Monday, August 29, 2011

Florida- A vacation to go

If you are the kind of person who enjoys being swept by the cool breeze of wind, while you are dozing off in a chaise longue on the golden sands of a beautiful beach and love to watch the blue sky dipping into the deep blue sea, then traveler you got to visit Florida. Florida is the much famed sunshine state but what makes it the great holiday destination is the fact that it can live up to the hype given by the tourists. Florida has a lot of places that travelers would love to see be it beaches, theme parks, museums and many more places that tourists would die to go for. Each beach in Florida has its own specialty, if you would like to row a boat in the peaceful seas then you got to try Dania beach or crescent beach. For the party animals you have to visit Miami Beach and south beach to experience night life at its heights.  You will be in for good diving adventures when you visit Panama City beach, experience the underwater world of scuba diving, snorkeling etc here.

Don’t spend all your vacation at the beaches alone, there are some great theme parks in Florida like the Disneyworld theme park, it consist of a number of divisions like the magic kingdom, animal kingdom, Epcot and more. Universal is another theme park which has a lot of rides and attractions. There are a number of theme parks which are down the pipeline too, so you will be pleasantly surprised with a new attraction every year. Do visit Florida and enjoy your vacation booking one of the Florida villas or Orlando villas. Book a Florida villa now.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Orbital Perspective of Astronaut Ron Garan

"Hello from space!" greets astronaut Ron Garan as an opening to his recently published video blog. Garan's goal is to show how this orbital research facility can help improve life on Earth, while also inspiring people to make a difference. How better to introduce the world at large to the International Space Station, than for Garan to welcome viewers on a guided tour of his amazing home and live-in laboratory.

Garan treats his audience to a personal exploration of the station, starting with the Japanese Experiment Module or Kibo, which in Japanese means "Hope." He highlights the airlock and robotic arm, which places investigations onto an external platform in the vacuum of space. Garan also points out two of the Kibo experiment racks, where the crew conduct certain microgravity investigations. The Ryutai Experiment Rack facilitates studies to advance quality materials, medical diagnostics and micro and nano technology. The Saibo Experiment Rack houses plant growth experiments, an essential element of future long-duration space exploration that also is important for improving crop efficiencies here on Earth.

Next, Garan leads viewers into the European module, dubbed Columbus. The crew conducts biological and human research in this laboratory area. Other research includes the Geoflow-1 investigation, which helps to increase understanding of Earth's core, contributing to scientists' ability to predict natural disasters. Facilities aboard this European module include the Biological Experiment Laboratory, or BioLab; the European Physiology Module, or EPM; and the European Modular Cultivation System, or EMCS.

This tour, however, offers only a brief synopsis of the overarching capabilities of the space station. "Other research is leading to things like new emergency sutureless wound closure and disinfection, breakthroughs in the understanding and the protection against bacteria -- such as Salmonella, the treatment of osteoporosis and skin disorders," said Garan. "And the development of a NASA bioreactor, which is being used in laboratories around the world for research in things like cancer, regenerative medicine, artificial organs, diabetes, AIDS, vaccine production, and infectious disease."

As the tour continues, Garan introduces the U.S. Destiny Laboratory, where the Microgravity Science Glovebox, or MSG, and EXPRESS racks enable even more microgravity research. The Combustion Integrated Rack, or CIR, for instance, helps with studies on fuel efficiency, pollution, and fire safety both on spacecraft and on Earth. The Fluids Integrated Rack, or FIR, also in Destiny, contributes to fluid physics investigations that lead to advancements in clean energy and the elimination of hazardous waste.

While showing the Destiny Lab, Garan was not able to give viewers a peek inside the Window Observational Research Facility, or WORF, because of an active investigation called the International Space Station Agricultural Camera, or ISSAC. This camera takes frequent images to help monitor Earth crop conditions and rapidly changing global phenomena, such as natural disasters.

Moving on to the Russian module, Garan points out two additional facilities with ongoing investigations. The first is the Mini-Research Module, or MRM2. Also known as Poisk, which means "Explore" in Russian, this module enables such research as the impact of electromagnetic fields on crystal development in microgravity. The other study takes place in the Lada Greenhouse and looks at the impact of hydroponics -- a method of growing plants without soil -- on wheat and vegetables. Garan takes time to mention the Earth-facing windows in the Russian module that allow for Earth observations, such as the Rusalka investigation that studies Earth's environment and atmosphere.

