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    • By NASA
      From the left, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s, Maui Dalton, project manager, engineering; Katherine Zeringue, cultural resources manager; Janet Petro, NASA Kennedy Space Center director; and Ismael Otero, project manager, engineering, unveil a large bronze historical marker plaque at the location of NASA Kennedy’s original headquarters building on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Approved in April 2023 as part of the State of Florida’s Historical Markers program in celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, the marker commemorates the early days of space exploration and is displayed permanently just west of the seven-story, 200,000 square foot Central Campus Headquarters Building, which replaced the old building in 2019.Photo credit:: NASA/Mike Chambers Current and former employees of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida gathered recently to celebrate the installation of a Florida Historical Marker cast in bronze at the location of the spaceport’s old headquarters building.
      The first of its kind inside the center’s secure area, the marker is the latest example of the center’s commitment to remembering its rich history as it continues to launch humanity’s future.
      At the forefront of NASA Kennedy’s commitment to preservation is Katherine Zeringue, who serves as cultural resources manager, overseeing the center’s historic resources from buildings to historic districts to archaeological sites.
      “Traditional approaches attempt to preserve things to a specific time period, including historic materials,” Zeringue said. “But that’s a challenge here because we still actively use our historic assets, which need to be modified to accommodate new missions and new spacecraft. Therefore, we rely on an adaptive reuse approach, in which the active use of a historic property helps to ensure its preservation.”
      Many iconic structures are still in service at NASA Kennedy, like the Beach House where Apollo astronauts congregated with their families, the Vehicle Assembly Building where NASA rockets are still stacked, the Launch Control Center, and Launch Complex 39A. All told, 83 buildings, seven historic districts, and one National Historic Landmark are either listed or are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
      To conserve these resources, the spaceport follows a variety of federal laws, regulations, and executive orders, including the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This includes making a reasonable and good faith effort to identify any historic properties under its care and considering how its decisions affect historic properties.
      “The Cultural Resources Management Program aims to balance historic preservation considerations with the agency’s mission and mandate to ensure reliable access to space for government and commercial payloads,” Zeringue said. “Finding that proper balance is challenging in the dynamic environment of our spaceport.”
      Perhaps no other location embodies the center’s commitment to the past and the future more than Launch Complex 39A. Created in 1965, the launch complex was initially designed to support the Saturn V rocket, which powered the agency’s Apollo Program as it made numerous trips to the Moon. Outside of launching Skylab in 1973, the pad stood unused following Apollo’s end in 1972 until the agency’s Space Shuttle Program debuted in 1981. The transition from Apollo to space shuttle saw Launch Complex 39A transform from support of a single-use rocket to supporting the nation’s first reusable space launch and landing system.
      By the time the program ended in 2011, 135 space shuttle launches had taken place within Kennedy’s boundary, 82 of which were at Launch Complex 39A. Many of those were among the program’s most notable, including the flights of astronauts Sally Ride, NASA’s first woman in space, and Guion Bluford, NASA’s first Black astronaut in space, as well as the first flight to the newly created International Space Station in 1998.
      The launch complex began another transformation in 2014 when NASA signed a 20-year lease agreement with SpaceX as part of Kennedy’s transformation into a multi-user spaceport. SpaceX reconfigured Launch Complex 39A to support its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which today launch robotic science missions and other government and commercial payloads, as well as crew and cargo to the space station. Apollo-era infrastructure is incorporated in the SpaceX Crew Launch Tower.
      “Launch Complex 39A exemplifies the balance between historic preservation and supporting the mission,” Zeringue noted. “Each chapter of the space program brings change, and those changes become additional chapters in the center’s historical legacy as we continue to build the future in space exploration.”
