NASA TV to Air U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony May 3

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 2014 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 3. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a 2006 hall of famer, and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, in 2008, will deliver remarks at the event.

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Volcanic Plume Over Southern Atlantic Ocean Revealed Through False-Color Imagery

The South Sandwich Islands, in the far southern Atlantic Ocean, are often shrouded with thick cloud, making it difficult to view the region from space. Sometimes, however, the use of false-color imagery can be used to reveal events that would otherwise be obscured under cloud cover. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the South Sandwich Islands on April 19, 2014 and acquired this false-color image of the cloudy scene. This false-color image uses a combination of non-visible (middle infrared and infrared) and visible (red) light captured in bands 7, 2, and 1, respectively, to distinguish clouds from snow and ice. Here the ice-covered islands appear bright turquoise, the clouds light turquoise and the water in the ocean appears deep black. Because the volcanic plume is a moist mixture of gas and ash, it reflects all three forms of light relatively well, so it appears nearly white. In the north of this image, a thin plume of white rises from the volcano on Zavodovski island, the northernmost of the South Sandwich Islands and streams to the northeast. Further south, a wider white plume can be seen blowing across the Atlantic Ocean. This plume rises from the Mount Michael volcano, which is a young and frequently active stratovolcano located on Saunders Island, near the center of the South Sandwich Island chain. The white plume from Mount Michael forms a chain of swirling eddies as it blows to the northeast. To the south, similar eddies can be seen behind three other islands. These are known as Von Kármán vortices. These vortices can form nearly anywhere that fluid flow is disturbed by an object. Because the atmosphere behaves like a fluid, when streaming air hits a blunt object, such as a mountain peak, the wind is forced around the object. The disturbance in the flow of the wind propagates downstream in a double row of vortices that alternate their direction of rotation, much like the eddies seen behind a pier in a river as water rushes past. Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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21st Space Wing: Best in space

The 21st Space Wing recently received the 2013 General Thomas S. Moorman, Jr. Award for Air Force Space Command's Best Operational Wing.

The award was one of four awards won by the wing in recent months.

"This award is a testament to our entire incredible team -- active duty, Reserve, Guard, civilian and contractor -- all working tirelessly day in and day out to achieve excellence," said Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander. "I am proud of this well-deserved recognition, and even prouder of all of you."
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AFSPC cuts ribbon for new network operations center

Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, officially opened the new 561st Network Operations Squadron's renovated operations center April 28 here. As part of the larger Air Force Information Network, the 561st NOS is one of three squadrons of its type in the Air Force, all belonging to AFSPC's 24th Air Force.

The ribbon cutting ceremony included a full showing of the $4.5 million upgraded operations center, or "bullpen." The bullpen, largely designed after a wall-street trading floor, is aimed at improving command and control of Air Force network communications. The addition of a 70-foot data wall enables the squadron to have direct visual contact to other squadrons with similar missions. Overall, the renovations improve the 561st NOS mission effectiveness by providing enhanced situational awareness and command and control capabilities.
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Tribute to Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall

Veterans were honored during the 27th Annual Florida Vietnam and All Veterans Reunion April 28 at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. The reunion features the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Chaplain (Capt.) Jason Gunnels, 45th Space Wing, gave the opening prayer and thanked veterans for paving the way for him to serve.

Col. Patrick Donley, 45th Mission Support Group commander, was the opening speaker to a crowd of 400 veterans, family members, community members, and friends. He recalled a story about five security policemen who bravely fought against 600 enemy forces. The men fought for 24 minutes before succumbing to their wounds.
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Telerobotic robot hand

As engineer Manuel Aiple moves his gauntleted hand, the robotic hand a few metres away in ESA’s telerobotics laboratory follows in sync.

In future, the hope is that human controllers can manipulate orbiting robots or planetary rovers in a similar fashion, across hundreds or thousands of kilometres of space.

Based at ESA’s ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the lab aims for robot operators to feel as though they are right there – up in orbit or down on a planet.

Stereo cameras offer 3D vision and the operator feels force-feedback, as found in high-end video game joysticks, to gain a working sense of touch as the robot manipulates objects.

This summer, ESA’s latest ATV space freighter will deliver the Lab’s Haptics-1 experiment to the International Space Station, testing how feedback operates in microgravity, as a prelude to demonstrating orbit-to-ground telerobotic control.

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A hungry starburst galaxy

This new Hubble picture is the sharpest ever image of the core of spiral galaxy Messier 61. Taken using the High Resolution Channel of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, the central part of the galaxy is shown in striking detail.  Also known as NGC 4303, this galaxy is roughly 100 000 light-years across, comparable in size to our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Both Messier 61 and our home galaxy belong to a group of galaxies known as the Virgo Supercluster in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) — a group of galaxy clusters containing up to 2000 spiral and elliptical galaxies in total.  Messier 61 is a type of galaxy known as a starburst galaxy. Starburst galaxies experience an incredibly high rate of star formation, hungrily using up their reservoir of gas in a very short period of time (in astronomical terms). But this is not the only activity going on within the galaxy; deep at its heart there is thought to be a supermassive black hole that is violently spewing out radiation.  

Despite its inclusion in the Messier Catalogue, Messier 61 was actually discovered by Italian astronomer Barnabus Oriani in 1779. Charles Messier also noticed this galaxy on the very same day as Oriani, but mistook it for a passing comet — the comet of 1779.  A version of this image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by Flickr user Det58.

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Vega flight VV03

The third launch by Europe’s new small launcher, Vega, delivered Kazakhstan’s KazEOSat-1(DZZ-HR) satellite for high-resolution Earth observation into its planned orbit during a flight lasting 55 minutes.

Liftoff of flight VV03 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana came at 01:35 GMT on 30 April 2014 (03:35 CEST; 22:35 local time on 29 April).

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