The Trump administration has released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 and put dozens of federal programs on the chopping block, including a brand-new NASA space telescope that scientists say would provide the biggest picture of the universe yet, with the same sparkling clarity as the Hubble Space Telescope’s.
The proposal, released Monday, recommends eliminating the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), citing “higher priorities” at NASA and the cost of the new telescope.
“Given competing priorities at NASA, and budget constraints, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration,” the proposal states. “The budget proposes to terminate WFIRST and redirect existing funds to other priorities of the science community, including completed astrophysics missions and research.”
Astronomers have already captured images of Elon Musk's car in space
Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster has been in space less than a week but it continues to make waves in the astronomy community. The car which was launched onboard SpaceX's revolutionary rocket the Falcon Heavy, and features a mannequin driver dubbed "Starman". It was originally hoped that the car would travel to Mars, but it looks it will most likely drift off into deep space.
Some projects, like the James Webb Space Telescope , are safer than others under a Trump The bill wouldn’t stop Trump , if he wanted to , from switching NASA 's main goal to a return to the moon first When he entered office, he quickly canceled the Constellation program, created under George W
The bill, dubbed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, was co-authored by Trump ’s campaign trail rivals Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. The bill extends a number of important space programs, including the Hubble Telescope and the International Space Station through 2024 — and
© Provided by Reuters The James Webb Space Telescope is a NASA telescope that’s almost ready to go after two decades of work. The Webb is expected to launch in 2019 to a point 1 million miles from Earth, where it will study the cosmos in infrared light and provide images and data using a mirror far bigger than the one on Hubble, which launched in 1990. WFIRST is in line after Webb as NASA’s next flagship astronomy mission, and is currently in early stages of design and development. The mission would launch sometime in the mid-2020s.
WFIRST just passed a big design review at NASA headquarters this month. The mission has also trimmed its budget after an independent review found the telescope was getting too expensive. Now, however, its future is less certain. WFIRST scientists and engineers must now wait for Congress to negotiate its own budget proposals for fiscal year 2019 and hope the telescope fares better with lawmakers than it did with the president.
NASA captures farthest ever image from Earth
NASA has released a record-breaking photograph taken by the New Horizons spacecraft when it was 3.79 billion miles away from the Earth. New Horizons flew past Pluto in July 2015, taking pictures which revealed an even more diverse landscape than scientists had previously imagined.After the fly-by, the spacecraft continued into the Kuiper Belt - similar to the asteroid belt but further out from the Sun and composed of dwarf planets and frozen ice, rather than rocky bodies.
It’s not surprising for a new administration to want to take NASA in a different direction so soon after its arrival in Washington. If the Trump administration ’s picks for space -policy advisers are an indication, the country will remain on a long-term mission to Mars.
The Trump administration has made it clear that it wants NASA to go to the Moon for a while now. Eventually, Obama canceled the later Bush's plan and reoriented NASA toward Mars.
“It’s terrible,” said David Spergel, a Princeton University astrophysicist and cochair of the WFIRST science team, of the Trump administration’s recommendation to cut the mission. “We’re sort of abandoning leadership in space astronomy.”
NASA broke ground on WFIRST development in 2016. The mission was gifted a 2.4 meter telescope from the National Reconnaissance Office, an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense. The telescope would feed the mission’s main instrument, an imager designed to investigate dark energy, the mysterious substance astrophysicists believe makes up most of the universe. Another instrument, a coronagraph, would directly image and study the chemical compositions of exoplanets outside our solar system.
Then last year, WFIRST got some bad news. A committee NASA established to look into the costs of the mission found that WFIRST is “not executable” without more funding, according to a report publicly released last November. NASA headquarters told the WFIRST team to find a few hundred million dollars in the mission’s budget and cut it. “It’s not fun for anybody,” said Jeffrey Kruk, the project scientist for WFIRST, last year, as his team prepared to look for places to shave off costs. “It’s very stressful. We’re trying to come up with the right answer, the best answer we can.”
Opportunity Rover Celebrates 5,000 Days on Mars
NASA's long-lived Mars rover Opportunity has just rolled past another big milestone — 5,000 days on the Red Planet. The golf-cart-size Opportunity touched down on Mars in January 2004, on a mission that was originally envisioned to last just 90 Martian days. (And we're talking here about Martian days, or "sols," each of which is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day.)And today (Feb. 16) is sol number 5,000.
The James Webb Space Telescope is currently sitting inside a massive, sealed cryogenic chamber at the Johnson Space Center, a sprawling NASA facility in southeast Houston.
Although, currently, the JWST (the James Webb Space Telescope ) is NASA ’s near-future flagship, the agency is already studying the technical requirements and costs for building the ATLAST (the Advanced Telescope Large-Aperture Space Telescope ), which is set to be its successor.
Related: Amazing space images (Provided by Photos)
The WFIRST mission met the recommended target of $3.2 billion this month. According to Trump’s budget request, that’s still too much. The administration has proposed $19.6 billion for NASA for fiscal year 2019, slightly more than its request for fiscal year 2018—which is still being worked out, following two government shutdowns and many late nights on Capitol Hill. The latest proposal shows the funding WFIRST received for fiscal year 2017, which was $105 million. In the column showing Trump’s request sits a big, fat zero.
SpaceX Falcon Heavy
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Twins With Differences
A spiral galaxy known as NGC 7331, first spotted by the prolific galaxy hunter William Herschel in 1784. It is located about 45 million light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus.
Astronomers took this image using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), as they were observing an extraordinary exploding star — a supernova — which can still be faintly seen near the galaxy’s central yellow core. Named SN2014C, it rapidly evolved from a supernova containing very little Hydrogen to one that is Hydrogen-rich — in just one year. This rarely observed metamorphosis was luminous at high energies and provides unique insight into the poorly understood final phases of massive stars.
