President Obama Meets With Space Pioneers

Monday, the stars were out at the White House — literally — as more than 100 students joined President Obama, twelve astronauts, scientists, engineers, teachers, and space enthusiasts — along with Americans participating virtually from more than 80 national parks, observatories, schools, museums, and astronomy clubs across our country — White House Astronomy Night.

President Barack Obama greets NASA Commercial Crew astronauts: Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, in the Map Room before White House Astronomy Night on the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets NASA Commercial Crew astronauts: Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, in the Map Room before White House Astronomy Night on the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Some of the brightest stars of the night weren’t celestial in nature. Rather, they are four space pioneers: astronauts Robert Behnken, Sunita Williams, Eric Boe, and Douglas Hurley.

These distinguished veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail, a trail that will one day land them in the history books. NASA selected these four, who privately met with the President earlier in the evening, to be the first astronauts to train to fly to space on commercial crew carriers.

It’s an important step on our Journey to Mars, and for President Obama’s ambitious plan to once again launch U.S. astronauts into space from U.S. soil and to create good-paying American jobs in the process – 350 American companies across 35 states are working toward this goal.

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For as long as I’ve been Administrator, President Obama has made it very clear that returning the launches of American astronauts to American soil is a top priority.

Five years ago, when the President came to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to ask NASA to work toward sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, he talked about being inspired as a young boy when his grandfather lifted him on his shoulders so he could cheer on astronauts arriving in Hawaii.

His hope – and, really, all our hope – is that a new generation of young Americans will be inspired by people like Bob, Suni, Eric, and Doug to reach for new heights, both in their own lives and in the life of our nation.

Today’s young people are a part of what I like to call the “space generation.” Those who are younger than 15 have lived every day of their lives in a time when American astronauts are living and working in space aboard the International Space Station.

Our goal is to give them a future where Americans are pushing further into the solar system at the very same time that our Nation strengthens our leadership here at home. President Obama’s commercial crew vision represents a giant leap into this future.

More Links:

#AskNASA Chat with NASA commercial crew astronauts. 

Photos from Astronomy Night 2015. 

Video of the President’s remarks at Astronomy Night.

 

NASA’s Role in Climate Assessment

A 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.  Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.  Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.  Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring
A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. The satellite is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.
Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.
Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

NASA’s role in studying and protecting our home planet has never been stronger. Climate change is a problem we must deal with right now, and our Earth science satellite missions have become ever more vital to documenting and understanding our home planet, predicting the ramifications of this change, and sharing information across the globe for everyone’s benefit.

Today, the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment was released.  The report is the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information ever generated about climate-change impacts on all major regions of the United States and critical sectors of society and the national economy. It presents an influential body of practical, useable knowledge that decision-makers will use to anticipate and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The assessment reports on a broad range of topics that illuminate the interconnectedness of everything tied to climate. The focused approaches used to conduct the analyses in this report will help us build the capability to do better and more regular climate assessments in the future.  I am proud that NASA data and NASA scientists contributed to the research reported in many of the Assessment’s chapters.

We can already see the impacts of climate change around the world, especially through the lens of our satellites. The U.S. National Climate Assessment combined observations from NASA’s incredible fleet of Earth observation satellites with surface-based and satellite data from our interagency and international partners, to help us understand what’s going on globally in areas such as polar ice, precipitation extremes, temperature change, sea level rise and forest ecosystems.

Five NASA Earth Science missions will be launched into space in 2014 alone. Together with NASA’s existing fleet of satellites, airborne missions, researchers, and the unique platform of the International Space Station (ISS), these new missions will help answer some of the critical challenges facing our planet today and in the future.

The Global Precipitation Measurement core observatory launched in February is already helping us learn more about rainfall patterns worldwide. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2), slated for a July launch, will map the greenhouse gas globally, providing new insights into where and how it moves into and out of the atmosphere. The RapidScat instrument to measure wind speed and direction over the oceans, and the CATS lidar instrument to measure aerosols and cloud properties will be installed on the ISS.  The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will launch in November, to measure soil moisture over the globe and freeze-thaw timing.

