Aeronautics and Space Acronyms

If your space capsule has just landed in the ocean and mission control asks if you want an ACRV, you certainly don't want to answer incorrectly. Take a moment and look it up in this long list of space-related acronyms: a good reference to keep on hand if you are reading anything about space exploration.


Web:

http://hastur.surly.org/tla/


Astrobiology

Does life exist elsewhere in the universe? The universe is a big place, and in many ways, it seems as if there ought to be life, perhaps lots of life, away from Earth. If so, what forms does life take? How does it arise and evolve? And what does this mean for us? These questions are the concern of astrobiology, the generalized study of life in the universe. In pursuit of this goal, astrobiology examines the universe, from the atomic and molecular level to the stars and the galaxies, bringing together a variety of scientific disciplines to provide new answers to very old questions.


Web:

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/
http://www.astrobiology.com/
http://www.spaceref.com/directory/astrobiology_and_life...


Center for Earth and Planetary Studies

The Center for Earth and Planetary Studies is one of the research units at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Visit its Web site and experience the excitement of outer space without having to go too far from the fridge. There are a lot of pictures from space, as well as information about many of the U.S. space missions.


Web:

http://www.nasm.edu/ceps/


Challenger

In the history of manned space flight, there have been some terrible disasters. The most well-known was the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle 73 seconds after takeoff on January 28, 1986. For information about that ill-fated mission, you can look at NASA's Web site. There you can find the official technical information regarding that particular mission, including a movie of the takeoff and explosion.


Web:

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/missi...


European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) was formed in 1975 through the cooperation of a number of European countries. Each of the countries makes a financial contribution based on which activities that country wishes to support. ESA's major programs include the Ariane rocket, the Spacelab scientific workshop (which is carried into orbit by the space shuttle), and Arianespace, a division of ESA, which produces over half of all commercial satellite launches in the world.


Web:

http://www.esrin.esa.it/


Goddard Space Flight Center

The Goddard Space Flight Center manages many of NASA's programs having to do with finding out information about Earth itself. As such, the Center is a major U.S. laboratory devoted to developing unmanned space probes. Its Web site contains information about their programs and research.


Web:

http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/


History of Space Exploration

One can imagine that there have always been adventurous souls, looking longingly at the nighttime sky, wondering what it would be like to travel to the Moon, the planets, and even to the stars. However, it was not until October 4, 1957, that the idea of exploring space became part of the popular culture. It was on that day that the first man-made object was sent into space in order to orbit around the Earth. Its name was Sputnik 1 and it was launched by the USSR. (In Russian, the word Sputnik means "fellow traveler".) On November 3, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik 2, which carried a dog, Laika, who traveled around the Earth for 4 days before she died. This set off the so-called "Space Race" between the USSR and the U.S., leading to a large number of important achievements, including the first soft landing on the Moon (USSR), on February 3, 1966, and landing the first men on the Moon (U.S.), on July 20, 1969.


Web:

http://planetscapes.com/solar/eng/history.htm
http://www.nauts.com/history/
http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/


International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is a large, multipart laboratory/domicile, permanently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 235 miles (380 km), at a speed of over 17,000 mph (27,000 kph). Within the ISS lives a small, transient crew of astronauts, who work on scientific research and maintenance. On Earth, the ISS is supported by more than 100,000 people around the world, including flight controllers in Houston and Moscow.

One of the goals of the ISS is to study how people function in space, where gravity, radiation, and magnetic fields are significantly different from Earth. For example, it has been discovered that in a low gravity environment, people lose muscle and bone mass, and suffer from decreased immune function.

The master plan for the ISS calls for a complex structure that will be assembled in orbit, over a period of years. The portion of the ISS that currently exists was constructed by the United States, Russia, the European Union and Canada, with support from several other countries. The construction process started on November 20, 1998, when the first part of the station was launched on a Russian rocket. On December 5, the second part of the station was carried up by a U.S. space shuttle. The first crew -- one American and two Russians -- was sent to the ISS on October 31, 2000. In all, through the end of 2003, there have been 31 construction missions, resulting in an odd-looking structure with over a dozen major components. The ISS measures about 240 ft x 170 ft x 90 ft (73 m x 52 m x 27 m), with a mass of about 415,000 lbs (188,000 kg).

If you were to visit the ISS, you would find a surprisingly large amount of living space -- 15,000 cubic feet (425 cubic meters) -- about the size of a three-bedroom house. Even so, by the time the ISS is complete, it will be much larger: 360 ft (110 m) long, with a mass of almost 1,000,000 lbs (454,000 kg), and an inside volume larger than a five-bedroom house.

Would you like to look at the ISS as it orbits the Earth? I have included a NASA Web site that will help you determine the best times to view the space station from your area.


