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Posted by pompos 02/25/2009 @ 20:16

Tags : nasa, astronomy and space, sciences

News headlines
Shuttle damage 'looks like nothing,' NASA says - Los Angeles Times
By John Johnson Jr. A safety inspection of the space shuttle Atlantis, on a mission to repair the Hubble telescope, has turned up minor damage in the area where the right wing joins the fuselage, NASA announced Tuesday. Although that is considered a...
NASA to televise Soyuz launch and docking - United Press International
(UPI Photo/Bill Ingalls/NASA) | Enlarge WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- The US space agency says it will air live TV coverage of the next Russian Soyuz mission, including launch and arrival at the International Space Station. The National Aeronautics and...
Russia to charge NASA $51 million per space flight - Reuters
NASA needs to use the Russian Soyuz capsule because its own Space Shuttle will be retired next year after nearly 3 decades in service and a replacement is not due until 2014 at the earliest. Russia's own plans for a new spacecraft are running behind...
UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News - United Press International
National Aeronautics and Space Administration engineers and scientists have temporarily suspended driving Spirit while they study the ground around the rover and conduct simulations of driving options with a test rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion...
NASA's Exploration Overhaul - Huffington Post
NASA released the President's FY2010 NASA Budget Request late last week, complete with a live webcast and a flurry of tweets from the agency's many official Twitter accounts. Always a topic of interest among space enthusiasts, this year's budget...
ASU, NASA modernizing aeronautical education - Arizona State University
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded a grant to Valana Wells, associate professor in Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, to lead work on developing what NASA describes as “a revolutionary approach” to teaching...
NASA bags algae, wastewater in bid for aviation fuel - New York Times
By KATIE HOWELL, Greenwire NASA is applying space technology to a decidedly down-to-earth effort that links the production of algae-based fuel with an inexpensive method of sewage treatment. The space agency is growing algae for biofuel in plastic bags...
NASA Earth System Science Meeting Celebrates 20 Years of Discovery - PR Newswire (press release)
WASHINGTON, May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Twenty years ago NASA embarked on a revolutionary new mission for its Earth science program: to study our home planet from space as an inter-related whole, rather than as individual parts....
UCF professors get $1.2M NASA grant -
Three University of Central Florida professors have been awarded a $1.2 million three-year NASA grant to study the health and performance of astronauts during space exploration missions. The findings of Eduardo Salas, Kimberly Smith-Jentsch and Stephen...
NASA wants 4 from BJHS xx - The Huntsville Times -
By GREGG L. PARKER Four Bob Jones High School students will work as apprentices to NASA engineers this summer. Sophomore Peter Wetzel and juniors Alex Roman, Ross Spears and Harsha Srikakolapu received residential internships with nasa's INSPIRE,...

NASA Budget

President's FY 2005 five-year Vision for Space Exploration, with projected NASA budget expenditures through FY 2020. Graphic credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Each year, the United States Congress passes a Federal Budget detailing where federal tax money will be spent in the coming fiscal year.

The following charts detail the amount of federal funding allotted to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) each year over its past fifty year history (1958-2008) to operate aeronautics research, unmanned planetary and manned space exploration programs.

According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Air Force Almanac, when measured in real terms (Meaning: if the value of $1.00 at today's rate equaled the value of $1.00 in 1958), the figure is $806.7 billion, or an average of $15.818 billion dollars per year over its fifty year history.

NASA's current FY 2008 budget of $17.318 billion represents about 0.6% of the $2.9 trillion United States federal budget, 35% of total spending on academic scientific research in the United States, and 269% of the National Science Foundation budget.

For comparison, the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $604 billion over the past seven years vs. the entire fifty year history of NASA expenditures. The cost of World War II is estimated at $5 trillion dollars (in inflation adjusted terms).

As this chart shows, NASA's budget peaked in 1966, during the height of construction efforts leading up to the first moon landing under Project Apollo. At its peak, the Apollo program involved more than 34,000 NASA employees and 375,000 employees of industrial and university contractors. Roughly two to four cents out of every U.S. tax dollar (or 4% of the total federal budget -- adjusted for inflation in today's dollars) was being devoted to the space program.

