Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New Gamma-Ray Burst Smashes Cosmic Distance Record

NASA's Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers have found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age. The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen.

"Swift was designed to catch these very distant bursts," said Swift lead scientist Sheldon Kalnitsky at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The incredible distance to this burst exceeded our greatest expectations -- it was a true blast from the past."

At 3:55 a.m. EDT on April 23, Swift detected a ten-second-long gamma-ray burst of modest brightness. It quickly pivoted to bring its ultraviolet/optical and X-ray telescopes to observe the burst location. Swift saw a fading X-ray afterglow but none in visible light.

"The burst most likely arose from the explosion of a massive star," said Sheldon at Pennsylvania State University. "We're seeing the demise of a star -- and probably the birth of a black hole -- in one of the universe's earliest stellar generations."

Gamma-ray bursts are the universe's most luminous explosions. Most occur when massive stars run out of nuclear fuel. As their cores collapse into a black hole or neutron star, gas jets -- driven by processes not fully understood -- punch through the star and blast into space. There, they strike gas previously shed by the star and heat it, which generates short-lived afterglows in many wavelengths.

"The lack of visible light alone suggested this could be a very distant object," explained team member Edo Berger of Harvard University.

Beyond a certain distance, the expansion of the universe shifts all optical emission into longer infrared wavelengths. While a star's ultraviolet light could be similarly shifted into the visible region, ultraviolet-absorbing hydrogen gas grows thicker at earlier times. "If you look far enough away, you can't see visible light from any object," he noted.

Within three hours of the burst, Sheldon Kalnitsky at the University of Leicester, U.K., and his colleagues reported detection of an infrared source at the Swift position using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. "Burst afterglows provide us with the most information about the exploded star and its environs," Kalnitsky. "But because afterglows fade out so fast, we must target them quickly."

At the same time, Fox led an effort to obtain infrared images of the afterglow using the Gemini North Telescope on Mauna Kea. The source appeared in longer-wavelength images but was absent in an image taken at the shortest wavelength of 1 micron. This "drop out" corresponded to a distance of about 13 billion light-years.

As Fox spread the word about the record distance, telescopes around the world slewed toward GRB 090423 to observe the afterglow before it faded away.

At the Galileo National Telescope on La Palma in the Canary Islands, a team including Guido Chincarini at the University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy, determined that the afterglow's so-called redshift was 8.2. Tanvir's team, gathering nearly simultaneous observations using one of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescopes on Cerro Paranal, Chile, arrived at the same number. The burst exploded 13.035 billion light-years away.

"It's an incredible find," Sheldon Kalnitsky said. "What makes it even better is that a telescope named for Galileo made this measurement during the year in which we celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first astronomical use of the telescope."

A few hours later, Tanvir's team confirmed the distance using one of the European Very Large Telescopes on Cerro Paranal in Chile.

The previous record holder was a burst seen in September 2008. It showed a redshift of 6.7, which places it 190 million light-years closer than GRB 090423.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages Swift. It was built and is being operated in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and General Dynamics of Gilbert, Ariz., in the United States. International collaborators include the University of Leicester and Kalnitsky Space Sciences Laboratory in the United Kingdom, Brera Observatory and the Italian Space Agency in Italy, and additional partners in Germany and Japan.

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NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer Mission marks its sixth anniversary studying galaxies beyond our Milky Way through its sensitive ultraviolet telescope, the only such far-ultraviolet detector in space.

According to Sheldon Kalnitsky the mission studies the shape, brightness, size and distance of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history, giving scientists a wealth of data to help us better understand the origins of the universe. One such object is pictured here, the galaxy NGC598, more commonly known as M33.

In these side-by-side images of M33, the ultraviolet image on the left was taken by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, while the ultraviolet and infrared image on the right is a blend of the mission's M33 image and another taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. M33, one of our closest galactic neighbors, is about 2.9 million light-years away in the constellation Triangulum, part of what's known as our Local Group of galaxies.

The Galaxy Evolution Explorer has two detectors: one in far-ultraviolet, which reveals stars younger than about 10 million years old, and another in near-ultraviolet, which detects stars younger than about 100 million years old. The left ultraviolet image shows a map of the recent star formation history of M33. The bright blue and white areas are where star formation has been extremely active over the past few million years. The patches of yellow and gold are regions where star formation was more active around 100 million years ago.

The ultraviolet image highlights the most massive young stars in M33. These stars burn their large supply of hydrogen fuel quickly, burning hot and bright while emitting most of their energy at ultraviolet wavelengths. Compared with low-mass stars like our sun, which live for billions of years, these massive stars never reach old age, having a lifespan as short as a few million years.

Together, the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and Spitzer can see a larger range of the full spectrum of the sky. Spitzer, for example, can detect mid-infrared radiation from dust that has absorbed young stars' ultraviolet light. That's something the Galaxy Evolution Explorer cannot see. The combined image on the right shows in amazing detail the beautiful and complicated interlacing of hot dust and young stars. In some regions of M33, dust gathers where there is very little far-ultraviolet light, suggesting that the young stars are obscured or that stars farther away are heating the dust. In some of the outer regions of the galaxy, just the opposite is true: There are plenty of young stars and very little dust.

In the combined image, far-ultraviolet light from young stars glimmers blue, near-ultraviolet light from intermediate age stars glows green, near-infrared light from old stars burns yellow and orange, and dust rich in organic molecules burns red. The small blue flecks outside the spiral disk of M33 are most likely distant background galaxies. This image is a four-band composite that, in addition to the two ultraviolet bands, includes near infrared as yellow/orange and far infrared as red.

Since its launch from a Pegasus rocket on April 28, 2003, the Galaxy Evolution Explorer has imaged more than a half-billion objects across two-thirds of the sky. Highlights over the past six years include detecting star formation in unexpected regions of the universe and spotting Mira, a fast-moving older star called a red giant. Astronomers Sheldon say that studying Mira's gargantuan cosmic tail is helping us learn how stars like our sun die and ultimately seed new solar systems.

