Rocket Motor that Could Take Us to Mars That's why Michoud staff loaded it up onto a dolly for transport to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, which is equipped to "push, pull, twist and bend the test article with millions of pounds of force," according to the video summary. The Pegasus traveled 1,240 miles over the past few weeks and finally arrived at its destination on Tuesday to a welcome party of NASA officials and press. You can take a look inside the enormous boat, which had to be modified to accommodate the SLS core stage, in this new VR video that NASA also dropped today. When combined with the second stage and SLS's solid rocket boosters, strapped to each side of this core component, this will be the most powerful rocket ever built. Subscribe to Science Solved It, Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Media are invited to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Tuesday, May 16 at 11:30 CDT to see the NASA barge Pegasus and the engine section test article, the first core stage test article for NASA's Space...


Seven teams working on technology that could someday be used to create habitats from materials on other worlds have completed the first printing segment of NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. NASA has awarded $100,000 to the two top-scoring teams from this stage, the Phase 2: Level 1 Compression Test Competition. Point-based awards were made to Foster + Partners | Branch Technology of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who earned $85,930, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, earning $14,070. The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is run through a partnership with NASA's Centennial Challenges Program and Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. The goal of the challenge is to foster the development of technologies to manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The vision is that autonomous machines will someday be deployed in deep space destinations, including Mars, to construct shelters for human habitation. On Earth, these same capabilities could be used to produce affordable housing wherever it is needed or where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited. "Seeing tangible, 3D-printed objects for this phase makes the goals of this challenge more conceivable than ever," said Monsi Roman, program manager of Centennial Challenges. "This is the first step toward building an entire habitat structure, and the potential to use this technology to aid human exploration to new worlds is thrilling." The Level 1 Compression Test Competition is the first of three sub-competitions within Phase 2. For this stage, teams were tasked with developing 3D-printable materials, using a 3-D printer, and printing two samples: a truncated cone and a cylinder. Judges evaluated results from lab tests performed on the samples to determine a score. "Innovation is a key focus of Bradley University which is one of the many reasons we are so very proud to be a part of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge with NASA," said Bradley University President Gary Roberts. "The winners of Phase 1 and this first stage of Phase 2 are to be commended for their innovation in creating a solution that will fit not only in our world but beyond. I look forward to the next phase and seeing teams work to advance critical systems needed for human space exploration like never before." In addition to the two teams that earned prize money, the other teams participating were: Bubble Base of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Pennsylvania State University of University Park; CTL Group Mars of Skokie, Illinois; ROBOCON of Singapore; and Moon X Construction of Seoul, South Korea. The teams showcased a variety of approaches, ranging from traditional cement to exotic cellular structures. Teams will now work toward the Level 2 Beam Member Competition, where they must print a beam to be tested. New teams may enter the competition if they can meet minimum requirements. The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge comprises three phases: Phase 1, the Design Competition, was completed in 2015. Phase 2, the Structural Member Competition, which carries a $1.1 million prize purse and focuses on the material technologies needed to create structural components. Phase 3, the On-Site Habitat Competition, and has a $1.4 million prize purse and focuses on fabrication technologies. NASA's Centennial Challenges Program uses competitions to draw citizen inventors from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to push technology forward for the benefit of space exploration. The Centennial Challenges Program, managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is part of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate. Bradley University has partnered with sponsors Caterpillar, Bechtel and Brick & Mortar Ventures to run the competition. For more information about the competition, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/3DPHab To register for competition and for official rules and documents, visit: http://bradley.edu/challenge/ Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

Massive landslides, similar to those found on Earth, are occurring on the asteroid Ceres, according to a new study. The work adds to the growing evidence that Ceres retains a significant amount of water ice. Published in Nature Geoscience, the study uses data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to identify three different types of landslides, or flow features, on the Texas-sized asteroid. Type I are relatively round, large, and have thick “toes” at their ends. They look similar to rock glaciers and icy landslides in Earth’s arctic. Type I landslides are mostly found at high latitudes, which is also where the most ice is thought to reside near Ceres’ surface. Type II features are the most common of Ceres’ landslides and look similar to deposits left by avalanches on Earth. They are thinner and longer than Type I and found at mid-latitudes. The authors affectionately call one such Type II landslide “Bart” because of its resemblance to the elongated head of Bart Simpson from The Simpsons. Ceres’ Type III features appear to form when some of the ice melts during impact events. These landslides at low latitudes are always found coming from large-impact craters. Britney Schmidt, assistant professor at Georgia Tech and Dawn science team associate, believes it provides more proof that the asteroid’s shallow subsurface is a mixture of rock and ice. “Landslides cover more area in the poles than at the equator, but most surface processes generally don’t care about latitude,” says Schmidt, a faculty member in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “That’s one reason why we think it’s ice affecting the flow processes. There’s no other good way to explain why the poles have huge, thick landslides; mid-latitudes have a mixture of sheeted and thick landslides; and low latitudes have just a few.” The study’s researchers were surprised at just how many landslides Ceres has in general. About 20 percent to 30 percent of craters greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide have some type of landslide associated with them. Such widespread features formed by “ground ice” processes, made possible because of a mixture of rock and ice, have only been observed before on Earth and Mars. Based on the shape and distribution of landslides on Ceres, the authors estimate that the upper layers of Ceres may range from 10 percent to 50 percent ice by volume. “These landslides offer us the opportunity to understand what’s happening in the upper few kilometers of Ceres,” says Georgia Tech PhD student Heather Chilton, a coauthor of the paper. “That’s a sweet spot between information about the upper meter or so provided by the GRaND (Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector) and VIR (Visible and Infrared Spectrometer) instrument data, and the tens of kilometers-deep structure elucidated by crater studies.” “It’s just kind of fun that we see features on this small planet that remind us of those on the big planets, like Earth and Mars,” Schmidt says. “It seems more and more that Ceres is our innermost icy world.” NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC manages the Dawn mission for JPL. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, which NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency, and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: phys.org