The primary difference between our galaxies is that NGC 7331 is an unbarred spiral galaxy — it lacks a “bar” of stars, gas and dust cutting through its nucleus, as we see in the Milky Way. Its central bulge also displays a quirky and unusual rotation pattern, spinning in the opposite direction to the galactic disc itself.
Donald Trump Jr.'s wife hospitalized after opening envelope with white powder
Donald Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa Trump was hospitalized on Monday after receiving a letter containing white powder inside, police said.President Trump‘s daughter-in-law opened the letter addressed to Donald Trump Jr. about 10 a.m. at the couple's Manhattan apartment. It's unclear what the "white powder" was.
+ SpaceX and NASA Are Looking Mars Landing Sites. Elie Abi Younes, March 22, 2017March 23, 2017, Events, Space , 0. Leave a reply Click here to cancel the reply. Your email address will not be published.
The Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025, according to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge. Many in the commercial space industry want NASA to extend the program again through 2028: the year that many consider to be the
Shells and Star Streams: NGC 474
What's happening to galaxy NGC 474? The multiple layers of emission appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years.
Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where the ongoing collision with the spiral galaxy just above NGC 474 is causing density waves to ripple through the galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the featured image dramatically highlights the increasing consensus that at least some elliptical galaxies have formed in the recent past, and that the outer halos of most large galaxies are not really smooth but have complexities induced by frequent interactions with -- and accretions of --smaller nearby galaxies. The halo of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one example of such unexpected complexity.
NGC 474 spans about 250,000 light years and lies about 100 million light years distant toward the constellation of the Fish (Pisces).
Bubble vs the Cloud : NGC 7635
It's the bubble versus the cloud. NGC 7635, the Bubble Nebula, is being pushed out by the stellar wind of massive star BD+602522, visible in blue toward the right, inside the nebula.
Dust, meteorites, cosmic rays and everything else currently destroying the Tesla in space
This probably isn't covered under Elon Musk's warranty Farewell, Starman! Thanks to the successful Falcon Heavy launch on Tuesday, SpaceX shot a midnight cherry-red Tesla Roadster into space, with the top down, blaring David Bowie, and being “driven” by a mannequin in a SpaceX spacesuit.
NASA ’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has experienced another delay. "Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systemmatically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch," Smith said.
In this article: JamesWebb, JamesWebbSpaceTelescope, JamesWebbTelescope, nasa , space , SpaceTelescope, telescope , tomorrow. British parliament wants Google's video wing to dig deeper, though.
Next door, though, lives a giant molecular cloud, visible to the far right in red. At this place in space, an irresistible force meets an immovable object in an interesting way. The cloud is able to contain the expansion of the bubble gas, but gets blasted by the hot radiation from the bubble's central star.
The radiation heats up dense regions of the molecular cloud, causing it to glow. The Bubble Nebula, pictured here, is about 10 light-years across and part of a much larger complex of stars and shells. The Bubble Nebula can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Queen of Aethiopia (Cassiopeia).
TRAPPIST-1 Planet Lineup
This is what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets' diameters, masses and distances from the host star, as of February 2018. The system was named for the TRAPPIST telescope.
Space Station Science
The International Space Station – humanity’s orbital outpost – was the first permanent European research facility in space; the Columbus module – seen partially in the bottom right of this image – was delivered 10 years ago this week.
It has been home to a multitude of microgravity experiments covering fluid physics, materials science and life sciences, many of which are relevant to broader topics in space science.
The stunning Atoms for Peace galaxy was given its nickname due to its superficial resemblance to an atomic nucleus, surrounded by the loops of orbiting electrons. “Atoms for Peace” was the title of a speech given by President Eisenhower in 1953, in an attempt to rebrand nuclear power as a tool for working toward global peace. Somewhat ironically this galaxy has had anything but a peaceful past — it was formed in a catastrophic merger between two smaller galaxies nearly 1 Gyr ago.
Lunar Tribute to a NASA Scientist
NASA’s former chief exploration scientist, Michael Wargo, has been posthumously honored with the distinction of having a lunar crater named after him. Wargo Crater is an 8.6-mile (13.8 km) diameter impact crater sitting on the northwest edge of Joule T crater, on the far side of the Moon. Wargo worked at NASA from 1991 until his death in 2013.
Geological History of Valles Marineris
An enhanced-color image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) reveals bedrock that is several kilometers below the top of the giant Valles Marineris canyons. The upper layers have relatively little diversity of colors and textures, but deeper levels show more complex processes.
UK health system ‘not working’ – Trump
The US president’s comments came in a row over the American healthcare system.The US president made the attack as he targeted Democrats pushing for a British-style universal health system.
The Constellation of Orion (Akira Fujii, Space Telescope Science Institute for NASA , Photo ID STScI-2006-01). Frank Low’s 2-foot-high infrared telescope aboard the NASA Ames Learjet, c. 1972 ( National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, no.
Trump wants to send astronauts to the Moon on the way to Mars. Browse more NASA experienced a close call this weekend with its planet-seeking Kepler space telescope . After recovering Kepler, the team cancelled the spacecraft emergency and the DSN ground
The upper layers could be mostly volcanic while the lower layers were influenced by the period of heavy bombardment and greater interactions with water.
Splitting Slope Streaks
Streaks forming on slopes when dust cascades downhill. The dark streak is an area of less dust compared to the brighter and reddish surroundings. What triggers these avalanches is not known, but might be related to sudden warming of the surface. These streaks are often diverted by the terrain they flow down. This one has split into many smaller streaks where it encountered minor obstacles. These streaks fade away over decades as more dust slowly settles out of the Martian sky.
An impact crater looking amusingly like a tadpole because of the valley that was carved by water that used to fill it.
It is often difficult to differentiate between inlet and outlet channels, but water always flows downhill. In this particular case, we can infer that water is flowing outward because we have the necessary terrain-height information.
