Earthly/Geo/Astro · Science

Before Deep Space, NASA Heads Deep Under Water

NASA may have retired its shuttles, but it has its sights on sending astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

These voyages are years away, but on Monday, astronauts are heading underwater to take part in a simulation that will help them figure out how they might explore one possible new destination: a near-Earth asteroid.

It’ll be the space agency’s 16th NEEMO expedition — NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations — commanded by astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. She flew on one of the last space shuttle missions, and even helped prepare Atlantis for its final launch.

“It was a very bittersweet time,” says Metcalf-Lindenburger, who wants to go into space again. In the meantime, she’s commanding a four-person crew that’s putting on scuba gear instead of space suits. She says we all have to move on.

“Like in all things. I just had my daughter finish up her last day of preschool before she goes off to kindergarten. We have to shut chapters and begin new chapters and we had to do that in the space program, too,” Metcalf-Lindenburger says.

Excerpt of an article written by Elizabeth Shogren, at NPR. Continue HERE

Earthly/Geo/Astro · Science

Galactic Mash-Up: Four billion years from now, Andromeda galaxy will smash directly into ours

The monstrous Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way are destined to hit head-on, not in a glancing blow, new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show.

By precisely locating the same stars in Andromeda in 2002 and then again in 2010, astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore have calculated how the galaxy has moved against the background of deep space — confirming that the galaxy’s sideways motion is but a fraction of the speed at which it’s hurtling toward the Milky Way.

Andromeda is 2.5 million light-years away and closing in on the Milky Way at 250,000 miles per hour. The cosmic collision will transform the heavens into a hallucinogenic swirl 4 billion years from now. Calculations suggest that the sun will be tossed out during this galactic mash-up, to drift erratically in the eventual single, large galaxy that will coalesce from the two.

Text and Image via Science News