NASA Commercial Crew Partner Blue Origin Test-Fires New Rocket Engine

NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., announced it has tested a new, hydrogen- and oxygen-fueled engine designed to lift the company's crewed Space Vehicle on future missions out of Earth's atmosphere. Blue Origin is one of the American companies developing next generation rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying humans to low-Earth orbit.

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View of the Transantarctic Mountains

This image of the Transantarctic Mountains was taken from the NASA P-3 airborne laboratory on Nov. 27, 2013, near the end of the 2013 IceBridge Antarctic campaign. NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth's polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system. IceBridge utilizes a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated suite of innovative science instruments ever assembled to characterize annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets. In addition, IceBridge collects critical data used to predict the response of earth’s polar ice to climate change and resulting sea-level rise. IceBridge also helps bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's ICESat satellite missions. > About IceBridge Image Credit: NASA / Michael Studinger

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Comet Artist Impression

Artist’s impression of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, portrayed far from the Sun with little to no activity.

Comets are a mix of rock, dust, ice and organic materials, and their surfaces are very dark, typically reflecting only 4% of the light that falls on them. Some parts of the nucleus are smooth and young, while other areas are cratered and old. The smoother, brighter areas of a nucleus are a result of resurfacing processes during active phases of the comet. That is, when its surface is heated up close to the Sun, ices sublimate and gases escape from inside the nucleus, creating a dynamic and unpredictable environment.

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is thought to be about 4 km wide, but until Rosetta reaches it in 2014, exactly what the nucleus looks like remains a mystery.

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Rosetta and Philae at comet

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. After an extensive mapping phase by the orbiter in August–September 2014, a landing site will be selected for Philae to conduct in situ measurements in November 2014. The image is not to scale; the Rosetta spacecraft measures 32 m across including the solar arrays, while the comet nucleus is thought to be about 4 km wide.

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