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NASA Announces 2021 Class of Astronaut Candidates


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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      This image shows an aviation version of a smartphone navigation app that makes suggestions for an aircraft to fly an alternate, more efficient route. The new trajectories are based on information available from NASA’s Digital Information Platform and processed by the Collaborative Departure Digital Rerouting tool.NASA Just like your smartphone navigation app can instantly analyze information from many sources to suggest the best route to follow, a NASA-developed resource is now making data available to help the aviation industry do the same thing.
      To assist air traffic managers in keeping airplanes moving efficiently through the skies, information about weather, potential delays, and more is being gathered and processed to support decision making tools for a variety of aviation applications.
      Appropriately named the Digital Information Platform (DIP), this living database hosts key data gathered by flight participants such as airlines or drone operators. It will help power additional tools that, among other benefits, can save you travel time.
      Ultimately, the aviation industry… and even the flying public, will benefit from what we develop.
      Swati Saxena
      NASA Aerospace Engineer
      “Through DIP we’re also demonstrating how to deliver digital services for aviation users via a modern cloud-based, service-oriented architecture,” said Swati Saxena, DIP project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.
      The intent is not to compete with others. Instead, the hope is that industry will see DIP as a reference they can use in developing and implementing their own platforms and digital services.
      “Ultimately, the aviation industry – the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial airlines, flight operators, and even the flying public – will benefit from what we develop,” Saxena said.
      The platform and digital services have even more benefits than just saving some time on a journey.
      For example, NASA recently collaborated with airlines to demonstrate a traffic management tool that improved traffic flow at select airports, saving thousands of pounds of jet fuel and significantly reducing carbon emissions.
      Now, much of the data gathered in collaboration with airlines and integrated on the platform is publicly available. Users who qualify can create a guest account and access DIP data at a new website created by the project.
      It’s all part of NASA’s vision for 21st century aviation involving revolutionary next-generation future airspace and safety tools.
      Managing Future Air Traffic
      During the 2030s and beyond, the skies above the United States are expected to become much busier.
      Facing this rising demand, the current National Airspace System – the network of U.S. aviation infrastructure including airports, air navigation facilities, and communications – will be challenged to keep up. DIP represents a key piece of solving that challenge.
      NASA’s vision for future airspace and safety involves new technology to create a highly automated, safe, and scalable environment.
      What this vision looks like is a flight environment where many types of vehicles and their pilots, as well as air traffic managers, use state-of-the-art automated tools and systems that provide highly detailed and curated information.
      These tools leverage new capabilities like machine learning and artificial intelligence to streamline efficiency and handle the increase in traffic expected in the coming decades.
      Digital Services Ecosystem in Action
      To begin implementing this new vision, our aeronautical innovators are evaluating their platform, DIP, and services at several airports in Texas. This initial stage is a building block for larger such demonstrations in the future.
      “These digital services are being used in the live operational environment by our airline partners to improve efficiency of the current airspace operations,” Saxena said. “The tools are currently in use in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and will be deployed in the Houston airspace in 2025.”
      The results from these digital tools are already making a difference.
      Proven Air Traffic Results
      During 2022, a NASA machine learning-based tool named Collaborative Digital Departure Rerouting, designed to improve the flow of air traffic and prevent flight delays, saved more than 24,000 lbs. (10,886 kg.) of fuel by streamlining air traffic in the Dallas area.
      If such tools were used across the entire country, the improvements made in efficiency, safety, and sustainability would make a notable difference to the flying public and industry.
      “Continued agreements with airlines and the aviation industry led to the creation and expansion of this partnership ecosystem,” Saxena said. “There have been benefits across the board.”
