How About an Icy Dome
Home for Mars
An artist's rendering of the Mars Ice
Home concept. Image: NASA:Clouds AO:SEArch
|| January 06: 2017 || ά.
When astronauts set foot on Mars, they may stay for
months rather than days as they did during Apollo
missions to the moon. The surface of Mars has extreme
temperatures and the atmosphere does not provide
adequate protection from high-energy radiation. These
explorers will need shelters to effectively protect them
from the harsh Martian environment and provide a safe
place to call home. For researchers at NASA’s Langley
Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia, the best building
material for a new home on Mars may lie in an unexpected
Starting with a proposed concept called, 'Mars Ice
Dome', a group of NASA experts and passionate designers
and architects from industry and academia came together
at Langley’s Engineering Design Studio. The project was
competitively selected through the Space Technology
Mission Directorate’s:STMD Centre Innovation Fund to
encourage creativity and innovation within the NASA
Centres in addressing technology needs. This is just one
of many potential concepts for sustainable habitation on
the Red Planet in support of the agency’s journey to
“After a day dedicated to identifying needs, goals and
constraints we rapidly assessed many crazy, out of the
box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home
design, which provides a sound engineering solution.”
said Langley senior systems engineer Kevin Vipavetz,
facilitator for the design session. The team at Langley
had assistance in their concept study, as a
collaborative team from Space Exploration Architecture
and the Clouds Architecture Office that produced a
first-prize winning entry for the NASA Centennial
Challenge for a Three-D-printed habitat, Mars Ice House,
played a key role in the design session.
The 'Mars Ice Home' is a large inflatable torus, a shape
similar to an inner tube, that is surrounded by a shell
of water ice. The Mars Ice Home design has several
advantages that make it an appealing concept. It is
lightweight and can be transported and deployed with
simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew
arrives. It incorporates materials extracted from Mars,
and because water in the Ice Home could potentially be
converted to rocket fuel for the Mars Ascent Vehicle,
the structure itself doubles as a storage tank that can
be refilled for the next crew.
Another critical benefit is that water, a hydrogen-rich
material, is an excellent shielding material for
galactic cosmic ray, and many areas of Mars have
abundant water ice just below the surface. Galactic
cosmic rays are one of the biggest risks of long stays
on Mars. This high-energy radiation can pass right
through the skin, damaging cells or DNA along the way
that can mean an increased risk for cancer later in life
or, at its worst, acute radiation sickness.
Space radiation is also a significant challenge for
those designing potential Mars outposts. For example,
one approach would envision habitats buried underneath
the Martian surface to provide radiation shielding.
However, burying the habitats before the crews arrive
would require heavy robotic equipment that would need to
be transported from Earth.
The Ice Home concept balances the need to provide
protection from radiation, without the drawbacks of an
underground habitat. The design maximizes the thickness
of ice above the crew quarters to reduce radiation
exposure while also still allowing light to pass through
ice and surrounding materials. “All of the materials
we’ve selected are translucent, so some outside daylight
can pass through and make it feel like you’re in a home
and not a cave.” Langley Mars Ice Home principal
investigator Kevin Kempton said.
Selecting materials that would accomplish these goals
was a challenge for materials experts. “The materials
that make up the Ice Home will have to withstand many
years of use in the harsh Martian environment, including
ultraviolet radiation, charged-particle radiation,
possibly some atomic oxygen, perchlorates, as well as
dust storms – although not as fierce as in the movie
‘The Martian’.” said Langley researcher Sheila Ann
In addition to identifying potential materials, a key
constraint for the team was the amount of water that
could be reasonably extracted from Mars. Experts who
develop systems for extracting resources on Mars
indicated that it would be possible to fill the habitat
at a rate of one cubic metre, or 35.3 cubic feet, per
day. This rate would allow the Ice Home design to be
completely filled in 400 days. The design could be
scaled up if water could be extracted at higher rates.
Additional design considerations include a large amount
of flexible workspace so that crews would have a place
to service robotic equipment indoors without the need to
wear a pressure suit. To manage temperatures inside the
Ice Home, a layer of carbon dioxide gas would be used as
in insulation between the living space and the thick
shielding layer of ice. And, like water, carbon dioxide
is available on Mars.
It’s important, Kempton said, for astronauts to have
something to look forward to when they arrive on the Red
Planet. “After months of travel in space, when you first
arrive at Mars and your new home is ready for you to
move in, it will be a great day.” he said.
Editor: Eric Gillard: NASA Langley Research Centre:
Whatever Your Field of
Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can
to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done
in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That
Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law
Does Not Exist.
|| Readmore || ‽:
Seeks Proposals for Deep Space Habitation Prototypes
April 21: 2016 || NASA is
soliciting proposals for the development of prototypes
for deep space habitats that will give astronauts a
place to call home during long-duration missions
supporting the agency’s Journey to Mars.
The solicitation, Next Space Technologies for
Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2), is a follow-on
to the NextSTEP Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) released
in October 2014 and requesting industry proposals for
concept studies and technology development projects in
the areas of habitation, advanced propulsion and small
NASA’s Orion crew spacecraft and Space Launch System are
the agency’s first major components for establishing a
human presence in deep space. With these transportation
systems progressing toward their maiden flight in 2018,
NASA now is looking toward investments in deep space
habitation -- the next major component of human space
exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
NextSTEP is a public-private partnership model that
seeks commercial development of deep space exploration
capabilities to support more extensive human spaceflight
missions in the proving ground of space around the moon,
known as cislunar space, and to enable transit to Mars.
