VIDEO: NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) Recovered

First video of NASA’s saucer-shaped test vehicle, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) after it was recovered from the ocean and returned to Port Allen, Kauai, on June 29, 2014.

The LDSD Test Vehicle recovered

The LDSD Test Vehicle recovered

The LDSD vehicle had completed its first test flight from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai one day earlier.

Crewmember Participants Sought for Space Exploration Analog Studies

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are seeking crewmembers for a new series of space exploration analog studies. The new studies aim to:

  • Test a hypothesis that group cohesion over the short term predicts team performance over the long term.
  • Observe how technical, social and task roles evolve over long-duration missions.
  • Establish baselines for a wide range of human cognitive, social and emotional factors over missions of varying durations.
HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

These types of studies are essential for NASA to understand how teams of astronauts will perform on long-duration space exploration missions, such as those that will be required for human travel to Mars. The studies will also allow researchers to recommend strategies for crew composition for such missions, and to determine how best to support such crews while they are working in space.

More Photos available through the HI-SEAS website.

More Photos available through the HI-SEAS website.

The upcoming missions will be conducted at the Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) site, an isolated Mars-like environment on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawai‘i at approximately 8,200 feet above sea level. Crewmember participants will live in the same modern geodesic dome habitat that successfully supported a NASA-funded Mars food study that garnered national media attention in 2013 ( for more information about that mission, please see http://hi-seas.org).

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

Key Dates (note that dates are subject to change):

Mission A: Feb 2014 – June 2014 (4 mos)
Mission B: Aug 2014 – Apr 2015 (8 mos)
Mission C: June 2015 – May 2016 (12 mos)

About the Study: 
The upcoming missions are focused on evaluating the social, interpersonal and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time. Researchers from outside of the space analog habitat will monitor each mission to evaluate the communications strategies, crew work load and job sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches that contribute to the success of a long-duration mission.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

Like the astronaut mission specialists they will represent, each participant will be expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat – for instance, biological or geological field research, engineering design and technology evaluation, scholarly writing, or artistic endeavors compatible with the limitations of small living quarters in an isolated location with limited internet bandwidth.

Subjects will be compensated for their participation and for associated travel and housing costs. Successful applicants will be placed into a pool from which researchers will assemble three well-balanced teams for the various study periods.

Requirements: 
Applicants must be between 21 and 65 years of age. They must be tobacco-free, able to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination, and able to understand, speak and write fluently in English. They must meet the basic requirements of the NASA astronaut program (i.e. an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering discipline, three years of experience or graduate study, etc.); in addition, they will be evaluated for experience considered valuable in the program, such as experience in complex operational environments. Pre-screening will be carried out by a panel of experts who are familiar with the astronaut selection process, but who are not involved in the rest of the study.

Candidates selected for further evaluation and screening will be contacted by e-mail to schedule a screening. There will be no charge to applicants for any screening procedures, and no risks in these procedures over and above those of daily life.

How to Apply: 
The deadline for applications is November 1, 2013. Instructions for applicants are posted at http://hi-seas.org.

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org

UH Hilo Student to Witness Historic Lunar Launch

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo student will participate in the launch of NASA’s latest lunar probe, LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) at the Mid-Atlantic Test Range in Virginia.

LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer)

LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer)

Sophomore Krystal Schlechter spent the past summer as an intern with the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) under the Akamai Workforce Initiative. She was responsible for managing the Lunar Impact Observing Program, which involved coordinating student and community volunteers who used small C-11 telescopes to observe faint flashes produced by meteor impacts on the unlit portion of the moon.

The video data was processed to isolate and identify candidate impacts, then sent to NASA’s global impact database. Schlechter also presented her work to the NASA Lunar Science Forum during a virtual online conference this past summer.

LADEE is designed to study the Moon’s thin and tenuous atmosphere, or “exosphere” and the lunar dust environment to help scientists understand other planetary bodies with exospheres like Mercury and some of Jupiter’s bigger moons. The mission will also examine the density, temporal and spatial variability of dust particles that may get lofted into the atmosphere.