      DIP was developed under NASA’s Airspace Operations and Safety Program.
      Learn about NASA’s Collaborative Digital Departure Rerouting tool and how it uses information from the Digital Information Platform to provide airlines with routing options similar to how drivers navigate using cellphone apps. About the Author
      John Gould
      Aeronautics Research Mission DirectorateJohn Gould is a member of NASA Aeronautics' Strategic Communications team at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. He is dedicated to public service and NASA’s leading role in scientific exploration. Prior to working for NASA Aeronautics, he was a spaceflight historian and writer, having a lifelong passion for space and aviation.
      Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More
      2 min read NASA Prepares for Air Taxi Passenger Comfort Studies
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      Last Updated Jul 12, 2024 EditorJim BankeContactJim Bankejim.banke@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Aeronautics Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Air Traffic Management – Exploration Air Traffic Solutions Airspace Operations and Safety Program View the full article
    • By NASA
      Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 moonwalk on July 20, 1969. The Lunar Module is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible in the soil of the moon.Credit: NASA As the agency explores more of the Moon than ever before under the Artemis campaign, NASA will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first astronauts landing on the Moon through a variety of in-person, virtual, and engagement activities nationwide between Monday, July 15, and Thursday, July 25.
      Events will honor America’s vision and technology that enabled the Apollo 11 crewed lunar landing on July 20, 1969, as well as Apollo-era inventions and techniques that spread into public life, many of which are still in use today. Activities also will highlight NASA’s Artemis campaign, which includes landing the first woman, first person of color, and first international astronaut on the Moon, inspiring great achievements, exploration, and scientific discovery for the benefit of all.
      NASA’s subject matter experts are available for a limited number of interviews about the anniversary. To request an interview virtually or in person, contact Jessica Taveau in the newsroom: jessica.c.taveau@nasa.gov.
      During the week of July 15, the agency also will share the iconic bootprint image and the significance of Apollo 11 to NASA’s mission, as well as use the #Apollo11 hashtag, across its digital platforms online.
      Additional activities from NASA include:
      Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana: NASA will host the rollout of the agency’s Artemis II SLS (Space Launch System) core stage. Friday, July 19, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston: In a dedication and ribbon cutting, the center will name its building 12 the ‘Dorothy Vaughan Center in Honor of the Women of Apollo.’ Vaughan was a mathematician, computer programmer, and NASA’s first Black manager. Sunday, July 21, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland: NASA Goddard will host a model rocket contest conducted by the National Association of Rocketry Headquarters Astro Modeling Section. This free contest is open to all model rocketeers and the public.  Other activities include:
      Tuesday, July 16 through Wednesday, July 24, Space Center Houston: The center will host pop-up science labs, mission briefings, special tram tours that feature the Mission Control Center at NASA Johnson, and more. Friday, July 19 through Saturday, July 20, National Cathedral in Washington: The cathedral will host a festival marking the 50th anniversary of its Space Window, which contains a piece of lunar rock that was donated by NASA and the crew of Apollo 11. Thursday, July 25, San Diego Comic-Con: NASA representatives will participate in a panel entitled ‘Exploring the Moon: the Artemis Generation.’ Panelists are:Stan Love, NASA astronaut A.C. Charania, NASA chief technologist Dionne Hernandez-Lugo, NASA’s Gateway Program Jackelynne Silva-Martinez, NASA Human Health and Performance For more details about NASA’s Apollo Program, please visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/the-apollo-program
      -end-
      Cheryl Warner / Jessica Taveau
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-356-1600
      cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov / jessica.c.taveau@nasa.gov
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      Last Updated Jul 12, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Apollo 11 Artemis View the full article
    • By Space Force
      Air Marshal Paul Godfrey took the position June 17 and will serve the U.S. Space Force as assistant chief of Space Operations for Future Concepts and Partnerships after three years as the first commander of the U.K. Space Command.