When studying these images in detail, scientists can gain a better understanding of the strength of the flooding water that carved the channels, and better understand the history of water activity in this region of Mars.
Stars Born in Lupus 3
A dark cloud of cosmic dust snakes across this spectacular wide field image, illuminated by the brilliant light of new stars. This dense cloud is a star-forming region called Lupus 3, where dazzlingly hot stars are born from collapsing masses of gas and dust.
This is the most detailed image taken so far of this region.
Sirius Reveals GAIA 1 Cluster
If you gazed at the night sky over the past few weeks, it is possible that you stumbled upon a very bright star near the Orion constellation. This is Sirius, the brightest star of the entire night sky, which is visible from almost everywhere on Earth except the northernmost regions.
Trump’s nuclear proposal went through three versions before getting Asian geography right
Donald Trump’s administration is struggling with Asian geography—not a good idea in an area of the world where sensitive territorial disputes abound. India regularly punishes…The administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, first leaked to The Huffington Post, had to go through multiple revisions before getting Asian geography right.
Trump then recounted a story from the Hubble Space Telescope 's history. [Presidential Visions for NASA Throughout History]. He wanted to use the expensive telescope in a totally unconventional way."
It is, in fact, a binary stellar system, and one of the nearest to our Sun – only eight light-years away.
Once the glare of Sirius is removed, an interesting object becomes visible to its left: the stellar cluster Gaia 1; Gaia 1 is an open cluster – a family of stars all born at the same time and held together by gravity – and it is located some 15 000 light-years away.
In this new view of the Andromeda galaxy from the Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet. Andromeda, also known as M31, is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way at a distance of 2.5 million light-years, making it an ideal natural laboratory to study star formation and galaxy evolution.
The Penguin and the Egg: Arp 142
This image of distant interacting galaxies, known collectively as Arp 142, bears an uncanny resemblance to a penguin guarding an egg. Data has been combined to show these dramatic galaxies in light that spans the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum.
This dramatic pairing shows two galaxies that couldn't look more different as their mutual gravitational attraction slowly drags them closer together. Eventually these two galaxies will merge to form a single object, with their two populations of stars, gas and dust intermingling.
This kind of merger was likely a significant step in the history of most large galaxies we see around us in the nearby universe, including our own Milky Way.
Small Flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection
The sun shot out a small coronal mass ejection that was also associated with a small flare. It also shows the burst of plasma as the magnetic loops break apart. Immediately the magnetic fields brighten intensely and begin to reorganize themselves in coils above the active region.
The images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.
Mark Vande Hei snapped his own portrait, better known as a “space-selfie,” during the first spacewalk of the year. NASA astronauts Vande Hei and crewmate Scott Tingle ventured outside the International Space Station to perform maintenance on the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm during a seven-hour and 24-minute spacewalk.
The Spider Chasing the Fly
Will the spider ever catch the fly? Not if both are large emission nebulae toward the constellation of the Charioteer (Auriga).
The spider-shaped gas cloud on the left is actually an emission nebula labelled IC 417, while the smaller fly-shaped cloud on the right is dubbed NGC 1931 and is both an emission nebula and a reflection nebula. About 10,000 light-years distant, both nebulas harbor young, open star clusters.
For scale, the more compact NGC 1931 (Fly) is about 10 light-years across.
The Tarantula Nebula
This image of the dramatic star formation region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, was created from a mosaic of images taken using the HAWK-I instrument working without adaptive optics.
Eroded Layers in Shalbatana Valles
Layers, probably sedimentary in origin, have undergone extensive erosion in this image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of Shalbatana Valles, a prominent channel that cuts through Xanthe Terra.
This erosion has produced several small mesas and exposed light-toned material that may differ in composition from the surrounding material.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei took this image of the eastern U.S. and Canada at night during the first spacewalk of the year.
This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle on Vera Rubin Ridge, which it's been investigating for the past several months. Directly behind the rover is the start of a clay-rich slope scientists are eager to begin exploring. In the coming week, Curiosity will begin to climb this slope.
North is on the left and west is on the right, with Gale Crater's rim on the horizon of both edges.
Occator Crater Fractures
This image shows a complex set of fractures found in the southwestern region of the floor of Occator Crater on Ceres. In this picture, north is at the top.
The two intersecting fracture systems (roughly northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast) are part of a larger fault network that extends across Occator's floor.
These fractures have been interpreted as evidence that material came up from below and formed a dome shape, as if a piston was pushing Occator's floor from beneath the surface. Another set of fractures can be seen parallel to the southwestern wall and is not connected to the Occator fracture network.
5 Cartwheel of Fortune
By chance, a collision of two galaxies has created a surprisingly recognizable shape on a cosmic scale, The Cartwheel Galaxy. The Cartwheel is part of a group of galaxies about 500 million light years away in the constellation Sculptor. Two smaller galaxies in the group are visible on the right.
Rim of the Cartwheel Galaxy is an immense ring-like structure 150,000 light years in diameter composed of newly formed, extremely bright, massive stars. When galaxies collide they pass through each other, their individual stars rarely coming into contact. Still, the galaxies' gravitational fields are seriously distorted by the collision.
The Tadpoles of IC 410
Faint emission nebula IC 410. It also features two remarkable inhabitants of the cosmic pond of gas and dust below and left of center, the tadpoles of IC 410. Partly obscured by foreground dust, the nebula itself surrounds NGC 1893, a young galactic cluster of stars.
Formed in the interstellar cloud a mere 4 million years ago, the intensely hot, bright cluster stars energize the glowing gas. Composed of denser cooler gas and dust, the tadpoles are around 10 light-years long and are likely sites of ongoing star formation.
Sculpted by winds and radiation from the cluster stars, their heads are outlined by bright ridges of ionized gas while their tails trail away from the cluster's central region. IC 410 lies some 10,000 light-years away, toward the nebula-rich constellation Auriga.
