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Carl Franzen

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Still frames showing a piece of cotton-fiberglass, similar to the cotton civilian clothing worn by astronauts, burning from bottom-to-top during a space station experiment (Credit: Paul Ferkul/NASA/BASS).

High above the Earth, astronauts aboard the International Space Station are playing with fire — very carefully. By lighting controlled fires and watching them burn, the Expedition 35 team is learning how to prevent accidental blazes from breaking out aboard the station and other spacecraft — a nightmare scenario that could put not only lives, but the very future of human spaceflight at risk. "We can certainly make things not flammable on Earth, but in space, that changes," said Dr. Paul Ferkul, a NASA scientist whose experiment...

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The Second Copernican Revolution: Our Changing View of Our Place in the Universe

Abstract: Five hundred years ago, Copernicus advanced the theory that the Earth was not the center of the Solar System. That theory revolutionized our understanding of the Universe. It was initially met with great opposition because of what it meant about our own significance. Today there is a second Copernican revolution underway that will once again alter our significance. Advances in technologies and techniques are enabling the detection, observation and study of Earth-like planets around other stars. And several deep-space missions are currently exploring potentially-habitable worlds within our Solar System as possible abodes for life beyond the Earth. As one such mission, the two intrepid robotic explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been exploring the surface of Mars for evidence of past habitable environments that could have supported life. The rovers have traversed great plains, climbed mountains, descended into deep craters and survived rover-killing dust storms and frigid winters. Both rovers have found clues that Mars was once Earth-like with a potential for life. Soon they will be joined by another larger, more capable rover on the surface. Within the next few years, we may be poised to answering that central question, "Are we alone in the Universe?" Speaker Info: John L. Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has been project manager of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project since March 2006. Previously, as science manager and then <b>...</b>
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Before the space shuttle Discovery made its farewell flyover this week, it had to be attached to a 747 in what NASA calls the mate-demate device at the Kennedy Space center in Florida. The Boeing 747, called the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), was an ordinary commercial jet before being modified at NASA to transport shuttles between earthbound locations.

Observers gathered along the coast to watch as the SCA escorted the Discovery shuttle to Washington, where Discovery will be on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It’s not surprising that Discovery looks a little worse for the wear: In 39 different missions, Discovery orbited the Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles. Highlights of the shuttle’s career include deploying the Hubble Space Telescope, completing the first space-shuttle rendezvous and the final shuttle docking with the Russian space station Mir. Discovery also docked with the International Space Station 13 times and supplied more than 31,000 pounds of hardware for the space laboratory.


The SCA and the space shuttle Discovery on the ramp of the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier, the duo backed out of the mate-demate device. Known as the MDD, the device is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA. NASA/Kim Shiflett


The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft carrying space shuttle Discovery backs out of the Shuttle Landing Facility’s mate-demate device at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA/Kim Shiflett


The SCA transporting space shuttle Discovery to its new home takes off from the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 7 a.m. EDT. The duo fly south over Brevard County’s beach communities for residents to get a look at the shuttle before it leaves the Space Coast for the last time. NASA/Jim Grossmann


Workers use two cranes to position the sling that will be used to demate the space shuttle Discovery at the Apron W area of Washington Dulles international Airport in Sterling, Va. NASA/Bill Ingalls


The space shuttle Discovery is suspended from a sling held by two cranes after the SCA was pushed back from underneath at Washington Dulles International Airport, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Sterling, VA. NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Fifty years ago, NASA began a program called Project Gemini, developing deep space travel techniques and equipment to prepare for the upcoming Apollo program. Two unmanned and ten manned missions were flown, and astronauts and engineers accomplished hundreds of goals, including the first American spacewalk, a 14-day endurance test in orbit, space docking, and the highest-ever manned orbit at 1,369 km (850 mi). After the project ended in 1966, many Gemini astronauts brought their experiences with them as they went on to fly Apollo missions to the Moon. Collected here are remarkable images of Project Gemini half a century ago -- some beautiful, some technical, and a few surprisingly intimate. [41 photos]

NASA Astronaut Edward White floats in zero gravity of space northeast of Hawaii, on June 3, 1965, during the flight of Gemini IV. White is attached to his spacecraft by a 25-ft. umbilical line and a 23-ft. tether line,both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand he carries a Hand-Held Self-Maneuvering Unit. (NASA/JSC/ASU)

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NASA is auctioning off three sets of patents in an effort to increase the "down-to-Earth" benefits of NASA's research and spread its technology to other industries. Three lots of four patents will be auctioned off, and NASA is offering the winners the chance to discuss the technology with its inventors. The patents themselves cover technology related to software development, robotics, artificial intelligence, industrial process control and wireless sensor networks; NASA says these patents "hold broad value in any field where a need exists to design highly complex, automated and intelligent systems."

This isn't the first time NASA has auctioned off patents; the agency believes it is one of the best way to openly exchange intellectual...

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Starting next month, NASA will begin delivering its four Space Shuttle orbiters to their final destinations. After an extensive decommissioning process, the fleet -- which includes three former working spacecraft and one test orbiter -- is nearly ready for public display. On April 17, the shuttle Discovery will be attached to a modified 747 Jumbo Jet for transport to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. Endeavour will go to Los Angeles in mid-September, and in early 2013, Atlantis will take its place on permanent display at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Test orbiter Enterprise will fly to New York City next month. Gathered here are images of NASA's final days spent processing the Space Shuttle fleet. [35 photos]

In Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the flight deck of space shuttle Atlantis is illuminated one last time during preparations to power down Atlantis during Space Shuttle Program transition and retirement activities, on December 22, 2011. Atlantis is being prepared for public display in 2013 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (NASA/Jim Grossmann)

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"Neil deGrasse Tyson - We Stopped Dreaming" is the first episode in a new YouTube series which stresses the importance of advancing the space frontier. The episode highlights reasons the USA first went to the moon and critisises the small funding NASA now receives - 4/10ths of one penny on every tax dollar. The main question asked is - how different would our knowledge of the universe be if that funding was raised to one penny out of every tax dollar, hence the hashtag #Penny4NASA. Watch below.

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The Remote Agent Experiment: Debugging Code from 60 Million Miles Away

Google Tech Talk February 14, 2012 Presented by Ron Garret. ABSTRACT The Remote Agent Experiment: Debugging Code from 60 Million Miles Away The Remote Agent Experiment (RAX) was an autonomous control system for an unmanned interplanetary spacecraft called New Millennium Deep Space 1 (DS1). In May, 1999, control of the DS1 spacecraft, a $150-million asset, was handed over to the Remote Agent software for three days. It was the first -- and, to date, the last -- time that an interplanetary spacecraft has been under fully autonomous control. RAX was a resounding technological success, but a political disaster. Instead of paving the way for future autonomous missions, RAX is the reason that NASA has not flown an autonomous mission since. This talk is about the lessons learned from an ambitious but ultimately failed attempt to introduce technological change into a large, bureaucratic organization, the limitations of static code analysis, and the unique challenges of debugging code when the round-trip ping time is 45 minutes. Slides available at www.flownet.com Dr. Ron Garret is a software engineer turned entrepreneur and angel investor. He has co-founded three startups and invested in a dozen others. In a previous life he was an AI and robotics researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab where he led the development of one of the four major components of the Remote Agent. In 2000 he went to work for what was at the time an obscure little Silicon Valley startup called Google <b>...</b>
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