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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.

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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.

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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.

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Progress docking
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.

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Hubble snaps baby pictures of Jupiter's "Red Spot Jr."
SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE NEWS RELEASE
Posted: May 4, 2006


Credit: NASA, ESA, I. de Pater, and M. Wong (UC Berkeley)
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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.

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.


Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon-Miller (NASA/GSFC), and I. de Pater (University of California Berkeley)
Download larger image version here

 
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.

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.

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STS-134 Patch

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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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Apollo Collage
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Anniversary Shuttle Patch

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This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
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Mercury anniversary

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Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
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Apollo patches
The Apollo Patch Collection: Includes all 12 Apollo mission patches plus the Apollo Program Patch. Save over 20% off the Individual price.
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