Tag Archive : NASA

tom cruise

Tom Cruise is going to shoot a movie in space

Tom Cruise is going to fly into space to shoot a movie. NASA confirms it. The head of NASA confirmed that the agency is working with the actor to shoot a movie in the International Space Station, which orbits 250 miles above the earth.

Various crews of astronauts lived in space Station since 2000. Those who can spend billions on paid tours also have the chance of visiting the station, and few such tourists have already visited the station.

Few movies have already been shot in the International Space Station. This includes the 2002 IMAX documentary which was narrated by Tom Cruise himself, and the 2012s “Apogee of Fear” science fiction which was filmed by a space tourist named Richard Garriott.

However, Tom Cruise will be the first actor to travel the ISS to shoot a movie. He’s already famous among movie fans for doing dangerous stunts himself without a stunt double. And now he’s going to endure space travel for a movie.

tom cruise in Mission Impossible 2 Tom Cruise in a scene from Mission Impossible movies

This will be the first action-adventure movie shooting in outer space. However, it’s not clarified how Tom will get into outer space and which additional crew will join him for the movie. He may use the Space X program capsules to travel there since the company is to start manned missions to ISS.


Isolation advise by Jewish astronaut Jessica Meir

Jessica Meir is a Jewish astronaut who’s in the International Space Station. On Thursday she advised the Israelis and all other people on how to stay mentally and physically fit, while stuck indoors.

“It is very strange and a bit surreal for us to see it all unfold when we’ve been up here for the entire duration of what’s going on down on the ground and it seems that we will be completely going back to a different planet,” she said in the video posted by the Jerusalem embassy.

“It’s something we think a lot about up here. She said answering a question posed by the embassy. The question was — “How can we stay engaged and healthy indoors?” —

“And I think there are a lot of things that people can do to make things a little bit easier on them. And some of the things that we do up here is we make sure to stick to our routine. We stick to our exercise routine to stay fit and healthy,” she said. “Exercise is something, as we know, that’s important not only for our physical fitness but also for our mental well-being, and that’s something that we emphasize a lot up here.”

She also said that regular contacts with family and friends as well as the other loved ones are very important. People can connect via video conferencing. She says that’s one thing regularly done on Space Station as well to the psychological support of astronauts to improve their mentality.

Meir frequently posts photos of Earth taken from the International Space Station, where she has been since late September. In November, she posted a photo of Israel, in a tribute to her father.

Last October, Meir participated in the first female-only spacewalk. Since the first spacewalk in 1965, there have been 227 spacewalkers. Only 14 of them were women. Meir is on the 15th.

Read More: All women space walk

Source: NASA

New shot of Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbour

New planet discovered in Proxima Centauri

4 years ago scientists discovered a planet orbiting our closest neighboring star, the Proxima Centauri. Now scientists think that they have discovered a second planet in the same system.

The newly discovered planet has at least Six times more mass than Earth. It takes 5.2 years to orbit around its star. The discovery is published in the open-access journal Science Advances.

The first planet called Proxima Centauri b has a mass similar to the Earth. Its orbit is 11.2 days. First, they expected that this planet may be a habitable planet that contains water. But further studies revealed that its mother star has robbed its atmosphere long ago.

To discover these planets scientists studied wobbles in the Proxima Centauri’s spectrum. To get the spectrum they used the HARPS spectrograph at the La Silla Observatory and the UVES spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope. They analyzed data between 2000 and 2017 to discover the first planet in 2016 as well as the new planet now.

Proxima c is about 1.5 astronomical units from its star. This is about 30 (times) than Proxima b’s distance from its mother star. Due to this large distance, the planet would be very cold to host life. (unlike our sun, the Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf which is very faint)



NASA Moon mission is disrupted by COVID-19

Due to the rising no of coronavirus incidents, Nasa decided to suspend its work related to building and testing the rocket and capsule for the Artemis. Artemis is a crewed mission to the moon.

NASA is shutting down its Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The space launch system rocket is being built there. They also plan to shut down Stennis Space Center. (As per administrator Jim Bridenstine).

“The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team,” he said.