Web:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/
http://www.discovery.com/stories/science/iss/iss.html
http://www.esa.int/export/esaHS/iss.html
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/iss/
http://www.scipoc.msfc.nasa.gov/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space.station


Mars

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. (Earth is the third.) The Martian surface and sky have a pinkish color and, even with the naked eye, when you look at Mars at night it looks a bit red. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Red Planet. At one time, astronomers thought there were straight lines on the Martian surface, giving rise to the idea that Mars had canals and, possibly, life. Moreover, parts of the Martian surface changed color during the year, and it was thought that this might be some type of vegetation. Since then, man-made probes have sent photos and other data back from Mars, and found no evidence of canals or life. In fact, Mars is not a hospitable planet. The atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide (ours is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen), and the surface temperatures range from -140 C (-220 F) to 20 C (68 F). In spite of these difficulties (and many others), there are people who are actively working toward human exploration of Mars.


Web:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/
http://www.cmex.arc.nasa.gov/
http://www.marsnews.com/
http://www.marssociety.org/
http://www.msss.com/moc_gallery/


NASA Historical Archive

It's good to know your NASA space history. For instance, what if you are at the supermarket and the checkout girl says that if you can list the dates of all the Apollo missions you will be the lucky winner of a month's worth of Cheese Doodles? Imagine how sorry you'd feel if you couldn't do it. There's absolutely no need for this to happen as long as you make sure to read all the documents at the NASA Historical Archive. They offer the text of the NASA Space Act, information about rocket history, early astronauts, astronautics history, chronology, manned missions and details about the space shuttles. (Please, no spies allowed.)


Web:

http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/history/history.html

Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space.history


NASA News

Keep up on the latest information from NASA, including the status of spacecraft currently in space. Find out about the new discoveries made with the space-based Hubble telescope and the unmanned probes launched toward distant planets and galaxies.


Web:

http://spacelink.msfc.nasa.gov/NASA.News/


NASA Research Labs

It's your turn to plan an exciting date for you and the one you love. How about a tour of some of the most famous NASA research labs? After a romantic candlelit dinner you can go back to your place, fire up the old Web browser and roam through the Goddard, Dryden, Ames, Langley and Kennedy space centers, to name just a few. In no time, word will be out that you really know how to entertain in style.


Web:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasaorgs/subject_index.html


NASDA (National Space Development Agency of Japan)

The National Space Development Agency (NASDA) is Japan's national agency for space development. NASDA's Web site has information about its activities, publications and technical developments. Here you can find descriptions of NASDA's work on the international space station. There are also technical details regarding the H-II rocket (the central launch vehicle in the Japanese space program), just in case you want to build one for yourself.


Web:

http://yyy.tksc.nasda.go.jp/index_e.html


Photographs of Earth from Space

It's all a matter of perspective. No matter where you go on the Earth, you can never see the entire thing. These days, you don't have to be an astronaut to enjoy a nice view of the Earth from space. Check out this collection of photos of the Earth. Once you find a photo of where you live, you can print a copy, mark it with a big X, and label it "I am here."


Web:

http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop/
http://www.nasm.edu/ceps/rpif/SSPR.html
http://www.spacelink.nasa.gov/Instructional.Materials/C...


Photographs of Space

For most of history, mankind has only been able to imagine what outer space looks like. To be sure, we can see the Sun and the moon fairly well with the naked eye, but the stars and a few planets look like mere points of light, and virtually no galaxies are visible. In 1609, the Italian astronomer Galileo turned one of the first telescopes toward the heavens and saw what no man had seen before: a close-up view of the planets and the moon. However, until the launch of satellites and space probes in the twentieth century, no one had ever seen pictures taken from space. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, 1889-1953) was launched into permanent global orbit, becoming our first major outpost for viewing the heavens away from the atmosphere of Earth. In the last decade, we have been able to take spectacular pictures -- not only of the moon, sun and stars -- but of the planets, galaxies, and other heavenly bodies.


Web:

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html
http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/photo_gallery/
http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html
http://www.astro.princeton.edu/~frei/Gcat_htm/cat_ims.h...
http://www.spacelink.nasa.gov/Instructional.Materials/C...
http://www.spacepix.net/astronomy/


Photographs of the Moon

If you want to see the moon, but it's a cloudy night and you can't see any celestial bodies, you can take comfort in knowing that you can see the moon on the Internet. Brew up a hot drink, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket and curl up in front of the computer. These are gorgeous pictures and make cloudy nights a pleasure.


