NASA

NASA created a rare, exotic state of matter in space

NASA has cooled a cloud of rubidium atoms to ten-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, producing the fifth, exotic state of matter in space. The experiment also now holds the record for the coldest object we know of in space, though it isn’t yet the coldest thing humanity has ever created. (That record still belongs to a laboratory at MIT.) The Cold Atom Lab (CAL) is a compact quantum physics machine, a device built to work in the confines of the International Space Station (ISS) that launched into space in May. Now, according to a statement from NASA, the device has produced its first Bose-Einstein condensates, the strange conglomerations of atoms that scientists use to see quantum effects play out at large scales. “Typically, BEC experiments involve enough equipment to fill a room and require near-constant monitoring by scientists, whereas CAL is about the size of a small refrigerator and can be operated remotely from Earth,” Robert Shotwell, who leads the experiment from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the statement. Despite that difficulty, NASA said, the project was worth the effort. A Bose-Einstein condensate on Earth is already a fascinating object; at super-low temperatures, atoms’ boundaries blend together, and usually-invisible quantum effects play out in ways scientists can directly observe. But cooling clouds of atoms to ultra-low temperatures requires suspending them using magnets or lasers. And once those magnets or lasers are shut off for observations, the condensates fall to the floor of the experiment and dissipate. In the microgravity of the ISS, however, things work a bit differently. The CAL can form a Bose-Einstein condensate, set it free, then have a significantly longer time to observe it before it drifts off, NASA wrote — as long as 5 or 10 seconds. And that advantage, as Live Science previously reported, should eventually allow NASA to create condensates far colder than any on Earth. As the condensates expand outside their container, they cool further. And the longer they have to cool, the colder they get.

Fascinating!!  For more, click on the text above.      🙂

Trump’s Space Force Will Guard the U.S. From Above, NASA Chief Says

NASA’s administrator is a strong defender of President Donald Trump’s proposals for space — including an armed force and a permanent presence on the moon — and says he wants Americans to realize how much their well-being depends on what happens far above Earth. “Every banking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing,” Jim Bridenstine said in an interview. “You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking.” “If you look at what space is, it’s not that much different than the ocean,” added Bridenstine, who made 333 aircraft-carrier landings as a Navy pilot. “It’s an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected.” Bridenstine was in his third term representing a congressional district in Oklahoma when Trump nominated him to lead the $21 billion space agency. He was confirmed in the spring despite criticism over his lack of scientific or engineering experience and his previous statements questioning climate change science — though he said in hearings that human activity was the chief cause of global warming. Last summer, when he was still in Congress, Bridenstine supported a measure that would have created a “space corps.” It passed the House but was removed from the final defense spending bill. Then last month, Trump called for the Pentagon to develop a sixth branch of the American armed services that would protect national and commercial interests in space. Trump’s surprise announcement caught Pentagon officials and members of Congress off guard. The Defense Department already has several major programs in the works and the Air Force has contended that a new branch was not necessary for space defense. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who once took part in a space shuttle mission, tweeted: “generals tell me they don’t want” it and “now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart.” How to establish U.S. security in space has been debated for at least two decades. An independent commission — led by Donald Rumsfeld before he became defense secretary — reported in 2001 that “in the longer term it may be met by a military department for space.” Some 60 different agencies within the defense establishment play roles in space-related work, said Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. That may slow the realization of Trump’s goal. “This isn’t going to happen quickly.” Harrison said.

Indeed..  For more, click on the text above.

NASA Curiosity rover unearths building blocks in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars

The “building blocks” for life have been discovered in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars, NASA scientists announced Thursday. Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface. The material was discovered by the Mars Curiosity rover, which has been collecting data on the Red Planet since August 2012. The organic molecules were found in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. For the past six years, “the Curiosity has sifted samples of soil and ground-up rock for signs of organic molecules — the complex carbon chains that on Earth form the building blocks of life,” according to Science. “Past detections have been so faint that they could be just contamination,” the journal said. Now, samples taken from two different drill sites on an ancient lake bed have yielded complex organic molecules that look strikingly similar to the goopy fossilized building blocks of oil and gas on Earth. The rover also discovered traces of methane in the Martian atmosphere, which was reported in a second paper in Science. This is significant because most methane on Earth, for instance, comes from biological sources. “The detection of organic molecules and methane on Mars has far-ranging implications in light of potential past life on Mars,” said Inge Loes ten Kate, a Utrecht University scientist in an accompanying article in Science. “Curiosity has shown that Gale Crater was habitable around 3.5 billion years ago, with conditions comparable to those on the early Earth, where life evolved around that time. “The question of whether life might have originated or existed on Mars is a lot more opportune now that we know that organic molecules were present on its surface at that time,” Kate said. NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said that “with these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life. I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.” The nuclear-battery-powered Curiosity rover, a $2.5 billion mobile chemistry lab, launched in 2011. NASA calls Curiosity the “largest and most capable” rover ever to make contact with Mars. It’s about the size of a car, has a 7-foot-long arm and carries 10 science instruments, 17 cameras and a laser to “vaporize” rocks.