The nearly 850-pound robotic spacecraft will be launched on top of a Minotaur V rocket as early as September 6, 2013 and will spend about 2 1/2 months reaching the Moon, getting into its science orbit, and checking systems before its 100-day scientific mission begins.

Schlechter and her mentor, John Hamilton (PISCES EPO and Test Logistics Manager), were invited by NASA to be part of the official launch effort and joins the Public Outreach activities at the NASA Wallops Island Visitor Center.

Countdown: Mars Food Mission Researchers Return to Earth

The countdown has begun.

Six researchers who have spent more than 100 days inside a remote habitat to simulate a long-duration space journey are finally returning to Earth.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

About 700 applicants vied for six spots in the HI-SEAS mission, which began in April and will conclude on August 13.  These Earth-based researchers have been living and working like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they venture outside a simulated Martian base and cooking meals from a specific list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

HI-Seas Crew Photo by Ian

HI-Seas Crew Photo by  Sian

The HI-SEAS study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is analyzing new types of food and novel food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.  The work is funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

The food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared – as thoroughly as possible in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission.

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

“One possible solution to handle menu fatigue would be to allow astronauts to cook their own food instead of eating pre-prepared food day after day,” says crew member Angelo Vermeulen, one of the six researchers inside the HI-SEAS habitat, which is located on the Big Island.

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

At the end of the study, researchers will announce the winners of the HI-SEAS recipe contest.  Winning recipes in a number of categories will be featured on the HI-SEAS website.

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

The public is invited to follow along with the “Meals for Mars” videos, researcher blogs, and test recipes featured at http://hi-seas.org/ or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.

 

Satellite Image Shows Active Lava Breakouts on Flow Field

This image was captured on Wednesday, February 13, by the Advanced Land Imager sensor aboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite.

Satellite image courtesy of Hawaii Volcano Observatory

Satellite image courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures, and show active or very recently active lava flows. The image shows three general areas of active breakouts.

  • First, flows have been active for several weeks northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and have reached about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater rim.
  • Second, breakouts have been active above the pali, about 5 km (3.1 miles) southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
  • Third, several scattered breakouts have been active on the coastal plain, with several patches very close to the shoreline above the active ocean entry. Satellite images such as this help fill in observational gaps between field visits.

Spot The Space Station Over Your Backyard With New NASA Service

On the 12th anniversary of crews continuously living and working aboard the International Space Station, NASA announced Friday a new service to help people see the orbiting laboratory when it passes overhead. “Spot the Station” will send an email or text message to those who sign up for the service a few hours before they will be able to see the space station.

“It’s really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations. “We’re accomplishing science on the space station that is helping to improve life on Earth and paving the way for future exploration of deep space.”

When the space station is visible — typically at dawn and dusk — it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon. On a clear night, the station is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus. “Spot the Station” users will have the options to receive alerts about morning, evening or both types of sightings.

The International Space Station’s trajectory passes over more than 90 percent of Earth’s population. The service is designed to only notify users of passes that are high enough in the sky to be easily visible over trees, buildings and other objects on the horizon. NASA’s Johnson Space Center calculates the sighting information several times a week for more than 4,600 locations worldwide, all of which are available on “Spot the Station.”

November 2nd marked 12 years of continuous human habitation of the space station.

To sign up for “Spot the Station,” visit:  http://spotthestation.nasa.gov

For information about the International Space Station and a full list of sightings, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

NASA: Operation RESOLVE – Big Island of Hawaii

In July of 2012, NASA came to the Big Island of Hawai’i for an analog test to simulate rovers in a moon-like environment on Mauna Kea.

At the end of the test, the rovers were brought to the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center on the campus of the University of Hawai’i at Hilo for a public outreach event. Here, people of all ages were able to interact with equipment that was used during the test, and learn about what went on during the test.

