NASA News: NASA Extends Information Technology Support Services Contract

CLEVELAND -- NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has awarded a
two-year contract option to DB Consulting Group Inc. of Silver
Spring, Md., for information technology services. The option has a
value that will not exceed $36 million.

The performance-based contract covers on-site information technology
services to Glenn. Services include computational scientific
services, facility support, business systems, emerging technology
applications, computer and software engineering, and advanced
networking systems development.

The extension that begins Aug. 24 2011, ends Aug. 23, 2013, and
increases the total value of the contract to $88 million. This
extension is the last of one two-year options provided in the
original contract awarded in September 2008.

For information about NASA and its programs, visit:



NASA'S Swift Satellite Spots Black Hole Devouring A Star

WASHINGTON -- Two studies appearing in the Aug. 25 issue of the
journal Nature provide new insights into a cosmic accident that has
been streaming X-rays toward Earth since late March. NASA's Swift
satellite first alerted astronomers to intense and unusual
high-energy flares from the new source in the constellation Draco.

"Incredibly, this source is still producing X-rays and may remain
bright enough for Swift to observe into next year," said David
Burrows, professor of astronomy at Penn State University and lead
scientist for the mission's X-Ray Telescope instrument. "It behaves
unlike anything we've seen before."

Astronomers soon realized the source, known as Swift J1644+57, was the
result of a truly extraordinary event -- the awakening of a distant
galaxy's dormant black hole as it shredded and consumed a star. The
galaxy is so far away, it took the light from the event approximately
3.9 billion years to reach Earth.

Burrows' study included NASA scientists. It highlights the X- and
gamma-ray observations from Swift and other detectors, including the
Japan-led Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) instrument aboard the
International Space Station.

The second study was led by Ashley Zauderer, a post-doctoral fellow at
the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
It examines the unprecedented outburst through observations from
numerous ground-based radio observatories, including the National
Radio Astronomy Observatory's Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) near
Socorro, N.M.

Most galaxies, including our own, possess a central supersized black
hole weighing millions of times the sun's mass. According to the new
studies, the black hole in the galaxy hosting Swift J1644+57 may be
twice the mass of the four-million-solar-mass black hole in the
center of the Milky Way galaxy. As a star falls toward a black hole,
it is ripped apart by intense tides. The gas is corralled into a disk
that swirls around the black hole and becomes rapidly heated to
temperatures of millions of degrees.

The innermost gas in the disk spirals toward the black hole, where
rapid motion and magnetism create dual, oppositely directed "funnels"
through which some particles may escape. Jets driving matter at
velocities greater than 90 percent the speed of light form along the
black hole's spin axis. In the case of Swift J1644+57, one of these
jets happened to point straight at Earth.

"The radio emission occurs when the outgoing jet slams into the
interstellar environment," Zauderer explained. "By contrast, the
X-rays arise much closer to the black hole, likely near the base of the jet."

Theoretical studies of tidally disrupted stars suggested they would
appear as flares at optical and ultraviolet energies. The brightness
and energy of a black hole's jet is greatly enhanced when viewed
head-on. The phenomenon, called relativistic beaming, explains why
Swift J1644+57 was seen at X-ray energies and appeared so strikingly luminous.

When first detected March 28, the flares were initially assumed to
signal a gamma-ray burst, one of the nearly daily short blasts of
high-energy radiation often associated with the death of a massive
star and the birth of a black hole in the distant universe. But as
the emission continued to brighten and flare, astronomers realized
that the most plausible explanation was the tidal disruption of a
sun-like star seen as beamed emission.

By March 30, EVLA observations by Zauderer's team showed a brightening
radio source centered on a faint galaxy near Swift's position for the
X-ray flares. These data provided the first conclusive evidence that
the galaxy, the radio source and the Swift event were linked.

"Our observations show that the radio-emitting region is still
expanding at more than half the speed of light," said Edo Berger, an
associate professor of astrophysics at Harvard and a coauthor of the
radio paper. "By tracking this expansion backward in time, we can
confirm that the outflow formed at the same time as the Swift X-ray source."

Swift, launched in November 2004, is managed by NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It is operated in collaboration with
Penn State, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in N.M. and Orbital
Sciences Corp., in Dulles, Va., with international collaborators in
the U.K., Italy, Germany and Japan. MAXI is operated by the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency as an external experiment attached to
the Kibo module of the space station. For images and animations
related to the studies, visit:



NASA And ATK Full-Scale Solid Rocket Motor Test Set For Sept. 8

WASHINGTON -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) will conduct a
full-scale test of a five-segment, solid rocket motor at the ATK
Aerospace Systems test facility in Promontory, Utah, at 4:05 p.m.
EDT, Thursday, Sept. 8.

To attend the test, journalists must register with ATK. For
information and to request credentials, contact ATK's Trina Patterson
at 801-699-0943 or trina.patterson@atk.com. The registration deadline
for U.S. reporters is Sept. 2. The deadline for foreign journalists is Aug. 26.

The static firing of the five-segment solid rocket motor, designated
Development Motor-3 (DM-3), will last approximately two minutes. DM-3
is the third in a series of development motors and the most heavily
instrumented solid rocket motor in NASA history, with a total of 37
test objectives measured through more than 970 instruments.

The DM-3 incorporates several performance-based improvements to the
designs of the first two development motors. Additionally, the core
of DM-3 will be heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for this
full-duration firing to verify the motor's performance at high temperatures.

This test will continue to advance understanding of five-segment solid
rocket motor performance and specifically assess performance at the
highest end of the motor's accepted temperature range. Through
development testing, the solid rocket motor will be certified to fly
at ambient temperatures ranging from 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The DM-3 test will follow wind constraint requirements different than
past development motors. Two days before the test, ATK's public
relations will notify registered media of a go/no-go decision. If
no-go, the test will slip to the next day. Notification of a decision
to proceed will be made via email, website www.atk.com/dm3 and social
media (Facebook and Twitter).

The solid rocket motor is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala. ATK Space Systems is the prime contractor.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:



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