Every day, our spacecraft and people are exploring the solar system. Both the public and the private sectors are contributing to the quest. For example, here are ten things happening just this week:
1. We deliver.
The commercial space company Orbital ATK is targeting Saturday, Nov. 11 for the launch of its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket from Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Cygnus is launching on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, carrying cargo and scientific experiments to the six people currently living on the microgravity laboratory.
Our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) sure does—and from very close range. This robotic spacecraft has been orbiting Earth’s companion since 2009, returning views of the lunar surface that are so sharp they show the footpaths made by Apollo astronauts. Learn more about LRO and the entire history of lunar exploration at NASA’s newly-updated, expanded Moon site: moon.nasa.gov
4. Meanwhile at Mars…
Another sharp-eyed robotic spacecraft has just delivered a fresh batch of equally detailed images. Our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) surveys the Red Planet’s surface daily, and you can see the very latest pictures of those exotic landscapes HERE. We currently operate five—count ‘em, five—active missions at Mars, with another (the InSight lander) launching next year. Track them all at: mars.nasa.gov.
5. Always curious.
One of those missions is the Curiosity rover. It’s currently climbing a rocky highland dubbed Vera Rubin Ridge, turning its full array of instruments on the intriguing geology there. Using those instruments, Curiosity can see things you and I can’t.
6. A new Dawn.
Our voyage to the asteroid belt has a new lease on life. The Dawn spacecraft recently received a mission extension to continue exploring the dwarf planet Ceres. This is exciting because minerals containing water are widespread on Ceres, suggesting it may have had a global ocean in the past. What became of that ocean? Could Ceres still have liquid today? Ongoing studies from Dawn could shed light on these questions.
7. There are eyes everywhere.
When our Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on the rover, Sojourner. Since then, photo sensors that were improved by the space program have shrunk in size, increased in quality and are now carried in every cellphone. That same evolution has returned to space. Our Mars 2020 mission will have more “eyes” than any rover before it: a grand total of 23, to create sweeping panoramas, reveal obstacles, study the atmosphere, and assist science instruments.
8. Voyage to a hidden ocean.
One of the most intriguing destinations in the solar system is Jupiter’s moon Europa, which hides a global ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell. Our Europa Clipper mission sets sail in the 2020s to take a closer look than we’ve ever had before. You can explore Europa, too: europa.nasa.gov
9. Flight of the mockingbird.
On Nov. 10, the main belt asteroid 19482 Harperlee, named for the legendary author of To Kill a Mockingbird, makes its closest approach to Earth during the asteroid’s orbit around the Sun. Details HERE. Learn more about asteroids HERE. Meanwhile, our OSIRIS-REx mission is now cruising toward another tiny, rocky world called Bennu.
10. What else is up this month?
For sky watchers, there will be a pre-dawn pairing of Jupiter and Venus, the Moon will shine near some star clusters, and there will be meteor activity all month long. Catch our monthly video blog for stargazers HERE.
Here are some of the really neat science and research experiments that will be delivered to the station:
What’s Microgravity Got to do with Bacterial Antibiotics?
Antibiotic resistance could pose a danger to astronauts, especially since microgravity has been shown to weaken human immune response. E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) will study microgravity’s effect on bacterial antibiotic resistance.
Results from this experiment could help us determine appropriate antibiotic dosages to protect astronaut health during long-duration human spaceflight and help us understand how antibiotic effectiveness may change as a function of stress on Earth.
Laser Beams…Not on Sharks…But on a CubeSat
Traditional laser communication systems use transmitters that are far too large for small spacecraft. The Optical Communication Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) tests the functionality of laser-based communications using CubeSats that provide a compact version of the technology.
Results from OCSD could lead to improved GPS and other satellite networks on Earth and a better understanding of laser communication between small satellites in low-Earth orbit.
This Hybrid Solar Antenna Could Make Space Communication Even Better
As space exploration increases, so will the need for improved power and communication technologies. The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA), a hybrid power and communication solar antenna that can send and receive messages, tests the use of this technology in CubeSat-based environmental monitoring.
ISARA may provide a solution for sending and receiving information to and from faraway destinations, both on Earth and in space.
More Plants in Space!
Ready for a mouthful…The Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Microgravity via Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis…aka the Biological Nitrogen Fixation experiment, will examine how low-gravity conditions affect the nitrogen fixation process of the Microclover legume (a plant in the pea family). Nitrogen fixation is a process where nitrogen in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia. This crucial element of any ecosystem is also a natural fertilizer that is necessary for most types of plant growth.
This experiment could tell us about the space viability of the legume’s ability to use and recycle nutrients and give researchers a better understanding of this plant’s potential uses on Earth.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft PACKED with super cool research and technology to the International Space Station June 1 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. New solar panels, investigations that study neutron stars and even fruit flies are on the cargo list. Let’s take a look at what other bits of science are making their way to the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above the Earth…
New solar panels to test concept for more efficient power source
Solar panels generate power well, but they can be delicate and large when used to power a spacecraft or satellites. This technology demonstration is a solar panel concept that is lighter and stores more compactly for launch than the solar panels currently in use.
Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) has solar cells on a flexible blanket and a framework that rolls out like a tape measure and snap into place, and could be used to power future space vehicles.
Investigation to Study Composition of Neutron Stars
Neutron stars, the glowing cinders left behind when massive stars explode as supernovas, contain exotic states of matter that are impossible to replicate in any lab. NICER studies the makeup of these stars, and could provide new insight into their nature and super weird behavior.