Web:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/research/lunar_orbiter/
http://www.netaxs.com/~mhmyers/moon.tn.html


Planets and the Solar System

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~sheppard/satellites/The solar system in which we live is complex. At the center lies the Sun. Revolving around the Sun are 9 planets, some of which have moons (or more accurately "satellites") revolving around them. There are a total of 140 known satellites. The planets are, from closest to the Sun to farthest from the Sun: Mercury (0 satellites), Venus (0 satellites), Earth (1 satellite, the Moon), Mars (2 satellites), Jupiter (63 satellites), Saturn (33 satellites), Uranus (27 satellites), Neptune (13 satellites), Pluto (1 satellite). In addition to the Sun and the planets, the solar system also has many smaller bodies, such as asteroids and comets. There is a lot known about the solar system, and to help you learn about it, here are some resources where you will find a lot of fascinating information and pictures. These are the places I go when I need to get my hands on a picture of Neptune or find out the diameter of Mars (6,794 kilometers, or 4,222 miles).


Web:

http://maps.jpl.nasa.gov/
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/planetfact.html
http://pds.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/
http://www.seds.org/billa/tnp/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader alt.planets.mars
Google Newsreader alt.planets.pluto
Google Newsreader alt.sci.planetary


Politics of Space

Do people belong in space? Is all the money worth it? What should we be doing and who should we be doing it with? Discuss non-technical issues pertaining to space exploration.


Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space.policy


Satellite Observation

If you look at the night sky much, it's likely you have already seen an artificial satellite. It would look like a slowly moving star, a pinpoint of light traveling across the sky. What you are seeing is sunlight reflecting off the surface of the satellite. Since the advent of PCs and the growth of the Internet, the tools available to amateur satellite observers have improved enormously. You can use sophisticated programs to track satellites and help you find the exact place to look for a particular satellite. Moreover, you will find announcements on the Net about forthcoming launches, describing the details of the mission. This makes it all the more interesting when you manage to find and observe a specific speck of light in the vast reaches of the darkness.


Web:

http://www.fc.net/~worden/vsohp/FAQ/
http://www.heavens-above.com/
http://www.satobs.org/satintro.html
http://wwwvms.utexas.edu/~ecannon/satellite.htm


Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Do you get tired of the same old people here on Earth? Get a new cultural and intellectual perspective on the universe by looking in at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. It is possible that there are planets outside our solar system on which there may be life. The SETI Institute sponsors research and education projects related to the efforts to search for other technologically advanced civilizations. So far, the SETI Institute hasn't found any signals of extraterrestrial origin, but you never know. Just in case, they have worked out the details about how such a discovery would be publicized should it ever happen. (The details are on the Net.)


Web:

http://www.seti.org/


Solar System Exploration

There has been a lot of exploration of our solar system, but except for some transient news coverage, few people really understand the significance of what has been done and what it means to us. Here is a Web site with information about some of mankind's most impressive and most important achievements.


Web:

http://sse.jpl.nasa.gov/


Space Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding NASA, spaceflight and astrophysics. (For example, is it true that the blueprints for the Saturn V were lost?) If you are interested in space and spaceflight, this is a great source of fascinating information.


Web:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/space/


Space News

Keep current on the final frontier. Read all the latest news about space, astronomy and spaceflight. Now that you have a connection to the Net, there is no excuse for being the last one on your block to know whether or not there really once was life on Mars.


Web:

http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/space/
http://www.flatoday.com/space/
http://www.space.com/spacenews/
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/
http://www.spacer.com/
http://www.spaceref.com/
http://www.spacesciences.com/
http://www.universetoday.com/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space.news


Space Shuttle

The space shuttle is a reusable American space vehicle. The first shuttle test flight took place on April 12, 1981. The first operational flight was on November 11, 1982. For information about the shuttle program, including a lot of technical details, you can check NASA's Web sites. For discussion, try the Usenet group.


Web:

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/missions.h...
http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/status/stsstat/curre...
http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-90/vrtour/

Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space.shuttle


Space Talk and General Discussion

Talk, talk, talk about everything under the Sun (and the Sun as well). Discuss all manner of space-oriented topics with aficionados around the world.


Usenet:

Google Newsreader sci.space
Google Newsreader sci.space.science


Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

SEDS is a student club devoted to the discussion and study of space. Meet people from SEDS chapters around the world. Find out all the latest space news and what SEDS members are up to.


Web:

http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/


United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the news about extraterrestrials joining the United Nations. The U.N. even has an office for Outer Space Affairs which focuses on international cooperation regarding the use of space technology to monitor space activities as well as our terrestrial environment.


Web:

http://www.oosa.unvienna.org/


Windows to the Universe

The universe is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Why do I like it so much? There are three reasons. First, the universe has an awe-inspiring grandeur that never fails to make me feel humble and privileged at the same time. Second, the universe is an endless source of interesting knowledge that constantly amazes and enlightens me. Third, all my stuff is here. If you are interested in space and what's out there, I know you will enjoy touring this Web site. This is an especially good place to visit if you happen to be a bright child or know a bright child. (Actually, when I was a child I was so bright my parents called me "son".)


Web:

http://www.windows.ucar.edu/