Free Astronomy in the Classroom Workshop Offered for Teachers All Middle and High School STEM Teachers Invited

What makes the Sun a star? What are the impacts of sunspots on Earth? What are the Earth’s defenses against the sun’s harmful rays? How can the Faulkes Telescope be used in educational programs? These are just a few of the many questions to be answered in a free Teacher Training and Astronomy in the Classroom Workshop slated for this Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27 at Kealakehe High School’s Cafeteria and Science Lab (G-203).


“Studying the sun is a good beginning for science, technology, engineering and math education. Students feel comfortable because they are familiar with it. And Super M math is an exciting way to engage students in math. These workshops are designed to provide more resources to our dedicated Hawaii Island  teachers. Furthering STEM education will help our children be qualified for the next generation of 21st century jobs,” said Sandra Dawson, Thirty Meter Telescope Hawaii Community Relations Manager.

Faulkes Telescope Project Teacher Training
Friday, October 26 • 6-8 pm
Friday evening’s program will feature a Faulkes Telescope Teacher Training exercise and star gazing for the entire family. Middle School and High School teachers will be able to test drive the large, research-grade Faulkes Telescope and learn how to obtain and use it in their classroom. The evening program runs from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Kealakehe High School.
In addition, the Hale Pohaku Visitor Information Station (VIS) will bring telescopes and the community is invited to participate in stargazing with the VIS volunteers.

Teacher Training: Heliophysics in the Classroom
Saturday, October 27 • 8:30 am-3:30 pm
The term heliophysics was coined in the early 1980s to denote the physics of the entire Sun. The teacher training will focus on hands-on activities and demonstrations to be used for grade appropriate science courses answering the following questions. How does the Sun get its energy? What are sunspots? How do you count them? How does the Earth’s
magnetic field protect us from the sun’s radiation? What happens on the Sun to cause the hazardous solar storms?

The astronomy teachers workshops are funded through an existing NASA heliophysics education and public outreach grant for these heliophysics topics to be shared with secondary science and mathematics teachers on all the islands. Follow up with the participating teachers after the workshop is planned.

Teachers will also be provided training in the innovative SUPER-M program. SUPER-M is a project at the Department of Mathematics <http://www.math.hawaii.edu/>  of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and funded by a National Science Foundation <http://www.nsf.gov/> , Graduate STEM Fellows in K–12 Education program <http://www.gk12.org/> . SUPER-M creates partnerships between graduate mathematics students and K-12 teachers to design innovative, developmentally appropriate, and engaging activities for K-12 students.

Childcare and astronomy, and fun math activities for the teachers’ children will be available, as well as Gemini Observatory’s mobile planetarium. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served on Saturday.

These astronomy teacher workshop events are sponsored by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

To reserve your spot contact Laura Aquino at 326-7820 or email: laquino@current-events.com.

Canadian Space Agency Begins Field Tests on the RESOLVE Moon Rover on the Big Island

At the invitation of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) begins a joint nine-day field test today in a volcanic area near Hilo, Hawaii, to test technologies and concepts for lunar exploration.

Dubbed RESOLVE (short for “Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction,”) the project will demonstrate how future explorers could extract water and other useful resources from the lunar soil at potential polar landing sites. Terrestrial field work, like the RESOLVE mission, allows scientific and technical teams to test exploration concepts in a cost-efficient manner to reduce the risks in designing future missions.

The Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction, or RESOLVE, consists of a lunar rover and drill to support a NASA payload that is designed to prospect for water, ice and other lunar resources. Kennedy Space Center Photo

The CSA is contributing the following Canadian-built equipment to the NASA RESOLVE field mission:

  •  The Artemis Junior terrestrial rover will serve as the semi-autonomous mobile platform for payloads, including  NASA instruments designed to prospect for water ice and other lunar resources.
  • Destin, a versatile onboard drill and sample transfer system.
  • Q6 Stack, an avionics suite consisting of a powerful, low-mass and low-power hybrid processors and interface modules, which will control the RESOLVE system.