This partnership model enables NASA to obtain innovative
concepts and support private industry commercialization
plans for low-Earth orbit.
“NASA is increasingly embracing public-private
partnerships to expand capabilities, and opportunities
in space,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s
Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division, which
sponsors NextSTEP. “Our NextSTEP partners commit their
own corporate resources toward the development -- making
them a true partner in the spaceflight economy.”
Under Appendix A of the NextSTEP-2 Ominbus BAA, the
agency is providing the opportunity for additional
contractors to join those already under contract through
the previous NextSTEP BAA. Proposals will include plans
for an evolvable approach to long-duration deep space
habitation and the development of full-size, ground
prototype habitat units no later than 2018.
Eligible applicants from U.S. companies, universities,
and non-profit organizations must submit proposals
electronically by 5 p.m. EDT June 15. Notices of intent
should be provided by 5 p.m. May 13. Proposers will have
a chance to ask questions about this particular
solicitation during an industry forum on Monday, April
25. Additional inquiries must be submitted in writing by
Monday, May 2 as directed in the solicitation.
NextSTEP is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to
partnering with industry to stimulate the growth of
commercial industry in space while enabling NASA’s human
NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division pioneers
innovative approaches to rapidly and affordably develop
prototype systems for future human exploration missions.
Learn more about AES at:
More information on the BAA can be found at:
For additional information on NextSTEP BAA, visit:
Kathryn Hambleton: Headquarters, Washington:
( Editor: Sarah Ramsey: NASA)
You Mixed Far-real with
Imagi-real and Scien-real to Bring Mars to Earthian
Erisa Hines, a
driver for the Mars Curiosity rover,
based at JPL, also talks to participants
in "Destination: Mars." Credits:
March 30, 2016:
What might it look like if you were walking around on
Mars? A group of researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has been working on
methods to take this question from the realm of
imagination to the mind-bending domain of mixed reality.
As a result, NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to offer
the public a guided tour of an area of Mars with
astronaut Buzz Aldrin this summer in "Destination:
Mars," an interactive exhibit using the Microsoft
HoloLens mixed reality headset. "Mixed reality" means
that virtual elements are merged with the user's actual
environment, creating a world in which real and virtual
objects can interact.
The "Destination: Mars" exhibit will open at NASA’s
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida this
summer. Guests will "visit" several sites on Mars,
reconstructed using real imagery from NASA's Curiosity
Mars Rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet
since August 2012. Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut
who walked on the moon in 1969, will serve as
“holographic tour guide” on the journey. Curiosity Mars
rover driver Erisa Hines of JPL will also appear
holographically, leading participants to places on Mars
where scientists have made exciting discoveries and
explaining what we have learned about the planet.
“This experience lets the public explore Mars in an
entirely new way. To walk through the exact landscape
that Curiosity is roving across puts its achievements
and discoveries into beautiful context,” said Doug
Ellison, visualization producer at JPL.
"Destination: Mars" is an adaptation of OnSight, a Mars
rover mission operations tool co-developed by Microsoft
and JPL. A pilot group of scientists uses OnSight in
their work supporting the Curiosity Mars rover's
"We're excited to give the public a chance to see Mars
using cutting-edge technologies that help scientists
plan Curiosity's activities on Mars today," said Jeff
Norris, project manager for OnSight and "Destination:
Mars" at JPL. "While freely exploring the terrain,
participants learn about processes that have shaped this
Buzz Aldrin, an
Apollo 11 astronaut who walked on the
moon, makes a holographic appearance in
"Destination: Mars," a mixed-reality
tour of a part of Mars that NASA's
Curiosity rover has explored. Credits:
Abigail Fraeman, a
Curiosity science team member at JPL, uses OnSight to
make recommendations about where the rover should drive
and which features to study in more detail. Recently
OnSight helped her and a colleague identify the
transition point between two Martian rock formations,
which they would like to study in further detail.
"OnSight makes the whole process of analyzing the data
feel a lot more natural to me," Fraeman said. "It really
gives me the sense that I'm in the field when I put it
on. Thinking about Martian geology is a lot more
intuitive when I can stand in the scene and walk around
the way I would if I were in the field."
By utilizing the same technologies and datasets as
OnSight, "Destination: Mars" offers participants a
glimpse of Mars as seen by mission scientists.
JPL is also developing mixed reality applications in
support of astronauts on the International Space Station
and engineers responsible for the design and assembly of
spacecraft. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently
returned from his historic "Year in Space" activities,
used one of these applications to make the first Skype
call from space to mission control in February 2016.
"By connecting astronauts to experts on the ground,
mixed reality could be transformational for scientific
and engineering efforts in space," Norris said.
“As we prepare to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, the
public will now be able to preview the experience the
astronauts will have as they walk and study the Martian
surface,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for Solar
System Exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Elizabeth Landau: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. 818-354-6425: Elizabeth.Landau@jpl.nasa.gov
( Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA)
Let's Talk About the
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is named
in honor of astronomer
March 21, 2016:
From the dawn of humankind to a mere 400 years ago, all
that we knew about our universe came through
observations with the naked eye. Then Galileo turned his
telescope toward the heavens in 1610. The world was in
for an awakening.