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      6 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      This computer-generated 3D model of Venus’ surface shows the volcano Sif Mons, which is exhibiting signs of ongoing activity. Using data from NASA’s Magellan mission, Italian researchers detected evidence of an eruption while the spacecraft orbited the planet in the early 1990s.NASA/JPL-Caltech An analysis of data from Magellan’s radar finds two volcanoes erupted in the early 1990s. This adds to the 2023 discovery of a different active volcano in Magellan data.
      Direct geological evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus has been observed for a second time. Scientists in Italy analyzed archival data from NASA’s Magellan mission to reveal surface changes indicating the formation of new rock from lava flows linked to volcanoes that erupted while the spacecraft orbited the planet. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Magellan mapped 98% of the planet’s surface from 1990 to 1992, and the images it generated remain the most detailed of Venus to date.
      “Using these maps as a guide, our results show that Venus may be far more volcanically active than previously thought,” said Davide Sulcanese of d’Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy, who led the study. “By analyzing the lava flows we observed in two locations on the planet, we have discovered that the volcanic activity on Venus could be comparable to that on Earth.”
      This latest discovery builds on the historic 2023 discovery of images from Magellan’s synthetic aperture radar that revealed changes to a vent associated with the volcano Maat Mons near Venus’ equator. The radar images proved to be the first direct evidence of a recent volcanic eruption on the planet. By comparing Magellan radar images over time, the authors of the 2023 study spotted changes caused by the outflow of molten rock from Venus’ subsurface filling the vent’s crater and spilling down the vent’s slopes.
      Scientists study active volcanoes to understand how a planet’s interior can shape its crust, drive its evolution, and affect its habitability. The discovery of recent volcanism on Venus provides a valuable insight to the planet’s history and why it took a different evolutionary path than Earth.
      Before starting its journey to Venus, NASA’s Magellan spacecraft was released while in Earth orbit by Space Shuttle Atlantis’ STS-30 mission. Captured in this May 4, 1989, photo, Magellan was the first planetary spacecraft to be launched from the shuttle.NASA Radar Backscatter
      For the new study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the researchers likewise focused on archival data from Magellan’s synthetic aperture radar. Radio waves sent by the radar traveled through Venus’ thick cloud cover, then bounced off the planet’s surface and back to the spacecraft. Called backscatter, these reflected radar signals carried information about the rocky surface material they encountered.
      The two locations studied were the volcano Sif Mons in Eistla Regio and the western part of Niobe Planitia, which is home to numerous volcanic features. By analyzing the backscatter data received from both locations in 1990 and again in 1992, the researchers found that radar signal strength increased along certain paths during the later orbits. These changes suggested the formation of new rock, most likely solidified lava from volcanic activity that occurred during that two-year period. But they also considered other possibilities, such as the presence of micro-dunes (formed from windblown sand) and atmospheric effects that could interfere with the radar signal.
      To help confirm new rock, the researchers analyzed Magellan’s altimetry (surface height) data to determine slope of the topography and locate obstacles that lava would flow around.
      “We interpret these signals as flows along slopes or volcanic plains that can deviate around obstacles such as shield volcanoes like a fluid,” said study co-author Marco Mastrogiuseppe of Sapienza University of Rome. “After ruling out other possibilities, we confirmed our best interpretation is that these are new lava flows.”
      Using flows on Earth as a comparison, the researchers estimate new rock that was emplaced in both locations to be between 10 and 66 feet (3 and 20 meters) deep, on average. They also estimate that the Sif Mons eruption produced about 12 square miles (30 square kilometers) of rock — enough to fill at least 36,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The Niobe Planitia eruption produced about 17 square miles (45 square kilometers) of rock, which would fill 54,000 Olympic swimming pools. As a comparison, the 2022 eruption of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, Earth’s largest active volcano, produced a lava flow with enough material to fill 100,000 Olympic pools.
      “This exciting work provides another example of volcanic change on Venus from new lava flows that augments the vent change Dr. Robert Herrick and I reported last year,” said Scott Hensley, senior research scientist at JPL and co-author of the 2023 study. “This result, in tandem with the earlier discovery of present-day geologic activity, increases the excitement in the planetary science community for future missions to Venus.”