The RESOLVE field work will be conducted in an environment similar to the Moon. In fact, the lava-covered mountain’s soil and dust is quite similar to that in the ancient volcanic plains on the Moon. The Canadian rover’s small size, versatile tools and robust equipment make RESOLVE suitable for any kind of investigation work, whether exploring the Moon or digging into Martian soil.

Work done here on Earth through missions like RESOLVE helps prepare the international space community for its eventual next steps in space exploration. In the future, unmanned missions will set out to explore areas humans have never visited. Robotic explorers will analyze and transform matter samples, for instance to confirm the existence of frozen water in the polar regions.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, also hosts the collaborative mission.

Members of the Mars Nutrition Program Talk About Expectations and Goals

The members that were selected for the HI-SEAS Mars Nutrition Study that will be conducted here on the Big Island of Hawaii, talk about how they felt when they were selected for the mission and what they hope to bring to the mission.

Select prime and reserve crew members Kate Greene, Chris Lowe, Sian Proctor, Angelo Vermeulen and Yvonne Cagle talk about their participation in the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) study to determine the best way to keep astronauts well nourished during multiple-year missions to Mars or the moon. The study is being conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and Cornell University.

The Transit of Venus… The After Party

I’d like to personally say thanks to Andrew Cooper over at The Darker View for providing live commentary from the Keck Telescopes up on Mauna Kea today of the Transit of Venus.

I was truly watching the broadcast on and off all day and I think Cooper and the Keck’s coverage was much better then the actual NASA footage of the event.

If “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”… I’m wondering when it will be the guys day for some serious exposure?  All us Martians are pretty jealous of the Venutians!

Here are screen shots I took from the Keck Website today:

 

 

Keaukaha Students Learn About the Transit of Venus Courtesy of NASA

NASA’s Sun-Earth Day traveled to a native Hawaiian elementary school in Hilo (Keaukaha Elementary School) to record a classroom activity about the Transit of Venus.

The students built small telescopes and practiced following a model of Venus across a projected image of our Sun. Along the way, they learned about the 1874 Transit event which ties in closely with Hawaiian history.

Successful Launch of Experimental Hypersonic Scramjet Research Flight from the Pacific Missile Range Facility – HIFiRE

A team that includes NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is celebrating the successful launch of an experimental hypersonic scramjet research flight from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

The Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program (HIFiRE) launches an experimental hypersonic scramjet vehicle from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii during a recent research flight. Credit: AFRL

NASA, AFRL and Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) are working with a number of partners on the HIFiRE (Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program) program to advance hypersonic flight — normally defined as beginning at Mach 5 — five times the speed of sound. The research program is aimed at exploring the fundamental technologies needed to achieve practical hypersonic flight. Being able to fly at hypersonic speeds could revolutionize high speed, long distance flight and provide more cost-effective access to space.

During the experiment the scramjet — aboard its sounding rocket — climbed to about 100,000 feet (30,480 meters) in altitude, accelerated from Mach 6 to Mach 8 (4,567 to 6,090 miles per hour; 7,350 to 9,800 kilometers per hour) and operated about 12 seconds — a big accomplishment for flight at hypersonic speeds. It was the fourth of a planned series of up to 10 flights under HIFiRE and the second focused on scramjet engine research.

The HIFiRE 2 scramjet research payload included a hypersonic inward turning inlet, followed by a scramjet combustor and dual-exhaust nozzle. More than 700 instruments on board recorded and transmitted data to researchers on the ground. The payload was developed under a partnership between the AFRL and NASA, with contributions from the Navy’s detachment at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. and ATK GASL located in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

“This is the first time we have flight tested a hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet accelerating from Mach 6 to Mach 8,” said NASA Hypersonics Project Scientist Ken Rock, based at NASA’S Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. “At Mach 6 the inlet compression and combustion process was designed to reduce the flow to below Mach 1 — subsonic combustion. But at Mach 8 flight the flow remained greater than Mach 1 or supersonic throughout the engine. So this test will give us unique scientific data about scramjets transitioning from subsonic to supersonic combustion — something we can’t simulate in wind tunnels.”

