The sun, our nearest star, a mere 8 light-minutes away, compared to 4.5 light-years for the next star, the Alpha Centauri system. How did an agency with such varied accomplishments come into existence? In addition to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NASA facilities include 10 centers around the country staffed by nearly 19,000 employees. It is a matter of practical importance that we know how the sun works, as well as a matter of theoretical importance, since its proximity gives us the best information on how other sun-like stars work. NASAâs new space exploration plans seek to return humans to the moon by 2020, and eventually take them to Mars. Beyond Mars is the realm of the gas giant planets. Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first successful flight on December 17, 1903. The societal effect of the Apollo program was profound, no more so than in its view of Earth from the moon. The question whether we should explore when there is so much that needs to be done on Earth is both an ethical and a public policy question. The man who created the super soaker squirt gun worked for NASA as a scientist. The agency began operations on Oct. 1, 1958. With its nine European and three American principal investigators, SOHO is also another example of international cooperation in space. Launched in the summer of 1977, both Voyager spacecraft were designed to last five years, and both encountered Jupiter and Saturn between 1979 and 1981. But we should recall the sentiment of H.G. For two decades in the post-Apollo era NASA launched n… The acronym "NASA" stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Naturally, NASA began by targeting the closest celestial body, the moon. The NACA also directed and conducted research and experiments in aeronautics. Thanks to the finite speed of light, NASA has even succeeded in making several voyages to the beginning of time. After a roundtrip journey of some 2.88 billion miles, the capsule returned to Earth with its precious sample on Jan. 15, 2006. The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center is located in Edwards, California. During the 1980s NASA and the Department of Defense began the development of a hypersonic National Aerospace wPlane known as the X-30, and later worked on a hypersonic X-33 project. Along with human and robotic missions, the late 20th century will be remembered collectively as the time when humans not only saw Earth as a fragile planet against the backdrop of space, but also utilized near-Earth space to study the planetâs resources, to provide essential information about weather, and to provide means for navigation that was both life-saving and had enormous economic implications. + Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports, + Equal Employment Opportunity Data Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act, + Information-Dissemination Priorities and Inventories. As a result of cooperation between NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force, a National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is now under long-term development. Originally introduced as part of the Environmental Research and Sensor Technology (ERAST) Program, Altus II can map dozens of fires in a day with no risk to a pilot. In the area of real flight testing, from its beginning NASA assumed responsibility for the X-15 hypersonic aircraft, capable of speeds exceeding Mach 6 (4,500 miles per hour) at altitudes of 67 miles, reaching the very edge of space. Information gained from the highly successful program contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft and the Space Shuttle program. Wind tunnels, though not the most glamorous technology, were essential to relatively low-cost testing of aircraft performance before the aircraft were actually built. While the great question of extraterrestrial life â currently being addressed by NASAâs Astrobiology and Origins programs â remains unanswered, we can now begin to see our planetâs place in the 13.7-billion-year history of the cosmos. Of particular interest were the biology experiments, which produced controversial results. And in 1983, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), a joint project of the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, performed the first infrared survey of the entire sky. ), discovered coronal waves and solar tornadoes, and found more than 1,000 comets. Although no spacecraft returned to the Red Planet for two decades after Viking, the exobiology program continued to fund cutting-edge research in the life sciences. Wells many years ago that âHuman history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.â We are still in that race today, and surely space exploration expresses humanityâs most noble aspirations. Conversely, back contamination of our planet raised an Andromeda Strain scenario, named for a science fiction novel and movie (1971) about a fictional satellite returning to Earth carrying a deadly extraterrestrial organism. Looking outward from the sun, space scientists found one of their most alluring targets: the legendary planet Mars. Under the guiding principle that NASA was a research and development organization, rather than one that undertook routine observations, in its early years NASA spun off some of its Earth applications programs to other agencies or to the private sector. Water was a necessary ingredient for life, and this raised speculation about past life on Mars. Satellites for specific purposes, such as TIROS for weather, were largely piecemeal efforts. After encountering Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989, Voyager 2 took a southward trajectory out of the solar system. But by 1971, Mariner 9 showed a much more complex surface, including what appeared to be dry river beds. The outpost, planned to serve as a departure point for future human Mars missions, may also provide hydrogen and oxygen, components of fuel for those missions. Bush announced his Space Exploration Initiative in 1989 on the 20th anniversary of the first moon landing. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the High Energy Astronomy Observatories (HEAOs) observed the sky in both gamma ray and X-ray. Although there were some ambiguities in the biology experiments, the consensus was that Viking did not detect life on Mars.
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