NASA is to temporarily suspend the production and testing of space launch systems and Orion hardware. NASA and contract teams will orderly shut down the hardware to put them in a safe mode, so the work can resume once the problem is settled.

The space launch system is a powerful space rocket to transport astronauts to Moon and beyond. Orion is its crew model.

“We realize there will be impacts on NASA missions, but as our teams work to analyze the full picture and reduce risks we understand that our top priority is the health and safety of the NASA workforce,” Bridenstine said.

A crewed return to Moon is the first part of Artemis. The purpose is to test technologies to colonize Mars in 2030.

Source: sciencealert.com


How to save International Space Station from Corona-virus

Next space mission to the International Space Station is planned on 9th April and it’s getting closer. As at today, NASA has no intentions to postpone the mission. International Space Station is like a quarantine itself, isolated from Earth. Getting infected with coronavirus in a closed space with no hospitals for thousands of miles may be the worst situation to encounter on a space mission. What are the measures that NASA’s going to take against such a catastrophe?

Anyway, NASA has been careful about germs even before Coronavirus. Even in the past on Apollo 14 launch 1972, crew members had to spend 14 days in a health stabilization quarantine before launch. Under present circumstances, NASA will be testing the crew for COVID-19 before the quarantine.

The launch site is in Kazakhstan which has closed its borders due to coronavirus cases. One of the crew members is also from Kazakhstan. NASA team will enter the country under special permission. No reporters are allowed to cover it during the launch event. The event is Going to be held with only the participation of essential personnel. So the Russian space agency is going to live stream the event, which is not a usual thing for them. But NASA usually streams these events live.

In mid-April, some ISS members are to return to Earth. They are probably virus free. The capsule carrying them will land on the Kazak desert. These type of landing require a large no of recovery personnel. NASA has not announced plans on how to make this personal virus-free but probably have a plan.


DSN Network to be upgraded,so Voyager 2 is on its own

NASA’S Voyager 2 spacecraft will have to manage itself in the interstellar space for approximately 11 months. NASA launched Voyager 2 in 1977 and it entered the interstellar space in November 2018. NASA is upgrading the 70m wide radio telescope in Australia. They use this dish to send instructions to the spacecraft, so till the upgrade is over voyager has to manage on its own.

Animation of Voyager 2 trajectory.gif
By Phoenix7777Own work
Data source: HORIZONS System, JPL, NASA: xyz coordinates, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Mission team members say that this is nothing to worry about. Voyager is fully capable of managing on its own. They say that if things don’t go normal after the restoration of the antenna, there’s a fault protection system onboard.

The Australian radio dish is a part of the Deep Space Network (DSN). The network has three dishes in California, Spain, and Australia. But only the Australian one is useful at the present.

Voyager 2 is currently about 11 billion miles from earth. It’s moving downward relative to the earth’s orbital plane. Therefore earth can only send signals to it from the southern hemisphere.

The Australian dish which is in Canberra is 48 years old. Voyager 2 recently pinged back earth after about a month. So the officials have made a decision to upgrade the radio dish because Voyager 2 is back and healthy again. The upgrade begins in early March.

They say that the upgrade will affect the whole DSN network. So this could be very useful in communicating with spacecraft in future missions too.


Biggest explosion after the Big Bang just happened

Researchers of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy discovered an explosion in a supermassive black hole. This black hole is located at the center of the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster which is 390 million light-years from Earth. This is the largest explosion ever observed since the Big Bang.

“We’ve seen outbursts in the centers of galaxies before but this one is really, really massive,” Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, professor at the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and co-author of the paper uploaded to preprint archive arXiv earlier this month, said in a statement.
“And we don’t know why it’s so big.”

For this discovery, researchers used four telescopes around the globe. This includes NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory.

Simona Giacintucci, from the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC, the lead author compares this explosion to the Mount St Helen’s explosion, which was a violent volcanic eruption in history.

“The difference is that you could fit 15 Milky Way galaxies in a row into the crater this eruption punched into the cluster’s hot gas,” said Giacintucci.