The data collected during the execution of the HIFiRE experiments is expected to make a significant contribution to the development of future high-speed air-breathing engine concepts and help improve design, modeling, and simulation tools.

Technicians mount the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) Flight 2 research vehicle on a turntable for weight distribution evaluations at a White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) facility. Credit: WSMR/John Hamilton

The success of the three-stage launch system, consisting of two Terrier boost motors and an Oriole sustainer motor, is another important achievement of the HIFiRE 2 mission. The HIFiRE 2 mission, the first flight of this sounding rocket configuration, opens the door for a new high–performance flight configuration to support future Air Force, Navy, and NASA flight research.

The HIFiRE team has already achieved other milestones such as the design, assembly and extensive pre-flight testing of the hypersonic vehicles and the design of complex avionics and flight systems. Demonstrating supersonic combustion in flight with a hydrocarbon fueled scramjet, compared to a hydrogen-fueled scramjet, is significant, according to researchers. While hydrogen fuel is more reactive, hydrocarbon fuel offers many benefits, including operational simplicity and higher fuel density so a hypersonic vehicle can carry more fuel. This represents yet another noteworthy achievement for the HIFiRE program, with additional test flights scheduled in the coming months and years.

The 26th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster and Hawaii’s Lt. Col. Onizuka

A nation remembers and mourns the 26th anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew today. On January 28, 1986 at 11:38 am, the Challenger broke apart and its crew was lost to the heavens when an O-ring on its right SRB rocket booster broke, leading to a fuel tank rupture and a catastrophic explosion.

Lieutenant Colonel Ellison Onizuka, a 39-year old Air Force test pilot and NASA astronaut who was born in Kealakekua, Hawaii was among the brave crew of Challenger mission STS-51-L, and will always be remembered by locals as Hawaii’s Astronaut. Spirit still among the stars but body laid to rest in Hawaii’s Punchbowl National Cemetery, Onizuka’s grave stone still attracts homage from visitors and provokes tears and sharp salutes alike.

Onizuka is credited with having said, “Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds … to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.” At the time when the Shuttle Challenger exploded, I was six years old and watching the event live on television. It was a memory that even at that young age I understood the full implications of – my own father being an Air Force officer – and one of many moments of my life that has humbled me to respect those who bravely serve our country and inspired me to always look heavenward…

Full Article Here: The 26th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster and Hawaii’s Lt. Col. Onizuka

January 28th, 1986 at 11:39 am EDT – The Space Shuttle Challenger Explodes on its 10th flight during mission STS-51-L. The explosion occurred 73 seconds after liftoff and was actually the result of rapid deceleration and not combustion of fuel.

CNN was the only national news station to broadcast the mission live, so thus what you are witnessing on this video is the only coverage of the disaster as it happened when it did. Approximately 17% of Americans witnessed the launch live, while 85% of Americans heard of the news within 1 hour of the event. According to a study, only 2 other times in history up to that point had news of an event disseminated so fast – the first being the announcement of JFK’s assassination in 1963, the second being news spread among students at Kent State regarding the news of FDR’s death in 1945. It has been estimated at the time that nearly 48% of 9-13 year olds witnessed the event in their classrooms, as McAuliffe was in the spotlight.

The 25th Space Shuttle mission altered the history of manned space exploration and represented the first loss of an American crew during a space mission (Apollo 1 was during a training exercise).

Christa McAuliffe was slated to be the first teacher in space for the Teacher in Space Program. As her maximum altitude was ~65,000ft (12.31 miles), she never made it to space. That title was given to Barbara Morgan of STS-118 aboard the shuttle Endeavour in August 2007, 22 and a half years after the Challenger Disaster. Morgan served as McAuliffe’s backup during STS-51-L. As Morgan is now part of the Educator in Space Program, she will be credited as the first “educator” in space, to distinguish her from McAuliffe.

