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Showing blog posts tagged with "NASA"

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”Fly Me to the Moon” Guest Andrew Chaikin on the Moon and the Museum

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With the conclusion of NASA’s shuttle program and the upcoming launch of the latest Mars rover, the future of space exploration is once again a hot topic—and humans’ first steps on the Moon are all the more important to revisit.

On October 25, join Apollo historian Andrew Chaikin and the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart for October’s Astronomy Live program, Fly Me to the Moon. The evening begins at 6:30 pm and includes a flight simulation to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor using the latest data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, along with mapping photographs taken from lunar orbit by the Apollo astronauts 40 years ago.

Chaikin recently answered a few questions about his passion for space exploration.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA, Rose Center for Earth and Space

Astronauts Share Details From Era-Ending Shuttle Mission with Museum Visitors

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Hundreds of visitors gathered in the Museum’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe on Tuesday morning to meet the four astronauts from NASA’s final shuttle mission, Atlantis’s STS-135. Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim made their first New York appearance at the Museum since their return from space on July 21.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA, Rose Center for Earth and Space

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Museum Scientist Will Oversee Sample Analysis For 2016 Mission to Asteroid

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Geologist Harold C. Connolly, a research associate in the Museum’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, will oversee sample analysis on the first U.S. mission to collect material from an asteroid and bring it to Earth for study.

NASA announced the new mission-which is called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx-in late May as the third mission in its New Frontiers Program. An unmanned spacecraft will be launched in 2016 to the near-Earth asteroid 1999 RQ36 and will travel for four years to its destination. After OSIRIS-REx performs surface mapping of the asteroid—a process that may take up to 505 days—Connolly will be responsible for recommending locations most suitable for sampling.

“We will narrow it down to several choices to select the best location based on low risk to the spacecraft and on chemical signatures” found during surface mapping, says Connolly, who is also professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the City University of New York.

Tags: NASA

NASA’s Kepler Astronomer Geoff Marcy Discusses Latest Exoplanet Discoveries

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Astronomers associated with NASA’s Kepler observatory have announced the discovery of more than 1,200 new candidate exoplanets. Michael Shara, a curator in the Museum’s Department of Astrophysics, writes about the significance of the findings below.

Does life exist anywhere in the universe except on Earth?  “Star Trek” may have convinced much of the public that the universe is teeming with technological civilizations, but the correct answer is: We don’t know for certain if life–even bacterial life — exists anywhere except on Earth.  A critical challenge in answering this question is determining whether planets — especially Earth-like planets — orbit other stars.

The search for Earth-like planets has just taken a giant leap forward, thanks in part to the tireless work of the dozens of astronomers associated with NASA’s Kepler observatory.  Their quest to find exoplanets — planets orbiting stars other than our Sun — has been a stunning success.  It is now certain that planets are as common stars.

Fifteen years ago the University of California, Berkeley’s Geoff Marcy and a handful of colleagues began an almost quixotic quest for exoplanets.  Dozens, and then hundreds of astronomers joined the quest after Geneva’s Michel Mayor, Marcy, and their colleagues began reporting the first discoveries.  Herculean efforts led to the cataloguing of 500 exoplanets by the end of 2010.  Now the Kepler team has announced the discovery of more than 1,200 new candidate exoplanets, and enough details about each of these new worlds to begin to draw far-reaching conclusions about abodes for life in the universe.

Tags: Astronomy Live!, Exoplanets, NASA, Rose Center for Earth and Space, Space Exploration

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