      Figuring Out Volcanoes
      Hensley is the project scientist for NASA’s upcoming VERITAS mission, and Mastrogiuseppe is a member of its science team. Short for Venus Emissivity, Radio science, InSAR, Topography, And Spectroscopy, VERITAS is slated to launch early next decade, using a state-of-the-art synthetic aperture radar to create 3D global maps and a near-infrared spectrometer to figure out what Venus’ surface is made of while also tracking volcanic activity. In addition, the spacecraft will measure the planet’s gravitational field to determine its internal structure.
      “These new discoveries of recent volcanic activity on Venus by our international colleagues provide compelling evidence of the kinds of regions we should target with VERITAS when it arrives at Venus,” said Suzanne Smrekar, a senior scientist at JPL and principal investigator for VERITAS. “Our spacecraft will have a suite of approaches for identifying surface changes that are far more comprehensive and higher resolution than Magellan images. Evidence for activity, even in the lower-resolution Magellan data, supercharges the potential to revolutionize our understanding of this enigmatic world.”
      More About the Mission
      NASA’s VERITAS mission was selected in 2021 under NASA’s Discovery Program. Mission partners include Lockheed Martin Space, the Italian Space Agency, the German Aerospace Center, and Centre National d’Études Spatiales in France. The Discovery Program is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
      News Media Contacts
      Ian J. O’Neill
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      Karen Fox / Charles Blue
      NASA Headquarters
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      karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov
      Giuseppina Piccirilli
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      Last Updated May 27, 2024 Related Terms
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    • By European Space Agency
      ESA’s next mission to Venus was officially ‘adopted’ today by the Agency’s Science Programme Committee. EnVision will study Venus from its inner core to its outer atmosphere, giving important new insight into the planet's history, geological activity and climate.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      In December 1973, Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue passed the one-month mark of the third and final mission aboard the Skylab space station. Launching on Nov. 16, they began a planned 56-day flight that mission managers fully expected to extend to 84 days. They continued the science program begun by the previous two Skylab crews, including biomedical studies on the effects of long-duration space flight on the human body, Earth observations using the Earth Resources Experiment Package (EREP), and solar observations with instruments mounted on the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM). To study newly discovered Comet Kohoutek, scientists added cometary observations to the crew’s already busy schedule, including adding a far ultraviolet camera to Skylab’s instrument suite.

      Left: Image of a massive solar flare taken by one of the Apollo Telescope Mount instruments. Middle: Earth Resources Experiment Package infrared photograph of Florida’s central Atlantic coast including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Right: Gerald P. Carr monitors Edward G. Gibson during a lower body negative pressure test of his cardiovascular system.
      On Dec. 13, the mission’s 28th day, program officials assessed the astronauts’ performance and the status of the station and fully expected that they could complete the nominal 56-day mission and most likely the full 84 days. Despite being overworked and often behind the timeline, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue had already accomplished 84 hours of ATM solar observations, 12 EREP passes, 80 photographic and visual Earth observations, all of the scheduled medical experiments, as well as numerous other activities such as student experiments, and science demonstrations. The astronaut’s major concern centered around the timelining process that had not given them time to adjust to their new environment and did not consider their on-orbit daily routine. Despite the crew sending taped verbal messages to the ground asking for help in fixing these issues, the problem persisted. Skylab 4 Lead Flight Director Neil B. Hutchinson later admitted that the ground team learned many lessons about timelining long duration missions during the first few weeks of Skylab 4.

      Left: Soyuz 13 cosmonauts Pyotr I. Klimuk, left, and Valentin V. Lebedev during their mission. Middle:  Model of Soyuz 13, showing the replacement of the forward docking system with the Orion-2 telescope inside its housing. Right: Preflight view of the Orion-2 instrument package. Image credits: courtesy of Roscosmos.
