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STS-85 Mission Specialist Stephen K. Robinson smiles as he is assisted with his ascent/reentry flight suit by a suit technician in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building. He has been a NASA employee since 1975 and has worked at Ames and Langley Research Centers. Robinson holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and is a licensed pilot. He will assist Mission Specialist Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. with the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere-Shuttle Pallet Satellite-2 (CRISTA-SPAS-2) free-flyer and conduct Comet Hale-Bopp observations with the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System. Robinson will also coordinate photo and television data operations during the mission. The primary payload aboard the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery is the CRISTA-SPAS2. Other payloads on the 11-day mission include the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD), and Technology Applications and Science-1 (TAS-1) and International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker-2 (IEH-2) experiments

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STS-93 Commander Eileen M. Collins talks to the media after arriving at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility to participate in Terminal Countdown Demonstration Tests (TCDT) this week. TCDT activities familiarize the crew with the mission, provide training in emergency exit from the orbiter and launch pad, and include a launch-day dress rehearsal culminating with a simulated main engine cut-off. Collins is the first woman to serve as mission commander. Joining Collins are Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby and Mission Specialists Steven A. Hawley (Ph.D.), Catherine G. Coleman (Ph.D.) and Michel Tognini of France, with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). The primary mission of STS-93 is the release of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which will allow scientists from around the world to obtain unprecedented X-ray images of exotic environments in space to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe. Chandra is expected to provide unique and crucial information on the nature of objects ranging from comets in our solar system to quasars at the edge of the observable universe. Since X-rays are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, space-based observatories are necessary to study these phenomena and allow scientists to analyze some of the greatest mysteries of the universe

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STS-93 Mission Specialist Catherine G. Coleman (Ph.D.) grins on her arrival at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility aboard a T-38 jet to participate in Terminal Countdown Demonstration Tests (TCDT) this week. TCDT activities familiarize the crew with the mission, provide training in emergency exit from the orbiter and launch pad, and include a launch-day dress rehearsal culminating with a simulated main engine cut-off. Joining Coleman are Commander Eileen M. Collins, Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby and Mission Specialists Steven A. Hawley (Ph.D.) and Michel Tognini of France, who is with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Collins is the first woman to serve as mission commander. The primary mission of STS-93 is the release of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which will allow scientists from around the world to obtain unprecedented X-ray images of exotic environments in space to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe. Chandra is expected to provide unique and crucial information on the nature of objects ranging from comets in our solar system to quasars at the edge of the observable universe. Since X-rays are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, space-based observatories are necessary to study these phenomena and allow scientists to analyze some of the greatest mysteries of the universe

Hubble Sees a “Behemoth” Bleeding Atmosphere Around a Warm Exoplanet

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen dubbed “The Behemoth” bleeding from a planet orbiting a nearby star. The enormous, comet-like feature is about 50 times the size of the parent star. The hydrogen is evaporating from a warm, Neptune-sized planet, due to extreme radiation from the star. This phenomenon has never been seen around an exoplanet so small. It may offer clues to how other planets with hydrogen-enveloped atmospheres could have their outer layers evaporated by their parent star, leaving behind solid, rocky cores. Hot, rocky planets such as these that roughly the size of Earth are known as Hot-Super Earths. “This cloud is very spectacular, though the evaporation rate does not threaten the planet right now,” explains the study’s leader, David Ehrenreich of the Observatory of the University of Geneva in Switzerland. “But we know that in the past, the star, which is a faint red dwarf, was more active. This means that the planet evaporated faster during its first billion years of existence because of the strong radiation from the young star. Overall, we estimate that it may have lost up to 10 percent of its atmosphere over the past several billion years.” Read more: www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/hubble-sees-a-behemoth-bleed… Caption: This artist’s concept shows "The Behemoth," an enormous comet-like cloud of hydrogen bleeding off of a warm, Neptune-sized planet just 30 light-years from Earth. Also depicted is the parent star, which is a faint red dwarf named GJ 436. The hydrogen is evaporating from the planet due to extreme radiation from the star. A phenomenon this large has never before been seen around any exoplanet. Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

