Zuckerberg to call ISS astronauts via Facebook Live

Washington, May 28 : Taking connectivity to a new high, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will speak with three astronauts currently living and working aboard the International Space Station on June 1, NASA said in a statement.

Yoo too could watch the Earth-to-space call live on NASA's Facebook page.

During the 20-minute Facebook Live video call with NASA astronauts Tim Kopra and Jeff Williams, and the ESA's (European Space Agency's) Tim Peake, Zuckerberg will ask questions submitted on NASA's Facebook page by its users.

Some of the questions already posted on the Facebook page include-- How long will it take for foods to rot in ISS? Will the ISS ever become privately owned when decommissioned ?

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Veteran US astronaut Scott Kelly says goodbye to NASA

Washington, April 2 : NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently completed a year-long mission on the International Space Station
(ISS) during his 20-year-long association with the US space agency, retired on Friday.

The veteran astronaut said goodbye to his illustrious career with the US record for most cumulative time in space - 520 days.

He will continue to participate in the ongoing research related to his one-year mission, providing periodic medical samples and supporting other testing in the same way his twin brother and former astronaut Mark Kelly, made himself available for NASA's twins study.

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US record-setting astronaut Scott Kelly to retire: NASA

Washington: US astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently completed a year-long mission on the International Space Station, will retire from NASA effective April 1, the US space agency said on Friday.

NASA said Kelly will continue to participate in the ongoing research related to his one-year mission, providing periodic medical samples and supporting other testing in the same way his twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly, made himself available for NASA's twins study during his brother's mission, Xinhua reported.

"This year-in-space mission was a profound challenge for all involved, and it gave me a unique perspective and a lot of time to reflect on what my next step should be," Kelly said in a statement.

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New NASA technology to better measure Earth's orientation

Washington: The US space agency has deployed an advanced technology to precisely measure Earth's orientation and rotation - information that helps provide a foundation for navigation of all space missions and for geophysical studies of our planet.

The technology includes a new class of radio antenna and electronics that provide broadband capabilities for Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).

This technique has been used to make precise measurements of the Earth in space and time.

To meet the demand for more precise measurements, a new global network of stations called the VLBI Global Observing System
(VGOS) is being rolled out to replace the legacy network.

NASA just completed the installation of a joint NASA-US Naval Observatory VGOS station in Hawaii.

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NASA's new Mars exploration mission set for May 2018 launch

Washington, March 10 : Future Mars exploration has got a date, finally. NASA's new InSight mission -- set to study the deep interior of Red Planet -- is targeting a new launch window that begins on May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for November 26 in the same year.

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission will help scientists understand how rocky planets -- including Earth -- formed and evolved.

The spacecraft had been on track to launch this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted NASA in December to suspend preparations for launch.

"The science goals of InSight are compelling and the NASA and France's space agency Centre National d'Études Spatiales

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NASA's asteroid hunting spacecraft in key testing phase

Washington, March 9 : The first US mission to collect a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth in September this year is undergoing a major milestone in its environmental testing.

NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is in thermal vacuum testing - designed to simulate the harsh environment of space and see how the spacecraft and its instruments operate under 'flight-like' conditions.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in September and travel to the asteroid Bennu to collect a sample and return it to Earth for study.

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Citizen sky gazers helping NASA unlock sizzling auroras

Washington, March 9 : The US space agency is using citizen science observations to unlock the secrets behind auroras -- geomagnetic storms that are beautiful but can also cause power outages and interrupt satellite systems.

One such space weather scientist, Liz MacDonald has seen auroras more than five times in her life.

MacDonald, now at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, founded Aurorasaurus -- a citizen science project that tracks auroras through the project's website, mobile apps and Twitter.

On the evening of October 24, 2011, MacDonald was left amazed -- not by any bright, dancing lights in the sky but by the number of aurora-related tweets on her computer screen.

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NASA announces plans to build supersonic passenger jet

Washington, March 1 : US space agency NASA announced that it is planning to build a supersonic passenger jet which will be as quiet and efficient as possible, the media reported on Tuesday.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Monday said that it has awarded a first contract, worth $20 million, to the US company Lockheed Martin to develop a preliminary design of an aircraft which surpasses the speed of sound, EFE news reported.