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson installs a storage locker on the International Space Station. The locker is covered with signatures of students who built it as part of the HUNCH - High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware - program. Credit: NASA NASA is making sure the next generation of high school graduates understand the variety of career paths that can lead to missions exploring space. In fact, hundreds of students are already helping NASA's astronauts live and work aboard the International Space Station - the orbiting research platform making discoveries that benefit Earth while developing the technology that will allow humans to live and work in deep space. For more than 50 years, NASA has sponsored programs to get students interested in the aerospace industry. This involves extensive outreach efforts, finding and developing the next generation of scientists and explorers to help humans reach the stars. This also includes students who decide to work in more hands-on technical fields and even the culinary arts. The HUNCH program—High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware—shows high school students the many ways they can put their talents to work for NASA, beyond the role of astronaut. The program provides students a hands-on experience with the space agency—building NASA-designed parts for use by agency personnel. "When we started this program 14 years ago, we had two main goals," said Bob Zeek, HUNCH co-founder and program manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "We needed full-size models of actual space station flight hardware to train ground support personnel. And we wanted to get kids who are good at machining, welding or other technical skills involved with NASA. All the things we do in HUNCH are preparing these students for the future and helping NASA at the same time." The program started with three schools in two states. Now 117 student classrooms in 26 states participate, helping build NASA's future as well as their own. The HUNCH team also joined forces with the SME Education Foundation to help encourage students pursuing engineering and technology degrees. The foundation is a network of manufacturing professionals, researchers, educators and students working to connect and share knowledge and experience through mentoring, internships and job-shadowing. HUNCH and SME's Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME) program is a new collaboration to introduce more high school students to career opportunities in the aerospace industry. While students have used machining and welding skills to build exact replicas of hardware used on the space station, the program has expanded beyond manufacturing training fixtures. HUNCH has created programs for students to learn about computer-aided design, welding technology, graphic arts and even sewing. Select schools are building actual flight hardware. A student-built locker was recently delivered by the 10th SpaceX cargo resupply mission and installed on the station. Here are some of the recent projects completed by HUNCH student teams: "This is one of those programs that benefits the agency and the students," said Glenn Johnson, HUNCH design engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Students gain valuable working skills creating tangible products that meet a real need for NASA." Explore further: NASA sending African-American to space station for the first time


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE:JEC) received the 2017 Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence, given by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the company’s exemplary work with small businesses. The award recognized Jacobs’ Engineering & Science Services & Skills Augmentation (ESSSA) Group at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Randy Lycans, Jacobs Vice President and ESSSA Group General Manager, accepted the award in the Services category during the celebration of National Small Business Week held April 30 to May 1, in Washington, D.C. “This award is a testament to our dedication to building mutually beneficial relationships with small business partners to provide innovative solutions to clients while at the same time support local economies,” said Ward Johnson, Jacobs Senior Vice President. “We are honored to accept this award on behalf of all our partners and look forward to continue to bring together our knowledge and experience to service NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.” Jacobs supports NASA at multiple sites across the U.S., including a presence at NASA MSFC for more than 30 years. The ESSSA Group has a staff of more than 1,000 employees, with Jacobs as prime contractor and Aerodyne Industries, All Points Logistics, Bevilacqua Research Corporation, ERC, Geocent, Lee & Associates, Qualis Corporation and Tuskegee University as small business teammate companies, along with 35 other small business subcontractors. Jacobs’ support to NASA MSFC programs encompasses the International Space Station, Space Launch System, advanced space transportation and exploration systems, payload development and operations, space optics fabrication and test, and advanced materials development and test. The Eisenhower Award, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was president the year the SBA was founded, is given to large federal prime contractors that exemplify partnering with small businesses in the areas of research and development, manufacturing, service, construction and utility. Nominees for the Eisenhower Award are selected from contractors nationwide who demonstrate a strong commitment to small businesses through contract utilization and effectiveness, mentoring and outreach, and corporate policies and management support. Jacobs is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of full-spectrum technical, professional and construction services for industrial, commercial and government organizations globally. The company employs over 54,000 people and operates in more than 25 countries around the world. For more information, visit www.jacobs.com. Statements made in this release that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. We base these forward-looking statements on management’s current estimates and expectations as well as currently available competitive, financial and economic data. Forward-looking statements, however, are inherently uncertain. There are a variety of factors that could cause business results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. For a description of some of the factors which may occur that could cause actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements please refer to our Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2016, and in particular the discussions contained under Items 1 - Business, 1A - Risk Factors, 3 - Legal Proceedings, and 7 - Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements made herein.

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