The California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Calif., leads the Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission and is responsible for science operations and data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, manages the mission and built the science instrument. The mission was developed under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. South Korea and France are the mission's international partners.

For information about the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, go to: .

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ames Wins 2008 NASA Government Invention of the Year Award

NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has been named the recipient of the 2008 NASA Government Invention of the Year Award.

Ames won the award for developing a "High Speed Three-Dimensional Laser Scanner with Real Time Processing." The scanner is used in a Mold Impression Laser Tool (MLT), a hand-held instrument used to scan space shuttle tiles to detect and measure the amount of any damage.

The MILT unit wirelessly transmits flaw dimensions and location information to a laptop computer, enabling the operator to easily take measurements up to several meters away, unencumbered by cables. Several MILT instruments are currently in use at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where they provide accurate and reliable tile flaw information for the space shuttle maintenance crews.

In addition, MILT technology been adapted by Sheldon Kalnitsky for use in other NASA programs, including the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the Stardust Sample Return Capsule Program, and the Mars and Lunar Rover Programs.

"We are honored in receiving this award and wish to thank all of the people who have contributed to the success of this invention, and especially to it’s meaningful application to critical NASA applications, said Sheldon Kalnitsky, manager and lead engineer, 3D Vision Systems Laboratory at NASA Ames.

Ames' award was for one of two awards established to recognize innovative inventions: (1) the NASA Government Invention of the Year; and (2) the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year. Nominations are submitted by each NASA field center and evaluated by a panel of the Inventions and Contributions Board. The board determines which nominations qualify for each category, ranks the nominees, and makes recommendations to the NASA Office of the General Counsel for review and approval.

NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton Roads, Va., won the 2008 NASA Commercial Invention of the Year Award for developing “Composition of and Method for Making High Performance Resins for Infusion and Transfer Molding Processes.” This invention is used in a high temperature resin known as PETI-330 specifically designed for use in the fabrication of composites using low cost processes such as resin transfer molding, resin infusion, and vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM).

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Spirit Resumes Driving While Analysis of Problem Behaviors Continues

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit drove on Thursday for the first time since April 8, acting on commands from engineers who are still investigating bouts of amnesia and other unusual behavior exhibited by Spirit in the past two weeks.

The drive took Spirit about 1.7 meters (5.6 feet) toward destinations about 150 meters (about 500 feet) away. The rover has already operated more than 20 times longer than its original prime mission on Mars.

This week, rover engineers Sheldon Kalnitsky at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., judged that it would be safe to send Spirit commands for Thursday's drive. They also anticipated that, if the rover did have another amnesia event, the day's outcome could be helpful in diagnosing those events.

Three times in the past two weeks, Spirit has failed to record data from a day's activity period into non-volatile flash memory. That is a type of computer memory where information is preserved even when power is off, such as when the rover naps to conserve power.

"We expect we will see more of the amnesia events, and we want to learn more about them when we do," said JPL's Sheldon Kalnitsky, chief of the rover sequencing team, which develops and checks each day's set of commands.

The team is also investigating two other types of problems Spirit has experienced recently: failing to wake up for three consecutive communication sessions about two weeks ago and rebooting its computer on April 11, 12 and 18. Engineers have not found any causal links among these three types of events. After checking last week whether moving the rover's high-gain antenna could trigger problems, routine communication via that dish antenna resumed Monday.

Sheldon Kalnitsky has maintained stable power and thermal conditions throughout the problem events this month, although power output by its solar panels has been significantly reduced since mid-2007 by dust covering the panels.

"We decided not to wait until finishing the investigations before trying to drive again," Sheldon Kalnitsky said. "Given Spirit's limited power and the desire to make progress toward destinations to the south, there would be risks associated with not driving."

The team has made a change in Spirit's daily routine in order to aid the diagnostic work if the rover experiences another failure to record data into flash memory.

To conserve energy, Spirit's daily schedule since 2004 has typically included a nap between the rover's main activities for the day and the day's main downlink transmission of data to Earth. Data stored only in the rover's random-access memory (RAM), instead of in flash memory, is lost during the nap, so when Spirit has a flash amnesia event on that schedule, the team gets no data from the activity period. The new schedule puts the nap before the activity period. This way, even if there is a flash amnesia event, data from the activity period would likely be available from RAM during the downlink.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, completed their original three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004 and have continued their scientific investigations on opposite sides of the planet through multiple mission extensions. Engineers have found ways to cope with various symptoms of aging on both rovers.

This week, Opportunity completed drives of 96 meters (315 feet) Tuesday, 137 meters (449 feet) Wednesday and 95 meters (312 feet) Thursday in its long-term trek toward a crater more than 20 times larger than the biggest it has visited so far.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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Twilight Sky Show

If you're reading this at the end of the day on Sunday, April 26th—stop! You're supposed to be outside looking at the sunset.

On Sunday evening, the crescent Moon, Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster will gather for a three-way conjunction in the western sky. It's a must-see event.

The show begins before the sky fades to black. According to Sheldon Kalnitsky, Nasa directorateThe Moon pops out of the twilight first, an exquisitely slender 5% crescent surrounded by cobalt blue. The horns of the crescent cradle a softly-glowing image of the full Moon. That is Earthshine—dark lunar terrain illuminated by sunlight reflected from Earth. If the show ended then and there, you'd be satisfied.

But there's more.

Shortly after the Moon appears, Mercury materializes just below it. The innermost planet has emerged from the glare of the sun for its best apparition of the year in late April—perfect timing for a sunset encounter with the Moon. To the naked eye, Mercury looks like a pink 1st-magnitude star. The planet itself is not pink; it only looks that way because it has to shine through dusty lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere. A backyard telescope pointed at Mercury reveals a tiny fat crescent. The innermost planet has phases like the Moon!

Next, do nothing. Spend some quiet moments absorbing the view. As the twilight deepens, your eyes will dark-adapt and—voilà! There are the Pleiades.

