What Happens When Your Brain Can’t Tell Which Way is Up?

Originally shared by annarita ruberto

What Happens When Your Brain Can’t Tell Which Way is Up?

In space, there is no “up” or “down.” That can mess with the human brain and affect the way people move and think in space. An investigation on the International Space Station seeks to understand how the brain changes in space and ways to deal with those changes.

Previous research and first-hand reports suggest that humans have a harder time controlling physical movement and completing mental tasks in microgravity. Astronauts have experienced problems with balance and perceptual illusions – feeling as if, for example, they are switching back and forth between right-side-up and upside down.

The Spaceflight Effects on Neurocognitive Performance: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases (NeuroMapping) study is examining changes in both brain structure and function and determining how long it takes to recover after returning from space.

Researchers are using both behavioral assessments and brain imaging. Astronauts complete timed obstacle courses and tests of their spatial memory, or the ability to mentally picture and manipulate a three-dimensional shape, before and after spaceflight. The spatial memory test also is performed aboard the station, along with sensory motor adaptation tests and computerized exercises requiring them to move and think simultaneously. Astronauts are tested shortly after arriving aboard the station, mid-way through and near the end of a six-month flight.

Structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain are done pre-flight and post-flight.

Read the whole article for knowing more>>


Left image explanation: This illustration shows the configuration for conducting neurocognitive assessments for the Neuromapping study aboard the International Space Station.

Credits: NASA

Right image explanation: These slides show changes in volume in certain areas of the brain that occur with long-duration, head-down tilt bed rest. The Neuromapping Flight Study examines whether similar changes occur with spaceflight.

Credits: University of Michigan

Heads Up!! Last time to see a Super Blood Moon eclipse until 2033!

Originally shared by Corina Marinescu

Heads Up!! Last time to see a Super Blood Moon eclipse until 2033!

There is a total eclipse of the moon on the night of September 27-28, 2015. It happens to be the closest supermoon of 2015. It’s the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon, or full moon nearest the September equinox. This September full moon is also called a Blood Moon, because it presents the fourth and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart. 

The total lunar eclipse is visible from the most of North America and all of South America after sunset September 27. From eastern South America and Greenland, the greatest eclipse happens around midnight September 27-28. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the total eclipse takes place in the wee hours of the morning, after midnight and before sunrise September 28.

H/t Earthsky; thanks for the nice reading!

Full article: http://earthsky.org/?p=51212

Reference and animations via NASA



The geometry of the Moon’s orbit in motion from the end of August until the supermoon eclipse on September 27-28, 2015. The inner blue circle shows perigee distance, the outer blue circle shows apogee distance, and the off-center, light gray circle shows the Moon’s orbit.


The death of Claudia J. Alexander


Originally shared by Unknown

The death of Claudia J. Alexander, a phenomenal woman of science, was totally overlooked by the social media world. WHY IS THAT??!

Well let me educate you just a little bit.

Claudia J. Alexander, a NASA scientist who oversaw the dramatic conclusion of the space agency’s long-lived Galileo mission to Jupiter and managed the United States’ role in the international comet-chasing Rosetta project, died July 11 at Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia. She was 56.

The cause was breast cancer, said her sister, Suzanne Alexander.

During nearly three decades at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, Alexander was known for her research on subjects including solar wind, Jupiter and its moons, and the evolution and inner workings of comets.

She was the last project manager of Galileo, one of the most successful missions for exploring the distant reaches of the solar system. Alexander was leading the mission when scientists orchestrated its death dive into Jupiter’s dense atmosphere in 2003, when the spacecraft finally ran out of fuel after eight years orbiting the giant planet.

Most recently, she was Rosetta’s U.S. project manager, coordinating with the European Space Agency on the orbiter’s journey to rendezvous with the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet as it circles the sun.

Colleagues said Alexander was particularly keen on”I was a pretty lonely girl. I was the only black girl in pretty much an all-white school and spent a lot of time by myself — with my imagination.”- Claudia Alexander engaging the public in space science.

She spearheaded Rosetta’s efforts to involve amateur astronomers through social media and recognize the value of their ground-level observations of the spacecraft’s path toward deep space. In particular, she spurred the creation of a Facebook group where members of the amateur community post comments on their sightings and interact with her and other scientists.

“Claudia’s vision was to engage and empower the amateur community via various social media… a new wrinkle on the concept” of public engagement in NASA’s missions, said Padma A. Yanamandra-Fisher, a senior research scientist with the Space Science Institute who coordinated the outreach.

“I was a pretty lonely girl. I was the only black girl in pretty much an all-white school and spent a lot of time by myself — with my imagination.”- Claudia Alexander

“I was a pretty lonely girl. I was the only black girl in pretty much an all-white school and spent a lot of time by myself — with my imagination.”- Claudia Alexander

“She had a special understanding of how scientific discovery affects us all, and how our greatest achievements are the result of teamwork, which came easily to her,” JPL director Charles Elachi said in a statement. “Her insight into the scientific process will be sorely missed.”

Alexander was born in Vancouver, Canada, on May 30, 1959. She moved to the Silicon Valley with her family when she was 1 and grew up in Santa Clara. Her father, Harold Alexander, was a social worker and her mother, Gaynelle, was a corporate librarian for chip-maker Intel.