      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Portrait of retired NASA astronaut Joe Engle wearing flight suit in front of an X-15 fighter circa 1963. Retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joe Engle died July 10, surrounded by his family at home in Houston. Among his many honors, he is the only astronaut to pilot both the X-15 and space shuttle. He was 91.
      Engle became an astronaut at age 32 while flying the X-15 for the U.S. Air Force, becoming the youngest pilot ever to qualify as an astronaut. When selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in 1966, he was the only person selected that was already engaged in spaceflight operations. He was the last surviving X-15 pilot.
      “A natural pilot, Gen. Joe Engle helped humanity’s dreams take flight – in the X-15 program, the Apollo Program, and as one of the first commanders in the Space Shuttle Program,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “He was one of the first astronauts I met at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. I’ll never forget his big smile, his warmth, and his courage. We all will miss him.” 
      Engle was born in Dickinson County, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas, Lawrence, where he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. He received his commission through the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Course, earning his pilot wings in 1958.
      As a NASA astronaut, he supported the Apollo Program, and was backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 14. In 1977, he served as commander of the space shuttle Enterprise, which used a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft to release Enterprise for approach and landing tests. In November 1981, he commanded the second flight of the space shuttle Columbia. He was the first and only pilot to manually fly an aerospace vehicle from Mach 25 to landing. He accumulated the last of his 224 hours in space when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery in August 1985, one of the most challenging shuttle missions ever. On that mission the crew deployed three commercial satellites and retrieved, repaired, and redeployed another malfunctioning satellite that had been launched on a previous shuttle mission.
      “As we mourn the immense loss of Joe, we’re thankful for his notable contributions to the advancement of human spaceflight,” said Vanessa Wyche, center director, NASA Johnson. “Joe’s accomplishments and legacy of perseverance will continue to inspire and impact generations of explorers for years to come.” 
      Engle flew more than 180 different aircraft types and logged more than 14,000 flight hours. His military decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster. He has received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and Space Flight Medal, as well as the Harmon International Aviation Trophy, the Collier Trophy, the Goddard Space Trophy, the Gen.
      Thomas D. White Space Trophy, and the Kinchelow Experimental Test Pilot’s Trophy. In 1992, he was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor.
      “Joe Henry was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Blessed with natural piloting skills, General Joe, as he was known to many, was at his happiest in any cockpit. Always with a smile, he lived a fulfilled life as a proud American, U.S. Air Force pilot, astronaut, and Kansas Jayhawk,” said his wife, Jeanie Engle. “His passing leaves a tremendous loss in our hearts. We take comfort that he has joined Tom Stafford and George Abbey, two of the best friends anyone could ask for.”
      Learn more about Engle’s life as an astronaut and pilot:
      https://www.nasa.gov/aeronautics/the-x-15-the-pilot-and-the-space-shuttle/
      -end-
      Faith McKie / Cheryl Warner
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / cheryl.m.warner@nasa.gov
      Chelsey Ballarte / Courtney Beasley
      Johnson Space Center, Houston
      281-483-5111
      chelsey.n.ballarte@nasa.gov / courtney.m.beasley@nasa.gov  
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 Min Read NASA’s Hubble Finds Strong Evidence for Intermediate-Mass Black Hole in Omega Centauri
      This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image features the globular star cluster, Omega Centauri. Credits:
      ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA) Most known black holes are either extremely massive, like the supermassive black holes that lie at the cores of large galaxies, or relatively lightweight, with a mass of under 100 times that of the Sun. Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are scarce, however, and are considered rare “missing links” in black hole evolution.
      Now, an international team of astronomers has used more than 500 images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope — spanning two decades of observations — to search for evidence of an intermediate-mass black hole by following the motion of seven fast-moving stars in the innermost region of the globular star cluster Omega Centauri.
      Omega Centauri is about 10 times as massive as other big globular clusters – almost as massive as a small galaxy – and consists of roughly 10 million stars that are gravitationally bound. ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA)
      Download this image

