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NASA

A former Jackson, Michigan man who circled the Moon has died.           

Al Worden was 88. 

"Al was an American hero whose achievements in space and on Earth will never be forgotten,” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. 

VIDEO: 2 U.S. Astronauts Venture Out For 1st All-Female Spacewalk

Oct 18, 2019

YouTube

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Image shows astronaut Andrew Feustel outside of the International Space Station floating above the Earth.
NASA

Since being selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000, Lake Orion native Andrew Feustel has been on three space missions and spent more than 61 hours on space walks outside the shuttle. 

While floating 250 miles above the Earth earlier this year, Feustel added something new to his space resume: singer-songwriter. He recorded a music video for “All Around the World,” a song written by his friend Gord Sinclair. 

Image shows a physician taking someone's blood pressure.
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, how the Affordable Care Act has impacted public health in Michigan in the five years since it was enacted. Plus, a conversation with the director of the Great Lakes National Cemetery, one of two national cemeteries in Michigan where the state's veterans are laid to rest.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

A collection of "I Voted" stickers
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, county clerks from Ottawa and Oakland Counties weigh in on how voting is going in their precincts on this Election Day. Plus, a lead investigator on NASA's Parker Solar Probe talks about what scientists hope to learn from the mission, which will bring a human object closer to the Sun than ever before.    

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.  

An illustration of the Parker Solar Probe heading toward the Sun.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

On August 12, 2018, NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched into space on a mission to unveil some of the greatest mysteries surrounding our sun.

The probe features a 10 square meter heat shield made from carbon foam that can withstand up to 3,000 degrees without incinerating. The front of the probe is covered in a synthetic sapphire crystal that reflects around six megawatts of sunlight; enough energy to power a small village.

Justin Kasper is a lead investigator on the project. He joined Stateside at our recent Ann Arbor live show to talk about what he hopes to learn from the information collected by the probe.

Richard D'Souza / University of Michigan / Compiled images from Wei-Hao Wang / NASA, JPL and NSF

Space is the final frontier, as Star Trek's Captain Kirk observed. It is almost always yielding exciting surprises and discoveries.

The latest finding is that our Milky Way galaxy once had a sibling. Sadly though, that sibling galaxy came to an unhappy end at the hands of our closest neighbor.

Eric Bell, professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan joined Stateside to tell us more about our long-lost galaxy sibling.

Granite Island
Anne / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

NASA researchers have cast their eyes on a little island in Lake Superior that sits about 12 miles northwest of Marquette.

Granite Island has been chosen as a site for NASA research that could help scientists better understand the way clouds and aerosol particles in the atmosphere affect global climate change.

NASA is working with Northern Michigan University on the project.

The Great Lakes from space.
NASA

The Next Idea

One afternoon while waiting for my flight to board, a headline caught my eye: “Civilization-Destroying Comets Are More Common Than We Thought.” I assumed it was one of those flashy clickbait attention-grabbers like the ones about how researchers have discovered how you can lose ten pounds just by drinking dandelion tea. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t one of those smarmy websites you’ve never heard of. It was Popular Mechanics. Yes, that do-it-yourself periodical for the pocket-protector jet set that has all the panache of your dad’s brown shoes. So why the hyperbole?

Courtesy of the University of Chicago

For the first time in history, NASA has named a spacecraft after a living individual. The Solar Probe Plus has been renamed to the Parker Solar Probe in honor of accomplished astrophysicist Eugene Parker. 

Roger Chafee in May 1965 at a console in NASA’s Mission Operations Control Room in the Mission Control Center (MCC) in Houston during a Gemini simulation.
The Grand Rapids Public Museum and City Archives, Roger B. Chaffee Collection

Today marks 50 years since NASA faced one of the organization's biggest setbacks. On Jan. 27, 1967, a fire during a preflight test for Apollo 1 killed the three astronauts on board.

One of the crew members was Grand Rapids native Roger B. Chaffee.

Glen Swanson, a former NASA historian and current visiting instructor in the Department of Physics at Grand Valley State University, joined Stateside to look back at Chaffee's life and death, and how the Apollo 1 disaster changed NASA.

Jerry Linenger with ham radio equipment in the Russian Mir Space Station Base Block module.
Courtesy of NASA

Imagine you’re 14 years old, camping in Ontario with your family.

It’s July 20, 1969, and you’re watching on a small TV as Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the moon.

You decide: I want to go to space.

And so you grow up to become an astronaut. You go into space on the shuttles Discovery and Atlantis. You spend five months on the Russian space station Mir.

You ultimately rack up 143 days and 52 minutes in space, over 2,177 orbits of the earth, and you fly 54.5 million miles through space.

And after all that, you come home to Michigan to settle down in Suttons Bay.

That’s just a brief look at what retired Navy Captain and astronaut Jerry Linenger has done.

NASA Goddard Media Studios

It’s possible to track air pollution from space.

NASA scientists did that with high-resolution satellite maps. To gather the data, they used an ozone monitoring instrument on board NASA’s Aura satellite. That tool tracks atmospheric gasses.

The team of NASA scientists tracked emissions of nitrogen dioxide from 2005 to 2014. Nitrogen dioxide comes from cars, power plants, and industries, and it plays a major role in forming smog.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed scientists to peer into deep space, expanding our understanding of the universe. But there are still many gaps in that knowledge, including knowing how many galaxies are really out there.

