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Posts under tag: NASA

July 13, 2016

The assembly code from Apollo 11 is now on GitHub

Margaret Hamilton, director of software engineering on Apollo 11, next to the printout of the code.

Margaret Hamilton, director of software engineering on Apollo 11, next to the printout of the code.

As found on via, “the code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule.” The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) code has been available since 2003 after the first upload was made from scanned images. The poor state of the printouts left holes within the entire code when uploaded by MIT and efforts made by tech researcher, Ron Burkey. Burkey pieced together what he thought the holes could be based upon his engineering background (and later confirmed his patches were correct.)

For more on this topic plus a AGC simulator, check out this article from

April 4, 2016

SpaceX is launching an inflatable space habitat for the ISS

The space station’s Canadarm attaching the BEAM inflatable module to Node 3 of the ISS. GIF courtesy of NASA.

On its next trip to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX’s Dragon rocket will be carrying an inflatable module on its payload. The module–the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM–will essentially create a new room on the ISS once it is connected and inflated. At full inflation, the BEAM’s internal volume will be ten times its launch volume.

Inflatable modules are attractive from a mass and volume perspective. Before launch, they are smaller and lighter requiring less fuel and other expenses. This concept is not new to space. NASA originally licensed its inflatable technology in 2000 before Congress canceled the TransHab project and NASA’s first communications satellite, Echo, was inflatable.

For more information on this project, check out this article from TechCrunch.

December 17, 2015

We’re going to the moon…of Jupiter, Europa!

Europa, moon of Jupiter

Europa as seen by the NASA Galileo spacecraft on September 7, 1996.

New legislation from Congress has approved NASA’s 2016 fiscal year budget of $19.2 billion with a special $175 million designated as a “Jupiter Europa clipper mission” with a target launch date of 2022-2023.

The budget proposal stipulates that, “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept.” In other words, it’s against the law to fly the mission to Europa without a lander.

The initial goal of sending an orbiter was appropriated in the original proposal but Texas Congressman John Culberson pushed for a lander after making regular trips to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California–the team who orchestrated the Curiosity lander mission to Mars. The lander concept however will be difficult to coordinate due to the radiation emanating from Jupiter. The original mission objectives were to stay on the outside of Jupiter’s radiation zone and do a series of fly-bys over the course of three to four years. (For more details on how the lander was incorporated into this mission, click here.)

Europa was originally selected as a candidate to Due to the surface composition of Europa (primarily water-ice with some silicate rock), the clipper mission will orbit the moon’s surface several times to determine the best landing spot.

For more information on the Europa Clipper project, check out this article from Ars Technica.

For more on details about the Europa mission, check out the mission site from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

June 10, 2015

Fly Over Dwarf Planet Ceres

From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech:

A new video animation of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, provides dramatic flyover views of this heavily cratered, mysterious world. The images come from Dawn’s first mapping orbit at Ceres, at an altitude of 8,400 mile (13,600 kilometers), as well as navigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) away. The images provided information for a three-dimensional terrain model. The vertical dimension has been exaggerated by a factor of two, and a star field has been added in the background.

May 12, 2015

Blue sunset over Mars as seen by the Curiosity rover

Martian Sunset as seen by the Curiosity Rover - May 2015
(Original article by NASA)
This was the first sunset observed in color by Curiosity.  The images come from the left-eye camera of the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). The color has been calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts. Mastcam sees color very similarly to what human eyes see, although it is actually a little less sensitive to blue than people are.

Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors.  That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun’s part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. The effect is most pronounced near sunset, when light from the sun passes through a longer path in the atmosphere than it does at mid-day.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the rover’s Mastcam. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover.

For more information about Curiosity, visit and

February 27, 2015

Tracking rain and snow across the globe

NASA Global Precipitation Visualization Image from May 20, 2014NASA released a new visualization of storms that took place in 2014 gathered from the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory–a satellite network created with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)–that provides near real-time precipitation data covering most of the planet.

One of the stated goals of this project is to assist emergency management teams in issuing evacuation notices with the data to back it up.

For more information, check out the press release from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Follow this link for the full visualization of the data set. (YouTube)

Visualizations like this one are done here at CASIT through the ACISS cluster managed by our Research Support Services team. For more information about their work, please check out their website.