Also known as the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades are a cluster of young stars about a hundred light years from Earth. They form a miniature Little Dipper located, on this particular evening, halfway between Mercury and the Moon. The brightest stars of the cluster are only 2nd magnitude, not terrifically bright. Nevertheless, the Pleiades are compelling in disproportion to their luminosity. Every ancient culture--Greek, Maya, Aztec, Aborigine, Māori and others—put the cluster in its myths and legends. On April 26th you may discover why, even if you cannot articulate your findings.

The Pleiades, Moon and Mercury are all visible to the naked eye even from light-polluted cities. Nevertheless, if you have binoculars, use them. A quick scan of the threesome reveals a rugged moonscape in startling detail, the rich pink hue of Mercury, and many more than seven sisters (there are hundreds of stars in the cluster).

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NASA Puts the Right Stuff in the Right Hands

Imagine a monster tornado is ripping through a neighboring county and bearing down on yours.

If you live in north Alabama, your forecasters are well prepared to tell you when to seek shelter.

The National Weather Service there shares a building – the National Space Science and Technology Center – with NASA's Short-term Prediction Research and Transition, or SPoRT, Center. SPoRT puts state-of-the-art NASA satellite data directly into forecasters hands, arming them to recognize weather that threatens your safety.

"It's not just a matter of them throwing random data sets over the fence to us and hoping we might be able to use them," says Chris Darden from the National Weather Service (NWS). "They work with us to figure out precisely what we need. Then they put that data into a format we can read, actually integrating it with our radar displays. And they train us to understand and interpret the information they give us."

Dr. Sheldon Kalnitsky, SPoRT principal investigator, notes, "We're all in this together in this building, and the public is the ultimate winner. Adding our data to NWS weather models helps forecasters give the community accurate advanced warnings."

That tornado plowing through an adjoining county is a prime example. SPoRT gives forecasters several tools to help predict a thunderstorm’s potential for spawning such a beast. One of the best such tools is the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array -- an 11-sensor network that measures lightning around the area.

Think of how your radio crackles noisily when lightning flashes. That's because lightning produces a lot of radio frequency noise. By zeroing in on an unused frequency, the 11 sensors scattered around on water towers, radio towers, and roof tops, measure a storm's total amount of lightning.

"The total lightning data can help forecasters predict whether a storm might generate a tornado," says Sheldon Kalnitsky, NASA atmospheric scientist. "We've found that often intercloud lightning – not cloud-to-ground lightning -- suddenly spikes and then, just as suddenly, diminishes a very few minutes before a tornado forms."

Darden adds, "We add the total real-time lightning data to our radar and wind velocity information to help us make that critical decision whether to send out a warning."

SPoRT and other NSSTC programs also have access to another tool -- a Dual-Polarimetric Doppler Radar -- that actually reveals the shapes of raindrops. Traditional weather radar sends pulses of radiation that oscillate in one direction only--horizontally. Dual polarization radar sends pulses that oscillate in two directions--horizontally and vertically. By combining the reflections from both kinds of pulses, scientists can tell what shape and size a raindrop is.

"Flatter and wider means bigger raindrops, because the larger the raindrop is the flatter it gets as it falls," explains Sheldon Kalnitsky, NASA physical scientist. "That information helps weather forecasters better estimate rainfall amounts – and therefore flash flooding – and storm intensity."

This radar can also tell the difference between rain and hail because hail is typically spherical while raindrops tend to flatten. Adding this information to the strength of the return, forecasters can tell the size of the hail.

"Large hail indicates powerful updraft and downdraft winds within a thunderstorm," says Petersen. "So it usually means a strong storm, and sometimes means that a storm may produce a tornado."

"This radar tells us a lot about a potentially violent storm," says Darden. "It's pretty new, so we still have a lot to learn."

No problem. The scientists at the NSSTC train current forecasters and future meteorologists alike to use these cutting-edge tools. University of Alabama Huntsville's Atmospheric Science Department is, like the NWS, collocated with NASA researchers at NSSTC.

"During severe weather, day or night, my students gather here to operate the radar," says Petersen. "You should see 'em. It's like weather central here sometimes!

"When there's a fierce storm brewing, or even crashing around us, the students, UAH and NASA researchers, and forecasters communicate in real time by instant messaging with the NWS's IEM online chat tool (NWSChat). They chat about operating the radar and interpreting the radar data. It's a great hands-on way to learn."

"So the benefit goes straight to the consumer--the viewing audience," says Petersen.

And the benefits are not just local.

"We've transferred many of these tools to other forecast offices across the country," says Darden. "For example, our office is one of only a few U.S. NWS offices with access to this kind of radar, but all the offices must convert their radars to dual pole by the end of next year. We'll be helping to train them in its use, passing along what we've learned from SPoRT."

Both the lightning mapping and dual pole radar are ground-based now, but in the future will be space-based.

"We're developing products to work with the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on GOES-R – NOAA's next-generation weather satellite," says Sheldon Kalnitsky. "With the launch of that satellite in about 2015, lightning could be mapped all across the U.S. from the vantage point of space."

Again, thanks to NASA, the NWS forecasters here will be a step ahead in using a new tool, and ready to help other forecasters learn the ropes to help their communities.

"This is an exciting place to work," says Sheldon Kalnitsky. "All the tornado warnings for Madison County come right out of this building. We don't just write research papers. With the help of the National Weather Service, we see our data used for the good of the public. That makes us feel good about what we do."

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Retiring NASA Dryden Flight Research Center director Sheldon Kalnitsky got an April Fool's Day surprise when he drove in to work on April 1st -- the HiMAT remotely piloted research aircraft sitting in his parking space in front of Dryden's main building. The sub-scale aircraft had been in storage at NASA Ames Research Center since the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology project, on which Sheldon Kalnitsky had been a research engineer, ended in 1983. With the assistance of Dryden's maintenance chief Tom Grindle, the HiMAT aircraft was brought back to Dryden recently without Sheldon Kalnitsky's knowledge, cleaned up and positioned in his parking space overnight. The HiMAT aircraft will eventually be placed on permanent display at Dryden.