Saturn, we learned, had rings. Jupiter had moons. That
nebulous patch across the center of the sky called the
Milky Way was not a cloud but a collection of countless
stars. Within but a few years, our notion of the natural
world would be forever changed. A scientific and
societal revolution quickly ensued.
In the centuries that followed, telescopes grew in size
and complexity and, of course, power. They were placed
far from city lights and as far above the haze of the
atmosphere as possible. Edwin Hubble, for whom the
Hubble Telescope is named, used the largest telescope of
his day in the 1920s at the Mt. Wilson Observatory near
Pasadena, Calif., to discover galaxies beyond our own.
Hubble, the observatory, is the first major optical
telescope to be placed in space, the ultimate
mountaintop. Above the distortion of the atmosphere, far
far above rain clouds and light pollution, Hubble has an
unobstructed view of the universe. Scientists have used
Hubble to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as
well as the planets in our solar system.
Hubble's launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the
most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo's
telescope. Our view of the universe and our place within
it has never been the same.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was launched April 24,
1990, on the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space
Center in Florida.
Hubble has made more than 1.2 million observations since
its mission began in 1990.
Hubble data have published more than 12,800 scientific
papers, making it one of the most productive scientific
instruments ever built.
Hubble does not travel to stars, planets or galaxies. It
takes pictures of them as it whirls around Earth at
about 17,000 mph.
Hubble has traveled
more than 3 billion miles along a circular low Earth
orbit currently about 340 miles in altitude.
Hubble has no
thrusters. To change pointing angles, it uses Newton’s
third law by spinning its wheels in the opposite
direction. It turns at about the speed of a minute hand
on a clock, taking 15 minutes to turn 90 degrees.
Hubble has the pointing
accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able
to shine a laser beam on a dime 200 miles away.
Outside the haze of our
atmosphere, Hubble can see astronomical objects with an
angular size of 0.05 arc seconds, which is like seeing a
pair of fireflies in Tokyo from your home in Maryland.
Hubble has peered back
into the very distant past, to locations more than 13.4
billion light years from Earth.
The Hubble archive
contains more than 100 Terabytes, and Hubble science
data processing generates about 10 Terabytes of new
archive data per year.
Hubble weighed about
24,000 pounds at launch and currently weighs about
27,000 pounds following the final servicing mission in
2009 – on the order of two full-grown African elephants.
Hubble's primary mirror
is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across.
Hubble is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long -- the length of
a large school bus.
For more facts, please
For Hubble achievements, please
How Do You Turn 96% CO2
of Martian Air Into Fuel, Oxygen, Drinkable Water and
Other Vital Resources to Support Humans on Mars Mission
and Get Benefits on Earth Along the Way?
March 16, 2016: At the end of a long day of work,
many people like to grab a cold pint of beer. Few of
them think about the bubbles in the glass and how much
brewers have to pay to put them there. But Robert Zubrin
— president of the Mars Society and founder of multiple
aerospace technology companies — does.
Zubrin and his companies have worked with Johnson Space
Center’s In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) team for
years, developing technologies that could take existing
substances on Mars — especially Martian air, which is 96
percent carbon dioxide (CO2) — and turn them into fuel,
oxygen, drinkable water and other crucial resources.
The systems also have a
range of applications on Earth, including an oil and
natural-gas recovery technology Zubrin has developed and
But when he’s not working to change this world or
colonize others, Zubrin also enjoys a good microbrew.
Now, he’s found a way to use space technology to recycle
fermentation-created CO2 to help cut costs for brewers.
Air on Mars, Bubbles on Earth
“When you ferment beer, the process that produces
alcohol also produces carbon dioxide,” explains Zubrin,
noting that CO2 is also necessary later, to carbonate
the beverage. Major breweries have multi-million dollar
systems that capture and purify the CO2 produced during
fermentation so it can be used later for carbonation and
other functions, such as purging tanks.
These expensive systems, however, aren’t economical for
the vast majority of craft breweries proliferating in
the United States. Instead of capturing, processing, and
storing CO2, small brewers instead let the gas dissipate
into the air during fermentation, only to have more of
it trucked in from supply companies later on, paying an
average of $200 to $300 per ton.
Enter Lakewood, Colorado-based Pioneer Energy, with its
CO2 Craft Brewery Recovery System, developed from
technologies created to harvest, liquefy and store the
gas on Mars. The mobile cart gives small brewers
capabilities similar to those enjoyed by their
“Our system produces about five tons of carbon dioxide
per month,” says Zubrin, adding that this amount could
supply a brewery that makes up to 60,000 barrels of beer
per year. For those making more, the units can be
stacked to increase capacity.
A typical proposal for a mission to the Red Planet
includes plans to send the return vehicle two years in
advance of the crew, during which time the vehicle would
autonomously produce resources both for the mission and
the journey home. Any system for mixing and matching
molecules on Mars, therefore, would also have to be
fully automated using techniques like those Zubrin has
worked out during his years of ISRU work.
Similarly, the CO2 Craft Brewery Recovery System can
only save money if it doesn’t require an employee’s
attention, Zubrin says. “On a smaller scale, this
thing’s got to be totally automated, too. The robotic
control you would need for a system on Mars is key to
By mid-2015, the company had received more than a dozen
orders for the system, which went into production late
last year. Pioneer also has a unit that it brings around
the country for demonstrations. Zubrin says the market
potential is considerable: “Within the United States,
there are several thousand breweries that would be
targets for this, and probably 20,000 worldwide.”
