Oscar Pistorius comes out of the starting blocks in a race last year. In 2008, the South African sprinter was barred from competition; scientists successfully argued that the advantages of his prosthetics were offset by the disadvantages of being an amputee. He is now one race away from the London Olympics. (via Bionic Brains and Beyond - WSJ.com)
NASA’s NuSTAR Gearing Up for Launch |
Final pre-launch preparations are underway for NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The mission, which will use X-ray vision to hunt for hidden black holes, is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The observatory will launch from the belly of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s L-1011 “Stargazer” aircraft aboard the company’s Pegasus rocket.
Technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California are busy installing the rocket’s fairing, or nose cone, around the observatory. A flight computer software evaluation is also nearing completion and should be finished before the Flight Readiness Review, which is scheduled for June 1. A successful launch simulation of the Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus XL rocket was conducted last week.
The mission plan is for NuSTAR and its rocket to be attached to the Stargazer plane on June 2. The aircraft will depart California on June 5 and arrive at the Kwajalein launch site on June 6. The launch of NuSTAR from the plane is targeted for 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT) on June 13.
NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.; and ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, Calif. NuSTAR will be operated by UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission’s outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif. NASA’s Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA
(via itsfullofstars)Source: jpl.nasa.gov
From space Earth is simply a pale blue dot. It’s blue because of all the water on its surface. In fact, a little more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, most of it ocean. But how much water is there, really? This image, produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), shows all of Earth’s water in three little orbs. The big one, over the western U.S., is all the water in the world—everything from the salty oceans to the water found deep underground. It looks small compared with the size of Earth, but that sphere’s volume is 1.38 billion cubic kilometers and it is about 1,385 kilometers in diameter. The smaller floating sphere in the middle at 272.8 kilometers in diameter represents a subset of that bigger sphere, showing freshwater in the ground, lakes, swamps and rivers. It doesn’t include permanent ice- and snowpacks locked in the polar ice caps—which is where much of the world’s freshwater is held; humans, unfortunately, do not have access to this supply. The tiny speck next to it represents and even smaller subset of all the water– just the freshwater in lakes and rivers. It, too, seems tiny by comparison with the big orb, but it is 56.2 kilometers in diameter. (via It’s a Water-Full World: Scientific American Gallery)