Swirling South Pole
Jupiter's swirling south polar region was captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft as it neared completion of its tenth close flyby of the gas giant planet. The "empty" space above and below Jupiter in this color-enhanced image can trick the mind, causing the viewer to perceive our solar system's largest planet as less colossal than it is. In reality, Jupiter is wide enough to fit 11 Earths across its clouded disk.
North of Abell 1758
Northern part of the galaxy cluster Abell 1758, A1758N. The cluster is approximately 3.2 billion light-years from Earth and is part of a larger structure containing two cluster sitting some 2.4 million light-years apart.
Dark Materials on Olympus Mons
Blocks of layered terrain within the Olympus Mons aureole. The aureole is a giant apron of chaotic material around the volcano, perhaps formed by enormous landslides off the flanks of the giant volcano. These blocks of layered material have been eroded by the wind into the scenic landscape we see here.
Columbus to Scale
Suspended European Columbus module being moved onto a work stand in a cleanroom at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Teams at NASA put Columbus through its final paces to ensure it was airtight and ready for flight.
It would be another year and half before Columbus made its way to the International Space Station, in 2008. Ten remarkable years later, there is much to celebrate about this long-planned and hard-earned European contribution to the international space community.
To mark the occasion, ESA is hosting a get-together of the larger Columbus family of planners, builders, scientists, support teams and astronauts in the Netherlands on Feb. 7. The event will be livestreamed to the public.
Ships churning through the Atlantic Ocean produced this patchwork of bright, crisscrossing cloud trails off the coast of Portugal and Spain. The narrow clouds, known as ship tracks, form when water vapor condenses around tiny particles of pollution that ships emit as exhaust or that form from gases in the exhaust. Ship tracks typically form in areas where low-lying stratus and cumulus clouds are present.
This image showcases both the visible and infrared visualizations of the Orion Nebula. This view from a movie sequence looks down the 'valley' leading to the star cluster at the far end. The left side of the image shows the visible-light visualization, which fades to the infrared-light visualization on the right. These two contrasting models derive from observations by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.
Rigel and Witch Head Nebula
By starlight this eerie visage shines in the dark, a crooked profile evoking its popular name, the Witch Head Nebula. In fact, this entrancing telescopic portrait gives the impression that the witch has fixed her gaze on Orion's bright supergiant star Rigel. More formally known as IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula spans about 50 light-years and is composed of interstellar dust grains reflecting Rigel's starlight.
The blue color of the Witch Head Nebula and of the dust surrounding Rigel is caused not only by Rigel's intense blue starlight but because the dust grains scatter blue light more efficiently than red. The same physical process causes Earth's daytime sky to appear blue, although the scatterers in Earth's atmosphere are molecules of nitrogen and oxygen. Rigel, the Witch Head Nebula, and gas and dust that surrounds them lie about 800 light-years away.
An Elephant's Trunk in Cepheus
This close-up features the dusty Elephant's Trunk Nebula. It winds through the emission nebula and young star cluster complex IC 1396, in the high and far off constellation of Cepheus. Also known as vdB 142, the cosmic elephant's trunk is over 20 light-years long.
The colorful view highlights bright, swept-back ridges that outline the region's pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. Such embedded, dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a large region on the sky, spanning over 5 degrees. This dramatic scene spans a 1 degree wide field, about the size of 2 Full Moons.
Kepler K2-138 System
K2-138 is the first multi-planet system discovered by citizen scientists. The central star is slightly smaller and cooler than our Sun. The five known planets are all between the size of Earth and Neptune. Planet b may potentially be rocky, but planets c, d and e likely contain large amounts of ice and gas. All five planets have orbital periods shorter than 13 days and are all incredibly hot, ranging from 800 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cassini: Saturn Moon Has 'Sea Level' Like Earth
Saturn’s moon Titan may be nearly a billion miles away from Earth, but a recently published paper based on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveals a new way this distant world and our own are eerily similar. Just as the surface of oceans on Earth lies at an average elevation that we call “sea level,” Titan’s seas also lie at an average elevation.
This is the latest finding that shows remarkable similarities between Earth and Titan, the only other world we know of in our solar system that has stable liquid on its surface. The twist at Titan is that its lakes and seas are filled with hydrocarbons rather than liquid water, and water ice overlain by a layer of solid organic material serves as the bedrock surrounding these lakes and seas.
Black Hole Binary System in NGC 3201
Astronomers using ESO’s MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered a star in the cluster NGC 3201 that is behaving very strangely. It appears to be orbiting an invisible black hole with about four times the mass of the Sun — the first such inactive stellar-mass black hole found in a globular cluster. This important discovery impacts on our understanding of the formation of these star clusters, black holes, and the origins of gravitational wave events.
Star Cluster NGC 3201
This wide field view shows the sky around the globular star cluster NGC 3201 in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sails). As well as the rich cluster itself, which appears at the centre, this view also reveals huge numbers of stars within the Milky Way, along with a few much more distant galaxies.
Blue Comet PanSTARRS
Discovered with the PanSTARRS telescope on September 7, 2016, this Comet PanSTARRS, C/2016 R2, is presently about 24 light minutes (3 AU) from the Sun, sweeping through planet Earth's skies across the background of stars in the constellation Taurus. An inbound visitor from our Solar System's distant Oort Cloud, its beautiful and complex ion tail is a remarkable shade of blue. Still relatively far from the Sun, the comet's already well-developed ion tail is very impressive.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory observed a prominence rising up above the sun, sending an arch of plasma to link up magnetically with an active region over a one-day period. Prominences are cooler clouds of charged particles tenuously tethered to the sun by magnetic forces. Images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.