He credits his NASA work as the foundation for the
project, which he hopes will save breweries around the
world money and greenhouse gas emissions.
“The intellectual capital being developed in NASA’s
research and development programs is playing out across
the economy, and this is just a small example,” Zubrin
says. “The intellectual capital is the big spinoff.”
To learn more about this NASA spinoff, read the original
article from Spinoff 2016.
For more information on how NASA is bringing its
technology down to Earth, visit:
( Editor: William
Dawn Mission Wins Two
March 14, 2016: NASA's Dawn project team recently
earned two prestigious awards, honoring its successful
mission to giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.
On March 8, the Dawn project team was chosen to receive
the prestigious National Aeronautic Association Robert
J. Collier Trophy. This award is presented annually "for
the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics
in America, with respect to improving the performance,
efficiency and safety of air or space vehicles, the
value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by
actual use during the preceding year." Established in
1911, the 8-foot tall trophy resides at the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum in Washington and is
engraved with the names of recipients. Dawn competed
with a field of nine finalists to win this year’s award.
The award will be presented on June 9.
Previous Collier Trophy recipients involving JPL
missions include the teams from NASA's Mars Science
Laboratory (2012) and Voyager (1980).
"We are grateful for this tremendous honor, recognizing
the hard work, determination and unwavering commitment
of this team to achieve mission success and advance the
spirit of exploration," said Robert Mase, Dawn project
manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
On March 11, the Dawn project team was honored with the
National Space Club and Foundation's Nelson P. Jackson
Award, presented annually for "a significant
contribution to the missile, aircraft or space field."
The Dawn team accepted the award at the organization's
59th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in
"Dawn is a historic mission: The first mission to orbit
two extraterrestrial targets and the first to encounter
a dwarf planet. The Dawn team excelled at these
challenges, and our legacy of spectacular scientific
data and strong public engagement has been exhilarating.
We are truly honored to receive these recognitions,"
said Christopher Russell, principal investigator of the
Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los
The spacecraft is currently exploring Ceres in its
low-altitude mapping orbit, at an altitude of 240 miles
Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate in Washington.
“The technical achievements of the Dawn mission have
provided the scientific community with global datasets
of two large bodies in the main asteroid belt, said Dawn
Program Scientist Michael Kelley. “Unlike most objects
in this region of the solar system, Vesta and Ceres are
intact, which means that the spatial relationships of
their surface features and internal layers are
preserved. The unique datasets for these objects
obtained by the Dawn mission provide a valuable look
back to the earliest part of solar system history.”
Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery
Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall
Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles,
Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German
Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System
Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National
Astrophysical Institute are international partners on
the mission team. For a complete list of mission
More information about Dawn is available at the
Elizabeth Landau: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
( Editor: Tony Greicius:NASA)
Scott Kelly And His One
Year at ISS ( And One Year of His Twin Mark Kelly on
Earth): So Much Science in So Much Space in So Little
Rachel Hobson Writing
NASA astronaut Scott
Kelly (L) and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko
year-long mission is twice as long as typical U.S.
missions to the space station
Ten Things to Know About Scott Kelly’s #YearInSpace
1. It’s actually more like a three-year mission
NASA astronaut Scott
Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko may have
had a year-long stay in space, but the science of their
mission will span more than three years. One year before
they left Earth, Kelly and Kornienko began participating
in a suite of investigations aimed at better
understanding how the human body responds to
long-duration spaceflight. Samples of their blood,
urine, saliva, and more all make up the data set
scientists will study. The same kinds of samples
continued to be taken throughout their stay in space,
and will continue for a year or more once they return.
2. What we learn is
helping us get to Mars
One of the biggest
hurdles of getting to Mars is ensuring humans are “go”
for a long-duration mission and that crew members will
maintain their health and full capabilities for the
duration of a Mars mission and after their return to
Earth. Scientists have solid data about how bodies
respond to living in microgravity for six months, but
significant data beyond that timeframe had not been
collected … until now. A mission to Mars will likely
last about three years, about half the time coming and
going to Mars and about half the time on Mars. We need
to understand how human systems like vision and bone
health are affected by the 12 to 16 months living on a
spacecraft in microgravity and what countermeasures can
be taken to reduce or mitigate risks to crew members
during the flight to and from Mars. Understanding the
challenges facing humans is just one of the ways
research aboard the space station helps our journey to
3. The science will take some time
While scientists will
begin analyzing data from Kelly and Kornienko as soon as
they return to Earth, it could be anywhere from six
months to six years before we see published results from
the research. The scientific process takes time, and
processing the data from all the investigations tied to
the one-year mission will be no easy task. Additionally,
some blood, urine and saliva samples from Kelly and
Kornienko will still be stored in the space station
freezers until they can be returned on the SpaceX Dragon
spacecraft. Early on in the analytical process
scientists may see indications of what we can expect,
but final results will come long after Kelly and
4. This isn’t the first time someone has spent a year in
Cosmonaut Valery V. Polyakov is seen aboard Russia’s Mir space station.