Despite using a jet engine, which traditionally causes loud noise, the sound levels produced by the new aircraft would be minimal.

The new design would also meet the requirements for reduction of pollution as it would optimize fuel consumption.

"NASA is working hard to make flight greener, safer and quieter," said Bolden.

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NASA explorer decodes interstellar magnetic field

Washington: What is out there at the edge of our solar system? Scientists using data from NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer
(IBEX) have pinned down an interstellar magnetic field which lies at the very edge of the giant magnetic bubble surrounding our solar system called the heliosphere.

Immediately after its 2008 launch, IBEX spotted a curiosity in a thin slice of space: More particles streamed in through a long, skinny swath in the sky than anywhere else.

The origin of the so-called "IBEX ribbon" was unknown - but its very existence opened doors to observing what lies outside our solar system, the way drops of rain on a window tell you more about the weather outside.

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Record number of Americans apply to be astronauts: NASA

Washington, Feb 20 - US space agency NASA said on Friday that a record number of Americans have applied to be astronauts this year.

NASA said in a statement it has received more than 18,300 applications for its 2017 astronaut class, almost three times the number it received in 2012 for the most recent astronaut class, and far surpassing the previous record of
8,000 in 1978.

"It's not at all surprising to me that so many Americans from diverse backgrounds want to personally contribute to blazing the trail on our journey to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, himself a former astronaut.

"A few exceptionally talented men and women will become the astronauts chosen in this group who will once again launch to space from US soil on American-made spacecraft."

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Astronomers record rotation of cloudy 'super-Jupiter'

Washington, Feb 19 - In a maiden attempt to decode the rotation of a massive exoplanet, astronomers using Hubble Space Telescope have measured the rotation rate of a cloudy "super-Jupiter" by observing the varied brightness in its atmosphere.

The planet called 2M1207b is about four times more massive than Jupiter. It is a companion to a failed star known as a brown dwarf, orbiting the object at a distance of five billion miles.

By contrast, Jupiter is approximately 500 million miles from the Sun. The brown dwarf is known as 2M1207. The system resides 170 light-years away from Earth.

“The result is very exciting. It gives us a unique technique to explore the atmospheres of exoplanets and to measure their rotation rates,” said Daniel Apai from University of Arizona in Tucson.

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Increase in Antarctic snow is greater than losses: NASA

Washington D.C., Oct. 31 - A new NASA study has revealed that the mass gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

The new study showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.

Lead author Jay Zwally of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center believes that it might only take a few decades for Antarctica's growth to reverse.

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Newborn stars' dust spirals may help spot giant planets

Washington D.C, Oct 30 - A new NASA study has proposed that huge dust spiral patterns seen around newborn stars may be a telltale sign of gigantic, unseen planets in their orbit.

This idea not only opens the door to a new method of planet detection, but also could offer a look into the early formative years of planet birth.

Though astronomers have cataloged thousands of planets orbiting other stars, the very earliest stages of planet formation are elusive because nascent planets are born and embedded inside vast, pancake-shaped disks of dust and gas encircling newborn stars, known as circumstellar disks.

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Mysteries of Voyager 1's interstellar journey solved

Washington D.C, Oct 29 - A team of scientists has provided an explanation as to why NASA's Voyager 1, when it became the first probe to enter interstellar space in mid-2012, observed a magnetic field that was inconsistent with that derived from other spacecraft observations.

Voyager 1 sent back several different indications that it had punched through the edge of our sun's massive protective bubble inflated by solar wind, the heliosphere, after a 35-year journey. But the magnetic field data gathered by the spacecraft was not what scientists had expected to see. The University of New Hampshire study resolves the inconsistencies.

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New 'Apollo lunar samples' find solves decades-old mystery

Washington D.C, Oct 29 - A recent NASA study has solved an enduring mystery from the Apollo missions to the moon - the origin of organic matter found in lunar samples returned to Earth.

Samples of the lunar soil brought back by the Apollo astronauts contain low levels of organic matter in the form of amino acids. Certain amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, essential molecules used by life to build structures like hair and skin and to regulate chemical reactions.

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