NASA’s ICON Mission a Go for 2017


When NASA’s Pegasus rocket lifts off in June 2017, it will carry scientific equipment and technology that might help researchers better understand space variations that contribute to disruptions in communications equipment, radar and Global Positioning Systems here on Earth.

NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission will study what happens in Earth’s upper atmosphere and the connections to environmental conditions on the planet, says Thomas Immel, ICON mission lead with the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.

Read more at SIGNAL Online

SSL now accepting applications for summer research programs

ASSURE 2015 flier. Application is open at   Deadline is February 15th, 2015

Apply today for SSL’s 2015 summer research experience for undergraduates program.


The Space Sciences Laboratory is currently taking applications for it’s 2015 summer research experiences for undergraduates program – Advancing Space Sciences through Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASSURE). 
The ASSURE program partners undergraduate students from community colleges and universities around California with leading space science and engineering researchers based at the Space Sciences Laboratory. This program is dedicated to providing opportunities for enthusiastic and dedicated first generation and minority students, or other students for whom a research opportunity may be a challenge. The funded program starts June 8th and runs for 10 weeks. If you have any questions about the program, please email The deadline for 2015 summer program is February 15th 2015. Click here to learn about last years participants and their projects.

NuSTAR – Will the real monster black hole please stand up?

NuSTAR 2 galaxies

The real monster black hole is revealed in this new image from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array of colliding galaxies Arp 299. In the center panel, the NuSTAR high-energy X-ray data appear in various colors overlaid on a visible-light image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

Will the real monster black hole please stand up? A new high-energy X-ray image from Our NuSTAR Satellite has pinpointed the true monster of a galactic mashup. The image shows two colliding galaxies, collectively called Arp 299, located 134 million light-years away. Each of the galaxies has a supermassive black hole at its heart. More Details


MAVEN’s STATIC instrument measures escape of particles from Mars’ upper atmosphere


Photo Credit – NASA’s MAVEN Mission to Mars and Jim McFadden/UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab. The STATIC instrument can be seen on the right side of the MAVEN APP, Articulated Payload Platform

‪#‎MAVEN‬’s Suprathermal and Thermal Ion Composition (STATIC) instrument is measuring the composition and energy of ions as the spacecraft passes through various layers of Mars’ upper atmosphere.

The series of graphs presented here shows the composition and energy of ions as the MAVEN spacecraft moved from low (~250 km) to higher (~500 km) altitudes. At the higher altitudes, the ions have been accelerated, as indicated by their higher energy. We are seeing the acceleration from low-energy to higher energy as the ions are driven to escape speeds.

For all the latest released results from the #MAVEN mission.


Image credit: Jim McFadden/UC Berkeley-Space Sciences Laboratory


Engineer James Van Allen, RBSP Namesake, leads NACA in Rocket Propulsion development

NASA Engineers

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William Pickering (left), Dr. James Van Allen (middle), and Dr. Wernher von Braun (right) hold up a model of Explorer 1, which successfully launched on January 31, 1958. Image Credit: NASA

Engineers from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), who joined NASA after its creation, tested, developed, and recommended one of the most vital technologies that the United States needed in order to successfully launch the Saturn rockets in the 1960s. These engineers had become experts in the field of high-energy propellants, particularly liquid hydrogen, and believed it should be used to power the upper stages of the Saturn rocket.

In 1959, these engineers made that critical recommendation to Wernher von Braun. The liquid hydrogen recommendation was not one that von Braun accepted at first. Von Braun and his team had more faith in the kerosene and liquid oxygen rocket propellants, with which they had more experience. He later acknowledged that the recommendation contributed immensely to NASA’s successful attempt to land the first human beings on the surface of the Moon in 1969.

So how did the NACA get involved in rocket research?

Read More

A solar “WIND” workhorse mission marks 20 years of science discoveries

Wind Spacecraft

The Wind spacecraft has spent much of its 20 years in space out in front of the magnetic fields – the magnetosphere – that surrounds Earth, observing the constant stream of particles flowing by from the solar wind. Image Credit: NASA

The end of 2014 marks two decades of data from a NASA mission called Wind. Wind — along with 17 other missions – is part of what’s called the Heliophysics Systems Observatory, a fleet of spacecraft dedicated to understanding how the sun and its giant explosions affect Earth, the planets and beyond.

Wind launched on Nov. 1, 1994, with the goal of characterizing the constant stream of particles from the sun called the solar wind. With particle observations once every 3 seconds, and 11 magnetic measurements every second, Wind measurements were – and still are – the highest cadence solar wind observations for any near-Earth spacecraft.

The complete Story

Sun Sizzles in High-Energy X-Rays


X-rays stream off the sun in this image showing observations from by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, overlaid on a picture taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun. NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.

The complete story, courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is here: