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The Clock is Ticking June 29, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, Kennedy Space Center, Space Shuttle, Spacecraft.
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Discovery crew addresses the media.

 + View High-Res Image

Image above: Crew arrives at Kennedy. At the microphone is Pilot Mark Kelly. From left are Commander Steven Lindsey, Mission Specialists Lisa Nowak and Michael Fossum, Kelly, and Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and Thomas Reiter.

 Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The launch countdown officially began at 5 p.m. EDT today at the T-43 hour mark. Included in the countdown are nearly 28 hours of built-in hold time prior to a targeted 3:49 p.m. launch on Saturday; it is the middle point in a launch window that extends for 10 minutes. The launch countdown will be conducted from the newly renovated Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center at Kennedy.

During a countdown status briefing this morning at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding announced that "Discovery is in excellent shape."

"We’re tracking no issues in our preparation at this point. Our teams have been working tirelessly during this last year to help make this flight and all shuttle flights as safe as possible for the crews," he said. "As we approach our nation’s 230th birthday, I’m proud to announce that the launch vehicle, the launch and flight teams and flight crew are ready to launch and continue our mission completing the space station."

STS-121 Payload Manager Debbie Hahn indicated the payloads have been loaded into the orbiter and are ready for flight.

Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported there is a 60-percent chance that weather may prevent launch on Saturday. A Bermuda high could improve the weather, but the Space Coast will be dealing with thunderstorms and anvil clouds which could be an issue because of lightning strikes. In the event of a 24-hour delay, the forecast is identical — with a 60-percent chance of weather delaying the launch. The chance of weather constraints, if the launch is delayed 48 hours, stays at the 60-percent mark because of thunderstorm activity.

Tune in to NASA TV at 10 a.m. Thursday for the Countdown Status Briefing and an update on the launch status and weather forecast for mission STS-121 with NASA Test Director Pete Nicolenko and Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winter.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, NASA TV will host a Launch Readiness News Conference with Mission Management Team chairman, John Shannon; Mike Suffredini, International Space Station Program manager; Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director; Alan Thirkettle, International Space Station Program manager for the European Space Agency; and U.S. Air Force First Lt. Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron. They will discuss the preparations for the 32nd flight of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Both exciting events can be seen live on NASA TV.

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The Cat’s Paw Nebula June 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Australia, Deep Space, Earth, Nebula, People, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Robert Gendler &
Martin Pugh

Explanation:

Nebulae are perhaps as famous for being identified with familiar shapes as perhaps

cats are for getting into trouble. Still, no known cat could have created the vast Cat’s Paw Nebula visible in Scorpius. At 5,500 light years distant, Cat’s Paw is an emission nebula with a red color that originates from an abundance of ionized hydrogen atoms. Alternatively known as the Bear Claw Nebula or NGC 6334, stars nearly ten times the mass of our Sun have been born there in only the past few million years. Pictured above, a deep wide-field image of the Cat’s Paw nebula was photographed from New South Wales, Australia.

Site of Carthage, Tunisia June 28, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, Earth, EPoD, International Space Station, NASA, People, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Spacecraft, Website.
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Site of Carthage, Tunisia

 

Click here to view full image (470 kb)Credit:

NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA, ISS

Description:

The city-state of Carthage in North Africa was founded by Phoenician settlers in 814 BC, and it subsequently became the seat of a trade empire that controlled much of the western Mediterranean region (including most of the former Phoenician lands). Carthage was completely destroyed by the Roman Republic during the Third (and final) Punic War (149-146 BC). The end of Carthage has been made notorious by the story that the Romans allegedly sowed the city with salt to ensure that no further rivals to their power would arise there. However, given the great value of salt at the time and the strategic importance of the city’s location, scholars dispute whether the event actually occurred. Following the destruction of Carthage, Roman dominance of the Mediterranean continued until the fall of the Western Empire in AD 476.

The favorable location of the ancient city of Carthage is clear in this astronaut photograph. Bays along the coastline provide ready access to the Gulf of Tunis, which leads to the Mediterranean Sea. Docks along the coastline (lower right) support the shipping industry. Modern Carthage is a wealthy suburb of the Tunis metropolitan area (the center of which is located to the southwest of the image). Dense concentrations of white rooftops are obvious in the residential subdivisions to the north and south of the ancient city location. Large tracts of new developments appear to be in progress along the curving, light-colored roadways to the west of the historical city (lower image center). The green, shallow waters of an evaporating salty lake are visible at image left. Several such lakes are present in Tunisia and are centers for bird-watching tourism.

