NASA News: NASA Contract Modification For Engineering And Support Services

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- NASA has signed its final contract option with
InfoPro Corp. in Huntsville to continue engineering technicians and
trades support services for the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center.

The $45.7 million contract modification includes $4.1 million for
mission services and a potential maximum order quantity value of
$41.6 million for additional support services that are available
through orders under the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity
portion of the contract.

The contract covers a wide range of engineering technicians and other
trade skills to perform testing, ground and space-based research,
test operations, data analysis, machine and electrical shop
operations, and other technical activities.

The one-year contract option begins on March 1, 2012. The performance
based, cost-plus-award-fee, mission services contract with an
indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity portion has a potential
mission services value of $56.9 million and a potential maximum order
quantity value of $150.8 million, with the exercise of this final
option period. The contract was originally awarded in March 2008.

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NASA's Chandra Finds Fastest Wind from Stellar-Mass Black Hole

WASHINGTON -- Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have
clocked the fastest wind yet discovered blowing off a disk around a
stellar-mass black hole. This result has important implications for
understanding how this type of black hole behaves.

The record-breaking wind is moving about 20 million mph, or about 3
percent of the speed of light. This is nearly 10 times faster than
had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole.

Stellar-mass black holes are born when extremely massive stars
collapse. They typically weigh between five and 10 times the mass of
the sun. The stellar-mass black hole powering this super wind is
known as IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short.

"This is like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a category five
hurricane," said Ashley King from the University of Michigan, lead
author of the study published in the Feb. 20 issue of The
Astrophysical Journal Letters. "We weren't expecting to see such
powerful winds from a black hole like this."

The wind speed in IGR J17091 matches some of the fastest winds
generated by supermassive black holes, objects millions or billions
of times more massive.

"It's a surprise this small black hole is able to muster the wind
speeds we typically only see in the giant black holes," said
co-author Jon M. Miller, also from the University of Michigan. "In
other words, this black hole is performing well above its weight class."

Another unanticipated finding is that the wind, which comes from a
disk of gas surrounding the black hole, may be carrying away more
material than the black hole is capturing.

"Contrary to the popular perception of black holes pulling in all of
the material that gets close, we estimate up to 95 percent of the
matter in the disk around IGR J17091 is expelled by the wind," King said.

Unlike winds from hurricanes on Earth, the wind from IGR J17091 is
blowing in many different directions. This pattern also distinguishes
it from a jet, where material flows in highly focused beams
perpendicular to the disk, often at nearly the speed of light.

Simultaneous observations made with the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory's Expanded Very Large Array showed a radio jet from the
black hole was not present when the ultra-fast wind was seen,
although a radio jet is seen at other times. This agrees with
observations of other stellar-mass black holes, providing further
evidence the production of winds can stifle jets.

The high speed for the wind was estimated from a spectrum made by
Chandra in 2011. Ions emit and absorb distinct features in spectra,
which allow scientists to monitor them and their behavior. A Chandra
spectrum of iron ions made two months earlier showed no evidence of
the high-speed wind, meaning the wind likely turns on and off over time.

Astronomers believe that magnetic fields in the disks of black holes
are responsible for producing both winds and jets. The geometry of
the magnetic fields and rate at which material falls towards the
black hole must influence whether jets or winds are produced.

IGR J17091 is a binary system in which a sun-like star orbits the
black hole. It is found in the bulge of the Milky Way galaxy, about
28,000 light years away from Earth.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the
Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science
and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

For more information about Chandra, visit:


For an additional interactive image, podcast and video on the finding, visit:



NASA Administrator Announces Senior Leadership Changes

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Tuesday
changes to his senior leadership team. Associate Administrator Chris
Scolese was named director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md., and Robert Lightfoot, director of the agency's
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will serve as
acting associate administrator. Both will assume their new
responsibilities on March 5.

Scolese, who has been with NASA since 1987, succeeds Robert Strain,
who announced his decision to return to private industry in January.
Lightfoot joined NASA in 1989 as a test engineer and program manager
at Marshall. Lightfoot's deputy, Gene Goldman, will serve as
Marshall's acting center director.

"Both Chris and Robert are dedicated public servants who have a
passion for NASA and exploration," Bolden said. "We are fortunate to
have such talented and experienced leaders who are capable of
assuming these critical responsibilities during this important time."

As associate administrator, Lightfoot will be the agency's
highest-ranking civil servant, responsible for oversight and
integration of NASA's broad efforts in human space flight, science
and aeronautics. At Goddard, Scolese will lead a major U.S.
laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific
spacecraft. Goddard manages many of NASA's Earth observation,
astronomy and space physics missions. It was established in 1959 as
NASA's first space flight facility.

"I am excited with the depth and diversity of experiences Chris and
Robert will bring to their new roles," Bolden added. "I know the
entire NASA family will wish them continued success as they begin
these new challenges."

Scolese served as the agency's acting administrator in 2009 and was
previously NASA's chief engineer. As chief engineer, Scolese was
responsible for ensuring that development efforts and mission
operations within the agency were planned and conducted on a sound
technical and management basis. He also served as deputy associate
administrator in the Office of Space Science at Headquarters and
previously served as deputy director of Goddard, Earth Orbiting
Satellite program manager, and deputy director of flight programs and
projects for Earth Science.

Lightfoot began his NASA career as a test engineer and manager for the
space shuttle main engine technology test bed program. He then served
in leadership positions at Marshall, Stennis Space Center in Bay St.
Louis, Miss., and Headquarters. In 1998, Lightfoot was named deputy
division chief of Marshall's Propulsion Test Division. He joined
Stennis in 1999 as chief of Propulsion Test Operations where he
managed space shuttle main engine testing and multiple NASA,
Department of Defense, and industry rocket engine test programs. From
2003 to 2005, he was assistant associate administrator for the Space
Shuttle Program, Office of Space Flight, at Headquarters.

Both men are highly honored NASA leaders, earning the Presidential
Rank Award of Meritorious Executive and agency medals for outstanding

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