Garan comments that station technologies, such as those developed to meet the need for sustainable resources in orbit, have already led to proven Earth benefits. For instance, NASA engineers volunteered their time in Rwanda to develop a sustainable water treatment system that used station technology. "That project led to a project in Kenya providing household-scale water treatment systems for 4 million people," said Garan. "It is the largest water treatment project of its kind in the world."

International cooperation was key in the development of the space station and continues to be instrumental in the success of this orbiting resource. "The ISS is truly a global asset; the result of 15 nations working together sharing planning, technology, scientific advances and the talent of its people," said Garan.

Continuing to learn how people exist in extreme environments can help prepare humans for future exploration to Mars. What Garan conveys with this video tour is that the knowledge from his orbital residence also benefits his Earthly home on a global level. To learn more and share in Garan's orbital perspective, visit

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

East Coast Shakes from Va.-Centered Earthquake

The U.S. East Coast shook from an unusually strong earthquake for the area on Aug. 23, 2011, centered near Mineral, Va., about 40 miles from Richmond.

The U.S. Geological Survey rated the quake's magnitude as 5.8. The earthquake lasted about 45 seconds. It was centered five miles southwest of Mineral, Va., a small town in the central part of the state, located in Louisa County. Mineral is about 39 miles from Richmond and 83 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

The depth of the quake was 3.7 miles, according to USGS, the federal government agency that monitors earthquakes in the United States. The quake occurred at about 1:53 p.m. EDT and was felt up and down the East Coast. Reports of the quake came from as far north as Ottawa, Canada, to as far south as North Carolina. The quake's rumblings even extended west to Alabama and Ohio.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS instrument captured a cloud-free, visible-light image of Virginia in November 2004, used here to describe the earthquake. MODIS instruments fly aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

USA Today noted that the shallow depth of the quake and the east coast's geology enabled it to be felt over a large distance than might otherwise have been expected.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Training Our Future Astronauts

Ron Shaneyfelt called "heads up" and scanned the sky.

After approving the rocket's pathway, the students began a countdown from five. After "one," all the students yelled, "blast off!" and watched the rocket soar into the sky.

Shaneyfelt, an informal educator who went by "Rocket Man," led 22 students on a rocket-building and launching exercise.

"With this project, the students have the opportunity to build and launch their rocket within hours," Shaneyfelt said.

After the rockets were built and the glue dried, the students, who were addressed as "rocketeers," went out to the lawn to launch the rockets one at a time at Thomas Nelson Community College's Williamsburg campus.

The rockets soared to about 200 to 300 feet and then fell back to land with parachutes deployed.

Kenneth, 10, described his rocket launch: "It went high, it could have almost got stuck in a tree."

The rocketeers got to build something and watch it fly.

Launching rockets was part of a day's activities for one of the camps held August 1-5. NASA Langley's informal education team worked with children from Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.

For the second year, NASA Langley's Summer of Innovation program aims to give underrepresented students a chance to be involved with content otherwise not accessible.

The Summer of Innovation is an agency-wide program, with each center reaching 1,500 students. The camps work with rising fourth through ninth graders for a minimum of 20 hours of instruction, as well as follow-up months later.

NASA Langley partners with the Virginia Air and Space Center, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and the Migratory Education Program throughout the year.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters program allows for a mentor or "big brother" for children.

"The informal education team provides hands-on activities," said Ivelisse Gilman, a NASA educator. "These activities help the children learn by exploring."

The camps were themed as a "mission to Mars," and the students were treated as astronauts in training. The informal educators hope to excite the children to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

"This group is the right age to be the next astronauts to Mars, so we are training them to become future astronauts," said Bonnie Murray, a NASA educator.

The students were taught about rocketry, sustainability, arrangement of planets, characteristics of living off Earth and protection of astronauts in space. Many activities were hands-on.

They could build their own solar oven, which aimed to show the students that survival strategies would be different than the microwave available here on Earth. They were supplied materials and urged to think like an engineer while trying to make a working oven. If the oven captured the solar energy, the reward was sweet. They were able to enjoy a s’more snack.