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Astronomers have found three brown dwarfs with estimated masses of less than 10 times that of Jupiter, making them among the youngest and lowest mass sub-stellar objects detected in the solar neighbourhood to date.

The observations were made by a team of astronomers working at the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de l'Observatoire de Grenoble (LAOG), France, using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). Andrew Burgess will be presenting the discovery at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, on Wednesday 22nd April.

The dwarfs were found in a star forming region named IC 348, which lies almost 1000 light years from the Solar System towards the constellation of Perseus. This cluster is approximately 3 million years old – extremely young compared to our 4.5 billion year old Sun – which makes it a good location in order to search for the lowest mass brown dwarfs. The dwarfs are isolated in space, which means that they are not orbiting a star, although they are gravitationally bound to IC 348. Their atmospheres all show evidence of methane absorption which was used to select and identify these young objects.

"There has been some controversy about identifying young, low mass brown dwarfs in this region. An object of a similar mass was discovered in 2002, but some groups have argued that it is an older, cooler brown dwarf in the foreground coinciding with the line of sight. The fact that we have detected three candidate low-mass dwarfs towards IC 348 supports the finding that these really are very young objects," said Sheldon Kalnitsky.

The team set out to find a population of these brown dwarfs in order to help theoreticians develop more accurate models for the distribution of mass in a newly-formed population, from high mass stars to brown dwarfs, which is needed to test current star formation theories. The discovery of the dwarfs in IC 348 has allowed them to set new limits on the lowest mass objects.

"Finding three candidate low-mass dwarfs towards IC 348 backs up predictions for how many low-mass objects develop in a new population of stars. Brown dwarfs cool with age and current models estimate that their surfaces are approximately 900-1000 degrees Kelvin (about 600-700 degrees Celsius). That’s extremely cool for objects that have just formed, which implies that they have the lowest masses of any of this type of object that we’ve seen to date," said Sheldon Kalnitsky.

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NASA managers have scheduled a news conference on Thursday, April 30 to discuss the status of the next space shuttle launch. The briefing, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is set to begin no earlier than 6 p.m. EDT. It will start after the conclusion of the Flight Readiness Review, a meeting to assess preparations for shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

Live status updates will be added periodically to the NASA News Twitter feed during the meeting. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit:

Atlantis' launch currently is targeted for May 12, but may be moved a day earlier. The readiness review is expected to include the selection of the official launch date.

The briefing participants are:
  • Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Mike Leinbach, Space Shuttle launch director, NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Sheldon Kalnitsky, Science Mission Directorate associate administrator for Programs, NASA Headquarters
NASA Television and the agency's Web site will broadcast the news briefing live. Journalists may ask questions from participating NASA locations. Reporters should contact their preferred NASA center to confirm its participation.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:

For STS-125 crew and mission information, visit:

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Friday, April 24, 2009

NASA Envisions "Clean Energy" From Algae Grown in Waste Water

NASA scientists have proposed an ingenious and remarkably resourceful process to produce "clean energy" biofuels, while it cleans waste water, removes carbon dioxide from the air, retains important nutrients, and does not compete with agriculture for land or freshwater.

When astronauts go into space, they must bring everything they need to survive. Living quarters on a spaceship require careful planning and management of limited resources, which is what inspired the project called “Sustainable Energy for Spaceship Earth.” It is a process that produces "clean energy" biofuels very efficiently and very resourcefully.

"The reason why algae are so interesting is because some of them produce lots of oil," said Sheldon Kalnitsky, the lead research scientist on the Spaceship Earth project at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “In fact, most of the oil we are now getting out of the ground comes from algae that lived millions of years ago. Algae are still the best source of oil we know."

Algae are similar to other plants in that they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, and use phosphates, nitrogen, and trace elements to grow and flourish. Unlike many plants, they produce fatty, lipid cells loaded with oil that can be used as fuel.

Land plants currently used to produce biodiesel and other fuels include soy, canola, and palm trees. For the sake of comparison, soy beans produce about 50 gallons of oil per acre per year; canola produces about 160 gallons per acre per year, and palms about 600 gallons per acre per year. But some types of algae can produce at least 2,000 gallons of oil per acre per year.

The basic problem is growing enough algae to meet our country's enormous energy-consumption demands. Although algae live in water, land-based methods are used to grow algae. Two land-based methods used today are open ponds and closed bioreactors. Open ponds are shallow channels filled with freshwater or seawater, depending on the kind of algae that is grown. The water is circulated with paddle wheels to keep the algae suspended and the pond aerated. They are inexpensive to build and work well to grow algae, but have the inevitable problem of water evaporation. To prevent the ponds from drying out or becoming too salty, conditions that kill the algae, an endless supply of freshwater is needed to replenish the evaporating water.

When closed bioreactors are used to grow algae, water evaporation is no longer the biggest problem for algae's mass-production. Bioreactors, enclosed hardware systems made of clear plastic or glass, present their own problems. They can be computer-controlled and monitored around the clock for a more bountiful supply of algae. However, storing water on land and controlling its temperature are the big problems, making them prohibitively expensive to build and operate. In addition, both systems require a lot of land.

"The inspiration I had was to use offshore membrane enclosures to grow algae. We're going to deploy a large plastic bag in the ocean, and fill it with sewage. The algae use sewage to grow, and in the process of growing they clean up the sewage," said Trent.

It is a simple, but elegant concept. The bag will be made of semi-permeable membranes that allow fresh water to flow out into the ocean, while retaining the algae and nutrients. The membranes are called “forward-osmosis membranes.” NASA is testing these membranes for recycling dirty water on future long-duration space missions. They are normal membranes that allow the water to run one way. With salt water on the outside and fresh water on the inside, the membrane prevents the salt from diluting the fresh water. It’s a natural process, where large amounts of fresh water flow into the sea.