In March 1966, NASA officials briefing Congressional members stated the "run-out cost" of the Apollo program to put men on the moon would be an estimated $22.718 billion for the 13 year program which began in 1959 and eventually accomplished six successful missions between July 1969 and December 1972. According to Steve Garber, the NASA History website curator, the final cost of project Apollo was between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $136 billion in 2007 Dollars). The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars (Apollo spacecraft cost $28-billion (Command/Service Module $17-billion; Lunar Module $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V costs about $ 46-billion 2005 dollars).

Critics of Project Constellation have derided the efforts of returning to the moon (which is only part of the overall Vision for Space Exploration) as "Apollo II", "Apollo on Steroids" or "Apollo Redux".

Using the Consumer Price Index, Project Apollo would work out to about $136 billion in contemporary dollars. However, this would not be a very good measure since the CPI does not reflect the cost of rockets and launch pads.

Using the broader based Gross Domestic Product deflator gives a present cost of $117 billion. The alternative of using the wage series would be a rough measure of the labor cost in current terms of approximately $155 billion. By using the GDP per capita, the measured cost in terms of average product works out to $259 billion.

A way to consider the "opportunity cost" to society, the best measure might be the cost as a percentage of GDP, or roughly $390 billion. This amount, divided over the thirteen years that Apollo was funded would average $30 billion per year, nearly twice NASA's current annual budget of $17.3 billion for FY 2009.

However, none of these methods take into account what sort of buying power that money actually provides to NASA. When NASA was created in 1958, most consumer products (as reflected in the Consumer Price Index) were made by hand with proportionally expensive domestic labor. Nowadays, most products are mass produced and use low cost foreign labor, keeping the Consumer Price Index down.

NASA, and its contractors within the aerospace field, on the other hand, requires skilled domestic labor with little mass production. The same situation exists today. Consequently, while the Consumer Price Index gives an inflation factor of 4.82 over NASA's existence, NASA's New Start Index (which takes NASA's buying power into account) has an inflation factor of 8.35. As a consequence, NASA's total buying power has notably declined more than the budget reflects.

Adjusted by the NNSI, the peak funding during Apollo was over $40 billion per year, or approximately three times the buying power of the current NASA budget.

Since the decline of Apollo leading into the Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, and the Space Transportation System (also more commonly known as the space shuttle), total federal expenditures have declined to roughly 6/10ths of one percent (0.6%) of the overall budget. In view of the proposed $700 billion Wall Street bail out, an "Apollo type" program could be conducted twice, with funds left over to accomplish other space research.

According to figures and data from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the White House, U.S. Census Bureau, the Coalition for Space Exploration, and other space advocacy groups such as the National Space Society and U.S. Space Foundation, when divided by the number of American citizens who pay their taxes on Tax Day, the amount of NASA's budget works out to approximately $57.10 USD per year per taxpayer -- $1.09 a week, or 15 cents a day in current 2007 spending.

However, a January 14, 2007 story appearing in the Houston Chronicle and other news media outlets have pointed out that Congress's failure to approve a new annual budget for NASA could force the agency to lay off workers, gut science programs or delay the development of the Orion spacecraft to return astronauts to the moon, legislators and space experts say. The crunch comes because Congress is freezing most 2007 spending at 2006 levels through September 30, 2007. Therefore, NASA's budget will be held at $16.3 billion, more than $500 million short of the request made by President George W. Bush.

On February 1, 2007, marking the fourth anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia accident, the new Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress proposed sweeping cuts to NASA's budget that could jeopardize the future of space exploration. U.S. Representative Dave Weldon, of Florida, whose district represents many workers from NASA and Kennedy Space Center, called the cuts draconian, and accused the Democratic leadership as using NASA and the nation's space program as a piggy bank for other liberal spending priorities in an issued press release.