Aboard Challenger during STS-51-L:

Francis “Dick” Scobee (Commander)

Michael Smith (Pilot)

Judith Resnik (Mission Specialist)

Ellison Onizuka (Mission Specialist)

Ronald McNair (Mission Specialist)

Gregory Jarvis (Payload Specialist)

Sharon Christa McAuliffe (Payload Specialist – Teacher in Space)

 

NASA’s G-III Finishes Hawaii Volcano Radar Study

NASA’s Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft returned to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Jan. 14 following an eight-day deployment to Hawaii. Five science flights totaling more than 31 hours allowed scientists to collect radar imaging data about volcanoes intended to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

This ground-level photo of the Halema’uma’u Crater of the Kilauea volcano was taken by a member of the NASA JPL / Dryden research team during a day off from the radar imaging missions. Although lava is not flowing from this crater, smoke and steam continue to rise into the air above the caldera. Lava continues to flow from Kilauea's east rift zone, the most active part of Kilauea, as it has since 1983. (NASA / Troy Asher)

The airborne study was conducted from an altitude of 40,000 feet using the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted in a pod under the aircraft. The study focused on the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, the state’s most active volcano, although science data flight lines were flown over nearby volcanoes including Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and Kohala.

NASA research pilot Troy Asher reported that good weather and the reliability of the aircraft and the radar equipment enabled the research team to accomplish virtually all of their planned science data collection flight lines.

“We had one day off, and used that time to do a little touring on the island to see firsthand some of what we were observing from 40,000 feet,” he added.

The UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface. The radar data collected during the mission will be analyzed over the next few weeks to determine if significant ground movement or deformation is occurring in the active volcanic areas.

The UAVSAR’s first data acquisition over this region took place in January 2010. Assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, flights over the volcano were repeated in May 2011. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea’s east rift zone.

NASA Plane Returns to the Big Island to Help Study Voclanoes

NASA’s G-III research aircraft returned to the Hawaii Islands Jan. 7 to continue a study of volcanoes intended to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

NASA's Gulfstream-III research testbed lifts off from the Edwards Air Force Base runway with the UAV synthetic aperture radar pod under its belly. (NASA / Tom Tschida)

Mounted in a pod under the aircraft is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-developed Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar. UAVSAR uses a technique called interferometry that sends pulses of microwave energy from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface.

This color-enhanced interferogram image taken between January 2010 and May 2011 show the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano, about six miles from the summit caldera. Lava has been flowing from the east rift zone since 1983, and is the most active part of Kilauea. (JPL / UAVSAR image)

The radar will collect data over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii from an altitude of about 41,000 feet. The UAVSAR’s first data acquisition over this region took place in January 2010. Assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, flights over the volcano were repeated in May 2011. Those two sets of observations successfully imaged the surface deformation caused by the March 2011 fissure eruption in Kilauea’s east rift zone.

Flights this month will trace the same path as the two previous years to measure deformation of the volcano since the March 2011 eruption and as part of future studies of the volcano’s changing deformation patterns due to volcanic activity.

The aircraft departed NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., Jan. 7 and is scheduled to return Jan. 15. It will be based at Kona International Airport while in Hawaii.

SpaceX Launch Pad in Hawaii?

Could Hawaii potentially capitalize on it’s location and become the next SpaceX launch facility?

I remember a few years ago they were thinking about putting rocket planes here in Hawaii.

According to the Cosmic Log at MSNBC, NASA has been thinking about it: “SpaceX Looks for an Extra Base

“We have our main launch facility, which is Cape Canaveral in Florida. Then we are in the process of developing our second launch facility, which is Vandenberg in California. And we do intend to develop a third launch facility. Texas is one of the possible states. But we’re also looking at a number of other locations: Puerto Rico, potentially another location in Florida, potentially Hawaii. And there are a few other locations that could work. So we’re trying to make the right decision for the long term.

I think this would be a perfect project for the Big Island!

I still remember when NASA was here up on Mauna Kea showing us how they could extract water out of moondust!

NASA, Hawaii’s Partner For Space Exploration

Media Release:

NASA and the State of Hawai’i have agreed to collaborate on a wide range of activities to promote America’s human and robotic exploration of space. The partnership also will contribute to the development of education programs and foster economic opportunities including new, high-tech jobs.