Brian O'Shea is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Michigan State and part of a team that has been working on that question.

The team has been using the Hubble Space Telescope to view galaxies that are billions of light years away.

Historically, missions executed by NASA (and others) were on a grand scale – massive spacecraft built with massive budgets and a massive labor force, but in the past decade, an education and industrial focus has emerged on sending nano-satellites, known as CubeSats, into orbit (so named for their cubical shape).

Orion spacecraft takes off from Cape Canaveral!
Nasa.gov / Nasa.gov

The “Block M” has officially made its way into space.  

This morning at 7:05 a.m. EST, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle carried by the Delta IV heavy rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida with a University of Michigan flag on board.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Michigan stargazers will get a treat this fall.

Comet ISON was first spotted last year, and since then some have said it could be the ‘comet of the century’.

The comet should first appear in the night sky in mid-November.    If it survives a close pass by the sun, it would reappear in December.

John French is the interim director of the Michigan State University-Abrams Planetarium.    He hopes Comet ISON will live up to the hype.

Read about U of M scientists' and space enthusiasts' reaction to last night's successful landing of Curiosity on Martian terrain after the dreaded “seven minutes of terror." Follow the link to also see the accompanying video reaction to the landing at NASA.

Mike Trenchard / Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center (Wikimedia Commons)

The University of Michigan has been selected to lead a $152 million NASA satellite project aimed at improving hurricane and extreme weather prediction.

The school announced today that the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System is designed to make accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. It's made up of small satellites to be carried into orbit.

Information collected will enable scientists to explore key air-sea interactions that take place near the core of storms.

Principal investigator Christopher Ruf is a professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences, and electrical engineering and computer sciences. The satellite system science team includes Aaron Ridley and Derek Posselt, who are professors of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences.

John Cudworth / Creative Commons

Star gazers in Michigan are preparing for a rare occasion Tuesday night when the path of the planet Venus can be seen crossing the sun.

The event is known as the transit of Venus and it only happens, in pairs, every hundred years or so. The next transit of Venus isn’t for another 100 years.

I stumbled across the transit while gulping down an awesome new beer at one of my favorite spots in Benton Harbor, The Livery Microbrewery.

I chose a Venusian Ale for the ingredients. I’m a sucker for “Michigan made” so the blend of “Michigan Red Wheat malts meet all Northern Michigan hops and 60# of Dark Michigan Honey” was right down my alley. Then co-owner Leslie Pickell told me all about the beer made especially for their transit of Venus viewing party – complete with an awesome art show inspired by the transit AND a keg-time-capsule for the people alive during the next transit. 

Once I started looking around, I discovered dozens of viewing parties across the state. Here's a short list:

NASA

You've probably caught wind of the space junk hurtling toward the earth's atmosphere.

If not, you can catch up on the story here: Your Friday Forecast: Sunny, with a 1-in-21-Trillion Chance of Getting Hit by Orbital Debris.

The latest projections from NASA: debris from the six-ton "Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite" (UARS) that survives re-entry is less likely to land in the U.S.

From NASA:

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.

If you're one of the lucky ones that stumbles upon newly fallen space junk, NASA wants to make sure you don't touch it... you might cut yourself.

@NASA just tweeted - "Nothing radioactive on . Main reason NOT to touch anything that you think could be debris: sharp metal cuts."

Mariner 10 / NASA

Today is a big day for lovers of the planet Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.

NASA's MESSENGER (Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging) vehicle will start to orbit Mercury today.

Of all the terrestrial planets, Mercury remains one of the most mysterious.

NASA's Mariner 10 took some photos during flybys back in 1974 and 1975. And more recently, MESSENGER took some photos and grabbed some samples on a flyby in 2008.

The New York Times had a piece on what scientists learned about Mercury from the 2008 flyby:

An instrument aboard Messenger sampled Mercury’s surface composition by catching some of the charged atoms that have been knocked into space. Silicon, sodium and sulfur were detected. So was water.

“Which is a real surprise,” said Thomas H. Zurbuchen, an associate professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences at the University of Michigan and lead author of another paper in Science. “The first time we took a whiff of the planet, it’s right there.”

One possibility is that the water exists as ice in the shaded parts of craters in the polar regions.

Today, MESSENGER will begin orbiting the planet every 12 hours. Engineers at the University of Michigan say "an onboard device dubbed FIPS (Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer), a soda-can sized sensor designed and built at the University of Michigan will take atmospheric measurements, studying the evolution of rocky planets as it orbits Mercury."

Here, Thomas Zurbuchen, the lead engineer from the University of Michigan, talks about FIPS:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will reveal the results Tuesday afternoon of a year-long NASA investigation into claims of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

Toyota recalled millions of vehicles last year – many because of the potential for loose floor mats to entrap the gas pedal.  In other cases, the gas pedal wouldn’t fully release.

But hundreds of lawsuits allege that Toyota vehicles can also speed out of control because something is wrong with the electronic throttle control system, perhaps due to electromagnetic interference – a problem NASA knows a lot about.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a preliminary report last year suggesting that in some cases, the sudden acceleration was the fault of drivers, because they hit the gas pedal instead of the brake.

Toyota says it has failed to find any problems with its electronic throttle control systems.  The company did pay record fines last year for delaying recalls.