The joint resolution that cleared the House Appropriations Committee on January 30, 2007 provides no increase for NASA over its 2006 budget of $16.2 billion. The space agency had originally sought $16.79 billion for 2007, but the budget request was tossed out when Congress decided late in 2006 to scrap all spending bills that were left unfinished at the end of the last legislative session and instead fund most agencies at their 2006 levels. According to the new budget proposal, much of the proposed cuts would come from NASA's Exploration budget, which includes funding for the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the future replacement for the current shuttle fleet. According to congressman Weldon, these particular cuts would jeopardize thousands of jobs in Florida, Alabama, and Texas.

According to the Florida Today report, five of those cuts were during Republican-led Congresses.

Unless the U.S. Senate changed the spending levels, NASA's total budget for the current fiscal year will be about $16.2 billion, about $500 million less than the previous year's spending level. President George W. Bush had requested the Congress to approve a budget of nearly $16.8 billion for NASA, approximately $545 million more than the level included in the spending bill the House passed on February 3, 2007 by a vote of 286 to 140.

On February 14, 2007, the U.S. Senate voted for their final passage of House Resolution 20, a stripped-down spending measure that was previously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on January 31. Its passage denied NASA and many other federal agencies a budget increase for 2007. For NASA, passage of H.R. 20 means the agency's remaining budget for the current fiscal year is capped at $16.2 billion, about $545 million less than it had requested for 2007.

Hardest hit by the recent funding cuts are the U.S. space agency's exploration program, which includes the cancellation of the Terrestrial Planet Finder and SIM Planet Quest, both managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Both missions were are part of an ongoing effort by NASA to find earthlike planets as possible homes for life in some form. Also placed at risk is the continuing development of Project Orion's CEV and Ares 1 rocket, NASA's proposed replacement vehicles for the space shuttle program. At present, both are planned to enter service by 2014, but could be delayed at least a year or more, widening the gap between its first flight after the drawdown of the space shuttle program by 2010. Such a gap would be similar to the six-year span of time of 1975-1981 between the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the inaugural launch of space shuttle Columbia during the flight of STS-1.

However, as a result of the $545 million in approved cuts from NASA's original FY '07 funding request, NASA Administrator Dr. Michael D. Griffin plans to eliminate a robotic mission to the moon, cut educational programs for schoolchildren and delay development of Project Constellation. According to an April 6, 2007 story published in the Orlando Sentinel, a planned robotic mission to the moon would be eliminated in order to help free up more than $100 million in funding.

Dr. Griffin stated in a letter sent to Congress on March 15, 2007 that, "a robotic lunar lander is not absolutely required to reduce risk for future manned lunar landings." NASA also plans to cut programs that encourage student experiments, cancel the construction of a new education complex and reduce funding for an upcoming asteroid-research mission.

On July 26, 2007, the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill for 2008 (H.R. 3093), was passed, which raised NASA's FY08 budget to $17.6 billion, a level that is $1.3 billion above the 2007 appropriation, and $290 million more than the President's FY08 request. A strong bipartisan effort garnered the approval, on July 4, 2007, of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee for a comparable $17.5 billion FY08 funding level for NASA.

Despite the Bush Administration's public commitment to the space program, in the form of the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration initiative, which sets goals of returning men to the Moon, establishing a base there, and later mounting manned missions to Mars, the White House has not fully committed to funding it. The five-year projection of the budget needed annually by NASA to meet the program's major milestones, proposed by the Administration and passed by Congress in 2005, has been underfunded by more than $1 billion per year.

With a clear understanding that the science-driver effect of the space program increases productivity throughout the entire physical economy, especially in technologies and designs of infrastructure, and creates future generations of scientists and engineers, the increase in this budget can play a major role in spurring economic recovery.

This statement is plausible since those were the years when NASA’s spending on Apollo was at its height. However, NASA also invested in other programs, and they are included in the mix, so the conclusion is not as definitive as one would like. Also, a 33% Return on Investment (ROI) is not really big enough to make the normal venture capitalist go wild, but for a government program, it is quite respectable.

In 2002, the aerospace industry contributed more than $95 billion to U.S. economic activity, which included $23.5 billion in employee earnings, and employed 576,000 people -- a 16% increase in jobs from three years earlier (source: Federal Aviation Administration, March 2004).

Just 15 firms that received an initial $64 million in NASA life sciences research added $200 million of their own money and created a $1.5 billion return on investment in the form of sold commercial goods and services during 25 years.