Kiersten, 10, said her favorite part of the weeklong camp was making her own solar oven and then cooking her s'more.

A highlight of this year’s camps was students getting to ask questions and virtually touring the "rock yard" with the astronauts in training at Johnson Space Center. The astronauts connected with the students via the technology ClearSea, which allowed them to connect to the Digital Learning Network using a cell phone.

"They learn about topics they will experience in school," Murray said. "Our hope is that as they do exciting hands-on activities, that they can really understand Newton’s law or other lessons. When they get back into the classroom, their experience will help make sense of the information."

According to Gilman, it's also important that, "their experience was a positive, fun one."

At the end of a camp, students have a new curiosity.

"The questions they start to ask as time goes on is amazing," Murray said. "They are starting to wonder more and more."

Summer of Innovation will continue to reach students throughout the month of August and will conduct follow-ups. They hope to spark a lifelong fascination in STEM.

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NASA Sees Heavy Rain in Hurricane Irene

Before Irene even reached hurricane status, a NASA satellite saw heavy rainfall and hot towering thunderstorm clouds around the storm's center this weekend. That heavy rainfall is expected as Irene continues to track through the Caribbean today.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed over Irene when it was a tropical storm on August 21, 2011 at 0024 UTC (8:24 p.m. EDT August 20). Data collected with this orbit showed that Irene contained numerous powerful thunderstorms with TRMM's Precipitation Radar revealing that some thunderstorm towers near the center of the storm were reaching to heights above 15 km (~9.3 miles).

Those "hot towers" are called "hot" because they rise to such altitude due to the large amount of latent heat. Water vapor releases this latent heat as it condenses into liquid.

Back in 2004, researchers Owen Kelley and John Stout of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., found that a tropical cyclone with a hot tower in its eyewall was twice as likely to intensify within the next six hours than a cyclone that lacked a tower. Irene had those hot towers and did intensify into a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center noted on August 22 that Irene is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 5 to 10 inches across Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Southeastern Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands. Isolated maximum amounts of rainfall may reach up to 20 inches.

In addition to the TRMM satellite, NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-13 has documented the birth of Irene from a low pressure area called System 99L over the weekend. The NASA GOES Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. compiled four days of animations to show the development and movement of Hurricane Irene and former Tropical Storm Harvey.

A GOES-13 animation from August 19 through August 22 (1545 UTC/11: 45 a.m. EDT) shows the progression of Tropical Storm Harvey through the western Caribbean Sea. Over the weekend, Harvey made landfall in Belize and is moving into Mexico today. Farther to the east, the animation shows the development of the low pressure area called System 99L into Hurricane Irene on August 20 that moved over Puerto Rico and is now moving west-northwest into the eastern Caribbean today. Irene's maximum sustained winds on the morning of August 22 were near 75 mph. The 35 second video shows more than three days of development and movement of Harvey and Irene.

The National Hurricane Center has posted a whole host of hurricane warnings and watches today. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the North Coast of the Dominican Republic from the Haiti border east to Cabo Engano. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the north coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas eastward to the Dominican Republic border and the central Bahamas. Tropical storm conditions will reach the northern portion of the Dominican Republic by this afternoon.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the south coast of the Dominican Republic, all of Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The warning has been changed from hurricane to tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra as Irene is moving away.

At 9 a.m. EDT, August 22, Irene was moving away from Puerto Rico and toward the Southeastern Bahamas. Irene's maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph (120 kmh) and it was moving to the west-northwest near 14 mph (22 kmh). Irene's center was about 55 miles (90 km) west-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico near 18.8 North and 66.8 West. Irene's minimum central pressure was 987 millibars.

Irene is forecast to reach Florida later this week and if it makes landfall as a hurricane, it would be the first landfalling hurricane in the mainland U.S. in three years. The last landfalling U.S. storm was Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas in 2008.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

NASA's G-III Completes Alaskan Volcanoes Imaging Mission

NASA's Gulfstream III environmental research aircraft completed its brief mission to radar image volcanoes in Alaska the first week in August, and now the lengthy work of analyzing the data begins.

