NASA News: NASA Awards Engineering Support Services Contract

Hampton, Va. -- NASA announced the selection of Analytical Mechanics
Associates Inc. of Hampton to provide engineering services to support
research and technology development for the Langley Research Center.

The Technology, Engineering and Aerospace Mission Support 2 (TEAMS 2)
contract was awarded after a competitive selection and will support
multiple long-term, complex NASA missions. Contract support will
include such services as support of scientific research; engineering
design, analysis and development; and technology readiness level
advancement of work associated with evolving NASA missions. TEAMS 2
also will implement technology programs, tests, operations, systems
analysis and conceptual design; and provide program and project
management support.

The contract performance period is five years, including options, and
cannot exceed a total value of about $327.5 million.

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NASA'S Spitzer Finds Solid Buckyballs in Space

WASHINGTON -- Astronomers using data from NASA's Spitzer Space
Telescope have, for the first time, discovered buckyballs in a solid
form in space. Prior to this discovery, the microscopic carbon
spheres had been found only in gas form.

Formally named buckminsterfullerene, buckyballs are named after their
resemblance to the late architect Buckminster Fuller's geodesic
domes. They are made up of 60 carbon molecules arranged into a hollow
sphere, like a soccer ball. Their unusual structure makes them ideal
candidates for electrical and chemical applications on Earth,
including superconducting materials, medicines, water purification
and armor.

In the latest discovery, scientists using Spitzer detected tiny specks
of matter, or particles, consisting of stacked buckyballs. They found
them around a pair of stars called "XX Ophiuchi," 6,500 light-years
from Earth.

"These buckyballs are stacked together to form a solid, like oranges
in a crate," said Nye Evans of Keele University in England, lead
author of a paper appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society. "The particles we detected are miniscule, far
smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks
of millions of buckyballs."

Buckyballs were detected definitively in space for the first time by
Spitzer in 2010. Spitzer later identified the molecules in a host of
different cosmic environments. It even found them in staggering
quantities, the equivalent in mass to 15 Earth moons, in a nearby
galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud.

In all of those cases, the molecules were in the form of gas. The
recent discovery of buckyballs particles means that large quantities
of these molecules must be present in some stellar environments in
order to link up and form solid particles. The research team was able
to identify the solid form of buckyballs in the Spitzer data because
they emit light in a unique way that differs from the gaseous form.

"This exciting result suggests that buckyballs are even more
widespread in space than the earlier Spitzer results showed," said
Mike Werner, project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "They may be an important form of
carbon, an essential building block for life, throughout the cosmos."

Buckyballs have been found on Earth in various forms. They form as a
gas from burning candles and exist as solids in certain types of
rock, such as the mineral shungite found in Russia, and fulgurite, a
glassy rock from Colorado that forms when lightning strikes the
ground. In a test tube, the solids take on the form of dark, brown "goo."

"The window Spitzer provides into the infrared universe has revealed
beautiful structure on a cosmic scale," said Bill Danchi, Spitzer
program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "In yet another
surprise discovery from the mission, we're lucky enough to see
elegant structure at one of the smallest scales, teaching us about
the internal architecture of existence."

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., manages
the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. Science operations are conducted at the
Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For information about previous Spitzer discoveries of buckyballs, visit:




For more information about Spitzer, visit:



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