This is the first time
that extensive research using exciting new techniques
like genetic studies has been conducted on very
long-duration crew members. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
is the first American to complete a continuous,
year-long mission in space and is now the American who
has spent the most cumulative time in space, but it’s
not the first time humans have reached this goal.
Previously, only four humans have spent a year or more
in orbit on a single mission, all aboard the Russian Mir
Space Station. They all participated in significant
research proving that humans are capable of living and
working in space for a year or more. Russian cosmonaut
Valery Polyakov spent 438 days aboard Mir between
January 1994 and March 1995 and holds the all-time
record for the most continuous days spent in space.
Cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev spent 380 days on Mir between
August 1998 and August 1999, and cosmonauts Vladimir
Titov and Musa Manarov completed a 366-day mission from
December 1987 to December 1988.
5. International collaboration is key
The International Space
Station is just that: international. The one-year
mission embodies the spirit of collaboration across
countries in the effort to mitigate as many risks as
possible for humans on long-duration missions. Data
collected on both Kelly and Kornienko will be shared
between the United States and Russia, and international
partners. These kinds of collaborations help increase
more rapidly the biomedical knowledge necessary for
human exploration, reduce costs, improve processes and
procedures, and improve efficiency on future space
6. So much science!
year-long mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, his
participation in science wasn’t limited to the one-year
mission investigations. In all, he worked on close to
400 science studies that help NASA reach for new
heights, reveal the unknown, and benefit all of
humanity. His time aboard the station included blood
draws, urine collection, saliva samples, computer tests,
journaling, caring for two crops in the Veggie plant
growth facility, ocular scans, ultrasounds, using the
space cup, performing runs with the SPHERES robotic
satellites, measuring sound, assisting in configuring
cubesats to be deployed, measuring radiation,
participating in fluid shifts testing in the Russian
CHIBIS pants, logging his sleep and much, much more. All
of this was in addition to regular duties of station
maintenance, including three spacewalks!
7. No more food in pouches
After months of eating
food from pouches and cans and drinking through straws,
Kelly and Kornienko will be able to celebrate their
return to Earth with food of their choice. While aboard
the space station, their food intake is closely
monitored and designed to provide exactly the nutrients
they need. Crew members do have a say in their on-orbit
menus but often miss their favorite meals from back
home. Once they return, they won’t face the same menu
limitations as they did in space. As soon as they land
on Earth and exit the space capsule, they are usually
given a piece of fruit or a cucumber to eat as they
begin their initial health checks. After Kelly makes the
long flight home to Houston, he will no doubt greatly
savor those first meals.
8. After the return comes reconditioning
You’ve likely heard the
phrase, “Use it or lose it.” The same thing can be said
for astronauts’ muscles and bones. Muscles and bones can
atrophy in microgravity. While in space, astronauts have
a hearty exercise regimen to fight these effects, and
they continue strength training and reconditioning once
they return to Earth. They will also participate in
Field Tests immediately after landing. Functional Task
Tests once they are back at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
will assess how the human body responds to living in
microgravity for such a long time. Understanding how
astronauts recover after long-duration spaceflight is a
critical piece in planning for missions to deep space.
9. Twins Studies have researchers seeing double
NASA astronaut Scott
Kelly (R) and his identical twin former astronaut Mark
are participating in a suite of investigations call the
Twin Studies. Image: NASA
One of the unique
aspects of Kelly’s participation in the one-year mission
is that he has an identical twin brother, Mark, who is a
former astronaut. The pair have taken part in a suite of
studies that use Mark as a human control on the ground
during Scott’s year-long stay in space. The Twins Study
is comprised of 10 different investigations coordinating
together and sharing all data and analysis as one large,
integrated research team. The investigations focus on
human physiology, behavioral health, microbiology/microbiome
and molecular/omics. The Twins Study is multi-faceted
national cooperation between investigations at
universities, corporations, and government laboratories.
10. This mission will help determine what comes next
The completion of the
one-year mission and its studies will help guide the
next steps in planning for long-duration deep space
missions that will be necessary as humans move farther
into the solar system. Kelly and Kornienko’s mission
will inform future decisions and planning for other
long-duration missions, whether they are aboard the
space station, a deep space habitat in lunar orbit, or a
mission to Mars.
International Space Station Program Science Office
NASA’s Johnson Space Center
( Editor: Kristine Rainey: NASA)
NASA's Newest Class of
Astronauts Readying Themselves for Travels Beyond Mother
After an extensive
year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of
potential astronauts who will help the agency push the
boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations
in the solar system. Eight candidates have been selected
to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees.
The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second
largest number of applications NASA ever has received --
more than 6,100. The group will receive a wide array of
technical training at space centers around the globe to
prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and
"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because
they know we’re doing big, bold things here --
developing missions to go farther into space than ever
before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
"They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the
International Space Station and our plan to launch from
U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American
companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first
human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."
The new astronaut candidates are:
Josh A. Cassada, Ph. D., 39, Lt. Commander, U.S.
Navy, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada
is a naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree
from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the
University of Rochester, N.Y. Cassada is a physicist by
training and previously served as co-founder and Chief
Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.
Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy,
hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an
F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test
Pilot School. Glover holds degrees from California
Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.;
Air University and Naval Postgraduate School. He
currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the
Tyler N. Hague (Nick), 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air
Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the
U.S. Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School,
Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the
Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint
Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville,
N.C. home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate
degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh,
N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Station Chief in
Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps,
originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate
of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford (Calif.) University
and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River,
Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an
Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air
Station, Patuxent River.
Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her
hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S.
Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the University of
Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United
Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a
recent graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval
Air Station, Patuxent River.
Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35 is from Caribou,
Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an
advanced degree from the International Space University,
and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of
Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor
of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts
General Hospital, Boston.
Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army,
considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned
doctorate in medicine from the Uniformed Services
University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has
experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon
for the Army special operations community, and currently
is completing a sports medicine fellowship.
The new astronaut candidates will begin training at
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.
"This year we have selected 8 highly qualified
individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths
academically, operationally, and physically” said Janet
Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson
“They have diverse
backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly
to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their
incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence
that they will apply their combined expertise and
talents to achieve great things for NASA and this
country in the pursuit of human exploration."
NASA Television’s Video File will include b-roll of
astronaut interview sessions. For NASA TV streaming
video, schedules and downlink information, visit:
For more information about the International Space
For more information about astronaut selection and
It's All About HERA in
the Name of Science and Space Travel
NASA Facility HERA :
4 people are living in an isolated
habitat for 30 days. Why? Science!
This 30 day mission will help our researchers learn how
isolation and close quarters affect individual and group
behavior. This study at our Johnson Space Center
prepares us for long duration space missions, like a
trip to an asteroid or even to Mars.
The Four Going into
Isolation to Live inside HERA Facility for 30 Days:
Wong, Spencer, Courtney and Honey: NASA Image
The Human Research
Exploration Analog (HERA) that the crew members will be
living in is one compact, science-making house. But
unlike in a normal house, these inhabitants won’t go
outside for 30 days. Their communication with the rest
of planet Earth will also be very limited, and they
won’t have any access to internet. So no checking social
The only people they will talk with regularly are
mission control and each other.
The crew member
selection process is based on a number of criteria,
including the same criteria for astronaut selection.
What will they be doing?
Because this mission simulates a 715-day journey to a
Near-Earth asteroid, the four crew members will complete
activities similar to what would happen during an
outbound transit, on location at the asteroid, and the
return transit phases of a mission (just in a bit of an
accelerated timeframe). This simulation means that even
when communicating with mission control, there will be a
delay on all communications ranging from 1 to 10 minutes
each way. The crew will also perform virtual spacewalk
missions once they reach their destination, where they
will inspect the asteroid and collect samples from it.
A few other details
The crew follows a timeline that is similar to one used
for the ISS crew.
They work 16 hours a day, Monday through Friday. This
includes time for daily planning, conferences, meals and
They will be growing and taking care of plants and brine
shrimp, which they will analyze and document.
But beware! While we do all we can to avoid crises
during missions, crews need to be able to respond in the
event of an emergency. The HERA crew will conduct a
couple of emergency scenario simulations, including one
that will require them to maneuver through a debris
field during the Earth-bound phase of the mission.
Throughout the mission,
researchers will gather information about cohabitation,
teamwork, team cohesion, mood, performance and overall
well-being. The crew members will be tracked by numerous
devices that each capture different types of data.
Exploration Research Analog (HERA)
Past and Current HERA
Participants: NASA Image
HERA crew members wore a sensor that recorded heart
rate, distance, motion and sound intensity. When crew
members were working together, the sensor would also
record their proximity as well, helping investigators
learn about team cohesion.
Researchers also learned about how crew members react to
stress by recording and analyzing verbal interactions
and by analyzing “markers” in blood and saliva samples.
In total, this mission
will include 19 individual investigations across key
human research elements. From psychological to
physiological experiments, the crew members will help
prepare us for future missions.
Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose
On Her Way to Jupiter
The Lonely NASA-Traveller Juno Breaks Solar Power
NASA's Juno Spacecraft Breaks Solar
Power Distance Record
Launching from Earth in 2011, the
Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to
study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar
orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet
and its intense belts of charged particle radiation,
coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles)
from the cloud tops at closest approach.
NASA's Juno mission to
Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity's most
distant solar-powered emissary. The milestone occurred
at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday,
Jan. 13, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793
million kilometers) from the sun.
The previous record-holder was the European Space
Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, whose orbit peaked out at
the 492-million-mile (792-million-kilometer) mark in
October 2012, during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
"Juno is all about pushing the edge of technology to
help us learn about our origins," said Scott Bolton,
Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research
Institute in San Antonio. "We use every known technique
to see through Jupiter's clouds and reveal the secrets
Jupiter holds of our solar system’s early history. It
just seems right that the sun is helping us learn about
the origin of Jupiter and the other planets that orbit
Launched in 2011, Juno is the first solar-powered
spacecraft designed to operate at such a great distance
from the sun. That's why the surface area of solar
panels required to generate adequate power is quite
large. The four-ton Juno spacecraft carries three
30-foot-long (9-meter) solar arrays festooned with
18,698 individual solar cells. At Earth distance from
the sun, the cells have the potential to generate
approximately 14 kilowatts of electricity. But transport
those same rectangles of silicon and gallium arsenide to
a fifth rock from the sun distance, and it’s a
powerfully different story.
"Jupiter is five times farther from the sun than Earth,
and the sunlight that reaches that far out packs 25
times less punch," said Rick Nybakken, Juno's project
manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif. "While our massive solar arrays will be
generating only 500 watts when we are at Jupiter, Juno
is very efficiently designed, and it will be more than
enough to get the job done."