      On Dec. 18, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue received visitors in low Earth orbit. On their 33rd day aboard the Skylab space station, the Soviet Union launched Soyuz 13, with Pyotr I. Klimuk and Valentin V. Lebedev aboard. Although the event marked the first time in history that American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts orbited the Earth at the same time, the two crews neither met nor communicated with each other, traveling in very different orbits with different missions. The Soyuz 13 cosmonauts operated a scientific package called Orion-2, comprised of three ultraviolet spectrographs for stellar observations and an X-ray telescope to image the Sun. Soviet engineers modified the orbital compartment of the Soyuz, removing its docking apparatus to accommodate the Orion-2 instruments. On Dec. 26, the cosmonauts landed in Kazakhstan in the middle of a snowstorm. The success of Soyuz 13 gave the Soviets and their American counterparts confidence that the spacecraft, modified after the Soyuz 11 accident, would be safe for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), a joint mission agreed to in May 1972 and planned for July 1975.

      Left: Gerald P. Carr flying the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit. Middle: A far ultraviolet image of Comet Kohoutek. Right: William R. Pogue at the controls of the Apollo Telescope Mount.
      Carr, Gibson, and Pogue increased their focus on observing Comet Kohoutek as it neared perihelion, or its closest approach to the Sun, on Dec. 28. At that point, Skylab’s solar telescopes could observe the comet better than any ground-based instruments. In addition to dedicated observations during two spacewalks, the astronauts continued to monitor the comet well into January as it headed rapidly away from the Sun, to return in maybe 75,000 years. The astronauts continued their medical studies and Earth observations as well as tests inside the large dome of the workshop of the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit, a precursor of the Manned Maneuvering Unit used during the space shuttle program to retrieve satellites.

      Left: Skylab 4 astronauts Gerald P. Carr, left, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue build and decorate their makeshift Christmas tree. Middle: Carr, left, Gibson, and Pogue’s Christmas stockings. Right: Gibson, left, Carr, and Pogue open Christmas presents.
      For only the second time, American astronauts celebrated Christmas in space. On the first occasion five years earlier, Apollo 8 astronauts observed Christmas as the first crew to orbit the Moon. In the more spacious Skylab workshop, and with more time to prepare, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue built a makeshift Christmas tree by repurposing food cans, used colored decals as decorations, and topped it with a cardboard cutout in the shape of a comet. They hung stockings on the wall beneath the tree and sent holiday greetings to people on the ground.

      Skylab 4 astronaut Gerald P. Carr in three scenes from the mission’s second spacewalk, with tasks including changing film cassettes in the Apollo Telescope Mount (ATM), repairing one of the ATM instruments, and observing Comet Kohoutek.
      The main task on Christmas Day involved the mission’s second spacewalk. Carr and Pogue spent 7 hours and 1 minute outside the space station, then a record for Earth orbital spacewalks. In addition to replacing film cartridges in the ATM, they repaired a stuck filter wheel on an ATM instrument, and used an ultraviolet camera to photograph Comet Kohoutek. Once back inside the station, they enjoyed a Christmas dinner complete with fruitcake, talked to their families, and opened presents from the astronauts’ wives that the ground crew at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida had hidden in lockers in the Command Module.

      Left: In the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Professor Luboš Kohoutek talks with the Skylab 4 crew. Middle: Astronauts Gerald P. Carr, left, Edward G. Gibson, and William R. Pogue during the videoconference with Professor Kohoutek. Right: Gibson during the third Skylab 4 spacewalk, exclusively dedicated to study Comet Kohoutek.
