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STS-51B: Monkeys, bubbles and auroras
The flight of Spacelab 3 aboard Challenger in April/May 1985 was a week-long scientific research mission using a laboratory tucked in the shuttle's payload bay. Experiments focused on material and fluid behaviors in weightlessness, plus observations of monkeys in the lab. The crew also watched amazing auroral displays over Earth. This post-flight crew film shows the highlights of STS-51B and includes remarkable views out the shuttle cockpit window during launch showing the Chesapeake Bay, New York City and Cape Cod as Challenger soared up the eastern seaboard.
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STS-51D: Flyswatter spacewalk
Discovery launched April 12, 1985 on the STS-51D mission. A U.S. military communications satellite, known as Leasat 3, failed to activate after its deployment from the payload bay. That set the stage for a spacewalk -- the shuttle program's first unplanned EVA -- to attach handcrafted "Flyswatter" objects on the shuttle robotic arm to hit a timing switch on the satellite. The rescue attempt did not succeed. Upon landing at Kennedy Space Center, Discovery blew a tire. The crew, including Senator Jake Garn of Utah, narrate this post-flight film of highlights from the week-long mission.
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Fuel tank update
NASA managers hold this news conference April 28 to give an update on plans for the next space shuttle mission, the ongoing external fuel tank testing and debates over further modifications.
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CALIPSO and CloudSat
The Boeing Delta 2 rocket carrying the CALIPSO and CloudSat atmospheric research spacecraft lifts off at 3:02 a.m. local time April 28 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Tank meets SRBs
Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, the external fuel tank for the STS-121 space shuttle mission is hoisted into position for attachment with the twin solid rocket boosters atop a mobile launch platform. The tank, ET-119, will carry the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to feed Discovery's three main engines during launch.
Discovery payload bay
In preparation for space shuttle Discovery's departure from its Orbiter Processing Facility hangar for rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building and mating with the tank and boosters, the ship's 60-foot long payload bay doors are swung shut.
Take a virtual ride aboard the Russian Progress 21P cargo freighter as it docks with the International Space Station. This movie captures the final approach and successful linkup from a camera on the Progress craft's nose.
Rendezvous | Docking
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Hubble snaps baby pictures of Jupiter's "Red Spot Jr."
SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
Posted: May 4, 2006
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is giving astronomers their most detailed
view yet of a second red spot emerging on Jupiter. For the first time in
history, astronomers have witnessed the birth of a new red spot on the
giant planet, which is located half a billion miles away. The storm is
roughly one-half the diameter of its bigger and legendary cousin, the
Great Red Spot. Researchers suggest that the new spot may be related to
a possible major climate change in Jupiter's atmosphere.
Credit: NASA, ESA, I. de Pater, and M. Wong (UC Berkeley)
Download larger image version here
Dubbed by some astronomers as "Red Spot Jr.," the new spot has been
followed by amateur and professional astronomers for the past few
months. But Hubble's new images provide a level of detail comparable to
that achieved by NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft as they flew by
Jupiter a quarter-century ago.
Before it mysteriously changed to the same color as the Great Red Spot,
the smaller spot was known as the White Oval BA. It formed after three
white oval-shaped storms merged during 1998 to 2000. At least one or two
of the progenitor white ovals can be traced back to 90 years ago, but
they may have been present earlier. A third spot appeared in 1939. (The
Great Red Spot has been visible for the past 400 years, ever since
earthbound observers had telescopes to see it).
When viewed at near-infrared wavelengths (specifically 892 nanometers --
a methane gas absorption band) Red Spot Jr. is about as prominent in
Jupiter's cloudy atmosphere as the Great Red Spot. This may mean that
the storm rises miles above the top of the main cloud deck on Jupiter
just as its larger cousin is thought to do. Some astronomers think the
red hue could be produced as the spots dredge up material from deeper
in Jupiter's atmosphere, which is then chemically altered by the
Sun's ultraviolet light.
Researchers think the Hubble images may provide evidence that Jupiter
is in the midst of a global climate change that will alter its average
temperature at some latitudes by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The
transfer of heat from the equator to the planet's south pole is
predicted to nearly shut off at 34 degrees southern latitude, the
latitude where the second red spot is forming. The effects of the
shut-off were predicted by Philip Marcus of the University of
California, Berkeley (UCB) to become apparent approximately seven years
after the White Oval collisions in 1998 to 2000.
Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon-Miller (NASA/GSFC), and I. de Pater (University of California Berkeley)
Download larger image version here
Two teams of astronomers were given discretionary time on Hubble to
observe the new red spot.
[Left] -- This image, acquired April 8, 2006 with Hubble's Advanced
Camera for Surveys (high-resolution channel), shows that the second red
spot has a small amount of pale clouds in the center. A strong
convective event, which is likely a thunderstorm, is visible as a bright
white cloud north of the oval, in the turbulent clouds that precede the
Great Red Spot. As the oval continues its eastward drift and the Great
Red Spot moves westward, they should pass each other in early July. This
contrast-enhanced image was taken in blue and red light. The group that
performed this observation was led by Amy Simon-Miller (NASA Goddard
Space Flight Center), Glenn Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and Nancy
Chanover (New Mexico State University).
[Right] -- Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (wide field channel)
took this image of the entire disk of Jupiter on April 16. The second
red spot appears at southern latitudes, below the center of Jupiter's
disk. The new spot is approximately the size of Earth's diameter. The
image was taken in visible light and at near-infrared wavelengths, and
does not represent Jupiter's true colors. The red color traces
high-altitude haze blankets: the equatorial zone, the Great Red Spot,
the second red spot, and the polar hoods. The Hubble group that
conducted this observation is led jointly by Imke de Pater (UCB
Astronomy) and Philip Marcus (UCB Mechanical Engineering). Other team
members are Michael Wong (UCB Astronomy), Xylar Asay-Davis (UCB
Mechanical Engineering), and Christopher Go, an amateur astronomer with
the Astronomical League of the Philippines.