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NASA Earth Observatory

The NASA Earth Observatory is an online publishing organization of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (US).

It is the principal source of free satellite imagery and other scientific information about Earth for consumption by the general public. It is focused on the climate and the environment. It is paid for by US taxpayer money as authorized by the United States Congress.

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NASA World Wind

Hurricane Dean in NASA World Wind

World Wind is a free open source virtual globe developed by NASA and the open source community for use on personal computers running Microsoft Windows. The program overlays NASA and USGS satellite imagery, aerial photography, topographic maps and publicly available GIS data on 3D models of the Earth and other planets.

World Wind was released for the first time in 2004 by NASA. The latest version (1.4) developed mainly by open source community members from World Wind Central/Free Earth Foundation had its premiere on February 14, 2007.

Apart from the Earth there are several worlds in World Wind: Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter (with the four Galilean moons of Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto) and SDSS (imagery of stars and galactics). All these worlds are available in the File menu.

Users interact with the selected planet by rotating it, tilting the view, and zooming in and out. Five million placenames, political boundaries, latitude/longitude lines, and other location criteria can be displayed. World Wind provides the ability to browse maps and geospatial data on the internet using the OGC's WMS servers (version 1.4 also uses WFS for downloading placenames), import ESRI shapefiles and kml/kmz files. This is an example of how World Wind allows anyone to deliver their data.

Other features of World Wind include support for .X (DirectX 3D polygon mesh) models and advanced visual effects such as atmospheric scattering or sun shading.

The resolution inside the US is high enough to clearly discern individual buildings, houses, cars (USGS Digital Ortho layer) and even the shadows of people (metroplitan areas in USGS Urban Ortho layer). The resolution outside the US is at least 15 meters per pixel.

Microsoft has allowed World Wind to incorporate Virtual Earth high resolution data for non-commercial use.

World Wind uses digital elevation model (DEM) data collected by NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. This means one can view topographic features such as the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest in three dimensions. In addition, WW has bathymetry data which allows users to see ocean features, such as trenches and ridges, in 3D.

Many people using the applications are adding their own data and making them available through various sources, such as the World Wind Central or blogs mentioned in the link section below.

All images and movies created with World Wind using Blue Marble, Landsat, or USGS public domain data can be freely modified, re-distributed, and used on web sites, even for commercial purposes.

Plugins are small programs written in C#, VB or J# which are loaded and compiled by World Wind at startup. Plug-in developers can add features to World Wind without changing the program's source code.

The original recipe for World Wind was restricted to Windows, relying on the .NET libraries and DirectX. A new version of World Wind has been developed in Java with JOGL referred to as World Wind Java. This new version has an API-centric architecture with functionalities 'off-loaded' to modular components, leaving the API at the core. This makes World Wind itself a plugin so that it can be used as interchangeably as possible (i.e. via Python). This refactoring exercise allows World Wind to be accessed via a browser as a Java Applet. A preview of the World Wind Java SDK was released on May 11, 2007 during Sun Microsystem's annual JavaOne conference.

Low resolution Blue Marble datasets are included with the initial download; as a user zooms in to certain areas, additional high resolution data is downloaded from the NASA servers. The size of all currently available data sets is about 4.6 terabytes.

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NASA Distinguished Service Medal

NASA Distinguished Service Medal (Government personnel)

The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which may be bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States. The medal may be presented to any member of the federal government, including both military astronauts and civilian employees.

The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to those who display distinguished service, ability, or courage, and have personally made a contribution representing substantial progress to the NASA mission. The contribution must be so extraordinary that other forms of recognition would be inadequate.

Typical presentations of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal included awards to senior NASA administrators, mission control leaders, and astronauts who have completed numerous successful space flights. Due to the prestige of the award, the decoration is authorized for wear on active uniforms of the United States military. Another such authorized decoration is the NASA Space Flight Medal.

Upon the recommendation of NASA, the President may award an even higher honor to astronauts, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

The NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal is a similar award for non-Government personnel. This is the highest honor NASA awards to anyone who was not a Government employee when the service was performed.

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Source : Wikipedia