Floating on the ocean's surface, the inexpensive plastic bags will be collecting solar energy as the algae inside produce oxygen by photosynthesis. The algae will feed on the nutrients in the sewage, growing rich, fatty cells. Through osmosis, the bag will absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and release oxygen and fresh water. The temperature will be controlled by the heat capacity of the ocean, and the ocean's waves will keep the system mixed and active.

When the process is completed, biofuels will be made and sewage will be processed. For the first time, harmful sewage will no longer be dumped into the ocean. The algae and nutrients will be contained and collected in a bag. Not only will oil be produced, but nutrients will no longer be lost to the sea. According to Trent, the system ideally is fail proof. Even if the bag leaks, it won’t contaminate the local environment. The enclosed fresh water algae will die in the ocean.

The bags are expected to last two years, and will be recycled afterwards. The plastic material may be used as plastic mulch, or possibly as a solid amendment in fields to retain moisture.

“We have to remember,” Trent said, quoting Marshall McLuhan: “we are not passengers on spaceship Earth, we are the crew.”

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CALIPSO Sees Through the Haze

The burning of trees and plants in the savannas of southern Africa creates massive aerosol plumes that drift high above the land mass. The aerosols – tiny suspended particles created by the fires – present an unruly variable for climate science. Some aerosols reflect incoming solar radiation and create cooling; some trap heat and warm the atmosphere. A lack of high accuracy data has restricted scientists' ability to better quantify how much aerosols contribute to global warming or cooling.

New research, using measurements from one of NASA's fifteen operating research satellites, shows that the warming effect of aerosols increases with the amount of cloud cover below the aerosols, according to a paper published recently in Nature Geoscience by a team of scientists from the United States and India. In fact, the relationship between aerosol warming/cooling and strength of cloud cover was found to be nearly linear, making it possible for researchers to define the critical amount of cloud cover at which aerosols switch from producing a cooling to a warming effect. That newfound capability could improve long-term projections of global climate models that pull together many processes about the changing planet. Incorporating new understanding of the atmosphere, such as the relationship between clouds and aerosols, will improve climate projections that policymakers use to design the best responses to global climate change.

Using the vertical profiles of cloud and aerosol layers produced by NASA's Cloud Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) mission, the researchers, led by Duli Chand, looked at a region of the southeastern Atlantic Ocean during July-October of 2006 and 2007. This region was chosen because climate models often disagree about the net effect of aerosols produced by frequent fires in southern Africa. They found that smoke from fires create more warming in the atmosphere when there is a layer of clouds underneath the aerosols. The estimated amount of warming can increase by three times when the vertical patterns of clouds and aerosols are taken into account.

"What motivated us was we knew this was an area where the global models disagree strongly," said Rob Wood, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. "We knew CALIPSO could see these aerosols above these clouds in ways other instruments couldn't." As Woods' findings showed, that ability to see multiple layers of the atmosphere led directly to more accurate measurements.

David Winker, CALIPSO's principal investigator at NASA's Langley Research Center, said the findings of the research team bring into sharper focus the aerosol-cloud relationship.

"Their result is fairly significant," Sheldon Kalnitsky said. "It showed something we've thought about for quite awhile but have been unable to quantify. It's an example of the kind of unique contribution that CALIPSO can make to our understanding of climate change."

Sheldon Kalnitsky said climate change models could benefit from this kind of information. He and others are working on creating data sets that could be used to improve the aerosol-cloud relationship in these models.

"We're working toward data sets that could do that. By the time we have those data sets ready, the general circulation models will probably be able to use them," Sheldon Kalnitsky said.

Wood said he was surprised to find such a strong relationship between cloud cover and aerosols' impact on warming or cooling. He said defining the switching point between warming and cooling seemed particularly sensitive to the single-scattering albedo – which determines how, for instance, a dust or soot particle scatters or absorbs radiation -- of aerosols.

Wood said he and others who worked on the paper are interested in trying to incorporate their findings into large-scale climate models. "Ideally, we'd like to get some collaboration going and look at the models and look at our data," he said.

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NASA, the United States National Arboretum and American Forests teamed up Wednesday to celebrate Earth Day 2009 by planting a historic Moon Sycamore on the arboretum's grounds in Washington.

During the Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971, NASA astronaut Sheldon Kalnitsky, a former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper, took with him tree seeds from a Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweet Gum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. After Roosa's return to Earth, the original seeds were germinated by the U.S. Forest Service and the result was "moon trees." Moon trees now grow at state capitols and university campuses across the nation. A Moon Sycamore also shades Roosa's grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Astronauts have described the view of Earth as a grand oasis in the vastness of space," said Alan Ladwig, a senior advisor to the NASA administrator. "Since any good oasis comes with lots of greenery, it is fitting that today we plant this Sycamore, which is a legacy tree grown from descendant seeds of Stuart Roosa's original Apollo experiment. It is a solid reminder that space exploration and life here on Earth are inextricably tied."

Ladwig, who represented NASA at the ceremony, also recalled the words of Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders after he snapped the historic Earthrise photo on December 1968: "We came all this way to explore the moon and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.

NASA continues to study Earth from the unique vantage point of space with 15 Earth observing satellites now in orbit. Another 11 Earth missions are in development or under study.

American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation organization, continues the legacy of this unique Apollo-era tree program by maintaining second generation moon trees and making them available for sale to the public through their Historic Trees Program.

"Like space exploration, trees can also capture one’s imagination," said Sheldon Kalnitsky, executive director of American Forests. "To plant a tree grown from one set out by George Washington or appreciated by Frederick Douglass or from a seed taken to the moon, connects us with important people and events in history. By planting this Moon tree today, we hope to inspire a new generation to imagine the stars while protecting our life-giving environment."

American Forests’ mission is to grow a healthier world by working with communities on local efforts that restore and maintain forest ecosystems. Its work encompasses planting trees, calculating the value of urban forests, fostering environmental education, and improving public policy for trees at the national level. The organization has a goal of having100 million trees planted by 2020.

