Baltimore -- U.S. astronomers say they are developing plans to use the new Allen Telescope Array to search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy.
Johns Hopkins University Professor Richard Conn Henry is joining forces with Seth Shostak of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute and Steven Kilston of the Henry Foundation Inc., a Maryland think tank, to search a swath of the sky known as the ecliptic plane.
The telescope array, consisting of hundreds of small dishes, provides the capability to search for possible signals from technologically advanced civilizations in the galaxy.
"If those civilizations are out there … those that inhabit star systems that lie close to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun will be the most motivated to send communications signals toward Earth," Henry said, "because those civilizations will surely have detected our annual transit across the face of the sun, telling them Earth lies in a habitable zone, where liquid water is stable. Through spectroscopic analysis of our atmosphere, they will know Earth likely bears life."
Washington -- The U.S. space agency announced the awarding of a contract to the Universities Space Research Association of Columbia, Md.
The contract, with a potential value of $35 million, is for research, analysis and testing of technology and system development in fire prevention, detection and suppression and other technologies necessary to sustain human life in space. Other areas of research will include power, environmental control and life support systems, resource utilization and crew health.
The work will be designed to enable the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to secure and sustain specialized research and development capabilities essential to its role in NASA's exploration efforts.
Waswhington -- A Colorado Springs seventh grader has taken top honors in the U.S. space agency's essay competition.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 50th anniversary international competition challenged middle school and junior high students to discuss, in 500 words or less, one of two topics: how they have benefited in their everyday lives from aerospace technologies built by NASA during the past 50 years, or, how their lives may be different 50 years in the future because of NASA technology.
Jackson Warley of the Renaissance Academy in Colorado Springs will receive a $5,000 college scholarship and a trip to view a space shuttle launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In his essay, Jackson wrote "the underlying spirit and principles of NASA ... heeds the basic human calling to explore the unknown and in doing so, gives people motivation."
Washington -- The U.S. space agency says it has selected contractors to provide fabrication of ground support equipment at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's multiple award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has a maximum value of $400 million during a five-year ordering period, with potential for a one-year extension.
NASA said it awarded the electrical ground support equipment contract to Engravers Metal Fabricators of Cocoa, Fla., Jackson & Tull of Seabrook, Md., Spectrum Laser & Technologies Inc. of Colorado Springs, Colo., and TJ Inc. of Christmas, Fla.
The fluids ground support equipment contract was awarded to Hydraulics International Inc. of Chatsworth, Calif., the Precision Fabricating & Cleaning Co. Inc. of Cocoa, Fla., Sierra Lobo Inc. of Milan, Ohio, and the United Paradyne Corp. of Santa Maria, Calif.
Tucson -- NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander is having trouble placing Martian soil samples into research instruments, project officials in Arizona say.
Ray Arvidson, the top scientist of the University of Arizona-based team, said while the robotic device has gathered some soil, the team has been unable to confirm it has been deposited inside the lander's laboratory instruments, a NASA news release said Saturday.
The project official said the problem may be due to the makeup of the soil, which could be too large to fit through the instruments' screens.
"I think it's the cloddiness of the soil and not having enough fine granular material," said Arvidson said.
"In the future, we may prepare the soil by pushing down on the surface with the arm before scooping up the material to break it up, then sprinkle a smaller amount over the door," he added.
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander, which touched down on the surface of the red planet on May 2, made the first dig with its robotic arm and collected a sample of the Martian soil. The scoop of soil shows signs of an inexplicable white substance – which could be ice or salt. The affirmation will be made once the soil is analyzed in the instrument called the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA.
Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- The U.S. space agency again Thursday postponed the launch of its newest space telescope until at least next Wednesday.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had initially targeted liftoff of the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, for Tuesday, but then moved the date to Thursday to allow resolution of some engineering problems.
The space agency subsequently moved the launch to Saturday, but then postponed the GLAST liftoff to "no earlier than June 11" aboard a Delta II rocket.
NASA said the most recent postponement was needed to replace the rocket's flight termination system battery, which indicated a problem.
Washington -- The U.S. space agency said it plans to announce soon its Constellation spacesuit contract award.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said it will make the announcement of the selection of the contractor next Thursday afternoon.
NASA said the spacesuit system contract is for the design, development, testing, evaluation, production, processing and sustaining engineering of extravehicular activity equipment to support astronauts aboard the Orion crew exploration vehicle and the Altair lunar lander. The Constellation Program is aimed at carrying astronauts on trips to the International Space Station and, later, to the moon.
The space agency said the spacsesuit and support systems must be able to provide protection against the launch and landing environments and spacecraft cabin leaks, as well as offering contingency spacewalk capability. For short trips to the moon, the suit design will support a week's worth of moon walks.
Pasadena, Calif. -- The U.S. space agency says it is ready to begin collecting and analyzing Martian soil using its Phoenix Mars Lander.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said two practice rounds of digging and dumping soil at Phoenix's Martian arctic landing site this week gave scientists confidence to begin using Phoenix's robotic arm to deliver soil samples to instruments on the lander's deck.
Exactly when those samples will be collected was undetermined because of a malfunction on NASA's Odyssey orbiter. Odyssey, which relays Phoenix data to and from Earth, entered a "safe mode" Wednesday, preventing instructions from reaching the lander. Odyssey mission managers were trying to determine what triggered that event.
Fairbanks, Alaska -- The Alaska Space Grant Program and the Arctic Amateur Radio Club say a high-altitude balloon they launched reached an altitude of 95,327 feet last month.
The balloon, equipped with radio transmitters and cameras, was launched from Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range May 10, capturing more than 100 photos and videos during its flight.
The balloon had three payloads in tow, all built and designed by Dan Wietchy of the Arctic Amateur Radio Club of Fairbanks. Officials said the packages performed well, allowing participants to track and document the balloon's flight, and its subsequent recovery. The balloon was found less than seven miles from where it was launched.
Alaska Space Grant Program officials said they intend to expand the project to allow University of Alaska-Fairbanks students to fly payloads of their own design, and to conduct atmospheric research.
A frustrating ‘communication glitch’ kept the Phoenix lander from finally taking its first real dig on the Martian soil. Carefully planned practice sessions had ensured that the lander’s first plunge into the gravel didn’t come as a ‘shock’ for the Pheonix. In the past few weeks it has been made to effectively dirty its ‘hands’ shoveling out and dumping up clumps and clumps of loose soil. During such sessions the lander arm also managed to scoop out gravel from over intriguing white bits of material. What this white matter is has had the entire scientific community speculating.
The opening dig on Wednesday was eagerly awaited especially due to the possible clues it could lead to regarding the identity of the white substance. The delay in the dig ensures that conjectures about the white material being salt or ice or some other ‘exotic’ substance will keep flying.
The next attempt at excavation will be on Thursday, June 05, 2008.
Scientists at NASA claimed that the malfunction that prevented the Wednesday excavation was caused by a ‘communication glitch’ on the spacecraft that carries forth commands forwarded from the Earth center to the Phoenix lander. This orbiting satellite, called the ‘Odyssey’, was said to have gone into a ‘safe mode’ due to which all it’s non-essential’ programs were automatically shut down.
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