X-Rays from Pluto

The first detection of Pluto in X-rays has been made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in conjunction with observations from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. As New Horizons approached Pluto in late 2014 and then flew by the planet during the summer of 2015, Chandra obtained data during four separate observations. During each observation, Chandra detected low-energy X-rays from the small planet. The main panel in this graphic is an optical image taken from New Horizons on its approach to Pluto, while the inset shows an image of Pluto in X-rays from Chandra. There is a significant difference in scale between the optical and X-ray images. New Horizons made a close flyby of Pluto but Chandra is located near the Earth, so the level of detail visible in the two images is very different. The Chandra image is 180,000 miles across at the distance of Pluto, but the planet is only 1,500 miles across. Pluto is detected in the X-ray image as a point source, showing the sharpest level of detail available for Chandra or any other X-ray observatory. This means that details over scales that are smaller than the X-ray source cannot be seen here. Detecting X-rays from Pluto is a somewhat surprising result given that Pluto – a cold, rocky world without a magnetic field – has no natural mechanism for emitting X-rays. However, scientists knew from previous observations of comets that the interaction between the gases surrounding such planetary bodies and the solar wind – the constant streams of charged particles from the sun that speed throughout the solar system — can create X-rays. The researchers were particularly interested in learning more about the interaction between the gases in Pluto’s atmosphere and the solar wind. The New Horizon spacecraft carries an instrument designed to measure that activity up-close — Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) — and scientists examined that data and proposed that Pluto contains a very mild, close-in bowshock, where the solar wind first “meets” Pluto (similar to a shock wave that forms ahead of a supersonic aircraft) and a small wake or tail behind the planet. The immediate mystery is that Chandra’s readings on the brightness of the X-rays are much higher than expected from the solar wind interacting with Pluto’s atmosphere. The Chandra detection is also surprising since New Horizons discovered Pluto’s atmosphere was much more stable than the rapidly escaping, “comet-like” atmosphere that many scientists expected before the spacecraft flew past in July 2015. In fact, New Horizons found that Pluto’s interaction with the solar wind is much more like the interaction of the solar wind with Mars, than with a comet. While Pluto is releasing enough gas from its atmosphere to make the observed X-rays, there isn’t enough solar wind flowing directly at Pluto at its great distance from the Sun to make them according to certain theoretical models. There are several suggested possibilities for the enhanced X-ray emission from Pluto. These include a much wider and longer tail of gases trailing Pluto than New Horizons detected using its SWAP instrument. Because Pluto is so small compared to the size of a Chandra point source, scientists may be unable to detect such a tail in X-rays. Other possibilities are that interplanetary magnetic fields are focusing more particles than expected from the solar wind into the region around Pluto, or the low density of the solar wind in the outer solar system at the distance of Pluto could allow for the formation of a doughnut, or torus, of neutral gas centered around Pluto’s orbit. It will take deeper and higher resolution images of X-rays from Pluto’s environment than we currently have from Chandra to distinguish between these possibilities. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21061

Disney Plus' 'The Mandalorian' is the top new streaming TV show of the year so far

Disney Plus’ ‘The Mandalorian’ is the top new streaming TV show of the year so far

Disney Plus’ live-action “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” surged in audience demand in the US last week, according to Parrot Analytics. “The Mandalorian,” which premiered November 12, was already the third most in-demand original streaming show in the U…

Instagram was missing some of its most-loved features when it launched in 2010 — here’s what it looked like back then (FB)

Instagram launched as an iOS app in 2010, and became available for Android users in 2012. Instagram of 10 years ago looked different from the app we use today, and was missing many features that now seem vital. The original app didn’t have messages or stories…

Trump Disparages Obama

During an interview on “Hannity,” President Donald Trump went after former President Barack Obama for an IRS audit scandal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Changing Tone on Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he may consider impeaching President Donald Trump if he’s given the more evidence of quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian officials.

Donald Trump’s Doral Drama

President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for forcing him to move next year’s G-7 summit from his resort in Doral, Florida, but now reports say Republicans were souring on the idea.

Inspiring Leadership Lessons From 13 Female Founders

Inspiring Leadership Lessons From 13 Female Founders

Entrepreneur reflects on the inspiring stories of 13 female founders on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.

Your Thursday Briefing

Democratic Debate, Prince Andrew, National Book Awards: Here’s what you need to know.

This week’s top stories: 16-inch MacBook Pro is here, Disney+ debuts, Apple Research app, more

In this week’s top stories: Apple officially unveils the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Disney+ debuts, Apple Watch Black Friday pricing, and more. Read on for all of this week’s biggest news. After months of rumors, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is now official. Starting at…

Top Diplomat Testified Pompeo Called Hannity About Yovanovitch Smears

David Hale, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said in his closed-door impeachment testimony that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Fox News host Sean Hannity last spring to ask about the smear campaign launched against former U.S. Ambass…

You can now spend the night in a grain silo that has been turned into a charming cottage

You can spend the night in a converted grain silo located in Round Top, Texas. The Silos at 159 are a group of three vacation rentals that are perfect for someone looking for a farmhouse-style space. The cottages have room for two to four guests and start at …