Neutron stars emit X-ray radiation, enabling the NICER technology to observe and record information about its structure, dynamics and energetics.
Experiment to Study Effect of New Drug on Bone Loss
When people and animals spend lots of space, they experience bone density loss. In-flight exercise can prevent it from getting worse, but there isn’t a therapy on Earth or in space that can restore bone that is already lost.
The Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5) investigation tests a new drug that can both rebuild bone and block further bone loss, improving health for crew members.
Research to Understand Cardiovascular Changes
Exposure to reduced gravity environments can result in cardiovascular changes such as fluid shifts, changes in total blood volume, heartbeat and heart rhythm irregularities, and diminished aerobic capacity.
Currently, the life-support systems aboard the space station require special equipment to separate liquids and gases. This technology utilizes rotating and moving parts that, if broken or otherwise compromised, could cause contamination aboard the station.
The Capillary Structures investigation studies a new method of water recycling and carbon dioxide removal using structures designed in specific shapes to manage fluid and gas mixtures.
Orbiting approximately 250 miles above the Earth’s surface, the space station provides pretty amazing views of the Earth. The Multiple User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES) facility hosts Earth-viewing instruments such as high-resolution digital cameras, hyperspectral imagers, and provides precision pointing and other accommodations.
This investigation can produce data that could be used for maritime domain awareness, agricultural awareness, food security, disaster response, air quality, oil and gas exploration and fire detection.
Watch the launch live HERE! For all things space station science, follow @ISS_Research on Twitter.
(pls click tumblr is an asshole and makes my images blurry)
It’s not a man bun but it is acceptable.
WHO AM I KIDDING I LOVE HIM HAVE A MESSY QUICK SKETCH/WIP OF NEW KALLUS that took way too long to make and is still kinda weird with proportions but I’m too tired I just wanted to draw Kallus because the Boi is a rebel CAPTAIN now apparently and I’m also dead.
Lance: The name’s Lance? Keith: … Lance: We were in the same class at the garrison? Keith: Oh, really, are you…err.. Keith internally:don’t say single don’t say single don’t say single Keith: …an engineer?
(Headcanon that Keith did remember Lance but only as ‘that cute cargo pilot from Iverson’s class with the hair and the blue eyes’ and decided it was less embarrassing to just pretend he’d forgotten him entirely)
What science is headed to the International
Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations
that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…
Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus
spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and
experiments to the crew onboard.
Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in
In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D.
Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us
to better test the efficacy of a drug. This
experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.
These conjugates combine an immune-activating
drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially
increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the
associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug
design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity
effects a drug’s performance.
Genes in Space
The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation.
3-D Cell Culturing in Space
Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in
3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in
characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living
organisms. The Magnetic
3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will
test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and
This could help investigators improve the
ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.
The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed
Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the
space station in 2002.
Although it has been updated with modernized software,
data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its
objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved
in semiconductor crystal growth.
Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket
stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it
breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger
objects can survive. The Thermal
Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2)
investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of
a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record
data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been
unable to test on a large scale thus afar.
Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as
it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft
breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development
of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth.
a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an
883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube
will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances.
The key objective
for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA
assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.
Advanced Plant Habitat
Joining the space station’s growing list of
facilities is the Advanced
Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat
used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven
microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to
increase overall efficiency and reliability.
The ability to cultivate plants
for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the
planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply
missions may not be a possibility.
Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA)
are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the
International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.
Netflix swoops on world rights to Martin Freeman zombie movie
EXCLUSIVE: Streaming platform in multi-million dollar deal for Cargo from The Babadook producers.
Netflix has taken world rights to Martin Freeman zombie movie Cargo, in what is understood to be a multi-million dollar deal.
The film, from the producers of The Babadook, will be the first Australian film to sit under Netflix’s Originals banner.
The SVoD giant, which declined to comment on the acquisition, swooped on the film after seeing a three-minute promo.
CAA, UTA and Bankside Films represented the filmmakers in the deal with Ian Bricke negotiating on behalf of Netflix.
Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling’s debut, based on their short film which garnered 12 millions views online, charts the story of a father, played by The Hobbit and Sherlock star Freeman, who is stranded in rural Australia with only 48 hours to find a new home for his baby daughter, after being infected in the wake of a violent pandemic.
Freeman, who will be seen in the forthcoming Marvel film, The Black Panther, stars alongside Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil and newcomer Simone Landers who completes the cast.
Screenplay was also written by Ramke.
Currently in post-production, the film is produced by The Babadook producers Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jennings of Australia’s Causeway Films, together with Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder of Addictive Pictures and Mark Patterson.
Executive producers include Ian Kirk, Jeff Harrison, Fergus Grady, Craig Deeker, Ian Dawson, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross.
Umbrella Entertainment will handle rights outside of the Netflix SVoD window in Australia.
The film is financed by Screen Australia in association with South Australian Film Corporation, Screen NSW and Head Gear Films/Metrol Technology with Bankside Films handling international sales.
Filmmakers Ramke and Howling commented: “I think the great hope of all filmmakers is that their film will find an audience. More than that, the right audience. Netflix’s distribution model is both global in scale whilst also being incredibly innovative and viewer-specific. It’s quite an honour to be launching our first feature under this highly respected banner, and to be the first Australian Netflix Original feature.”
Final preparations are underway for today’s 5:55 p.m. EDT launch of the eleventh SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will liftoff into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket carrying about 6,000 pounds of crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crewmembers living aboard the station. The flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study neutron stars, osteoporosis, solar panels, tools for Earth-observation, and more.