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For the 13th consecutive year, NASA received an unmodified, or “clean,” opinion from an external auditor on its fiscal year 2023 financial statements.
NASA’s financial statements and budgetary reporting have received the highest possible audit opinion, certifying that it adheres to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for federal agencies. These financial statements provide a comprehensive overview of the agency’s financial activities and disclosures for fiscal years 2023 and 2022. The audit opinion reaffirms NASA’s responsible stewardship of American tax dollars.
“For the 13th consecutive year, NASA continues to deliver an accurate and transparent report of our fiscal operations as we explore the unknown in air and space,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Under the leadership of NASA’s Chief Financial Officer Margaret Vo Schaus, NASA will continue to uphold the American public’s trust in our goals and missions and ensure best financial reporting practices, which are critical to the agency’s success.”
In addition to the independent auditor’s opinion, the Agency Financial Report includes crucial supplementary information and preliminary top-level performance results, among other essential details.
“NASA continues to uphold the highest standards for prudent financial management, data integrity, and reliable financial reporting,” said NASA Chief Financial Officer Margaret Vo Schaus. “Our Agency Financial Report provides valuable insights into NASA’s financial performance as we further U.S. leadership in space and aeronautics; address the climate crisis; foster greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and drive economic growth.”
The 2023 Agency Financial Report accounts for the agency’s mission and performance goals per its strategic plan and highlights the benefits it brings to all. The report details NASA’s advancements in achieving its long-term priorities, such as the utilization of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope; advancing climate change research; securing America’s position in space technology; and accomplishing the historic feat of landing the first woman and person of color on the Moon through the Artemis program, as a step towards human exploration of Mars.
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Last Updated Nov 15, 2023 Location NASA Headquarters Related Terms
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4 min read
AWE Launching to Space Station to Study Atmospheric Waves via Airglow
NASA’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment, or AWE, mission is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in November 2023, where it will make use of a natural, ethereal glow in Earth’s sky to study waves in our planet’s atmosphere.
Built by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory in North Logan, Utah, AWE will be mounted on the exterior of the space station. From this perch, AWE will stare down toward Earth, tracking undulations in the air known as atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs).
Primarily originating in the lowest level of the atmosphere, AGWs may be caused by strong weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, or even thunderstorms. These weather events can momentarily push pockets of high-density air upwards into the atmosphere before the air sinks back down. This up-and-down bobbing often leaves behind distinctive ripples patterns in the clouds.
This photo shows examples of cloud patterns caused by atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs). Warmer, denser air from lower in the atmosphere holds more water, so as weather events like wind and storms push those pockets of air to higher altitudes, that water forms clouds at the crests of those waves. Courtesy Alexa Halford; used with permission But AGWs continue all the way to space, where they contribute to what’s known as space weather – the tumultuous exchange of energy in the area surrounding our planet that can disrupt satellite and communications signals. AWE will measure AGWs at an atmospheric layer that begins some 54 miles (87 kilometers) in altitude, known as the mesopause.
“This is the first time that AGWs, especially the small-scale ones, will be measured globally at the mesopause, the gateway to the space,” said Michael Taylor, professor of physics at Utah State University and principal investigator for the mission. “More importantly, this is the first time we will be able to quantify the impacts of AGWs on space weather.”
This image taken from the International Space Station shows swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. NASA At the mesopause, where AWE will make its measurements, AGWs are revealed by colorful bands of light in our atmosphere known as airglow. AWE will “see” these waves by recording variations of airglow in infrared light, a wavelength range too long for human eyes to see. At these altitudes our atmosphere dips to its coldest temperatures – reaching as low as -150 degrees Fahrenheit (-101 degrees Celsius) – and the faint glow of infrared light is at its brightest.
By watching that infrared airglow grow brighter and dimmer as waves move through it, AWE will enable scientists to compute the size, power, and dispersion of AGWs like never before. It was also designed to see smaller AGWs, detecting short-scale ripples in airglow that previous missions would miss.