The Scarab

The Scarab

Governor Neil Abercrombie and NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser signed a two-year agreement, formally called a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement Annex, during a ceremony today in the Governor’s Office. The ceremony was held on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic announcement committing the country to land an American on the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade.

NASA Engineers Checking Out the SCARAB

NASA Engineers Checking Out the SCARAB

“Hawai’i has been part of America’s space activities from the beginning of the space program when Apollo astronauts trained in the islands for their historic missions to the moon,” Governor Abercrombie said. “This partnership with NASA will broaden educational and employment opportunities for our local families and bring dollars into our economy.”

Moon dust to water

Moon dust to water

The agreement establishes a partnership between NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and Hawai’i to explore and test new technologies, capabilities and strategies supporting America’s space exploration and development goals.

Under the agreement, the state is proposing to explore the development of a prototype International Lunar Research Park at the University of Hawai’i on Hilo. It would use the state’s unique terrain, which is similar to that of the moon and Mars, to enable development and testing of advanced automated and tele-robotic vehicles. Researchers would benefit from Hawai’i’s natural geography, advanced communications, power generation and other technologies required for space exploration.


“This is the type of participatory exploration involving universities and small- to mid-sized high technology companies that is becoming an increasingly important component of the 21st century space program,” Keiser said. “Americans want to participate directly and personally in space activities. As we have seen from NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project and the Centennial Challenges prize competitions, harvesting the country’s innovative talent is important to the success of our future endeavors in space. The space frontier is opening in novel and exciting ways.”

The state will provide the prototype test environment and infrastructure for the proposed analog test facilities. NASA will evaluate new concepts and models for conducting space exploration. The state will explore the potential to develop and mature innovative space-related technologies for educational, industry and government use.

“From NASA’s perspective, this partnership can inspire ideas and applications from analog test sites that can be generalized to space exploration and development of the moon and other planetary bodies,” said Ames Director Pete Worden.

The state’s Office of Aerospace Development will be the lead state agency for the project, enhancing dialogue and coordination among the state, private and academic partners to enable growth and diversification of the state’s aerospace economy.

“We support NASA’s goal to promote public-private partnerships and multinational alliances to help reduce the cost, enhance the feasibility and accelerate the implementation of future space missions – leading to settlements beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Jim Crisafulli, director of Hawai’i’s Office of Aerospace Development. “Locally, this collaboration should catalyze Hawai’i-based economic innovation and engage engineers, scientists, educators, and students, as well as commercial entrepreneurs, to increase the opportunities and benefits of space exploration.”

For more information about the International Lunar Research Park, visit: https://sites.google.com/site/internationallunarresearchpark

For more information about Ames, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ames

For more information about Hawaii’s aerospace initiatives, visit: http://aerospacehawaii.info

The following pictures are from when the Media got to go up to Mauna Kea and check out the NASA equipment being tested  up there a few years ago. Click on the Picture for a larger view:

pahoaetc-029
Demonstrating Lunar Barrel Scooper
Demonstrating Lunar Barrel Scooper
Barrel Scooper for Lunar Dust
Barrel Scooper for Lunar Dust
More Demonstrations
More Demonstrations
Not sure what this is now
Not sure what this is now
Ramp for Lunar Dust Scooper
Ramp for Lunar Dust Scooper
Lunar Dust Scooper
Lunar Dust Scooper
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
Water Creating Machine
SCARAB - Back
SCARAB – Back
Drill on SCARAB
Drill on SCARAB
Demonstrating the Mobility
Demonstrating the Mobility
Demonstrating the SCARAB
Demonstrating the SCARAB
SCARAB - Side
SCARAB – Side
NASA workers explain the unexplainable
NASA workers explain the unexplainable
SCARAB Million Dollar Tire
SCARAB Million Dollar Tire
SCARAB - Side
SCARAB – Side
SCARAB - Front
SCARAB – Front
Mauna Kea workers look on in awe
Mauna Kea workers look on in awe
Larson continures explanations
Larson continures explanations
Bill Larson - Chief, Applied Sciences Division, NASA
Bill Larson – Chief, Applied Sciences Division, NASA
Forgot the name of this toy
Forgot the name of this toy
Waiting for the UFO's
Waiting for the UFO’s
There were some boundaries
There were some boundaries
Parking Area
Parking Area
Trip Down in to Classified Site
Trip Down in to Classified Site
Wife and Weird Machine
Wife and Weird Machine
scarab-021
scarab-028
revolve
scarab-037
scarabtire
scarab2
scarab1
red-suits
valley2
valley