Hubble Image of NGC 3201
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the central region of the rich globular star cluster NGC 3201 in the southern constellation of Vela (The Sails). A star that has been found to be orbiting a black hole with four times the mass of the Sun lies close to the center of this picture.
Globular Cluster NGC 3201
Colour-composite image of the globular cluster NGC 3201, obtained with the WFI instrument on the ESO/MPG 2.2-m telescope at La Silla. Globular clusters are large aggregates of stars, that can contain up to millions of stars. They are among the oldest objects observed in the Universe and were presumably formed at about the same time as the Milky Way Galaxy, in the early phase after the Big Bang.
This Hubble Space Telescope image of a sparkling jewel box full of stars captures the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Aging red giant stars coexist with their more plentiful younger cousins, the smaller, white, Sun-like stars, in this crowded region of our galaxy’s ancient central hub, or bulge. Most of the bright blue stars in the image are likely recently formed stars located in the foreground, in the galaxy's disk.
Astronomers studied 10,000 of these Sun-like stars in archival Hubble images over a nine-year period to unearth clues to our galaxy’s evolution. The study revealed that the Milky Way’s bulge is a dynamic environment of variously aged stars zipping around at different speeds, like travelers bustling about a busy airport.
Large Space Simulator
This circular enclosure, made to appear larger still by an array of mirrors at its end, is ESA’s Large Space Simulator. Some 15 m high and 10 m in diameter, it is cavernous enough to accommodate an upended double decker bus. Europe’s largest vacuum chamber, it subjects entire satellites to space-like conditions ahead of launch. Lowered through a top hatch, satellites are placed on the motion system seen in the center, which is able to simulate their movements in space.
Launch and Landing
A composite of three consecutive exposures, this night skyscape follows the January 7 launch and first stage landing of a Falcon 9 rocket from a beach on planet Earth's space coast. With the launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the bright streak beginning farthest left traces the initial phase of the rocket's flight.
A visible upward hook marks the first stage beginning its return trajectory with a "boostback burn" near the top of the arc, while the second stage separates and continues toward orbit.
Above the top of the launch arc due to perspective, a bright streak shows the returning first stage slowing and descending toward the Cape. Centered below, the streak at the horizon is a 17 second burn finally slowing the first stage to a successful vertical landing about 8 minutes after launch at Landing Zone 1.
PicSat the CubeSat
A shoebox-sized satellite called PicSat, developed in record time by a small team of scientists and engineers at the Paris Observatory in France, has been launched into space to study the Beta Pictoris star system. PicSat will be assisted in its mission by the HARPS instrument on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope, which will make follow-up observations to PicSat’s detections.
Colorful Cloud Belts
Colorful swirling cloud belts dominate Jupiter's southern hemisphere in this image captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft. Jupiter appears in this color-enhanced image as a tapestry of vibrant cloud bands and storms.
Clouds of Andromeda
What are those red clouds surrounding the Andromeda galaxy? This galaxy, M31, is often imaged by planet Earth-based astronomers. As the nearest large spiral galaxy, it is a familiar sight with dark dust lanes, bright yellowish core, and spiral arms traced by clouds of bright blue stars.
A mosaic of well-exposed broad and narrow-band image data, this colorful portrait of our neighboring island universe offers strikingly unfamiliar features though, faint reddish clouds of glowing ionized hydrogen gas in the same wide field of view.
These ionized hydrogen clouds surely lie in the foreground of the scene, well within our Milky Way Galaxy. They are likely associated with the pervasive, dusty interstellar cirrus clouds scattered hundreds of light-years above our own galactic plane.
Center of the Milky Way
A new visualization provides an exceptional virtual trip – complete with a 360-degree view – to the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. This project, made using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes, allows viewers to control their own exploration of the fascinating environment of volatile giant stars and powerful gravity around the monster black hole that lies in the center of the Milky Way.
A Dragon's Heart in Ara: RCW 114
Large and dramatically shaped, this cosmic cloud spans nearly 7 degrees or 14 full moons across planet Earth's sky toward the southern constellation Ara. Difficult to image, the filamentary apparition is cataloged as RCW 114 and traced in this telescopic mosaic by the telltale reddish emission of ionized hydrogen atoms.
In fact, RCW 114 has been recognized as a supernova remnant. Its extensive filaments of emission are produced as the still expanding shockwave from the death explosion of a massive star sweeps up the surrounding interstellar medium.
Light from the supernova explosion that created RCW 114 would have reached Earth around 20,000 years ago.
The first evening of the new year was beckoned in by a spectacular supermoon, rising up from behind the majestic Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile. A supermoon like this is a magnificent, albeit relatively frequent, occurrence which takes place when a full moon coincides with the point in the lunar orbit that is closest to Earth, its diameter appearing about 14% larger in the sky.
The road zigzagging up Cerro Armazones appears to lead directly to the Moon itself — truly making it a road to the stars. By 2024, the “world’s biggest eye on the sky” will rest on top of this mountain, as its peak will be home to the Extremely Large Telescope. At an altitude of 3046 metres, Cerro Armazones provides a spectacular environment for astronomical observations, in particular because it receives 320 clear nights per year.
SpaceX Launches Falcon 9
This Sunday, Jan. 7 photo made available by SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
ALMA From the Sky
High on the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), together with its international partners, is operating the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) — a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe.
Winter Storm Pummels the East Coast
Millions of people along the East Coast of the United States faced snow and ice, gusty winds, power outages, travel delays, school closings, and flooding as a rapidly-intensifying Nor’easter plowed northward during the first week of 2018.
The fast-moving storm hit the Southeast on January 3, delivering snow to Tallahassee, Florida, for the first time in three decades and knocking out power to tens of thousands of people in Georgia and Florida.
Strengthening over the ocean, it then pummeled coastal areas of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey on January 4, with winds of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour and several inches of snow. By the time the storm reached New England, it was dumping a foot or more of snow in white-out conditions in the worst-hit areas. In Boston, hurricane-force winds pushed tides to near-record levels and sent water spilling into the city.