“It happened very slowly — like an explosion in slow motion that took place over hundreds of millions of years,” Johnston-Hollitt said.
NASA scientists were able to confirm the unprecedented blast. “The radio data fit inside the X-rays like a hand in a glove,” co-author Maxim Markevitch from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center said in the statement. “This is the clincher that tells us an eruption of unprecedented size occurred here.”

This discovery could be useful in future discoveries as such.

Johnston-Hollitt says it’s like archaeology. They are provided tools such as radio telescopes, to dig deeper to discover more such outbursts.

The research team plans to double the number of telescopes used, to increase the sensitivity to discover further.


John Glenn, the first American to orbit earth

In 1962 John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. After the first two Soviet astronauts, he was the third in the world to orbit the earth. He orbited 3 times around the earth and returned safely. After retiring from NASA during the period of 1974 to 1999 he served as a Democratic United States senator from Ohio. But at the age of 77, in 1998 again he got the chance to fly to space.

Before NASA and space, he was a successful fighter pilot during world war 2. In 1957, he made the first supersonic transcontinental flight across the United States. It’s his onboard camera which took the first continuous panoramic photo of the US.

In 1959 NASA selected him as one of the nation’s first astronauts in Mercury Seven which are also referred to as Original Seven and Astronaut Group 1.

mercury 7

The Mercury Seven astronauts posing with a USAF F-106.


On Feb 20, 1962, Friendship 7 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, and he became the first American to orbit the earth. His mission had lots of complications that even put his life in danger. But luckily he returned to earth safely after 4 hours and 55-minute flight and landed in the sea, 1,290 km southeast of Cape Canaveral.



Friendship 7 is currently displayed at the National Air and Space Museum

Glenn flew on Space Shuttle Discovery’s STS-95 mission at the age of 77, in 1998. This made him the oldest person to fly in space and also the only person to fly in both Mercury and Space Shuttle programs.

Being the oldest and last surviving member of Mercury Seven, he died at the age of 95 in 2016.

Medals received

  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1962
  • Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978
  • U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012

Cygnus cargo ship arrives at the International Space Station

A Cygnus cargo ship of Northrop Grumman company arrived at the ISS on 18th Feb. The uncrewed ship was captured by a robotic arm of the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan operated the robotic arm. Northrop Grumman launched Cygnus into space through a rocket on Saturday 15th from NASAS Wallops facility of Virginia.

Northrop Grumman named the spaceship “S.S. Robert H. Lawrence” after late Maj. Robert H. Lawrence, jr., who was the first Afro American ever selected to be an astronaut in 1967. He was selected to get in US Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a planned military space station. But unfortunately, Mr Lawrence died in a training accident. He never had the chance to get in space. But he remains a valuable symbol of progress regarding human space flights.

The cargo included 3400 KG of science experiments, Supplies and other vital gear for the stations three-person “Expedition 62” crew. The crew includes Andrew Morgon, Jessica Meir and Russian Astronaut Oleg Skripochka the commander of the mission.

The cargo included some novel science gear to the station including some experiments. Mochii, a small electron microscope is among them, which is the first-ever in space. This allows the astronauts to analyse various things right in space rather than sending back to earth and waiting for results. There is also some equipment to study bone loss in space and to test viruses which can target and destroy specific bacterias, so they can be used as cures for bacterial infections.

There are also some special treats for astronauts. These include fresh fruit, Candy and Cheese.


NASA’s record holder Christina Koch returns to earth

NASA’s hero female astronaut Christina Koch will return home on 6th February. She’s the one for holding the record for spending more time in space on a single mission than any other woman. She will return to earth with two of her fellow ISS crewmates.

Koch along with station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will depart the station on Feb 6 in a Soyuz spacecraft. The spacecraft will land with the assistance of parachutes. The landing is scheduled at 4:14 a.m. EST southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (3:13 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Live coverage can be viewed at the agencies live web site – http://www.nasa.gov/live.

According to NASA, the program schedule for the broadcast is as follows. (Eastern times)

Wednesday, Feb. 5:

8:30 a.m.: Space station change of command ceremony, during which Parmitano will hand over command to crewmate Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos

9 p.m.: Farewell and Soyuz hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 9:25 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 6:

12:15 a.m.: Soyuz undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 12:50 a.m.)