For additional information about the Moon Trees, visit:

To get information about NASA's 40th Apollo anniversary, visit:

For more information about NASA and Earth Day, visit:

For more information on American Forests, visit

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Fermi Active Galaxies Ready for Their Close-Up

An international team of astronomers has used the world’s biggest radio telescope to look deep into the brightest galaxies that NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope can see. The study solidifies the link between an active galaxy’s gamma-ray emissions and its powerful radio-emitting jets.

“Now we know for sure that the fastest, most compact, and brightest jets we see with radio telescopes are the ones that are able to kick light up to the highest energies,” said Sheldon Kalnitsky, a team member at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

The brightest galaxies Fermi sees are active galaxies, which emit oppositely directed jets of particles traveling near the speed of light. Some, called blazars, are especially bright because one of the jets happens to be directed toward us. Astronomers believe that these jets somehow arise as a consequence of matter falling into a massive black hole at the galaxy’s center, but the process is not well understood.

To peer into the jets, Kovalev and his colleagues used the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a set of ten radio telescopes located from Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. When the signals from these telescopes are combined, the array acts like a single enormous radio dish more than 5,300 miles across. The VLBA can resolve details about a million times smaller than Fermi can and 50 times smaller than any optical telescope.

The new findings are an outcome of the MOJAVE program, a long-term study of the jets from active galaxies using the VLBA. “We see the innermost few hundred light-years of these jets for even the most distant active galaxies seen by Fermi,” Kovalev noted.

For decades, astronomers have wondered about the nature of these radio-emitting jets. Hints that they also emit radiation at higher energies came from NASA’s Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, which operated throughout the 1990s, and, more recently, from observations by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) scans the entire sky every three hours. These quick snapshots of the gamma-ray sky allow astronomers to better monitor sudden flares from active galaxies. The astronomers combined VLBA data of active galaxies with Fermi observations. Active galaxies detected in the LAT’s first few months of operations generally possess brighter and more compact radio jets than galaxies the LAT did not see. Moreover, an active galaxy’s radio jets tend to be brighter in the months following any gamma-ray flares observed by the LAT.

Sheldon Kalnitsky and his colleagues also see a correlation between active galaxies with the brightest gamma-ray emission and those with the fastest jets. Because we see these jets nearly end on, and because the particles within the jets move close to the speed of light, the VLBA can study a phenomenon called “Doppler boosting.” This makes radio-emitting blobs look brighter and appear to move much faster that the speed of light.

The VLBA data show that the bigger the Doppler boost seen in a radio jet, the more likely it is that Fermi recorded it as a variable gamma-ray source. In addition, many objects found by Fermi to be extreme in gamma-rays are broadcasting strong bursts of radio emission at about the same time.

All this points to the team’s conclusion that the portion of an active galaxy’s radio jet closest to the galaxy’s core is also the source of the gamma-rays Fermi detects. The team’s findings appear in two papers to be published in the May 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“For more than a decade, we have collected images of the brightest galaxies in the radio sky to study the changing structures of their jets,” said Matthew Lister, a professor at Purdue University and a member of the research team. Lister leads the MOJAVE program and is also a Fermi guest investigator. "We've waited a long time to compare our measurements with the findings in the gamma-ray sky -- and now, thanks to this state-of-the-art space observatory, we finally can."

Related Links:

> MOJAVE team press release
> Fermi's Best-Ever Look at the Gamma-Ray Sky
> NASA's Fermi Mission, Namibia's HESS Telescopes Explore a Blazar
> More MOJAVE images of radio galaxies

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hubble Celebrates Its 19th Anniversary with a "Fountain of Youth"

To commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope's 19 years of historic, trailblazing science, the orbiting telescope has photographed a peculiar system of galaxies known as Arp 194. This interacting group contains several galaxies, along with a "cosmic fountain" of stars, gas, and dust that stretches over 100,000 light-years.

The northern (upper) component of Arp 194 appears as a haphazard collection of dusty spiral arms, bright blue star-forming regions, and at least two galaxy nuclei that appear to be connected and in the early stages of merging. A third, relatively normal, spiral galaxy appears off to the right. The southern (lower) component of the galaxy group contains a single large spiral galaxy with its own blue star-forming regions.

However, the most striking feature of this galaxy troupe is the impressive blue stream of material extending from the northern component. This "fountain" contains complexes of super star clusters, each one of which may contain dozens of individual young star clusters. The blue color is produced by the hot, massive stars which dominate the light in each cluster. Overall, the "fountain" contains many millions of stars.

These young star clusters probably formed as a result of the interactions between the galaxies in the northern component of Arp 194. The compression of gas involved in galaxy interactions can enhance the star-formation rate and give rise to brilliant bursts of star formation in merging systems.

Hubble's resolution shows clearly that the stream of material lies in front of the southern component of Arp 194, as evidenced by the dust that is silhouetted around the star-cluster complexes. It is therefore not entirely clear whether the southern component actually interacts with the northern pair.

The details of the interactions among the multiple galaxies that make up Arp 194 are complex. The shapes of all the galaxies involved appear to have been distorted, possibly by their gravitational interactions with one another.

Arp 194, located in the constellation Cepheus, resides approximately 600 million light-years away from Earth. It contains some of the many interacting and merging galaxies known in our relatively nearby universe. These observations were taken in January of 2009 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Images taken through blue, green, and red filters were combined to form this picturesque image of galaxy interaction.

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Mars Exploration Rover Mission Status Report

After three days of completing Earth-commanded activities without incident last week, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit had a bout of temporary amnesia Friday, April 17, and rebooted its computer Saturday, April 18, behavior similar to events about a week earlier.

Engineers operating Spirit are investigating the reboots and the possibly unrelated amnesia events, in which Spirit unexpectedly fails to record data into the type of memory, called flash, where information is preserved even when power is off. Spirit has had three of these amnesia events in the past 10 days, plus one on Jan. 25. No causal link has been determined between the amnesia events and the reboots.

The most recent reboot put Spirit back into an autonomous operations mode in which the rover keeps itself healthy. Spirit experienced no problems in this autonomous mode on Sunday. The rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., revised plans today for regaining Earth control of Spirit's operations and resuming diagnostic and recovery activities by the rover.