During the four-day mission from Aug. 1 through Aug. 4, the G-III flew several flights from its deployment base at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska. The UAVSAR synthetic aperture radar installed in a pod slung under the belly of the G-III imaged volcanoes in the Aleutian Island chain to detect and measure small changes in the Earth's surface of geophysical interest. While the aircraft was en route from its home base at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., the radar imaged volcanoes in the Cascade Range over California, Oregon and Washington.

"All indications are that data were collected successfully," said scientist Paul Lundgren of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the specialized radar was developed. "However, to detect changes in activity requires computation of differential interferograms from the new and previously collected data. This processing....typically [takes] several months, so we will know months from now whether there was any volcanic deformation over the past year."

Differential Global Positioning System satellite information is being used in conjunction with the aircraft's precision autopilot to enable the aircraft to repeat flight lines within 15 feet of the originals flown in August 2010. The system depends on corrections received from Iridium and Inmarsat satellites. The radar’s electronically steered antenna compensates for aircraft altitude and heading changes as the radar makes repeat passes over areas of interest.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

NASA Research Leads to First Complete Map of Antarctic Ice Flow

NASA-funded researchers have created the first complete map of the speed and direction of ice flow in Antarctica. The map, which shows glaciers flowing thousands of miles from the continent's deep interior to its coast, will be critical for tracking future sea-level increases from climate change. The team created the map using integrated radar observations from a consortium of international satellites.

"This is like seeing a map of all the oceans' currents for the first time. It's a game changer for glaciology," said Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California (UC), Irvine. Rignot is lead author of a paper about the ice flow published online Thursday in Science Express. "We are seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before."

Rignot and UC Irvine scientists Jeremie Mouginot and Bernd Scheuchl used billions of data points captured by European, Japanese and Canadian satellites to weed out cloud cover, solar glare and land features masking the glaciers. With the aid of NASA technology, the team painstakingly pieced together the shape and velocity of glacial formations, including the previously uncharted East Antarctica, which comprises 77 percent of the continent.

Like viewers of a completed jigsaw puzzle, the scientists were surprised when they stood back and took in the full picture. They discovered a new ridge splitting the 5.4 million-square-mile (14 million-square-kilometer) landmass from east to west.

The team also found unnamed formations moving up to 800 feet (244 meters) annually across immense plains sloping toward the Antarctic Ocean and in a different manner than past models of ice migration.

"The map points out something fundamentally new: that ice moves by slipping along the ground it rests on," said Thomas Wagner, NASA's cryospheric program scientist in Washington. "That's critical knowledge for predicting future sea level rise. It means that if we lose ice at the coasts from the warming ocean, we open the tap to massive amounts of ice in the interior."

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The NASA National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP) has successfully completed its most comprehensive end-to-end compatibility test of the actual satellite and all five scientific instruments at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp's production and test facility in Boulder, Colo.

During the four-week NPP Compatibility Test 4 (NCT4), all segments of the ground system were assessed including active commanding of the satellite as well as monitoring the flow of both satellite health and safety and science data (both actual and simulated). NASA utilized two tracking and data networks in support of this mission test, the primary tracking antenna site located in Svalbard, Norway, and the Tacking and Data Relay Satellite System networks.

Data transfers involved all ground system command and control components located at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., and data processing centers located at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., as well as other centers in Colorado, North Carolina and Nebraska. Mission team member participation included: NASA, NOAA, the United States Air Force and the Department of Defense.

"The successful completion of this test has all of our NPP team members excited," stated Raymond J. Pages, the NPP Project Integration Manager. "It’s a major milestone that supports our readiness to launch in October."

The NCT4 also served as a high-fidelity operational “dress rehearsal” called Mission Rehearsal 3 (MR3), which simulated on-orbit operations beginning with the launch phase and continuing through instrument activation. The successful completion of NCT4 and MR3 signifies that all mission systems are ready to proceed to launch. Additional testing will be performed during the remaining two-and-a-half months prior to launch to maintain operational and system proficiency.

NPP contains a suite of five sensors that will make measurements to continue producing key data products about Earth including, for example, measurements of cloud, vegetation, and ice cover, ocean color, and sea and land surface temperatures.

The five instruments are the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS); the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS); the Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System (CERES); the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS); and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS).