Prior to Juno, eight spacecraft have navigated the cold,
harsh underlit realities of deep space as far out as
Jupiter. All have used nuclear power sources to get
their job done. Solar power is possible on Juno due to
improved solar-cell performance, energy-efficient
instruments and spacecraft, a mission design that can
avoid Jupiter’s shadow, and a polar orbit that minimizes
the total radiation. Juno’s maximum distance from the
sun during its 16-month science mission will be about
517 million miles (832 million kilometers), an almost
five percent increase in the record for solar-powered
"It is cool we got the record and that our dedicated
team of engineers and scientists can chalk up another
first in space exploration," said Bolton. "But the best
is yet to come. We are achieving these records and
venturing so far out for a reason -- to better
understand the biggest world in our solar system and
thereby better understand where we came from."
Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4 of this year. Over
the next year the spacecraft will orbit the Jovian world
33 times, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000
kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops every 14 days.
During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring
cloud cover of Jupiter and study Jupiter’s aurorae to
learn more about the planet's origins, structure,
atmosphere and magnetosphere.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California,
manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator,
Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San
Antonio. Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program,
which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems,
Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.
For more information about Juno visit:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
( Editor: Martin Perez: NASA)
ESA's Invite for the
Future Astronauts: It Could Be You
A pretty good impression
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst took this image circling
Earth on the International Space Station during his
six-month Blue Dot mission while doing a spacewalk
outside of the weightless research centre. Alexander
commented: "I do not have words to describe what we did
today, but this photo gives a pretty good impression! "
Read more about the
Blue Dot mission
Follow Alexander via
Released 08/04/2015 2:47 pm. Copyright ESA/NASA
14 January 2016: With
ESA astronaut Tim Peake stepping out of the
International Space Station tomorrow, have you ever
wanted to know if you have what it takes to be an
astronaut? ESA is offering a trial version of a test
developed for future astronauts for you to try at home –
and by taking part you will help us select a new
generation of astronauts.
Which way is up?
Trainers at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne,
Germany are always looking for ways to improve their
methods. Part of the job is to find out who is suitable
to become an astronaut in the first place.
One of the many challenges faced by astronauts is
working in three-dimensional space. In a weightless
universe, up can become down and left can become right
depending on which way you are floating.
Everybody knows the feeling of disorientation on
visiting a new city, and working in space adds a whole
new dimension – literally. During a spacewalk this
effect intensifies as the blackness of space offers
little for astronauts’ brains to use for orientation.
Working in three dimensions
Working and using objects in this environment is
something astronauts must excel at and so is a key
aptitude that trainers look for in selecting candidates.
The head of ESA’s astronaut centre, Frank De Winne,
says: “ESA is not currently running a selection campaign
but developing tests for astronaut selection takes time
and needs to be done right.”
Your task is to move and turn an object to fit exactly
in a new position in three dimensions. The task is made
harder because all your moves need to be programmed
beforehand and the goal is to use as few as possible.
Taking the test
European Astronaut Centre experts in robotics and
spacecraft docking worked with psychologists to design
ESA’s Head of Astronaut Training, Rüdiger Seine,
explains: “By ‘playing’ with the test online you will
help the team validate it, essentially making sure it
works. For us, the more people who participate, the
Click here to go to the test
website and start thinking like an
astronaut as you work your way through progressively
NASA Advancing the Future on Earth and in Space
Main character Casey Newton marvels at
the wonders of Tomorrowland as portrayed in the film.
Image: Courtesy Disney
The new Disney film "Tomorrowland"
imagines a world where dreaming about the technology of
the future can advance civilization and make Earth a
better place. At NASA, we're reaching for new heights to
reveal the unknown, so what we learn can benefit all of
humankind. With new technologies in development on Earth
and space, and exciting new missions of exploration
throughout the solar system being planned, NASA is
helping advance a future that will inspire the world and
improve lives on our home planet.
Though personal jetpacks aren't
commonplace yet, NASA is with you when you fly. The
world depends on aviation to stay connected and
NASA Aeronautics is helping solve some of big
challenges facing the aerospace industry, like reducing
environmental impact, maintaining safety in more crowded
skies, and revolutionizing aircraft shapes and
To really help improve lives on Earth
we need to understand it first.
NASA Earth Science studies our planet to better
understand how it is changing and how it might change in
the future. This helps us make a difference in people's
lives around the world by providing critical data on
weather, natural disasters, air quality, sea levels, and
Some 250 miles overhead, astronauts
are working off the Earth for the Earth, conducting
research only possible in microgravity across multiple
scientific disciplines. From its unique vantage point,
International Space Station advances Earth
observation research while providing a platform for new
technology demonstrations, astrophysics, and research on
the human body. The lessons we learn on the space
station not only benefit humanity but are also paving
the way for the human exploration of Mars in our
Humankind's next giant leap in
exploration will send astronauts to the Red Planet where
we could finally answer the question "does life exist
beyond Earth?" Mars could prove to be a suitable home
for humans one day and even help us better understand
how life developed here. The technologies we develop on
Journey to Mars and knowledge we learn there will
forever change humanity's future of exploration.