“AWE will be able to resolve waves at finer horizontal scales than what satellites can usually see at those altitudes, which is part of what makes the mission unique,” said Ruth Lieberman, AWE mission scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This artist’s conception depicts AWE scanning the atmosphere from aboard the International Space Station. AWE will measure variations in infrared airglow to track atmospheric gravity waves as they move up from the lower atmosphere into space. Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory From its vantage point on the space station, AWE’s Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper (AMTM) instrument will scan the mesopause below it. AWE’s AMTM consists of four identical telescopes, which together comprise a wide-field-of-view imaging radiometer, an instrument that measures the brightness of light at specific wavelength ranges. The relative brightness of different wavelengths can be used to create temperature maps, which in turn reveal how AGWs are moving through the atmosphere. It will be the most thorough study of AGWs and their effects on the upper atmosphere ever conducted.
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From its unique vantage point on the International Space Station, NASA’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) will look directly down into Earth’s atmosphere to study how gravity waves travel through the upper atmosphere. Data collected by AWE will enable scientists to determine the physics and characteristics of atmospheric gravity waves and how terrestrial weather influences the ionosphere, which can affect communication with satellites. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab As a payload headed to the space station, AWE was required to hold four crucial safety reviews. The mission was successfully certified as a station payload at its last review in July 2023. Part of this certification involved “sharp edge” testing with astronaut gloves to ensure safety during AWE’s installation and maintenance on the exterior of the space station.
AWE is the first NASA mission to attempt this type of science to provide insight into how terrestrial and space weather interactions may affect satellite communications and tracking in orbit.
Following AWE’s installation on the International Space Station, the team’s focus will be to share the instrument’s data and results with the science community and the public. More information about AWE is available on the mission website: https://www.awemission.org/.
By J. Titus Stupfel, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
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A simulated image of Roman’s observations toward the center of our galaxy, spanning only less than 1 percent of the total area of Roman’s galactic bulge time-domain survey. The simulated stars were drawn from the Besançon Galactic Model.Credit: Matthew Penny (Louisiana State University) NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will provide one of the deepest-ever views into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. The mission will monitor hundreds of millions of stars in search of tell-tale flickers that betray the presence of planets, distant stars, small icy objects that haunt the outskirts of our solar system, isolated black holes, and more. Roman will likely set a new record for the farthest-known exoplanet, offering a glimpse of a different galactic neighborhood that could be home to worlds quite unlike the more than 5,500 that are currently known.
Roman’s long-term sky monitoring, which will enable these results, represents a boon to what scientists call time-domain astronomy, which studies how the universe changes over time. Roman will join a growing, international fleet of observatories working together to capture these changes as they unfold. Roman’s Galactic Bulge Time-Domain Survey will focus on the Milky Way, using the telescope’s infrared vision to see through clouds of dust that can block our view of the crowded central region of our galaxy.
Watch this video to learn about time-domain astronomy and how time will be a key element in the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s galactic bulge survey. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center “Roman will be an incredible discovery machine, pairing a vast view of space with keen vision,” said Julie McEnery, the Roman senior project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Its time-domain surveys will yield a treasure trove of new information about the cosmos.”
When Roman launches, expected by May 2027, the mission will scour the center of the Milky Way for microlensing events, which occur when an object such as a star or planet comes into near-perfect alignment with an unrelated background star from our viewpoint. Because anything with mass warps the fabric of space-time, light from the distant star bends around the nearer object as it passes close by. The nearer object therefore acts as a natural magnifying glass, creating a temporary spike in the brightness of the background star’s light. That signal lets astronomers know there’s an intervening object, even if they can’t see it directly.
In current plans, the survey will involve taking an image every 15 minutes around the clock for about two months. Astronomers will repeat the process six times over Roman’s five-year primary mission for a combined total of more than a year of observations.
This artist’s concept shows the region of the Milky Way Roman’s galactic bulge time-domain survey will cover. The higher density of stars in this direction will yield more than 50,000 microlensing events, which will reveal planets, black holes, neutron stars, trans-Neptunian objects, and enable exciting stellar science. The survey will also cover relatively uncharted territory when it comes to planet-finding. That’s important because the way planets form and evolve may be different depending on where in the galaxy they’re located. Our solar system is situated near the outskirts of the Milky Way, about halfway out on one of the galaxy’s spiral arms. A recent Kepler Space Telescope study showed that stars on the fringes of the Milky Way possess fewer of the most common planet types that have been detected so far. Roman will search in the opposite direction, toward the center of the galaxy, and could find differences in that galactic neighborhood, too.Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab “This will be one of the longest exposures of the sky ever taken,” said Scott Gaudi, an astronomy professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, whose research is helping inform Roman’s survey strategy. “And it will cover territory that is largely uncharted when it comes to planets.”