Data from NPP will be used in a range of situations to address an array of research questions. Earth scientists will use the data to enhance their understanding of climate change. NOAA meteorologists will incorporate the data into their weather and climate prediction models to produce accurate, life-saving forecasts and warnings. Also NPP will help emergency responders monitor and react to natural disasters.

The NPP mission will help link the current generation of NASA Earth-observing satellites called the Earth Observing System (EOS) to a next-generation of operational polar-orbiting environmental satellites called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), managed by NOAA. NPP data will also be used as input to numerical weather models until the JPSS system is deployed.

The NPP satellite is scheduled to be delivered to the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, Calif., on August 24 to undergo final preparations for a planned October 25 launch.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Robotic Refueling Module, Soon To Be Relocated to Permanent Space Station Position

NASA’s groundbreaking Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) will reach a key milestone in September when the International Space Station (ISS) robots transfer the module to its permanent home on space station’s ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4. Robotic operations for the technology demonstration are currently slated to begin soon afterwards.

A joint effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, RRM is designed to demonstrate the technologies, tools, and techniques needed to robotically service satellites, especially those not built with servicing in mind.

The results of this two-year technology test bed are expected to the reduce risks associated with satellite servicing as well as lay the foundation and encourage future robotic servicing missions. Such future missions could include the repair and repositioning of orbiting satellites.

President Obama called the RRM demonstration “innovative” during a July 15 phone call to STS-135 astronauts onboard the ISS noting its potential future benefits to the commercial satellite industry. “It’s a good reminder of how NASA technology and research often times has huge spillover effects into the commercial sector, and makes it all that much more important in terms of peoples’ day to day lives.”

Launched to the ISS in July onboard the last shuttle mission, RRM marks the first use of the space station’s Dextre robot beyond robotic station maintenance for technology research and development. It is also the first on-orbit demonstration to test, prove and advance the technology needed to perform robotic servicing on spacecraft not designed for refueling and repair.

"Robotic refueling and satellite servicing could extend the lifetimes of satellites, offering significant savings in delayed replacement costs," said Frank Cepollina, Associate Director of the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Such servicing has the potential to allow human and robotic explorers to reach distant destinations more efficiently and effectively."

The RRM module is about the size of a washing machine and weighs approximately 550 pounds, with dimensions of 33" by 43" by 45.” RRM includes 0.45 gallon (1.7 liters) of ethanol that will be used to demonstrate fluid transfer on orbit.

On July 12, space station astronauts Mike Fossum and Ron Garan removed the RRM module from the cargo bay of shuttle Atlantis and placed the module onto a temporary platform on the Dextre robot. In September, the Canadarm2 robot will permanently secure RRM on the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4 (ELC-4), an external platform also built at Goddard. The ISS will provide command, telemetry and power support for the module through ELC-4 during the experiment’s two-year window of operations.

After the transfer to ELC-4, mission operators will release the launch locks on the four RRM tools to be used at a later date by Dextre. This will be followed by a series of vision tasks, to develop machine vision algorithms against the harsh lighting on orbit verifying the RRM can see during future demonstrations.

The first set of refueling demonstration tasks are currently scheduled for January 2012. These activities will verify that on-orbit satellite repairs can be performed with today’s technology.

Satellite servicing with astronauts is not new for NASA. Skylab, NASA's first space station, was repaired in space in 1973. Solar Maximum and Syncon IV, with help from the shuttle, were successfully repaired in the 1980's. In the 1990's NASA serviced the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, Intelsat 6 and executed a series of highly successful servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope.

"You know NASA has been doing space servicing for quite some time now," said Cepollina. "We will be demonstrating abilities that will allow for the servicing of existing satellites and could influence the build of future satellites to allow easy on-orbit access for refueling and repair."

More recently, human and robotic servicing capabilities have contributed to the assembly, upkeep and repair of the ISS. With RRM, NASA can begin the work of confirming the robotic satellite-servicing technologies needed for the development of future robotic servicing spacecraft.

Cepollina believes it is just a matter of time before such servicing could become routine. "If we are to venture further from Earth, the need for robotic servicing will increase," said Cepollina. "With the build of the space station we see the increase of collaboration between human and robotic abilities in space servicing."