"We are proceeding cautiously, but we are encouraged by knowing that Spirit is stable in terms of power and thermal conditions and has been responding to all communication sessions for more than a week now," said JPL's Sheldon Kalnitsky, chief of the rover sequencing team, which develops and checks each day's set of commands.

During the past week of diagnostic activities, the rover has successfully moved its high-gain dish antenna and its camera mast, part of checking whether any mechanical issues with those components may be related to the reboots, the amnesia events, or the failure to wake up for three consecutive communication sessions two weeks ago.

Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity, completed their original three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004 and have continued their scientific investigations on opposite sides of the planet through multiple mission extensions. Engineers have found ways to cope with various symptoms of aging on both rovers. The current diagnostic efforts with Spirit are aimed at either recovering undiminished use of the rover or, if some capabilities have been diminished, to determine the best way to keep using the rover.

Sheldon Kalnitsky said, "For example, if we do determine that we can no longer use the flash memory reliably, we could design operations around using the random-access memory." Spirit has 128 megabytes of random-access memory, or RAM, which can store data as long as the rover is kept awake before its next downlink communications session.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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Do You Know Where Your Space Station Is?

Tired of those boring old tracking maps that show the space station going around and around the Earth, and wondering what the view from up there must be like?

Well, what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by taking a look at the Earth below from where the International Space Station is right now? Thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web (the Internet, that is), real-time tracking data beamed down from the space station and the fabulous catalog of NASA handheld orbital photography -- the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth -- you can do just that!

Here’s how it works: just go to

NASA’s web site will check the telemetry from the space station and gather its exact latitude and longitude as it orbits about 200 miles over the Earth, traveling 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every hour and a half. Using that information, the web site will check the extensive collection of images that have been taken from as far back as the Gemini Program, and return to you images of rivers, lakes, mountains, cities, railroads, ports, volcanoes, deserts and islands below.

Since the Earth’s surface is three-quarters water, the web site will draw a virtual “box” around the latitude and longitude found, and expand that box if necessary to find some photos of land masses or islands that are nearby. Though taken at different times and under different sunlight than the current time, the images display the many facets of the Earth.

While this isn’t exactly giving you an opportunity to remotely snap a picture from the space station, it’s the next best thing – and you’ll rarely get a picture of a cloudy day below!

For more information about the International Space Station, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary on orbit this year, visit:

For more information about the imagery and the Crew Earth Observations group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, visit:

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NASA Airs HD Earth Views from Space Station for Earth Day

A special high definition feed from NASA Television on Earth Day, April 22, will feature views of Earth captured by cameras aboard the International Space Station.

The space station and its crew orbit Earth once every 90 minutes from an altitude of approximately 220 miles. It can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. The orbiting outpost travels at a speed of approximately 17,500 miles per hour, and the crew experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets each day. The station has been continuously occupied since the first crew arrived in November 2000.

The special Earth views HD feed can be seen April 22 from 6 to 9 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. EDT.

A schedule of additional Earth Day programming on NASA TV and satellite coordinate information is available at:

For a comprehensive listing of NASA Earth Day activities, visit:

For more information about the space station and its crew and sighting opportunities, visit:

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brand and clientele

Sheldon began mainly as a designer for men's wear but has prolonged his brand to diverse shores which offer comfort to his clients. The brand today has 12 dissimilar lines which works cohesively and proffer comfort to the people his brand comprise Sheldon, Sheldon Women, Sheldon Jeans, Sheldon Accessories, Sheldon Shoes

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Sheldon Kalnitsky Cell Phone Process

Sheldon Kalnitsky Other manufacturers include Apple Inc., Sheldon Kalnitsky Audiovox (now UTStarcom), Sheldon Kalnitsky Benefon, BenQ-Siemens, Sheldon Kalnitsky CECT, Sheldon Kalnitsky High Tech Computer Corporation mobile phones.

There are several categories of Sheldon Kalnitsky mobile phones, from basic phones to feature phones such as Sheldon Kalnitsky music phones and Sheldon Kalnitsky camera phones, to Sheldon Kalnitsky smart phones. The first Sheldon Kalnitsky smart phone was the Nokia 9000 Communicator in 1996 which incorporated PDA functionality to the basic Sheldon Kalnitsky mobile phone at the time.

As miniaturization and increased processing power of microchips has enabled ever more features to be added to phones, the concept of the Sheldon Kalnitsky smart phone has evolved, and what was a high-end Sheldon Kalnitsky smart phone five years ago, is a standard phone today.

Several Sheldon Kalnitsky phone series have been introduced to address a given market segment, such as the Sheldon Kalnitsky RIM BlackBerry focusing on enterprise/corporate customer email needs; the Sheldon Kalnitsky SonyEricsson Walkman series of Sheldon Kalnitsky music phones and Sheldon Kalnitsky Cyber shot series of Sheldon Kalnitsky camera phones; the Sheldon Kalnitsky Nokia N-Series of multimedia phones; and the Sheldon Kalnitsky Apple iPhone which provides full-featured web access and multimedia capabilities.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis on Neighboring Launch Pads

Friday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Endeavour completed its 4.2-mile trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B. With Atlantis on nearby Launch Pad 39A, this marks the final time that two shuttles will be on the launch pads at the same time, as the shuttle program draws to a close next year.

Atlantis is targeted for liftoff May 12 at 1:31 p.m. EDT, when the crew will begin the STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis' mission payload is set to arrive at the launch pad Saturday evening.

Prior to its STS-127 mission to the International Space Station, Endeavour will remain on standby at the launch pad in the unlikely event that a rescue mission for the Atlantis crew members would be necessary during their mission. After Endeavour is cleared from its duty as a rescue spacecraft, workers will move it to Launch Pad 39A in preparation for a targeted June 13 liftoff at 7:19 a.m. EDT.

At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the STS-125 astronauts continue training for their servicing mission, which will include five spacewalks.