NASA Airborne Radar Set to Image Big Island Volcanoes

Media Release:

The Kilauea volcano that recently erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii will be the target for a NASA study to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth’s surface.

A NASA Gulfstream-III aircraft equipped with a synthetic aperture radar developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is scheduled to depart Sunday, April 3, from the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., to the Big Island for a nine-day mission.

The Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, uses a technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar that sends pulses of microwave energy from the aircraft to the ground to detect and measure very subtle deformations in Earth’s surface, such as those caused by earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and glacier movements.

As the Gulfstream-III flies at an altitude of about 12,500 meters (41,000 feet), the radar, located in a pod under the aircraft’s belly, will collect data over Kilauea. The UAVSAR’s first data acquisitions over this volcanic region took place in January 2010, when the radar flew over the volcano daily for a week. The UAVSAR detected deflation of Kilauea’s caldera over one day, part of a series of deflation-inflation events observed at Kilauea as magma is pumped into the volcano’s east rift zone.

This month’s flights will repeat the 2010 flight paths to an accuracy of within 5 meters, or about 16.5 feet, assisted by a Platform Precision Autopilot designed by engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. By comparing these camera-like images, interferograms are formed that reveal changes in Earth’s surface.

Between March 5 and 11, 2011, a spectacular fissure eruption occurred along the east rift zone. Satellite radar imagery captured the progression of this volcanic event.

“The April 2011 UAVSAR flights will capture the March 2011 fissure eruption surface displacements at high resolution and from multiple viewing directions, giving us an improved resolution of the magma injected into the east rift zone that caused the eruption,” said JPL research scientist Paul Lundgren.

This injection of magma takes the form of a dike, a thin blade-like sheet of magma extending from the surface to several kilometers depth, with an opening of only a few meters.

“Our goal is to be able to deploy the UAVSAR on short notice to better understand and aid in responding to hazards from Kilauea and other volcanoes in the Pacific region covered by this study,” Lundgren added.

For more on UAVSAR, visit: http://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about NASA’s G-III Earth science research aircraft, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-089-DFRC.html.

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The Sky is Falling… and Mars is Not Getting any Closer to Us this Year

I got an email from a “reliable source” telling me that I should take Hayden and the family out one night in August to check out the sky and look at Mars because it’s going to be super close to the earth and will appear as bright as the moon.

Well here is a portion of the letter:

…In real life, the Red Planet is going to be the closest to earth in recorded history. Earth is catching up with Mars in a close encounter.

Due to the way Jupiter’s gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as long at 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on Aug. 27, when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of the Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arch seconds wide, at a modest 75-power magnification.

Mars will look as bright as the full moon to the naked eye and will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach it’s azimuth at about 3 a.m. By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m.

Children of all ages will enjoy watching at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.

No one alive today will ever see this again.

Well I thought about this… and it just didn’t sound right, as I remembered something like this from a few years ago.

Sure enough I found this.

…The event described did occur back in 2003, but this message is now hopelessly outdated. No such close approach will occur in 2009

Here is what happened back in 2003 according to a more reliable source:

marsgif

…Earth and Mars are rapidly converging. On August 27, 2003–the date of closest approach–the two worlds will be 56 million km apart. That’s a long way by Earth standards, but only a short distance on the scale of the solar system. NASA, the European Space Agency and Japan are all sending spacecraft to Mars this year. It’s a good time to go…

Science @ NASA