Astronaut photograph

ISS013-E-34753 was acquired June 8, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using an 800 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet.

APOD Turns Eleven June 19, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Illustration, People, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Herman Serrano

Explanation:

The first APOD appeared eleven years ago today, on 1995 June 16. Although garnering only 14 page views on that day, we are proud to estimate that APOD has now served over 400 million space-related images over the last eleven years. That early beginning, along with a nearly unchanging format, has allowed APOD to be a consistent and familiar site on a web frequently filled with change. Many people don't know, though, that APOD is now translated daily into many major languages. We again thank our readers and NASA for their continued support, but ask that any potentially congratulatory e-mail go to the folks who created the great pictures — many times with considerable effort — that APOD has been fortunate enough to feature over the past year. Many can be contacted by following links found in the credit line under the image. Some of these images are featured in the above spectacular collage of a fantasy sky above Mars submitted by an enthusiastic APOD reader skilled in digital image manipulation. How many APOD images can you identify?


Sagittarius Triplet June 14, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Deep Space, People, Sagittarius A, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Steve Mazlin, Jim Misti

Explanation:

These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the nebula below and right of center, and colorful M20 at the upper right. The third, NGC 6559, is left of M8, separated from the the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula while M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. This stunning digital view is actually a collaborative composite recorded by 2 cameras and 2 telescopes about 2 thousand miles apart. The deep, wide image field was captured under dark Arizona skies. Both M8 and M20 were recorded in more detail from an observatory in Pennsylvania. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight.

Tropical Storm Alberto June 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Earth, JAXA, NASA, People, Planets, Satellite, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM).
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Tropical Storm Alberto

Click here to view full image (829 kb)

Credit:

Steve Lang (SSAI/NASA GSFC), Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC), NASA, JAXA

Description:

Alberto began as a tropical depression on the morning of June 10, 2006, having formed from an area of low air pressure over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. This depression moved generally northwestward through the Yucatan Channel between western Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula and into the south-central Gulf of Mexico. The system was rather poorly organized as a result of southwesterly wind shear. This shear pulled the weather system from the rounded shape of a typical tropical storm and gave Alberto an elongated center of circulation. Nonetheless, hurricane hunter aircraft and ships reported strong winds, and on that basis, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified the system as a tropical storm and gave it the name Alberto at 11:00 a.m. EDT on June 11.

This visualization shows data collected by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite (TRMM) at 19:42 UTC (3:42 p.m. EDT) on June 11, 2006, soon after Alberto had become a tropical storm. It maps rain intensity as viewed by the TRMM satellite. Rain rates in the center swath are from the TRMM Precipitation Radar, and rain rates in the outer swath are from the TRMM Microwave Imager. The rain rates are overlaid on infrared data from the TRMM Visible Infrared Scanner. TRMM confirms that Alberto was poorly organized. The center of circulation is well to the southwest of the heavier rain areas (darker red and green areas). In fact, there is essentially no rain in the immediate vicinity of the center. This highly asymmetric structure results from wind shear. At the time of this image, Alberto was a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 kilometers per hour (45 miles per hour).

After these images were taken, however, the wind shear pushing the storm off center decreased, allowing Alberto to become better organized. On June 12, Alberto had become a strong tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 km/hr (70 mph) according to the NHC, just below hurricane strength. The system was continuing to track to the northeast towards the coast of Florida, where a hurricane watch was in effect.

TRMM was launched in November 1997. From its low-earth orbit, TRMM has been providing valuable images and information on tropical weather systems using a combination of passive microwave and active radar sensors, including the first precipitation radar in space. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

Driving Toward a Sun Halo June 13, 2006

Posted by jtintle in APoD, Earth, Finland, NASA, People, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Website.
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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Credit & Copyright:

Lauri Turtiainen

Explanation:

What's happened to the Sun? Sometimes it looks like the Sun is being viewed through a large lens. In the above case, however, there are actually millions of lenses: ice crystals. As water freezes in the upper atmosphere, small, flat, six-sided, ice crystals might be formed. As these crystals flutter to the ground, much time is spent with their faces flat, parallel to the ground. An observer may pass through the same plane as many of the falling ice crystals near sunrise or sunset. During this alignment, each crystal can act like a miniature lens, refracting sunlight into our view and creating phenomena like parhelia, the technical term for sundogs. The above image was taken during early 2006 February near Helsinki, Finland with a quickly deployed cellular camera phone. Visible in the image center is the Sun, while two bright sundogs glow prominently from both the left and the right. Also visible is the 22 degree halo also created by sunlight reflecting off of atmospheric ice crystals.