RRM operations will be entirely remote controlled by flight controllers at Goddard, Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Canadian Space Agency's control center in St. Hubert, Quebec. The station's two-armed robotic system, Canada’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or “Dextre,” will manipulate the tools necessary for the demonstrations.

Included within the RRM module are four unique tools developed at Goddard: the Wire Cutter/Blanket Manipulation Tool, the Multifunction Tool, the Safety Cap Removal Tool, and the Nozzle Tool. Each tool will be stowed in its own storage bay until Dextre retrieves it for use. Each tool contains two integral cameras with built-in LEDs to give mission controllers the ability to see and control the tools.

Drawing upon 20 years of experience servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s SSCO initiated the development of RRM in 2009. Atlantis, the same shuttle that carried tools and instruments for the final, astronaut-based Hubble Servicing Mission 4, launched RRM to space. The last shuttle mission carried the first step to robotic refueling and satellite servicing to orbit—a new era sprung from the old.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Famous Vacationer appeal in Hawaii

In today’s world Hawaii is considered as one of the best beach holiday destinations. Apart from gifting the best of the sun, sea and sand in the US, Hawaii also has a rich and bright colorful history and culture to take in and bounty of tourist attraction. Because of all its attraction Hawaii is now economically dependent on tourism as well as on the US military.

There are more than 19 distinct volcanic islands which are located exactly in the heart of the Pacific which is the geological "hot spot". Among these islands 6 are open to tourism and they are: Hawaii or the "Big Island"; Oahu or the "Gathering Place"; Maui or the "Valley Isle"; Kauai or the "Garden Isle"; Molokai or the "Friendly Isle"; and Lanai. If you have an idea to visit Hawaii, you can easily look for Hawaii beach vacation rentals in these islands.

If you have a plan to travel to Hawaii, please do consider having a Hawaii vacation in Waikiki particularly if you are looking to have a memorable vacation.

Kauai is the best island that has the most breathtaking natural wonders. The island is covered with lush green trees and it is famous for its beaches and rivers that offer a wide choice of activities for tourists. There are many options in the river and beaches like snorkeling, swimming, sunning or surfing. Apart from these there are options like hiking and biking on its many trails. Some of the other outdoor leisure activities that you can do on the island comprise having river tubing adventures, back-country ATV trips and a lot more.

To experience the best of the nature then, Hawaii is the place to be considered. Choose from one of the island destinations or one of the Hawaii vacation specials and Hawaii vacation offers and book a Hawaii vacation rental or that would fit your travel needs and budget and you would surely have a holiday that you would never forget.

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For the first time ever, NASA's two highly modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft briefly flew in formation over the Edwards Air Force Base test range Aug. 2. Both aircraft were scheduled to be in the air on the same day, NASA 911 (foreground) on a flight crew proficiency flight, NASA 905 (rear) on a functional check flight following maintenance operations. Since both aircraft were scheduled to be in the air at the same time, SCA pilot Jeff Moultrie of Johnson Space Center's Aircraft Operations Directorate took the opportunity to have both SCA's fly in formation for about 20 minutes while NASA photographer Carla Thomas captured still and video imagery from a NASA Dryden F/A-18. In addition to Moultrie, NASA 905's check flight crew included pilot Arthur "Ace" Beall and flight engineer Henry Taylor while NASA 911 was flown by Larry LaRose, Steve Malarchick and Bob Zimmerman from NASA Johnson and Frank Batteas and Bill Brockett from NASA Dryden.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

GRAIL Launch Less Than One Month Away

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B - completed their final inspections and were weighed one final time at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Fla., on Tuesday. The two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft will orbit the moon in formation to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon. GRAIL's launch period opens Sept. 8, 2011, and extends through Oct. 19. For a Sept. 8 liftoff, the launch window opens at 5:37 a.m. PDT (8:37 a.m. EDT) and remains open through 6:16 a.m. PDT (9:16 a.m. EDT).

Later this week, the two spacecraft will be loaded side-by-side on a special adapter and packaged inside a payload fairing that will protect them during their launch into space. Next week, GRAIL is expected to make the trip from Astrotech to Launch Complex 17 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it will be mated with its United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket.