A New Day
"A view of the sunrise from the ISS is a perfect start to a new day." said Anton Shkaplerov, who is currently stationed aboard the International Space Station, orbiting 250 miles above the Earth. Shkaplerov and his crew mates conduct research in the unique environment of space.
The crew also continues to study how living in space affects biology and introduces space travel concepts to students on Earth.
Veil of Ice
Saturn’s rings, made of countless icy particles, form a translucent veil in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Saturn’s tiny moon Pan, about 17 miles (28 kilometers) across, orbits within the Encke Gap in the 'A' ring.
Beyond, we can see the arc of Saturn itself, its cloud tops streaked with dark shadows cast by the rings. This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 12, 2016, at a distance of approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Pan.
Encountering 2014 MU69
New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits one billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Inside the cylindrical modules of the International Space Station is the standard stuff of technology. Wires, cables and pumps form the framework of the one-of-a-kind European Columbus laboratory, seen here in its early days of assembly.
The cornerstone of Europe’s contribution to the Space Station, Columbus is a pressurised laboratory that allows astronauts to work in a comfortable and safe environment.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Columbus in orbit. In celebration of its remarkable decade, we will revisit the technological and scientific milestones of the lab in feature images, beginning with this one taken during its construction in 2001.
This image shows how a metal alloy could look like as it solidifies, using a transparent organic mixture as a stand-in for metals. X-rays allow us to peer into the casting process but ideally researchers should look at the process under normal lighting. Unfortunately, metals are not transparent.
The Sun Forms a Question
Oddly enough, an elongated coronal hole (the darker area near the center) seems to shape itself into a single, recognizable question mark over the period of one day. Coronal holes are areas of open magnetic field that appear darker in extreme ultraviolet light, as is seen here. These holes are the source of streaming plasma that we call solar wind.
While this exercise is akin to seeing shapes in clouds, it is fun to consider what the sun might be asking? Perhaps what the new year will bring? Guess what I am going to do next?
The Helix Nebula
Will our Sun look like this one day? The Helix Nebula is one of brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gases of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix.
The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. A close-up of the inner edge of the Helix Nebula shows complex gas knots of unknown origin.
Interstellar dust: M78
Interstellar dust clouds and glowing nebulae abound in the fertile constellation of Orion. One of the brightest, M78, is centered in this colorful, wide field view, covering an area north of Orion's belt.
At a distance of about 1,500 light-years, the bluish reflection nebula is around 5 light-years across. Its tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars. Reflection nebula NGC 2071 is just to the left of M78. To the right, and much more compact in appearance, the intriguing McNeil's Nebula is a recently recognized variable nebula associated with a young sun-like star.
Deeper red flecks of emission from Herbig-Haro objects, energetic jets from stars in the process of formation, stand out against the dark dust lanes. The exposure also brings out the region's fainter pervasive glow of atomic hydrogen gas.
Jupiter's Icy Moon: Europa
The puzzling, fascinating surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa looms large in this newly-reprocessed color view, made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. This is the color view of Europa from Galileo that shows the largest portion of the moon's surface at the highest resolution.
To create this new version, the images were assembled into a realistic color view of the surface that approximates how Europa would appear to the human eye. The scene shows the stunning diversity of Europa's surface geology. Long, linear cracks and ridges crisscross the surface, interrupted by regions of disrupted terrain where the surface ice crust has been broken up and re-frozen into new patterns.
Ribbons and Pearls
Spectacular ribbons of gas and dust wrapping around the pearly centre of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398. This galaxy is located in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), approximately 65 million light-years away.
Rather than beginning at the very middle of the galaxy and swirling outwards, NGC 1398’s graceful spiral arms stem from a straight bar, formed of stars, that cuts through the galaxy’s central region. Most spiral galaxies — around two thirds — are observed to have this feature, but it’s not yet clear whether or how these bars affect a galaxy’s behavior and development.
New Year, Night and Naples
Crew aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the city lights of Naples and the Campania region of southern Italy.
The Naples region is one of the brightest in the country; roughly three million people live in and around this metropolitan area. The different colors of lights in the scene reflect some of the history of development in the area. The green lights are mercury vapor bulbs, an older variety that has been replaced in newer developments by orange sodium bulbs (yellow-orange).
To the northeast, the lightless gaps between the homes and businesses are agricultural fields. The bright yellow-orange complex amidst the fields is the CIS emporium, the largest commercial retail facility in Europe. The large black circular area in the photo is Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on Europe’s mainland.
Mass of 2 Quadrillion Suns
This image shows something spectacular: a massive galaxy cluster that it is warping the space around it! The cluster, whose heart is at the centre of the frame, is named RCS2 J2327, and is one of the most massive clusters known at its distance or beyond.
Massive objects such as RCS2 J2327 have such a strong influence on their surroundings that they visibly warp the space around them. This effect is known as gravitational lensing. In this way, they cause the light from more distant objects to be bent, distorted, and magnified, allowing us to see galaxies that would otherwise be far too distant to detect.
Gravitational lensing is one of the predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Strong lensing produces stunning images of distorted galaxies and sweeping arcs; both of which can be seen in this image. Weak gravitational lensing, on the other hand, is more subtle, hardly seen directly in an image, and is mostly studied statistically — but it provides a way to measure the masses of cosmic objects, as in the case of this cluster.
Dwarf Galaxy: Kiso 5639
A firestorm of star birth is lighting up one end of the dwarf galaxy Kiso 5639. Kiso 5639 is shaped like a pancake but, because it is tilted edge-on, it resembles a skyrocket, with a brilliant blazing head and a long, star-studded tail. Its appearance earns it a place in the “tadpole” class of galaxies. The bright pink head is from the glow of hydrogen, lit up by the burst of new stars.