Central Phoenix Metro Area, Arizona June 5, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, Earth, International Space Station, LandSat 7, NASA, People, Planets, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Spacecraft.
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Central Phoenix Metro Area, Arizona
 

Credit:

NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, Landsat, NASA

Description:

The Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area is the largest in the southwestern United States. The city is made up of 21 incorporated municipalities. When discrete political entities form a larger, integrated urban landscape, geographers call the arrangement a conurbation. This astronaut photograph (upper image) of the central metro region includes the boundary area between three of the municipalities included in the conurbation: the cities of Phoenix (left), Tempe (center and lower right), and Scottsdale (upper right). This high-resolution astronaut image has a spatial resolution (level of detail) of about 9 meters per image pixel. A regional view of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area is also available from the Earth Observatory.

The urban area is still expanding along its fringes, but significant redevelopment is also ongoing in “landlocked” municipalities in the center of the metro area, where expansion is not possible (such as Tempe). Residential areas are grey and gridded into blocks, commercial or industrial sectors often have highly reflective white rooftops, desert soils and rock exposures are brown, vegetation is dark green, and water is black. Comparison of the astronaut image with Landsat Thematic Mapper data (lower image) acquired in 1990 reveals changes in the region over 16 years.

Perhaps the most striking change visible in this image pair is the appearance of Tempe Town Lake, filled in 1999 (upper image, right). The lake was created in the usually dry Salt River channel (dry because the river has been impounded upstream behind Roosevelt Dam since 1911). The lake is part of a plan to develop the Tempe portion of the channel and adjacent floodplain. Contained by inflatable dams to accommodate releases from Roosevelt Dam, the lake holds a nominal water volume of approximately 1 billion gallons, with an estimated 620 million gallons lost to evaporation each year. Other visible changes between 1990 and 2006 include development of land surrounding Sky Harbor Airport, expansion of the airport itself (a third runway, begun in 1997, is visible in the astronaut photograph), and completion of major highways to the southwest of Papago Park and to the east of Tempe Town Lake (upper image, right boundary). Study of the effects of urban modifications in the Phoenix metro area and the surrounding Sonoran Desert ecosystem is the focus of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research site based at Arizona State University.

While suburbs and skyscrapers are the latest expression of civilization in this portion of the Sonoran Desert, it is not the first large-scale modification of the area to serve human needs. The Hohokam society cultivated the region and created an extensive network of irrigation canals between AD 300 and 1450. The canals remained long after the Hohokam themselves quit the region, and settlers used them in the 19th century to irrigate their fields with water from the Salt River.

Astronaut photograph ISS013-E-17394 was acquired May 10, 2006, with a Kodak 760C digital camera using a 400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

A whale of a galaxy June 3, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Deep Space, People, Space Fotos.
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NGC 4631

Credit:

Warren Keller

Description:

Warren Keller captured the galactic pair NGC 4631 and NGC 4627, located in the constellation Canes Venatici. NGC 4631, also known as the Herring Galaxy and Whale Galaxy, is a huge edge-on spiral galaxy, which is apparently distorted by its small elliptical companion, NGC 4627.

Just to continue with the audio and video clips June 1, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, International Space Station, NASA, People, Space Agencies, Space Fotos, Spacecraft.
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Today there will be a space walk by the crew of the International Space Station. NASA Tv will be broadcasting it live today starting at 530pm EST, actually space walk will begin at 6:40 p.m EST. You can watch it on the web:

Public Channel:
+ Watch with RealPlayer
+ Watch with RealPlayer
  (Captioned)
+ Watch with Windows Media
   (Best for Full Screen)
+ Listen with RealAudio
Media Channel:
Offline May 26-28
+ Watch with RealPlayer
+ Watch with Windows
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