NASA News: Legendary Astronaut Shannon Lucid Retires From NASA

[Shannon Lucid]
HOUSTON -- Shannon Lucid, a member of NASA's first astronaut class to
include women, has retired after more than three decades of service
to the agency.

A veteran of five spaceflights, Lucid logged more than 223 days in
space, and from August 1991 to June 2007, held the record for the
most days in orbit by any woman in the world. Lucid is the only
American woman to serve aboard the Russian Mir space station. She
lived and worked there for more than 188 days, the longest stay of
any American on that vehicle. Her time on Mir also set the single
flight endurance record by a woman until Suni Williams broke it in 2006.

"Shannon is an extraordinary woman and scientist. She paved the way
for so many of us," said Peggy Whitson, chief of NASA's Astronaut
Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "She was a model
astronaut for long-duration missions, and whether she was flying
hundreds of miles up in space or serving as Capcom [capsule
communicator] during the overnight hours for our space shuttle and
space station crews, she always brought a smile to our faces. Like so
many others, I always will look up to her."

Lucid, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry, was selected by NASA in
1978. She joined five other women as the agency's first female
astronauts. Her first three shuttle missions deployed satellites.
STS-51G in 1985 deployed and retrieved the SPARTAN satellite; STS-34
in 1989 deployed the Galileo spacecraft to explore Jupiter; and
STS-43 in 1991 deployed the fifth Tracking and Data Relay Satellite
(TDRS-E). Her fourth shuttle mission, STS-58 in 1993, focused on
medical experiments and engineering tests.

Lucid traveled aboard Atlantis on STS-76 in March 1996 to the Russian
Mir space station. She performed numerous life science and physical
science experiments during the course of her stay. She returned from
the station aboard Atlantis on STS-79 in September 1996.
In 2002, Lucid served as NASA's chief scientist at the agency's
headquarters in Washington. She returned to Johnson in the fall of
2003 and resumed technical assignments in the Astronaut Office. She
served as a Capcom in the Mission Control Center for numerous space
shuttle and space station crews, representing the flight crew office
and providing a friendly voice for dozens of friends and colleagues in space.

For Lucid's complete biography, visit:



NASA, University Of Maryland Invite Public To Astronauts' Discussion Of Recent International Space Station Missions

WASHINGTON -- NASA and the University of Maryland's A. James Clark
School of Engineering invite the public to a discussion with three
astronauts from recent International Space Station expedition
missions at 5:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 14, in the Hoff Theater
inside the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. The crew members will give a
video presentation about their mission and answer questions from the audience.

Free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tickets can be picked up from the Stamp Union ticket office daily
between noon and 10 p.m., starting Monday, Feb. 6. Reporters
interested in covering the event should contact Missy Corley at
301-405-6501 or mcorley@umd.edu.

Mike Fossum served as a flight engineer for Expedition 28 and as
commander for Expedition 29. During his stay, the station celebrated
11 years of continuous residence and work. Fossum returned to Earth
on Nov. 21, 2011. He has logged more than 194 days in space,
including more than 48 hours of extravehicular activity (EVA) in
seven spacewalks. He is seventh on the all-time list of cumulative EVA time.

Ron Garan served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 27 and 28. While
aboard the station, Garan continued work on a variety of microgravity
experiments and welcomed two shuttle visits, including the last to
the station. Garan landed on Sept. 15, 2011. He has logged more than
178 days in space, including 27 hours and 3 minutes outside the
station during four spacewalks.

Cady Coleman served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 26 and 27.
She was the lead robotics and science officer. While aboard, the
station hosted a record number of visiting spacecraft: five vehicles
from four space agencies. She returned to Earth on May 24, 2011.
Coleman has logged over 4,330 hours in space aboard the station and
space shuttle Columbia.

The trio also will give a presentation earlier in the day to NASA
employees at 10:30 a.m. in NASA Headquarters' James E. Webb
Auditorium, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington. The presentation
will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website. The
astronauts will be available for media interviews from 9 to 10 a.m.
Journalists must call 202-358-1100 to attend the presentation or to
schedule an interview.

For more information about Fossum, visit:



For more information about Garan, visit:



For more information about Coleman, visit:



For more information about the A. James Clark School of Engineering, visit:


For a map of the University of Maryland campus and location of the
Stamp Student Union (Building 163), visit:


For NASA TV schedule information and links to streaming video, visit:



NASA Spacecraft Reveals New Observations of Interstellar Matter

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has
captured the best and most complete glimpse yet of what lies beyond
the solar system. The new measurements give clues about how and where
our solar system formed, the forces that physically shape our solar
system, and the history of other stars in the Milky Way.

