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During the final seconds prior to the planned launch of the Space Technology 5 mission on March 15, a retention pin that holds the starboard-side fin aerosurface on the Pegasus rocket first stage did not retract. That forced the launch team to call an abort. This movie shows the scrub as it happened.
Shuttle launch delay
Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale announces his decision to replace suspect fuel-level sensors inside the liquid hydrogen portion of Discovery's external tank. The three-week job means Discovery will miss its May launch window, delaying the second post-Columbia test flight to the next daylight period opening July 1. Hale made the announcement during a news conference from Johnson Space Center on March 14.
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NASA's Stardust spacecraft returned to Earth in January with the first samples ever retrieved from a comet. This briefing with mission scientists held March 13 from the Johnson Space Center offers an update on the initial research into the comet bits.
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The Cassini spacecraft orbiting the planet Saturn has found evidence indicating pockets of liquid water may exist near the surface on the icy moon Enceladus, raising the question of whether the small world could support life. This movie includes stunning images of Enceladus taken by Cassini and animation of geysers seen erupting from the moon.
MRO's orbit insertion explained
The make-or-break engine firing by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to enter orbit around Mars and the subsequent aerobraking to reach the low-altitude perch for science observations are explained by project manager Jim Graf in this narrated animation package.
MRO overview briefing
Fuk Li, Mars program manager at JPL, Jim Graf, MRO project manager, Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist, and Dan McCleese, the principal investigator for the Mars Climate Sounder instrument, provide an overview on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on March 8, about 48 hours before arrival at Mars.
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STS-9: Spacelab opens
Spacelab was an orbiting laboratory tucked in the payload bay of the space shuttle for scientists to conduct a range of experiments. The joint European/NASA program flew multiple times aboard shuttle missions starting with STS-9 in November 1983. In this post-flight film presentation, the astronauts from that Columbia mission narrate the highlights from Spacelab-1.
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Galaxy on fire! NASA's Spitzer reveals stellar smoke
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY NEWS RELEASE
Posted: March 16, 2006
Where there's smoke, there's fire -- even in outer space. A new infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows a burning hot galaxy whose fiery stars appear to be blowing out giant billows of smoky dust.
This image composite compares a visible-light view (left) of the "Cigar galaxy" to an infrared view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope of the same galaxy. While the visible image shows a serene galaxy looking cool as a cucumber, the infrared image reveals a smokin' hot "cigar." Credit: Visible: NOAO; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/C. Engelbracht (University of Arizona)
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The galaxy, called Messier 82, or the "Cigar galaxy," was previously
known to host a hotbed of young, massive stars. The new Spitzer image
reveals, for the first time, the "smoke" surrounding those stellar
"We've never seen anything like this," said Dr. Charles Engelbracht
of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "This unusual galaxy has
ejected an enormous amount of dust to cover itself with a cloud
brighter than any we've seen around other galaxies."
The false-colored view shows Messier 82, an
irregular-shaped galaxy positioned on its side, as a diffuse bar of
blue light. Fanning out from its top and bottom like the wings of a
butterfly are huge red clouds of dust believed to contain a compound
similar to car exhaust.
The smelly material, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, can be
found on Earth in tailpipes, barbecue pits and other places where
combustion reactions have occurred. In galaxies, the stuff is
created by stars, whose winds and radiation blow the material out
"Usually you see smoke before a fire, but we knew about the fire in
this galaxy before Spitzer's infrared eyes saw the smoke," said Dr.
David Leisawitz, Spitzer program scientist at NASA Headquarters in
These hazy clouds are some of the biggest ever seen around a galaxy.
They stretch out 20,000 light-years away from the galactic plane in
both directions, far beyond where stars are found.
Previous observations of Messier 82 had revealed two cone-shaped
clouds of very hot gas projecting outward below and above the center
of galaxy. Spitzer's sensitive infrared vision allowed astronomers to
see the galaxy's dust.
"Spitzer showed us a dust halo all around this galaxy," said
Engelbracht. "We still don't understand why the dust is all over the
place and not cone-shaped."
Cone-shaped clouds of dust around this galaxy would have indicated
that its central, massive stars had sprayed the dust into space.
Instead, Engelbracht and his team believe stars throughout the galaxy
are sending off the "smoke signals."
Messier 82 is located about 12 million light-years away in the Ursa
Major constellation. It is undergoing a renaissance of star birth in
its middle age, with the most intense bursts of star formation taking
place at its core. The galaxy's interaction with its neighbor, a
larger galaxy called Messier 81, is the cause of all the stellar
ruckus. Our own Milky Way galaxy is a less hectic place, with dust
confined to the galactic plane.
The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical
Journal. Other authors who contributed significantly to this work are
Praveen Kundurthy and Dr. Karl Gordon, both of the University of
Arizona. The image was taken as a part of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby
Galaxy Survey, which is led by Dr. Robert Kennicutt, also of the
University of Arizona.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Spitzer Space Telescope
mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science
operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech.
JPL is a division of Caltech.