Fascinating!!  To see photos of Mars and more, click on the text above.     🙂

NASA Chief Bridenstine Warns China Pulling Ahead of U.S. in Some Areas of Space Race

Sunday on AM 970’s “The Cats Roundtable” hosted by John Catsimatidis, newly appointed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said China was pulling ahead of the United States in some aspects of the ‘space race.’ When asked about China, Bridenstine said, “They have been focused on the moon, and they have been focused on other aspects of space that maybe we have not been focused on.… They’ve got a lander on the moon now with a rover. This year they’re planning to land for the first time in history on the far side of the moon with a robot.” He added, “They are certainly doing things, maybe a little differently than us. I wouldn’t say they are ahead of us, maybe they’re ahead of us in some areas, and we are ahead of them in other areas. But they have a very methodical, planned out plan to do space exploration in a major way. And this president wants to see the United States of America lead again in space.”

And we need to..  For FAR too long we’ve been reactive.  It’s time we were proactive in space…and take the lead in all areas of space both civilian (i.e. NASA) and military (i.e. U.S. Air Force Space Command and the U.S. Army’s Space & Missile Defense Command or SMDC, both of which are in Colorado Springs, CO).

Astronaut Alan Bean, Fourth Person to Walk on the Moon, Dies at 86

Legendary astronaut Alan Bean, — the fourth person to walk on the moon — has died at the age of 86 Saturday, a NASA statement says. Bean, who passed away at Houston Methodist after battling a short illness, was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 12 in 1969, the second manned flight to land on the moon. In 1973, Bean was spacecraft commander of the second manned mission to Skylab, the first U.S. space station. The astronaut spent a total of 1,671 hours and 45 minutes in space. Astronaut Scott Kelly mourned Bean on Twitter, calling him a “spaceflight pioneer.” “Sad day. Not only did we lose a spaceflight pioneer, 4th man to walk on the moon, but also an exceptional artist that brought his experience back to Earth to share with the world. Fair winds and following seas, Captain,” Kelly tweeted. “Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life and I miss him dearly,” said Leslie Bean, the moonwalker’s wife of 40 years, said in a statement. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston surrounded by those who loved him.” “Alan and I have been best friends for 55 years — ever since the day we became astronauts,” said Walt Cunningham, a Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 7 mission. “When I became head of the Skylab Branch of the Astronaut Office, we worked together and Alan eventually commanded the second Skylab mission.” “We have never lived more than a couple of miles apart, even after we left NASA. And for years, Alan and I never missed a month where we did not have a cheeseburger together at Miller’s Café in Houston. We are accustomed to losing friends in our business but this is a tough one,” the astronaut added.

Sad to hear of Alan’s passing.  What a pioneer!  He was also a Naval aviator and achieved the rank of Captain in the Navy.  Thanks for all of your service in the air, and in space, Alan!  R.I.P.

NASA awards Lockheed Skunk Works $247.5M supersonic X-plane

Supersonic commercial air travel may once again become a reality under a partnership between NASA and Lockheed Martin. The American space agency announced on Tuesday that it awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator (LBFD), an X-plane that will be used by NASA to find ways to bring supersonic jet travel back to the skies. The cost-plus-incentive-fee contract is valued at $247.5 million. Lockheed’s secretive Skunk Works will build the full-scale experimental X-plane to be about as loud as a closing car door, addressing noise concerns. A preliminary design was crafted as part of NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The aircraft will travel at about 940 miles per hour and cruise at 55,000 feet. Current regulations ban commercial supersonic travel over land, something that contributed to the demise of the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde. That aircraft began commercial service in the 1970s and lasted until the early 2000s. “We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe,” Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, said in a statement on Tuesday. NASA said it will accept the aircraft from Lockheed in late 2021 and will fly it over select U.S. cities starting in mid-2022, collecting community responses to the flights. The data will be provided to U.S. and international regulators to use in considering new sound-based rules for supersonic flight over land. The contract comes a month after the Trump administration – which has been a proponent for NASA – requested full funding for the program in its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Lockheed’s Skunk Works has partnered with America’s space agency for years and was awarded a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the X-plane aircraft.

Very cool!!     🙂

NASA to investigate 10,000-year-old mystery rock that ‘shows paintings of UFOs and aliens’

A NUMBER of prehistoric drawings have sparked a local government to seek the help of NASA after the images appeared to depict extraterrestrial life. Discovered in Charama, India, the images appear to show aliens and UFOs, similar to scenes of a sci-fi movie. According to local archaeologist JR Bhagat it is unclear as to what the images reveal. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. He said: “The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. “Extensive research is needed for further findings. “Charama presently doesn’t have any such expert who could give clarity on the subject.“ He also revealed that some of the features of the paintings were unclear and the characters appeared to be wielding weapons. He added: “The paintings are done in natural colours that have hardly faded despite the years. “The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. “Specially, the nose and mouth are missing. “In few pictures, they are even shown wearing space suits. We can’t refute possibility of imagination by prehistoric men but humans usually fancy such things.” The video was uploaded to YouTube channel The Lost History Channel on Sunday and has already received more than 7,000 views. One comment read: “Evidence is everywhere, we need opened eyes, that’s all.” And another claimed: “We dont need to find aliens, they are already here all around us.” The archaeologists have contacted NASA and ISRO to help solve the mystery.

Things that make ya go, “hmmm..”   To see the video in question, and see photos, click on the text above…and you be the judge.      🙂