The Earth-orbiting spacecraft observed four separate types of atoms
including hydrogen, oxygen, neon and helium. These interstellar atoms
are the byproducts of older stars, which spread across the galaxy and
fill the vast space between stars. IBEX determined the distribution
of these elements outside the solar system, which are flowing charged
and neutral particles that blow through the galaxy, or the so-called
interstellar wind.

"IBEX is a small Explorer mission and was built with a modest
investment," said Barbara Giles, director of the Heliophysics
Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The science
achievements though have been truly remarkable and are a testament to
what can be accomplished when we give our nation's scientists the
freedom to innovate."

In a series of science papers appearing in the Astrophysics Journal on
Jan. 31, scientists report finding 74 oxygen atoms for every 20 neon
atoms in the interstellar wind. In our own solar system, there are
111 oxygen atoms for every 20 neon atoms. This translates to more
oxygen in any part of the solar system than in nearby interstellar space.

"Our solar system is different than the space right outside it,
suggesting two possibilities," says David McComas, IBEX principal
investigator, at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
"Either the solar system evolved in a separate, more oxygen-rich part
of the galaxy than where we currently reside, or a great deal of
critical, life-giving oxygen lies trapped in interstellar dust grains
or ices, unable to move freely throughout space."

The new results hold clues about the history of material in the
universe. While the big bang initially created hydrogen and helium,
only the supernovae explosions at the end of a star's life can spread
the heavier elements of oxygen and neon through the galaxy. Knowing
the amounts of elements in space may help scientists map how our
galaxy evolved and changed over time.

Scientists want to understand the composition of the boundary region
that separates the nearest reaches of our galaxy, called the local
interstellar medium, from our heliosphere. The heliosphere acts as a
protective bubble that shields our solar system from most of the
dangerous galactic cosmic radiation that otherwise would enter the
solar system from interstellar space.

IBEX measured the interstellar wind traveling at a slower speed than
previously measured by the Ulysses spacecraft, and from a different
direction. The improved measurements from IBEX show a 20 percent
difference in how much pressure the interstellar wind exerts on our heliosphere.

"Measuring the pressure on our heliosphere from the material in the
galaxy and from the magnetic fields out there will help determine the
size and shape of our solar system as it travels through the galaxy,"
says Eric Christian, IBEX mission scientist, at NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The IBEX spacecraft was launched in October 2008. Its science
objective is to discover the nature of the interactions between the
solar wind and the interstellar medium at the edge of our solar system.

The Southwest Research Institute developed and leads the IBEX mission
with a team of national and international partners. The spacecraft is
one of NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed missions in the
Small Explorers Program. Goddard manages the program for the agency's
Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information about IBEX, visit:



NASA Releases Sector 33 Air Traffic Control Educational Game App

WASHINGTON -- NASA has released a new educational game with an air
traffic control theme for Apple iPhone and iPad devices. The Sector
33 application is designed to challenge students in middle school and
above to use basic math and problem-solving skills.

The application may be downloaded free of charge at:


An Android version of the app is in development and will be made
available in the Android Marketplace in the coming months.

In the game the player acts as an air traffic controller guiding
airplanes through a sector of airspace spanning Nevada and
California. The player can adjust the planes' path and speed to
safely reach certain spots in the sky in the fastest time possible
while keeping the planes a specific distance from each other.

"Our hope is that Sector 33 will give students a sense of the
importance of math in managing our nation's air traffic and, at the
same time, interest them in pursuing a career in aeronautics," said
Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for aeronautics research
in Washington.

The math-focused game also aligns with the NASA Office of Education's
mission to engage students in activities related to science,
technology, engineering and mathematics.

"Today's students respond positively to experiential learning," said
Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for education. "Using
an interactive game to spark their interest, while at the same time
teaching them fundamental math concepts, is a win-win scenario. It is
a perfect way to help cultivate the next generation of engineers and technologists."

Sector 33 is based on Smart Skies Line Up With Math, an educational
software title developed under the direction of NASA's Aeronautics
Research Mission Directorate and distributed in cooperation with the
Federal Aviation Administration and National Air Traffic Controllers
Association. Smart Skies has been used in middle school classrooms
across the United States since 2005.

For more information about aeronautics research at NASA, visit:


For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:



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