As an African American in a predominantly white community, Alexander felt isolated. Writing became a refuge for her.

“I was a pretty lonely girl,” she recalled in a feature for the University of Michigan’s Engineering Magazine. “I was the only black girl in pretty much an all-white school and spent a lot of time by myself — with my imagination.”

She wanted to study journalism at UC Berkeley, but her parents “would only agree to pay for it if I majored in something ‘useful,’ like engineering,” she said in an interview for the Rosetta website.

During college she became an engineering intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center near San Jose. But she found herself drawn to the space facility and visited it as often as she could. Her supervisor eventually arranged for her to intern in the space science division.

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in geophysics at UC Berkeley and a master’s in geophysics and space physics at UCLA. At the University of Michigan, she wrote her doctoral thesis on comet thermophysical nuclear modeling and earned a PhD in atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences.

In 1986, she joined JPL as a team member for Galileo, which was still years from launching.

In 2000, she became Rosetta’s U.S. project scientist at the relatively young age of 40.

“She was always looking to improve the project and make things flow better,” said Paul Weissman, an interdisciplinary scientist on Rosetta. “Europeans can be difficult about collaborations. Claudia would get people to open up and work together.”

In 2003, she became Galileo project manager, guiding efforts to destroy the venerable spacecraft to prevent it from accidentally crashing into and contaminating any of Jupiter’s moons.

She had also served as a science coordinator on the Cassini mission to Saturn.

In her spare time, Alexander wrote two books on science for children and mentored young people, especially African American girls. “She wanted children of color to see themselves as scientists,” her sister Suzanne said.

A fan of the steampunk movement in science fiction, Alexander wrote and published short stories in the genre. She wore the Victorian-style clothing associated with steampunk fashion when she taped a TED talk on how to engage youths in math and science. Her lecture will be released later this year.

Alexander was never married and had no children. Besides her mother and sister, she is survived by a brother, David Alexander.



Via Tania Scott on Facebook

On March 22, 2010, communication with NASA’s Mars rover Spirit was lost.

Originally shared by Penny4NASA

On March 22, 2010, communication with NASA’s Mars rover Spirit was lost.

Originally designed for a 90 Sol mission (a Sol, one Martian day, is slightly longer than one Earth day) few would have expected Mars Exploration Rover Spirit to operate as long as 2210 Sols – that’s 24.5 times the planned mission duration!

“It’s an incredible testimony to engineering that this plucky little craft survived 3 winters, when it wasn’t designed to survive any such weather conditions at all,” said Neil Mottinger, a navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Landing on the opposite side of Mars from its twin, the still operating Opportunity rover, Spirit was part of an effort to answer important questions surrounding the history of the Martian environment and its suitability for the formation of life. Understandably, one central element of these questions was to better understand the history of water on the planet – from its current status to what early Martian topography may have looked like.

One of many discoveries that Spirit made included finding supportive evidence suggesting rocks from the plains of Gusev had been slightly altered by tiny amounts of water. As the rover had observed, outside coatings and cracks within these samples had suggested water deposited minerals.

While Spirit delivered troves of valuable data home during its activity, it became irrecoverably obstructed in soft soil on Sol 1892 (May 1st, 2009), an incident that would spell the end for the rover. Attempts to free the rover ended on Sol 2155 (January 26, 2010), when NASA reclassified the mission as a stationary research platform. It continued performing science operations from its current location until communication with Spirit was lost on Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010). Attempts to reestablish communication with the rover have been unsuccessful.

Watch this short video, “The Legacy of Mars Rover Spirit”


To read more about Mars Exploration Rover Spirit and its findings:





Celebrate the accomplishments of Mars Exploration Rover Spirit by writing to Congress to let them know you support doubling funding for NASA: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/


This is a really beautiful image.

This is a really beautiful image.

Originally shared by Friends of NASA

Mars Guide: Cerberus Fossae – In the Relay Zone | NASA MRO

These trenches or “fossae” are about a kilometer (0.62 miles) across. This area shows where two segments have joined up and are close to a third section. The fossae are probably areas where the surface has collapsed down into voids made from faults (huge cracks with movement on either side) that don’t extend up to the surface. In structural geology, when multiple faults are closely spaced, we call that a relay zone. These zones have much higher stress built up in the crust and consequently tend to be more fractured. These fractures can serve as “pipes” for fluids (water, lava, gases) to flow through.

This area corresponds with the youngest of Mars’ giant outflow channels, Athabasca Valles, that is only 2 to 20 million years old and shows geologic evidence of having been formed and modified jointly by water and lava.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Caption Credit: Kirby Runyon

Release Date: February 18, 2015

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

Twas the night before launch…


Originally shared by NASA

Twas the night before launch…

At a Launch Readiness Review Saturday, managers for Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, and NASA gave a “go” to proceed toward the Sunday, July 13, launch of the Orb-2 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is targeting a 12:52 p.m. EDT launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at noon EDT online at http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

There is a 90-percent chance of favorable weather at the time of launch.

Seen here is the full Moon setting in the fog behind the Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft onboard, Saturday, July 12, 2014, launch Pad-0A, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Antares will launch Sunday, July 13 at 12:52 p.m. EDT with the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 3,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station, including science experiments, experiment hardware, spare parts, and crew provisions. The Orbital-2 mission is Orbital Sciences’ second contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. 

Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls