The Trailblazing Scientific Career Of Maria Zuber
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"In planetary science, you can ask really big questions," said Maria Zuber, Vice President of Research at MIT, in an interview with Smithsonian Magazine. Maria has been tackling big questions her entire career. She was the first woman to run a NASA spacecraft mission, the first woman to lead a science department at MIT, and one of the first two women to receive NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal. Her passion is planetary science, which includes the study of planets, moons, and planetary systems.
Leland Melvin Went From Football Star To Inspirational NASA Astronaut
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Leland Melvin took a uniquely adorable photo for his official NASA portrait—he snuck his two dogs into the studio with him. Though this image has made its rounds on the internet, Melvin has much more to offer than his heartwarming headshot. His story is a truly inspirational one.
NASA Uses Gold On Its Spacecraft
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With all the talk about how hard it is to get funding for missions into outer space, this might sound crazy: NASA covers many of its spacecraft in real gold. Dig a little deeper, however, and you'll realize it's not so crazy after all. One of the biggest threats to the delicate electronics on a spacecraft is radiation. With no atmosphere to protect them from that radiation, electronics get a direct hit, transferring heat and risking serious damage. Gold is very, very good at reflecting radiation. It reflects as much infrared and UV radiation as copper, aluminum, and silver, but it does them one better by absorbing a large amount of visible light. This means it won't blind astronauts with massive reflections. And anyone who's owned jewelry knows that silver and copper tarnish easily. Gold stays shiny, which means less maintenance both for jewelry wearers and for NASA engineers. Explore the science of gold in the videos below.
Mysterious Space Noises Picked Up By A NASA Student Balloon Experiment
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Sounds that were recorded on August 9, 2014 from the edge of space are special for a few reasons. First of all, no one knows the source. Second, it was the first time infrasounds had been captured from the edge of space in 50 years. On that August day in 2014, a balloon that was created by a university student for a NASA experiment traveled up to the edge of the stratosphere and picked up strange noises roughly 22 miles (36 kilometers) above Earth's surface. The balloon was designed and built by Daniel Bowman, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.These noises are only audible to the human ear after they are sped up, because the atmospheric infrasounds are sound waves at frequencies below 20 hertz. Once audible, the sounds are almost reminiscent of "The X Files" theme music — or maybe that's just the imagination at work. Researchers have yet to nail down the exact source of these sounds, but there are theories as to what caused the noises captured above New Mexico. The sounds may be the result of a wind farm beneath the balloon's flight path, ocean waves, wind turbulence, gravity waves, clear air turbulence, or vibrations from the balloon cable. Watch the video below to hear the sounds for yourself.
Every Year, The Curiosity Rover Sings A Lonely Birthday Song
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On August 5, 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the Martian surface for the first time. It entered the Martian atmosphere at a staggering 13,000 mph. Curiosity, a huge accomplishment in interstellar exploration, is the largest rover ever delivered to the surface of a planet. And when August 5th rolls around year after year as Curiosity cruises Mars' surface, the lonely rover performs a special task: it sings "Happy Birthday" to itself all alone. Researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center programmed the celebratory song to play on August 5 every year. To do this, Curiosity produces a series of frequencies that mimic the notes in the song. Watch the videos below to hear Curiosity sing the song, and for more information about this historic rover.