Two X-ray space observatories, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.
The supermassive black hole lies at the dust- and gas-filled heart of a galaxy called NGC 1365, and it is spinning almost as fast as Einstein’s theory of gravity will allow. The findings, which appear in a new study in the journal Nature, resolve a long-standing debate about similar measurements in other black holes and will lead to a better understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve.
To read more about NuSTAR’s discovery, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/news/nustar20130227.html.
This article is a great extension to NASA Now: Electromagnetic Spectrum: NuSTAR. To access this program, visit the NASA Now page on the NES Virtual Campus.
The first spacecraft NASA has designed to fly astronauts beyond Earth orbit since the Apollo era is well on its way to making a flight test next year. The mission is planned for launch in September 2014, and will see an Orion capsule orbit Earth without a crew and return through the atmosphere at speeds unseen since astronauts last returned from the moon in 1972.
To read more about this exciting development, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/Triprogrambriefing.html.
As Orion continues preparation to take astronauts further into space, take a look back at the recently ended shuttle program and have your students track the linear regression of a space shuttle launch. Check out the launch video of Shuttle mission STS-121 then have them create a scatter plot from real launch data. Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math—Space Shuttle Ascent is a NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson and is available in the NES Virtual Campus Lesson Library.
Many areas of scientific research — Earth’s weather, ocean currents, the outpouring of magnetic energy from the sun — require mapping out the large scale features of a complex system and its intricate details simultaneously.
Describing such systems accurately, relies on numerous kinds of input, beginning with observations of the system, incorporating mathematical equations to approximate those observations, running computer simulations to attempt to replicate observations, and cycling back through all the steps to refine and improve the models until they jibe with what’s seen. Ultimately, the models successfully help scientists describe, and even predict, how the system works.
To read more about the math involved with solar activity studies, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/math-solarwind.html.
This research provides an extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus.
Be sure not to miss the March 20, 2013 episode of NASA Now, introduced by NES educator Ty Fredricks, an educator from Orcutt, Calif., when Queito Thomas, a Test Operations Engineer at the NASA Glenn Research Center discusses how and why his team tests jet engines in the Propulsion Systems Laboratory.
This NASA Now classroom video is available on the NES Virtual Campus beginning Mar. 20, 2013.
NASA engineers have demonstrated the agency’s Orion spacecraft can land safely if one of its three main parachutes fails to inflate during deployment.
The test was conducted Feb. 12 in Yuma, Ariz., when the test capsule was dropped from an airplane 7.62 kilometers, or 25,000 feet, above the Arizona desert. Engineers rigged the parachutes so only two would inflate, leaving the third to flag behind.
To watch a video of the parachute testing, visit https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/chutetest_041812.html.
As NASA prepares Orion to take astronauts farther into space, take a look back at the recently ended shuttle program, and have your students track the linear regression of a space shuttle launch! Check out the launch video of shuttle mission STS-121, and then have them create a scatter plot from real launch data. “Linear Regression: Exploring Space Through Math — Space Shuttle Ascent” is a featured lesson on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.
March 14 is Pi day! That is, 3/14, and the NES lesson, Calculator Controlled Robots, has a mission devoted to circles and Pi.
In mission 4, students create three different size circles using three different robot wheel movements. They can attach a marker at different positions as well as use different turn commands to create larger or smaller circles. For each circle, students measure the diameter with a length of string and determine how many string-lengths it takes to go around the outside of the circle.
This helps them discover that the distance around each circle, no matter what size is a little more than three lengths of string, or the diameter, for each circle of different diameter. The discovery of Pi leads to the circumference formula as well as the area formula.
You can find the Calculator Controlled Robots lesson after logging in to the NES Virtual Campus.
An analysis of a rock sample recently collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.
For more information about this discovery, check out the Science@NASA article, Rover: Conditions Once Suited for Life on Mars.
Link to the NASA Explorer Schools home page.
NASA wants to launch a picture of you on the final space shuttle mission.
After registering at the Face in Space website, you’ll be able to upload an image that will be put on a disc and flown aboard the shuttle Atlantis. After launch, participants will be able to print a commemorative certificate signed by the mission commander. From the Face in Space website you can also check on the mission status, find NASA educational resources, and follow the crew on Twitter or Facebook.
Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.