Farther into the cosmos, new
discoveries await us about the origin and evolution of
our solar system, galaxy and the universe. Multiple
robotic missions and telescopes are exploring our
Solar System and Beyond to uncover their secrets.
The steps we take toward exploring our universe now
could lead to a future where we have solved the mystery
"are we alone?"
All of NASA's current and planned
exploration depends on new technology. The inventions
and advancements of
NASA Technology create new opportunities for space
exploration as well as tangible benefits here at home,
like economic development and new ways to save lives.
We invite you to explore the many
ways NASA provides
Benefits to You as we keep reaching to tomorrow on
Earth and in space, making lives better today.
( Editor: Jim Wilson: NASA)
Posted: January 4, 2016
NASA Research Reveals Biological Clock Misalignment
Effects on Sleep for Astronauts
Since the beginning of the space program, astronauts
have dealt with the realities of spaceflight from
microgravity in weak muscles and space radiation, to
sleep deprivation and disorientation. Both before and
during astronauts’ flights, changes in biological
clocks, or circadian rhythms, contribute to sleep
deficiency and increase the use of sleep-promoting
For most people, the circadian rhythm is a little longer
than 24 hours. On Earth, our daily exposure to light
from the sun keeps us synchronized to the 24-hour day.
As they circle around Earth in orbit, astronauts
experience a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes.
Understanding the effects of spaceflight on astronauts
may help prepare NASA for planning longer crew stays in
deep space and possible missions to Mars, where the day
length is a little longer than 24 hours. Most
importantly, investigating these effects can reveal new
ways to reduce the general consequences of the exposure
of spaceflight on the human body.
At NASA’s Ames Research Center in California's Silicon
Valley, Erin Flynn-Evans has been investigating the
quality of astronauts’ sleep during spaceflight to
better understand how sleep disturbances, such as noise
and uncomfortable temperatures, cause sleep deficiency,
which can throw off their circadian rhythms. Docking and
undocking with the International Space Station requires
astronauts to “slam-shift” their sleep patterns, which
causes sleep disruption, much like people on the Earth
who work rotating night shifts.
“Imagine flying across the country and getting
jet-lagged,” said Flynn-Evans, a researcher at the
Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory at Ames. “It’s very
similar to what astronauts deal with on the
International Space Station, only the stakes are
Flynn-Evans and her team at Ames worked with Harvard
Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in
Boston, to conduct a study to evaluate causes of sleep
deficiency and the use of sleep-promoting medication by
astronauts during spaceflight. Because mission
operations often dictate completion of tasks during the
biological night and sleep during the biological day,
the team investigated whether circadian misalignment was
associated with adverse sleep outcomes before and during
For a recently published paper in Nature Microgravity
about the topic, Flynn-Evans and her team collected data
from 21 astronauts over 3,248 days of long-duration
spaceflight on the space station, including 11 days
prior to launch, and reviewed sleep logs to determine
sleep medication use and sleep quality.
Astronauts wore activity monitors similar to popular
fitness monitoring wristbands during the study. The
researchers evaluated data about the astronauts’ sleep
episodes, including bedtime, wake time and number and
cause of awakenings, ratings of sleep quality,
medication and caffeine use for one week during their
“Rapid schedule changes are a problem, but so is
exposure to light at times when the astronauts are
scheduled to sleep,” said Flynn-Evans. “The crewmembers
will often look out the cupola window to get a view of
Earth during their scheduled sleep time, which can
expose them to a bright blast of sunlight and inhibit
their ability to sleep.”
Flynn-Evans says crewmembers often use tablet computers,
which expose them to even more light before bed. The
additional light exposure disrupts their natural sleep
cycles and can prevent them from sleeping well during
With the support of NASA grants, researchers at Brigham
and Women's Hospital designed Circadian Performance
Simulation Software (CPSS) to consistently predict the
effects of sleep-wake schedules and light exposure on
the human biological clock. When crewmembers slept when
their biological clocks were promoting sleep, they slept
longer and used fewer sleep medications. When they slept
when their biological clocks were not promoting sleep,
they had more disrupted sleep and used more sleep
During the experiment, NASA researchers interviewed the
astronauts and evaluated journal entries in order to
better understand how they were being affected by sleep
loss. They discovered that space station astronauts as
well as shuttle astronauts slept for just six hours per
night on average, when most mission schedules called for
8.5 hours. Another finding revealed that where
astronauts launched into space made a significant
difference in disruptions to sleep patterns. In the
weeks before astronauts took flight, those launching
from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, compared to launching from
Cape Canaveral, Florida, experienced better sleep. This
could be due to other variables, such as training and
preflight preparations and/or social activities or
recovery from jet lag to get to Baikonour. In any case,
astronauts used sleep aids to help them sleep most
nights during preflight.
NASA is working to make improvements that promote
astronaut crew health during spaceflight. Suggestions
include special blue LED lights to help fight insomnia
experienced by astronauts, spacecraft designed with
luxuries of Earth to make sure astronauts are more
comfortable while in space and more efficient schedules
to balance the astronaut work-sleep times.
Still, more needs to be understood about the limitations
of the human body in space. As the first one-year
mission of living onboard the space station concludes in
March 2016, studying the patterns of sleeping and waking
is crucial to ensuring a well-rested astronaut crew for
future deep space exploration missions.
For more information about living in space on the
International Space Station,
Ames Research Center
(Editor: Kimberly Williams: NASA)