      On Dec. 28, the day the astronauts reached the halfway point of their 84-day mission, they held an 11-minute video conference with the comet’s discoverer, Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek during his visit to the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. The next day, Carr and Gibson completed the mission’s third spacewalk lasting 3 hours 29 minutes and dedicated to observing and photographing the comet. Although the crew’s work schedule had improved over the previous few weeks, the astronauts still found it difficult to accomplish the timeline the planners laid out for them. To rectify the problem, Carr requested a dedicated space to ground voice conference so the issues could be aired and rectified. Following what Carr later called the first sensitivity session in space on Dec. 30, planners understood the astronauts’ constraints and the crew worked more effectively the second half of the mission. Capsule communicator Richard H. Truly mentioned that JSC Director Christopher C. Kraft and Flight Crew Operations Chief Donald K. “Deke” Slayton had listened to the conversation and agreed that the teams “made about a million bucks” during the 55-minute conversation. The lessons learned about scheduling activities for long-duration spaceflights proved useful to later programs such as Shuttle/Mir and the International Space Station.

      Left: Williams R. Pogue, left, and Gerald P. Carr place bags into the trash airlock. Middle: Edward G. Gibson floats into the large volume of the orbital workshop from airlock module. Right: Carr and Pogue demonstrate weightlessness.
      On Jan. 1, 1974, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue celebrated the coming of the new year, the first space crew to observe that holiday along with Thanksgiving and Christmas. An American astronaut would not repeat that for 23 years until John E. Blaha during his four-month stay aboard the Mir space station in 1996-7. On Jan. 10, Carr, Gibson, and Pogue enjoyed a day off, meaning planners only scheduled one third of their time, freeing them to pursue activities of their own choosing. On the ground, mission managers held the 56-day review of the mission and based on the crew’s health and the station’s condition declared the mission go for 84 days, although strictly speaking, managers and flight surgeons approved the mission’s extension one week at a time.
      For more insight into the Skylab 4 mission, read Carr’s, Gibson’s, and Pogue’s oral histories with the JSC History Office.
      To be continued …
      With special thanks to Ed Hengeveld for his expert contributions on Skylab imagery.
      Last Updated Dec 18, 2023 Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Hubble Images Galaxy with an Explosive Past
      A NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the spiral galaxy NGC 941. ESA/Hubble & NASA, C. Kilpatrick This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope features the spiral galaxy NGC 941, which lies about 55 million light-years from Earth. Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) collected the data that created this image. Beautiful NGC 941 is undoubtedly the main attraction in this view; however, the hazy-looking galaxy was not the motivation for collecting the data. That distinction belongs to an astronomical event that took place in the galaxy years before: the supernova SN 2005ad. The location of this faded supernova was observed as part of a study of multiple hydrogen-rich supernovae, also known as type II supernovae, to better understand the environments in which certain types of supernovae take place. While the study was conducted by professional astronomers, SN 2005ad itself owes its discovery to a distinguished amateur astronomer named Kōichi Itagaki, who has discovered over 170 supernovae.
      This might raise the question of how an amateur astronomer could spot something like a supernova event before professional astronomers who have access to telescopes such as Hubble. The detection of supernovae is a mixture of skill, facilities, and luck. Most astronomical events happen over time spans that dwarf human lifetimes, but supernova explosions are extraordinarily fast, appearing very suddenly and then brightening and dimming over a period of days or weeks. Another aspect is time – data from a few hours of observations with telescopes like Hubble might take weeks, months, or sometimes even years to process and analyze. Amateur astronomers can spend much more time actively observing the skies, and sometimes have extremely impressive systems of telescopes, computers, and software they can use. 
      Because amateurs like Itagaki spot so many supernovae, there is actually an online system set up to report them (the Transient Name Server). This system is a big help to professional astronomers, because time is truly of the essence with supernovae events. After the reported discovery of SN 2005ab, professional astronomers were able to follow up with spectroscopic studies and confirm it as a type II supernova, which eventually led to Hubble to study its location. Such a study wouldn’t be possible without a rich library of cataloged supernovae, built with the keen eyes of amateur astronomers.
      Text credit: European Space Agency
      Media Contact:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

      Last Updated Nov 16, 2023 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
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