3 a.m.: Soyuz deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 3:18 a.m. and landing at 4:13 a.m.)

Watch Koch’s most memorable moments from her record-breaking mission at:


Read the previous article on Christina Koch


Photo Credits : NASA


Spitzer Space Telescope retired

NASA decommissioned the Spitzer Space Telescope on Thursday (30th January 2020). The signals with the commands to decommission were sent to the telescope on Thursday by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“We leave behind a powerful scientific and technological legacy,” said Spitzer project manager Joseph Hunt, who declared the telescope’s end at 5:34 p.m. EST (2234 GMT) after engineers confirmed that the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all science operations. “Everyone who has worked on this mission should be extremely proud today. There are literally hundreds of people who contributed directly to Spitzer’s success, and thousands who used its scientific capabilities to explore the universe.”

Four years back, NASA decided to decommission the Spitzer. This was based on a review of the agency’s current missions by then, and the future missions. The researches which used the telescope will continue with the James Webb Space Telescope when it’s launched in March 2021. Spitzer was originally planned to be shut down in 2018, but it got an extension of two years because the James Webb got delayed.

Spitzer was launched on 2003 August. The telescope was originally named the Space Infrared Telescope facility and was renamed Spitzer Space Telescope after the astronomer Lyman Spitzer. It was his idea to operate telescopes above earth atmosphere in space. The Spitzer was used to make discoveries inside the solar system as well as close to the edge of the universe.

“Spitzer taught us how important infrared light is to understanding our universe, both in our cosmic neighborhood and as far away as the most distant galaxies. The advances we make across many areas in astrophysics in the future will be because of Spitzer’s extraordinary legacy,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of astrophysics, said in a statement.

Spitzer collected data about the interstellar dust and exoplanets. Some discoveries like the exoplanets were not originally intended goals. Spitzer was used to finding many Earth-sized exoplanets in the Trappist-1 star system making it the largest batch of Earth-like planets found around a single star. It also was the first to detect molecules in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It also provided the first measurements of wind and temperature of an exoplanet atmosphere.

“When Spitzer was being designed, scientists had not yet found a single transiting exoplanet, and by the time Spitzer launched, we still knew about only a handful,” said Sean Carey, manager of the Spitzer Science Center at IPAC at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “The fact that Spitzer became such a powerful exoplanet tool when that wasn’t something the original planners could have possibly prepared for, is really profound. And we generated some results that absolutely knocked our socks off”

The Spitzer was one of the four observatories of NASA. With the decommissioning of Spitzer and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (decommissioned in 2000), only two more remain in operation. They are the Hubble Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Read more about Spitzer Space Telescope


Axiom to provide the first commercial destination module for ISS

NASA selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module for International Space Station. This module is to be launched in 2024 and will be attached to the ISS for commercial uses.

Axiom is led by co-founder and President/CEO Michael Suffredini, who served as NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager from 2005 to 2015 and oversaw the Station’s transition from assembly to operation and commercial utilization. Co-founder and Executive Chairman Dr. Kam Ghaffarian founded Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, which rose to become NASA’s second-largest engineering services contractor and the entity which trains NASA’s astronauts and operates the ISS.
(Source :Axiom official web page)

The leadership team also includes world-class, specialized expertise in commercial utilization of micro-gravity, on-orbit operations, astronaut training, space financing, engineering, space system architecture/design/development, space medicine, marketing, and law. (Source : Axiom official web page)

Dr_ Kam Ghaffarian_JPG


Michael T_ Suffredini


Currently Axiom provides 10 to 180 days of commercial missions to the ISS. They will also provide missions to their own module in the International Space Station after it’s launched in 2024. Their primary customers are private astronauts as well as the space agencies of various countries.

The new commercial platform will significantly increase the habitable volume of the ISS. The platform includes a node module, research & manufacturing facility, crew habitat, and large-windowed Earth observatory. The company says that when the ISS retires someday all the research and other data can be transferred to the new module to prevent any interruptions, and afterwards it can serve as the new International Space Station.