      These stars provide new compelling evidence for the presence of the gravitational pull from an intermediate-mass black hole tugging on them. Only a few other IMBH candidates have been found to date.
      Omega Centauri consists of roughly 10 million stars that are gravitationally bound. The cluster is about 10 times as massive as other big globular clusters — almost as massive as a small galaxy.
      Among the many questions scientists want to answer: Are there any IMBHs, and if so, how common are they? Does a supermassive black hole grow from an IMBH? How do IMBHs themselves form? Are dense star clusters their favored home?
      The astronomers have now created an enormous catalog for the motions of these stars, measuring the velocities for 1.4 million stars gleaned from the Hubble images of the cluster. Most of these observations were intended to calibrate Hubble’s instruments rather than for scientific use, but they turned out to be an ideal database for the team’s research efforts.
      This image shows the central region of the Omega Centauri globular cluster, where NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found strong evidence for an intermediate-mass black hole candidate. ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA)
      Download this image

      “We discovered seven stars that should not be there,” explained Maximilian Häberle of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, who led this investigation. “They are moving so fast that they would escape the cluster and never come back. The most likely explanation is that a very massive object is gravitationally pulling on these stars and keeping them close to the center. The only object that can be so massive is a black hole, with a mass at least 8,200 times that of our Sun.”
      Several studies have suggested the presence of an IMBH in Omega Centauri. However, other studies proposed the mass could be contributed by a central cluster of stellar-mass black holes, and had suggested the lack of fast-moving stars above the necessary escape velocity made an IMBH less likely in comparison.
      An international team of astronomers used more than 500 images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope – spanning two decades of observations – to detect seven fast-moving stars in the innermost region of Omega Centauri, the largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky. These stars provide compelling new evidence for the presence of an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) tugging on them. Only a few other IMBH candidates have been found to date. This image shows the location of the IMBH in Omega Centauri. If confirmed, at its distance of 17,700 light-years the candidate black hole resides closer to Earth than the 4.3-million-solar-mass black hole in the center of the Milky Way, which is 26,000 light-years away. Besides the Galactic center, it would also be the only known case of a number of stars closely bound to a massive black hole. This image includes three panels. The first image at left shows the globular cluster Omega Centauri, a collection of myriad stars colored red, white, and blue on the black background of space. The second image shows the details of the central region of this cluster, with a closer view of the individual stars. The third image shows the location of the IMBH candidate in the cluster. ESA/Hubble, NASA, Maximilian Häberle (MPIA)
      Download this image

      “This discovery is the most direct evidence so far of an IMBH in Omega Centauri,” added team lead Nadine Neumayer of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, who initiated the study, together with Anil Seth from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. “This is exciting because there are only very few other black holes known with a similar mass. The black hole in Omega Centauri may be the best example of an IMBH in our cosmic neighborhood.”
      If confirmed, at a distance of 17,700 light-years the candidate black hole resides closer to Earth than the 4.3-million-solar-mass black hole in the center of the Milky Way, located 26,000 light-years away.
      Omega Centauri is visible from Earth with the naked eye and is one of the favorite celestial objects for stargazers living in the southern hemisphere. Located just above the plane of the Milky Way, the cluster appears almost as large as the full Moon when seen from a dark rural area. It was first listed in Ptolemy’s catalog nearly 2,000 years ago as a single star. Edmond Halley reported it as a nebula in 1677. In the 1830s the English astronomer John Herschel was the first to recognize it as a globular cluster.
      The discovery paper led by Häberle et al. is published online today in the journal Nature.
      Scientists think a massive object is gravitationally pulling on the stars within Omega Centauri, keeping them close to its center. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Lead Producer: Paul Morris
      Download this video

      The Hubble Space Telescope has been operating for over three decades and continues to make ground-breaking discoveries that shape our fundamental understanding of the universe. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope and mission operations. Lockheed Martin Space, based in Denver, Colorado, also supports mission operations at Goddard. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, conducts Hubble science operations for NASA.
      Facebook logo @NASAHubble @NASAHubble Instagram logo @NASAHubble Media Contacts:
      Claire Andreoli
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
      claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
      Ray Villard
      Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
      Bethany Downer
      ESA/Hubble.org
      Science Contact:
      Maximilian Häberle
      Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany
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      Last Updated Jul 10, 2024 Editor Andrea Gianopoulos Location NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Astrophysics Astrophysics Division Black Holes Goddard Space Flight Center Hubble Space Telescope Missions Stars The Universe Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From Hubble
      Hubble Space Telescope


      Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.


      Monster Black Holes Are Everywhere



      Hubble’s Star Clusters



      Time Travel: Observing Cosmic History


      View the full article
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