The mass of these young stars equals about a million Suns. The stars are grouped into large clusters that formed less than a million years ago. Stars consist mainly of hydrogen and helium, but cook up heavier elements such as oxygen and carbon. When the stars die, they release their heavy elements and enrich the surrounding gas.
In Kiso 5639, the bright gas in the galaxy’s head is more deficient in heavy elements than the rest of the galaxy. Astronomers think that the latest star-formation event was triggered when the galaxy accreted primordial gas from its surroundings, since intergalactic space contains more pristine, hydrogen-rich gas.
Science From the Moon's Shadow
While total solar eclipses happen about once every 18 months somewhere on Earth, the Aug. 21, 2017, eclipse was rare in its long path over land. The total eclipse lasted about 90 minutes, from the time it first reached the Oregon coast to when it left the North American mainland in South Carolina.
This long, uninterrupted path over land provided scientists with a rare chance to investigate the Sun and its influence on Earth in ways that aren’t usually possible. Scientists study the Sun's corona from space with instruments called coronagraphs, which use a metal disk to block out the Sun’s face.
But the innermost regions of the Sun’s corona in white light are only visible during total solar eclipses, when scientists are able to measure the lower corona in great detail. On Dec. 11, 2017, researchers discussed initial findings based on observations of the Sun and on Earth gathered during the August solar eclipse that stretched across North America.
Myanmar Space Astronomy
This long exposure picture taken on December 23, 2017 shows the Orion Nebula, as seen from Bago, located 91 kilometres northeast of Yangon.
Saturn's moon Enceladus drifts before the rings, which glow brightly in the sunlight. Beneath its icy exterior shell, Enceladus hides a global ocean of liquid water. Just visible at the moon's south pole (at bottom here) is the plume of water ice particles and other material that constantly spews from that ocean via fractures in the ice. The bright speck to the right of Enceladus is a distant star.
This image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 6, 2011, at a distance of approximately 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from Enceladus.
The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Hubble's Holiday Nebula 'Ornament'
The Hubble Space Telescope captured what looks like a colorful holiday ornament in space. It's actually an image of NGC 6326, a planetary nebula with glowing wisps of outpouring gas that are lit up by a central star nearing the end of its life.
When a star ages and the red giant phase of its life comes to an end, it starts to eject layers of gas from its surface leaving behind a hot and compact white dwarf. Sometimes this ejection results in elegantly symmetric patterns of glowing gas, but NGC 6326 is much less structured. This object is located in the constellation of Ara, the Altar, about 11,000 light-years from Earth.
Planetary nebulae are one of the main ways in which elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are dispersed into space after their creation in the hearts of stars. Eventually some of this out-flung material may form new stars and planets.
This picture was created from images taken using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The vivid blue and red hues come from material including ionized oxygen and hydrogen glowing under the action of the fierce ultraviolet radiation from the still hot central star.
Kwanzaa Tholus on Ceres
What is a tholus? A tholus is a type of small mountain. These images show such a feature on dwarf planet Ceres called Kwanzaa Tholus. Kwanzaa, meaning "first fruits" in Swahili, is an African-American festival based on ancient African harvest celebrations, and takes place each year from December 26 to January 1.
Kwanzaa Tholus measures about 22 by 12 miles (35 by 19 kilometers) and is elevated about 2 miles (3 km) above its surroundings. Because the mountain does not rise sharply above the ground, it is difficult to see in the mosaic on the left, although a small crescent-shaped shadow stands out.
The image on the right, which is an elevation map of the area, shows where Kwanzaa Tholus is more prominently. The rounded shape of Kwanzaa Tholus is typical of tholi (plural of tholus) in general, but is different than other examples found on Ceres (like Dalien Tholus) and Mars.
This region is particularly rich in this type of feature: The current Ceres map shows six named tholi and montes (slightly bigger mountains) in the region (centered around 32 degrees north, 327 degrees east) and several others including Ahuna Mons farther south.
Scientists say Kwanzaa Tholus may have once been as prominent as Ahuna Mons, the tallest and most noticeable mountain on Ceres. Ahuna Mons is likely a cryovolcano, formed by the gradual accumulation of thick, slowly flowing icy materials.
Because ice is not strong enough to preserve an elevated structure for extended periods, cryovolcanoes on Ceres are expected to gradually collapse over tens of millions of years. This means Kwanzaa Tholus and other tholi in that area could be degraded mountains, which also formed from cryovolcanic activity
Galaxy Cluster RCS2 J2327
This image shows the galaxy cluster RCS2 J2327. The mass of the cluster causes both strong and weak gravitational lensing, which can be used to calculate the mass of the cluster.
This image is a composite of observations from the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
It demonstrates an impressively detailed collaborative approach to studying weak lensing in the cosmos.
Arecibo Observatory Radar Imagery of Phaethon Asteroid
These radar images of near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon were generated by astronomers at the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory on Dec. 17, 2017. Observations of Phaethon were conducted at Arecibo from Dec.15 through 19, 2017.
At time of closest approach on Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST, 11 p.m. UTC) the asteroid was about 6.4 million miles (10.3 million kilometers) away, or about 27 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The encounter is the closest the object will come to Earth until 2093.
The Arecibo Planetary Radar Program is funded by NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program through a grant to Universities Space Research Association (USRA), from the Near-Earth Object Observations program.
The Arecibo Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by SRI International, USRA, and Universidad Metropolitana.
Discover the Cosmos!
Galaxies are fascinating not only for what is visible, but for what is invisible. Grand spiral galaxy NGC 1232, captured in detail by one of the Very Large Telescopes, is a good example. The visible is dominated by millions of bright stars and dark dust, caught up in a gravitational swirl of spiral arms revolving about the center.
Open clusters containing bright blue stars can be seen sprinkled along these spiral arms, while dark lanes of dense interstellar dust can be seen sprinkled between them. Less visible, but detectable, are billions of dim normal stars and vast tracts of interstellar gas, together wielding such high mass that they dominate the dynamics of the inner galaxy.
Leading theories indicate that even greater amounts of matter are invisible, in a form we don't yet know. This pervasive dark matter is postulated, in part, to explain the motions of the visible matter in the outer regions of galaxies.
The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over part of Lake Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba, with Reindeer Island visible in the lower-right part of the image.
While our friends on the other side of the pond might be able to tell us why this place is called ‘Reindeer Island’, we believe that this is a rest-stop for Santa Claus during his busy night before Christmas.
Smaller islands can be seen along the edges of the image, while the swirling shades of green in the waters is an algal bloom.
Although algae grows naturally in the lake, high levels of phosphorus – found in fertilisers and common household products – seeping into the water have caused a steady surge of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue–green algae, posing a threat to ecology and human health.
Sentinel-2’s frequent revisits over the same area and high resolution allow changes in inland water bodies and the coastal environment to be closely monitored.
With its 13 spectral channels, the mission’s novel imager can capture water quality indicators such as the surface concentration of chlorophyll, detect harmful algal blooms and measure water clarity – giving a clear indication of the health and pollution levels.
By providing measurements of water quality and detecting changes, Sentinel-2 supports the sustainable management of water resources, and can also indicate areas that are safe, or unsafe, for swimming.
Investigating Mars: Arsia Mons
The three large aligned Tharsis volcanoes are Arsia Mons, Pavonis Mons and Ascreaus Mons (from south to north). There are collapse features on all three volcanoes, on the southwestern and northeastern flanks. This alignment may indicate a large fracture/vent system was responsible for the eruptions that formed all three volcanoes.
The flows of originating from Arsia Mons are thought to be the youngest of the region. This VIS image shows part of the northeastern flank of Arsia Mons. The scalloped depression are most likely created by collapse of the roof of lava tubes. Lava tubes originate during eruption event, when the margins of a flow harden around a still flowing lava stream.
When an eruption ends these can become hollow tubes within the flow. With time, the roof of the tube may collapse into the empty space below. The tubes are linear, so the collapse of the roof creates a linear depression.
Arsia Mons is the southernmost of the Tharsis volcanoes. It is 270 miles (450km) in diameter, almost 12 miles (20km) high, and the summit caldera is 72 miles (120km) wide. For comparison, the largest volcano on Earth is Mauna Loa. From its base on the sea floor, Mauna Loa measures only 6.3 miles high and 75 miles in diameter.
A large volcanic crater known as a caldera is located at the summit of all of the Tharsis volcanoes. These calderas are produced by massive volcanic explosions and collapse. The Arsia Mons summit caldera is larger than many volcanoes on Earth.
Kruk said Monday the team is hopeful that the final budget “will be more favorable.” For the fiscal year 2017 budget, the Obama administration requested $76 million for WFIRST development. Congress called for more, and the final budget approved $105 million.
WFIRST emerged from a 2010 decadal survey by the National Research Council, which outlines priorities in astronomy and astrophysics for the United States. The nation’s biggest and most productive space telescopes all trace their origins back to such decadal surveys, including Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra, and Fermi. “There has been a long tradition of support by the Congress, the administration, NASA, and the [National Science Foundation] to respect the priorities of past decadal surveys,” said Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science and one of the many members of the committee that first brought WFIRST to life. “It would set a devastating precedent for future decadal surveys if this FY 2019 proposal is to stand.” Scientists are already starting preparations for the next decadal survey, and Trump’s proposal, Boss said, “would throw that deliberative process into absolute confusion.”
Rumors had swirled about the Trump administration’s outlook on WFIRST for about a month. Robert Lightfoot, the acting administrator of NASA, mentioned the cancellation of WFIRST on Monday when he said the agency made some “hard decisions,” about its budget but he did not elaborate or say where WFIRST’s fundings would be redirected. More than a year after Trump took office, NASA remains without an official, Senate-approved administrator. Trump nominated a candidate last fall—Jim Bridenstine—who, unsurprisingly, Republicans support and Democrats loathe, but he is still in limbo. Spergel said he suspects plans for NASA’s long-term goals are coming mostly from the National Space Council, an advisory board that was last active in 1989 and which the Trump administration resurrected last year. So far, the council, helmed by Vice President Mike Pence, has expressed interest in lunar and near-Earth missions and made no mention of the kind of astrophysical research WFIRST would conduct.
Trump’s budget request doesn’t actually affect WFIRST operations for now. In an email to WFIRST staff Monday, obtained by The Atlantic, Paul Hertz, the director of NASA’s astrophysics division, told everyone to keep working.“For the remainder of this year, while the Congress considers this proposal from the president, the WFIRST project will continue making progress with the FY 2018 budget allocation consistent with congressional direction,” Hertz wrote. “Maintaining progress against the existing plan is the only way to preserve NASA’s ability to deliver the mission on time and meet the established cost target, should Congress decide not to accept the president's proposal to terminate WFIRST.”
Hertz sought to reassure WFIRST staff. “This proposal is not a reflection on the importance of WFIRST to NASA or on the quality of work done to date,” he said. He closed the memo by thanking the WFIRST team “for the hard work that you are doing, and will continue to do, on WFIRST, especially during these uncertain times.”
So the work will continue, but not completely unaffected. Spergel worries the White House’s budget proposal will scare off people who want to work on WFIRST as development continues. “One of the challenges is going to be making sure that we continue to get the top scientists and engineers involved in the project,” he said. “When something like this happens, you don’t want people feeling the project’s failing.”
The latest news also risks hurting the morale of the current staff. “I’m hopeful that people’s response will be to fight for the mission, fight for the science, rather than bail out,” Spergel said.