Astronomers expect the survey to reveal more than a thousand planets orbiting far from their host stars and in systems located farther from Earth than any previous mission has detected. That includes some that could lie within their host star’s habitable zone – the range of orbital distances where liquid water can exist on the surface – and worlds that weigh in at as little as a few times the mass of the Moon.
Roman can even detect “rogue” worlds that don’t orbit a star at all using microlensing. These cosmic castaways may have formed in isolation or been kicked out of their home planetary systems. Studying them offers clues about how planetary systems form and evolve.
Roman’s microlensing observations will also help astronomers explore how common planets are around different types of stars, including binary systems. The mission will estimate how many worlds with two host stars are found in our galaxy by identifying real-life “Tatooine” planets, building on work started by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and TESS (the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite).
Some of the objects the survey will identify exist in a cosmic gray area. Known as brown dwarfs, they’re too massive to be characterized as planets, but not quite massive enough to ignite as stars. Studying them will allow astronomers to explore the boundary between planet and star formation.
Roman is also expected to spot more than a thousand neutron stars and hundreds of stellar-mass black holes. These heavyweights form after a massive star exhausts its fuel and collapses. The black holes are nearly impossible to find when they don’t have a visible companion to signal their presence, but Roman will be able to detect them even if unaccompanied because microlensing relies only on an object’s gravity. The mission will also find isolated neutron stars – the leftover cores of stars that weren’t quite massive enough to become black holes.
Astronomers will use Roman to find thousands of Kuiper belt objects, which are icy bodies scattered mostly beyond Neptune. The telescope will spot some as small as about six miles across (about 1 percent of Pluto’s diameter), sometimes by seeing them directly from reflected sunlight and others as they block the light of background stars.
This animation compares signals from two planet detection methods: microlensing (top) and transit (bottom) for both high- and low-mass planets. Microlensing creates spikes in a star’s brightness, while transits have the opposite effect. Since both methods involve tracking the amount of light we receive from stars over time, astronomers will be able to use the same data set for both methods. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab A similar type of shadow play will reveal 100,000 transiting planets between Earth and the center of the galaxy. These worlds cross in front of their host star as they orbit and temporarily dim the light we receive from the star. This method will reveal planets orbiting much closer to their host stars than microlensing reveals, and likely some that lie in the habitable zone.
Scientists will also conduct stellar seismology studies on a million giant stars. This will involve analyzing brightness changes caused by sound waves echoing through a star’s gaseous interior to learn about its structure, age, and other properties.
All of these scientific discoveries and more will come from Roman’s Galactic Bulge Time-Domain Survey, which will account for less than a fourth of the observing time in Roman’s five-year primary mission. Its broad view of space will allow astronomers to conduct many of these studies in ways that have never been possible before, giving us a new view of an ever-changing universe.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, Florida; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.
Download high-resolution video and images from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
By Ashley Balzer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
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Last Updated Oct 24, 2023 Location Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
Astrophysics Black Holes Earth-like Exoplanets Exoplanet Detection Methods Exoplanet Science Exoplanet Transits Exoplanets Galaxies Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes Galaxies, Stars, & Black Holes Research Gas Giant Exoplanets General Gravitational Microlensing Kepler / K2 Missions Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Neptune-Like Exoplanets Neutron Stars Science & Research Stars Studying Exoplanets Super-Earth Exoplanets Terrestrial Exoplanets TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) The Kuiper Belt The Milky Way The Solar System The Universe View the full article
By European Space Agency
Video: 00:42:00 Media briefing on the findings of the Independent Enquiry Commission tasked with analysing the results of the static-firing test of the Vega-C Zefiro 40 motor, which took place on 28 June 2023.
The press briefing was held on 2 October 2023 with ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher presenting the results of the investigation, with ESA Inspector General and chair of the Independent Enquiry Commission Giovanni Colangelo; Avio CEO Giulio Ranzo, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël, and ESA’s Director of Space Transportation Toni Tolker-Nielsen.
During the briefing, ESA and its partners presented the findings of the enquiry commission, together with an updated target schedule of the 2024 Vega-C launch manifest.
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Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Independent Study Report
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