With NASAâ€™s New Orleans fuel-tank factory out of commission, shuttle repairs could suffer serious delays
By Michael BelfiorePosted 09.12.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
When Hurricane Katrina roared through the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, devastating New Orleans, it shut down a major NASA facility, bringing the space agency's seemingly endless struggle to resume shuttle flights to a swift halt. The Michoud Assembly Facility, located about 15 miles east of the French Quarter, manufactures and repairs the space shuttle's giant external fuel tank-the same tank whose shedding insulation led to the destruction of Columbia in February 2003 and grounded the shuttle fleet last July.
By Rina BanderPosted 05.25.2005 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the largest and most powerful spacecraft ever built, is bound for the Red Planet this August. Watch an animation of the craft as it speeds into martian orbit at 25,000 mph, uses atmospheric friction to slow itself down to 300 mph, and settles into its final orbit less than 200 miles from the planet's surface.
Scientists are triumphant over extraordinary new images from Saturn and its moons—rivers of methane, ice volcanoes, ferocious storms and more
By Michael MoyerPosted 04.29.2005 at 1:00 pm 0 Comments
The penetrometer was the first thing to hit. The stick-like probe on the bottom of the Huygens lander punched aside a hard pebble made of water ice on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and sliced down through five inches of soft, muddy material. Scientists watching from Earth were ecstatic—the probe was not expected to survive the landing—but at the same time puzzled: If Titan really was, as they suspected, much like a young Earth, where were the liquid oceans predicted to cover the surface?
By Martha HarbisonPosted 04.19.2005 at 12:00 am 0 Comments
Texas Star Party, May 1-8Those yearning for dark skies and the camaraderie of star enthusiasts might wish to make the trek to the 27th annual Texas Star Party. The event features a week of galaxy-gazing and plenary lectures. This year’s speakers include Robert T. Mitchell, the project manager of the Cassini mission, and Stephanie McLaughlin, a project coordinator for NASA’s Deep Impact mission. The Star Party has a strict “no lights” policy from sundown to sunup.
Landslide, mudslide, debris flowit doesn't matter what you call it, the outcome is the same: normally stable and stationary soil gets a bad case of wanderlust. In most cases, slides are triggered when too much water saturates a steep slope or when an earthquake shakes the ground loose. This can occur almost anywhere, but Central Americawith its precipitous hills, frequent heavy rainstorms and unstable volcanic soilis probably the number one hotspot. Ed Harp, a landslide geologist with the U.S.
The versatile Crew Exploration Vehicle is NASAâ€™s hope for a shuttle replacement.
By Dawn StoverPosted 04.08.2005 at 6:00 pm 0 Comments
The space shuttle may be in the best shape of its life, but in the forward-looking world of space travel, it's a grizzled senior citizenwith mandatory retirement looming in 2010. The race is on to develop a replacement.Still on the drawing board, NASA's next-generation spacecraft will be called the "Crew" Exploration Vehicle, or CEV. It's expected to begin carrying astronauts to low-Earth orbit by 2014 and to the moon by 2020.Eleven aerospace-industry teams are vying for two NASA contracts to develop CEV concepts; the winners will be announced by early September.
Scientists turn their attention to another incoming spacecraft.
By William Speed WeedPosted 11.13.2004 at 5:00 pm 0 Comments
It was supposed to end with a smashing movie stunt; instead it ended with a smash. The parachute that was to be grabbed by helicopter pilots on September 8 never opened, and the Genesis return capsule, loaded with solar particles, plunged into the Utah desert. A report from the NASA Mishap Investigation Board due out this month should explain why the spacecraft’s control system failed to deploy the chutes.
Will NASA’s exotic shipment from space land safely?
By William Speed WeedPosted 10.27.2004 at 6:00 pm 0 Comments
On September 8, a 420-pound capsule will plunge meteorlike into the upper atmosphere at more than 6 miles a second. A large parachute will then slow it down to a gentle 10 miles an hour. Finally, to keep the delicate ceramic plates securing the 10-microgram cargo inside from breaking on landing, a helicopter flown by Hollywood stunt pilots will hook the craft midair by its parafoil and lower it gently to the desert floor in Utah.