NASA Selects AL-Razaq Computing Services

Astronomy News – Astronomy is a business and astronomers need help to get the job done. The acquistion and business support services needed to assist the Marshall Space Flight Center, Michoud Assembly Facility, NASA Enterprise Application Competency Center, National Space Science Technology Center and other facilities managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center has been awarded to AL-Razaq Computing Services of Houston.

The services provided by AL-Razaq Computing Services will include operational and administrative support to the Office of Procurement, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and other Marshall Space Flight Center offices and directorates. The contract awarded to AL-Razaq Computing Services will start April 1 and continue for one year, with an option for four one-year extensions of services.

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Cycle me This, Cycle me That

Cycles of Life

Astronomers studying the sun have found some interesting things
Everything cycles until death

Astronomy instruments designed to study the sun are specially designed for the job

Astronomy News – Astrophysicists studying stars use the closest star to Earth as their main test subject, Sol. Astronomers met recently during the American Astronomical Society meeting on May 26 in Miami to discuss the usefulness and reliability of three new techniques being used by current solar scientists to delve into the mysteries of the sun. “Scientists hope these three new techniques will help them predict the future behavior of Sol and jet streams, rhythmic oscillations, and magnetic activity all hold promise for solar scientists peering into the depths of the sun.”

David H. Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center used the meridional flow scientists studying Sol associate with an increase in the intensity of the solar cycle of Sol, to make a prediction that Sol’s current cycle will peak around 2013, although he thinks this peak will be about half the size of the past three solar peaks.

Sol has been keeping astronomers busy lately

Sol has been in a dark mood lately
Sol in a dark mood

Sushanta Tripathy and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory have been studying vibrations from Sol’s surface they call rhythmic oscillations. Their studies have found a strong correlation exists between rhythmic oscillations and the activity level of Sol. They used their data to show that during the present minimum activity period of Sol, a double minimum in solar activity occurred, which they think could in some way relate to Sol’s current in activity.

Julia Saba of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has been taking a look at the data collected concerning the activity of Sol’s magnetic field. Her work has helped her predict, up to 18 months ahead of time, when Cycle 24 would start, and to speculate that Cycle 24 will be weaker and longer in length than average.

Sol is expected to increase in activity

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Development Motor-2 Still Has Uses for NASA

NASA will be handing more and more of the job over to private astronomy firms in the decades ahead
The DM-2 roars to life

Development Motor-2 not ready for prime time, just yet

Astronomy News – Constellation program testing Development Motor-2 –

Reports of the death of NASA’s Constellation program appear to have been a little premature as rocket scientists were testing Development Motor-2 (DM-2), currently the world’s largest and most powerful solid rocket motor, on August 31 in static tests conducted by ATK Aerospace Systems in Promontory, Utah. The development of the DM-2 has been managed by the Ares Projects Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and despite reports that this booster wouldn’t be used in the near future to power Constellation program space vehicles, it appears the DM-2 is being prepared to go to work.

The DM-2 roared-to-life in a mighty column of flame during a two-minute, full-scale testing of the most powerful engine humans have yet designed and built for space travel. The DM-2 is actually suited to be used on heavy-lift vehicles used by the American space program to move heavy loads from Earth into space and it’s still possible we’ll see the DM-2 used for this very job in the future. The stationary firing of the first-stage development solid rocket motor referred to as the DM-2 was monitored by more instruments than at any time in NASA’s history, with a record 760 instruments measuring 53 variables of the test-firing.

The DM-2 is designed to produce about 3.6 million pounds of thrust at ignition, enough power to lift a significant amount of weight mass into space orbit. This full-scale testing of the DM-2 is designed to collect information and data that will be combined with previous tests to allow rocket scientists to better evaluate the potential of the DM-2 for future NASA programs. The DM-2 is similar to the successful solid rocket boosters NASA used to lift the space shuttle into Earth orbit but include significant improvements and upgrades designed by NASA and ATK engineers. Engineers added a fifth segment to the DM-2, a larger nozzle throat, and upgraded the insulation and liners, all additions they expect to make a difference in performance and reliability of the DM-2 as compared to previous rocket engines.

What’s next for the DM-2 and the engineers in charge of its development? After additional testing, the DM-2 will be certified to be used by NASA at temperature ranges between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There has been no additional information provided by NASA and ATK concerning future plans for the DM-2, but apparently they have something in the pipeline. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the months ahead in the century of the environment with the DM-2.

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