All of the data NASA collects is widely disseminated and helps many people to make wise decisions about how we care for our planet, as well as predict and cope with changes in climate and extreme weather events. The National Climate Assessment is an example of how critical the NASA data and research are.

Please take some time to review this important document at: www.globalchange.gov.

NASA Celebrates National Aerospace Week

Every time you step aboard an airplane there’s an excellent chance that a piece of innovative NASA technology will be flying with you, helping to ensure you have a safe and efficient flight.

It might be found in the upturned winglets you see at the tip of the wing, or within the composite material used to build part of the aircraft structure, or hidden inside the increasingly fuel efficient and quiet jet engines slung beneath the wings.

And whether or not you flew today, it’s likely that some product you recently used was once flown as cargo on board a flight whose pilots relied on NASA-developed computer software tools that help air traffic controllers safely move airplanes through the sky.

Your life and mine would be very different without the benefits of flight.

In fact, thanks in part to the work of NASA’s aeronautics innovators, aviation accounts for $1.3 trillion of U.S. economic activity annually and generates more than 10.2 million direct and indirect jobs.

Those are some big numbers, and they are worth celebrating.

That’s why NASA this week joins with the rest of the aerospace industry in marking National Aerospace Week, an annual observance that recognizes the enormous contribution the aerospace industry makes to America’s economy, global competitiveness and national security.

NASA’s aeronautics experts understand how important that contribution is, and I can promise you that we are doing everything we can to ensure this nation remains the world’s leader in aviation.

To help us do that, during the past two years we’ve taken an in depth look at the important role that aviation plays in a world of  incredible economic, technological and population expansion.

New Ideas for Greener Aircraft
Three industry teams spent 2011 studying how to meet NASA’s goals for making future aircraft burn 50 percent less fuel than aircraft that entered service in 1998, emit 75 percent fewer harmful emissions; and shrink the size of geographic areas affected by objectionable airport noise by 83 percent.
Image credit: NASA

The changing world has led us to adopt an exciting new strategic vision for NASA’s aeronautical research efforts.

It’s a vision that will guide us in choosing our long term investments in aeronautics innovation, all of which are aimed at supporting our current and future civil aeronautics workforce, companies, and passengers.

It addresses global emerging trends leading to key drivers that are changing the face of aviation during the next 20 to 40 years.

Those drivers include significant growth in planet-wide demand for air mobility, mounting environmental concerns related to climate change and sustainable energy sources, and the convergence of technologies ranging from new materials to embedded sensors.

In response, we’re continuing to develop tools – on board aircraft, in air traffic control towers, or across the entire system — that will help manage predicted growth in global aviation operations safely and efficiently.

We’re continuing to explore, test and develop technologies for new aircraft that have dramatically less impact on the environment.

And, as only NASA can, we’re continuing to push the envelope of innovation that can transform the way we fly, such as making it possible to travel in a commercial aircraft at supersonic speeds over land or to have higher levels of automation and autonomy across the aviation system.

All of this is designed to advance our commitment to a healthier planet and a better life for people everywhere.  Those are really the underpinnings of everything we do at NASA.

The world is changing fast.  We all know it.  If you’ve been around a few decades like me, you’ve seen new technologies snapped up and adopted so quickly that it’s hard to remember a time when taking a flight across the country was a big deal or we hadn’t yet walked on the moon.

The same kind of thing is happening within modern flight.  It’s really something of a Renaissance time in aviation when you look at all the things we’re working on and all the potential for breakthroughs.

NASA will continue to be at the forefront of these innovations.  But we must use our limited resources wisely to have the most impact possible.  That’s what this new aeronautics vision will help us achieve.

With confidence rooted in our historical contributions to aeronautics, and inspired by our new strategic vision, we at NASA take this opportunity during National Aerospace Week to pledge our continuing appreciation of and support to the aerospace industry.

You can learn more about our new strategic vision and research goals at: https://www.nasa.gov/aero/strategic_vision/

And learn why I like to say ‘NASA is with you when you fly’ at:http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/onboard_lithos.htm

We’ll see you in the skies.