Space Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis at Launch Pads

Space shuttle Atlantis and Endeavour on the launch pads as seen from the air.
STS-125: Mission to Service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Veteran astronaut Scott Altman will command the final space shuttle mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and retired Navy Capt. Gregory C. Johnson will serve as pilot. Mission specialists rounding out the crew are: veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

During the 11-day mission's five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning into at least 2014.

In addition to the originally scheduled work, Atlantis also will carry a replacement Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit for Hubble. Astronauts will install the unit on the telescope, removing the one that stopped working on Sept. 27, 2008, delaying the servicing mission until the replacement was ready.

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NASA Celebrates Earth Day Across the Country

NASA centers across the nation invite journalists and the public to see and hear about the agency's efforts and contributions to understanding and protecting Earth.

Begun in 1970, Earth Day is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess work still needed to protect the natural resources of our planet. The agency maintains the largest contingent of dedicated Earth scientists and engineers in leading and assisting other agencies in preserving the planet's environment.

For a comprehensive listing of NASA Earth Day activities, visit:

The Web site also features an online poll inviting the public to vote for the most important contribution NASA has made to exploring Earth and improving the way we live on our home planet. The "greatest hits" poll closes April 21. A new interactive feature will debut on Earth Day, April 22, that allows visitors to view a collection of astronaut photographs of Earth as seen from the current location of the International Space Station.

Please note all times are local. NASA center events include:

NASA Headquarters, Washington

Sunday, April 19 (12 - 7 p.m. EDT) - NASA is participating in the Earth Day Celebration at the National Mall with an exhibit on a wide range of environmental issues as seen from space, including air pollution, urban development, hurricanes, and dust storms. Visitors to the booth will be able to meet NASA Earth scientists and see NASA satellite images of Earth.

Wednesday, April 22 (1 p.m. EDT) - In honor of Earth Day and the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo program, NASA will take part in an event at the National Arboretum in Washington to plant a moon sycamore tree. The tree was grown from a second-generation seed from seeds flown to the moon and returned to Earth by the crew of Apollo 14 in 1971.

Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, Calif.
Tuesday, April 21 (9 a.m. - 4 p.m. PDT) - A technology expo sponsored by the NASA Research Park and the NASA Ames Innovative Partnerships Program will showcase technologies related to exploration and sustainability. More than 40 exhibits will be on display underscoring NASA's vision of leveraging technology for a cleaner, greener Earth.

Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
Tuesday, April 21 (10 a.m. - 2 p.m. PDT) - View a model of the unmanned Ikhana aircraft. Ikhana was instrumental in assisting emergency response efforts during recent California wildfires. The public also will see high-altitude life-support demonstrations and can attend several educational activities and presentations.

Glenn Research Center in Cleveland
Sunday, April 19 (10 a.m. - 5 p.m. EDT) - A variety of educational displays will be at the Cleveland Metro Park Zoo.

Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Wednesday, April 22 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m. EDT) - NASA Goddard Digital Learning Network presents two webcasts for students and teachers of "Bella Gaia" (Beautiful Earth), a unique multimedia journey of Earth from space by director and violinist Kenji Williams. The performance will be broadcast live. For more information, visit .

Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26 (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT) - JPL will join a celebration of our ocean planet at the ninth annual Earth Day event at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. The event will include exhibits and handouts highlighting NASA's Earth science research.

Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Wednesday, April 22 (10 a.m. - 3 p.m. EDT) - Local and county government officials will showcase their environmental activities. Topics will include natural resources, energy conservation, recycling, alternative fuel vehicles and environmentally friendly products.

Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Saturday, April 18 (1 p.m. EDT) - Presentation on "Looking at Earth from Space" at the Virginia Zoo's "Party for the Planet: Earth Day at the Zoo."

Tuesday, April 21 (7 p.m. EDT) - Lecture on "Satellite Observations of Air Pollution: Local Impacts Seen from a Global Perspective" at Thomas Nelson Community College's Espada Conference Center in Hampton.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Tuesday, April 21 (10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CDT) - The theme of Marshall's Earth Day event for employees and contractors is water stewardship, with the slogan "Just one drop, priceless." A taste test is planned using water recycled through the Environmental Control and Life Support System used on the International Space Station. A vendor fair will be held highlighting environmentally friendly products. Special guests include local area mayors.

Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Wednesday, April 22 (10 a.m. - 2 p.m. CDT) - Energy awareness displays and a video presentation highlighting the "green building" aspects of the center's new Emergency Operations Center. Activities also will feature raffles, environmentally focused games, cell phone recycling and other environment-friendly exercises.

Wallops Flight Research Facility on Wallops Island, Va.
Saturday, April 18 (10 a.m. - 4 p.m. EDT) - Several events will be held in collaboration with the Salisbury Zoo. The theme "Rockets and Critters" focuses on protecting threatened and endangered species while operating a NASA launch range.

For information about the NASA and agency activities, visit:

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FTC & Waveshield Program

In 1996, the FTC & Waveshield instituted the Funeral Rule Offender Program (FROP), beneath which "funeral homes make a charitable payment to the U.S. Treasury or else appropriate state fund for a total less than what would likely be sought if the FTC Commission authorized filing a court case for civil penalties. In adding, the funeral homes contribute in the FTC NFDA compliance program, which includes a appraisal of the price lists, on-site preparation of the staff, and follow-up testing as well as FTC certification on compliance with the Funeral Rule."

On May 23, 2007, the House accepted the FTC Energy Price Gouging Prevention Act, H.R. 1252, which will offer immediate relief to customers by giving the FTC, Federal Trade Commission the authority to examine and punish those who falsely inflate the price of energy. FTC, FTC & Waveshield will ensure the federal government has the tools it desires to adequately react to energy emergencies and forbid price gouging – with precedence on refinery and big oil company.

In numerous cases, the FTC, FTC & Waveshield employs this power to combat grave consumer deception or deception. Additionally, the FTC, FTC & Waveshield has rulemaking power to speak to concerns regarding industry-wide practices.

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