“On Monday the National Aeronautics and Space Administration selected Axiom Space

as the winner of the NextSTEP-2 Appendix I solicitation, which sought to grant access to the International Space Station’s Node 2 Forward port for a commercial space station that could ultimately serve as ISS’ replacement.” Axiom stated on their web page.

“We appreciate the bold decision on the part of NASA to open up a commercial future in Low Earth Orbit,” Suffredini said.

Read the entire story and learn more about Axiom through the below links.



Image Source : Axiom official web site


NASA Kepler telescope detects a vampire star system

The Kepler telescope is designed to detect exoplanets by observing stars. When a planet passes in front of a star the light from the star gets dimmed because of the obstruction caused by the planet. This method can be used to detect astronomical objects other than the exoplanets too. Objects which brighten or dim can be studied to identify astronomical objects which pass the stars. A new search in Kepler’s archived data has revealed an unusual brightening of a dwarf nova. It brightened 1600 times in less than a day and slowly faded back.

Scientists say that the star system may consist of a white dwarf star and a brown dwarf companion about one tenth the mass of white dwarf.

A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a stellar core remnant composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter. A white dwarf is very dense: its mass is comparable to that of the Sun, while its volume is comparable to that of Earth. (Source: Wikipedia)

A brown dwarf is a type of sub-stellar object occupying the mass range between the heaviest gas giant planets and the lightest stars, having a mass between approximately 13 and 75–80 times that of Jupiter or approximately 2.5×1028 kg to about 1.5×1029 kg. Below this range are the sub-brown dwarfs (sometimes referred to as rogue planets), and above it are the lightest red dwarfs. Brown dwarfs may be fully convective, with no layers or chemical differentiation by depth.Unlike the stars in the main sequence, brown dwarfs are not massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion of ordinary hydrogen (1H) to helium in their cores. (Source: Wikipedia)

The brown dwarf orbits the white dwarf every 83 minutes and the distance between stars is about 250000 miles. That distance is nearly the distance between earth and moon. The white dwarfs strong gravity pulls material from brown dwarf like a vampire sucking blood from its victim. The material stripped from the brown dwarf forms a disk around the white dwarf.

It was a very rare chance that Kepler was pointed in the right direction when the system had a super outburst more than 1000 times brighter. Kepler’s rapid observations take data every 30 minutes. This data was very important to catch the details of this outburst.

The data was hidden in Kepler’s data archive until it was identified by Ryan Ridden Harper and his team of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScl), Baltimore, Maryland and the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.”In a sense, we discovered this system accidentally. We weren’t specifically looking for a super-outburst. We were looking for any sort of transient,” said Ridden-Harper.

Kepler recorded the entire event observing a slow rise in brightness followed by a rapid intensification. The sudden brightness can be explained by theories. But the cause of the slow start remains a mystery. Standard physics theories do not explain this phenomenon. This phenomenon has been observed in two other dwarf nova outbursts also.

“These dwarf nova systems have been studied for decades, so spotting something new is pretty tricky,” said Ridden-Harper. “We see accretion disks all over—from newly forming stars to supermassive black holes—so it’s important to understand them.”

Some theories suggest that a super outburst is triggered when the accretion disk reaches a tipping point. As it gathers material, it grows in size until the outer edge experiences gravitational resonance with the orbiting brown dwarf. As a result, the disk might get super heated due to the thermal instability triggered. Observations show that the temperatures rise from 5000 Fahrenheit to 10000 Fahrenheit in its normal state and 17000 to 21000 Fahrenheit at the peak state of the super outburst.

These types of dwarf nova systems are very rare. Only about 100 are known yet. The time between outbursts may be years or decades. So it’s a challenge to observe one.

“The detection of this object raises hopes for detecting even more rare events hidden in Kepler data,” said co-author Armin Rest of STScI.

Team expect to continue analyzing data of Kepler and data from another exoplanet hunter, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission to search if there were such undetected incidents.

“The continuous observations by Kepler/K2, and now TESS, of these dynamic stellar systems allows us to study the earliest hours of the outburst, a time domain that is nearly impossible to reach from ground-based observatories,” said Peter Garnavich of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

The work was published on 21st October 2019 in the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source : Royal Astronomical Society