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

NASA's DC-8 Flying Lab Validates Laser Instruments

Twenty scientists went aloft aboard NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory in late July to conduct an airborne test of four very different laser techniques for remotely measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide and two laser instruments that remotely measured oxygen. The DC-8 also carried two “truth” instruments – devices that are known to produce accurate data – that took air samples to be compared with the laser measurements.

As part of a research campaign dubbed Active Sensing of CO2 Emissions over Night, Days and Seasons II, or ASCENDS II, the aircraft flew over central California July 28.

The focus of this mission, which is funded by the Earth Science division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, is the further development of laser-based Earth-observing satellite instruments designed to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"Satellite instruments start in a laboratory and mature to a point where they need to be used in the atmosphere," said DC-8 project manager Frank Cutler at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif. "The cheapest way to test is first on the ground and then to get the instruments into the air for in-flight analysis.

"The DC-8 flying laboratory is often used to facilitate these assessments," Cutler added. "It is interesting to observe what an instrument that will fly on a satellite goes through to be certified for operational use."

During an instrument-validation flight over central California, the DC-8 first flew descending and ascending spiral patterns above the Castle Airport area near Merced to take sample gas measurements with the truth instruments. The laser instruments were then flown over the airport at various altitudes up to 40,000 feet so that their data could be compared with that of the truth instruments.

The aircraft flies the instruments over different land surfaces, from snow and ice to oceans, forests and deserts, to test the surface reflectance effects on each instrument's performance. These are the same types of surfaces that a laser instrument would find when studying components of the Earth’s atmosphere from space.

Additional flights will take the aircraft over the California and Nevada deserts and offshore over the Pacific Ocean. During an early August flight to British Columbia, Canada, the instruments collected data over snowfields in mountainous regions. The aircraft will also deploy briefly to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., to fly over atmospheric radiation measurement sites for comparison of airborne to ground-based measurements.

"Conducting unique flight experiments on the DC-8 is very exciting and is as close as many of us will get to being a modern day explorer," said ASCENDS II mission scientists Edward Browell of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., who has conducted more than 25 DC-8 science missions around the world since 1987.

The instrument teams are from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., ITT Geospatial Systems in Fort Wayne, Ind., and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A similar ASCENDS instrument validation mission was previously flown in July 2010.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

NASA Mars Rover Approaches Long-Term Goal

The NASA Mars rover Opportunity has gained a view of Endeavour crater from barely more than a football-field's distance away from the rim. The rim of Endeavour has been the mission's long-term goal since mid-2008.

Endeavour offers the setting for plenty of productive work by Opportunity. The crater is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter -- more than 25 times wider than Victoria crater, an earlier stop that Opportunity examined for two years. Observations by orbiting spacecraft indicate that the ridges along Endeavour's western rim expose rock outcrops older than any Opportunity has seen so far. The selected location for arrival at the rim, "Spirit Point," is at the southern tip of one of those ridges, "Cape York," on the western side of Endeavour.

Opportunity and Spirit completed their three-month prime missions on Mars in April 2004. Both rovers continued for years of bonus, extended missions. Both have made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. The mission of the Spirit rover, for which Spirit Point was named, was concluded in May, 2011, after the rover did not re-establish communications following the Martian winter.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Juno Spacecraft to Carry Three Figurines to Jupiter Orbit

NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft will carry the 1.5-inch likeness of Galileo Galilei, the Roman god Jupiter and his wife Juno to Jupiter when the spacecraft launches this Friday, Aug. 5. The inclusion of the three mini-statues, or figurines, is part of a joint outreach and educational program developed as part of the partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group to inspire children to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief. From Mount Olympus, Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature. Juno holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth, while her husband holds a lightning bolt. The third LEGO crew member is Galileo Galilei, who made several important discoveries about Jupiter, including the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honor). Of course, the miniature Galileo has his telescope with him on the journey.

The launch period for Juno opens Aug. 5 and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:34 a.m. PDT (11:34 a.m. EDT) and remains open through 9:43 a.m. PDT (12:43 p.m. EDT). The spacecraft is expected to arrive at Jupiter in 2016. The mission will investigate the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno's color camera will provide close-up images of Jupiter, including the first detailed glimpse of the planet's poles.

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