Current NASA News

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been announcing groundbreaking strides in understanding more of space, other planets, and how the earth functions so efficiently. NASA continues to push the field of science further and further to collect more data of the unexplored. Here are some of NASA’s upcoming plans that have recently been announced.

 

Touch the Sun?

The space agency has announced that it has plans of a mission to create and launch a probe to get closer to the sun than ever before. They anticipate the probe to come within 3.9 million miles of the sun, which has never been done before. The mission is set to depart in the summer of 2018. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is set to handle environments of over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit paired with extreme solar radiation.

The purpose of this mission is to take away data regarding the trace of energy that sources the corona and solar winds. As well, NASA is looking to find more specific information about the magnetic fields and plasma structures from the solar winds. The goal of the probe’s mission is to circle the sun 24 times between the years of 2018 through 2024.

 

Artificial Clouds

NASA has recently released colored artificial clouds on the East Coast of the United States. They released faux blue, green, and red clouds in June of 2017 to test a new system that will aid scientists with studying the auroras of the ionosphere.

Essentially, NASA launched a small sub-orbital rocket off of the coast of Virginia that released fist-sized canisters filled with vapor tracers into the atmosphere. These canisters may appear as colorful clouds. The canisters, or tracers, are made of vapors of lithium, barium and tri-methyl aluminum that react with other elements in space, which create the glow. This glow is to visually trace the flow of the particles throughout space.

 

A Hole on Mars?

One of earth’s closest neighboring planets, Mars, has shown a new, giant hole on the surface of the planet. This abnormally deep crater is a bit larger than Mars’ normal swiss cheese surface. NASA has yet to find the source of this new pit formed on Mars but there are many reasons for holes to be formed on Mars’ terrain from meteorite impacts to collapsing lava tubes.

Remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger

Today, marks 30 years since the devastating explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger that took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The shuttle exploded exactly 73 seconds after takeoff, killing all seven on board. It was one of the most tragic accidents in our nation’s history and it marked the first time that a tragedy like this was broadcasted on live television.  Millions of people all over the world,  tuned in to watch what was supposed to be a remarkable achievement performed by these astronauts turn into horrific nightmare in a matter of seconds. There was also a lot of buzz generated about this launch because of one the crew members on board, Christa McAuliffe. Christa was a teacher and first regular citizen to have the opportunity fly into space. This was a dream of her’s that was cut too short.

Once this accident occurred everyone wondered why and how this  horrific incident occurred. President Ronald Regan wanted to get to the bottom of it and after forming the Rogers Commission and working with physicist Richard Feynman they found out what really happened on that cold January day. According to Feynman the reason was because the  O-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed, which let pressurized burning gas escape and breach the external fuel tank, and led to the breakup of the spacecraft.   NASA had no way of finding out that the O-ring wouldn’t survive a launch in frigid temperatures. However, there were two engineers, Roger Boisjoly and Bob Ebeling that tried and failed to get NASA to postpone the launch.  Ten years after the explosion, CBS had an interview with these two men on the 60 minute broadcast. In a interview, Ebeling said that the night before the launch he tried to stop NASA from launching the Challenger. Both Ebeling and Boisjoly believed that the O-rings could be effected in the cold weather and sadly they were right.

After the challenger took off, Bob whispered in Roger’s ear saying  “We dodge a bullet” thinking everything  would be fine but seconds later everything changed. This will always be a day of remembrance for the innocent people who lost their lives on that tragic day.