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Changing NASA's culture
Administrator Sean O'Keefe holds a discussion with agency workers around the country about organizational culture change at NASA. (56min 12sec file)
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Yuri Gagarin
Historical footage documents the flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space. (2min 25sec file)
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Cosmonautics Day
Expedition 8 crewmembers Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri celebrate Cosmonautics Day aboard the International Space Station. (3min 07sec file)
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Mars rover briefing
Officials discuss the extended missions for the Mars rovers and present the latest pictures at this briefing from Thursday, April 8. (34min 10sec file)
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Gravity Probe-B preview
Scientists and mission officials preview the Gravity Probe-B project in this pre-flight news briefing from Friday, April 2. (62min 25sec file)
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NEW! X-43A in infrared
This newly-released infrared video, captured by a U.S. Army aircraft tracking the launch, shows the X-43A research vehicle flying away from its Pegasus rocket booster.
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NEW! Aboard Pegasus
A camera mounted on the Pegasus rocket booster shows the X-43A research vehicle separating to perform its scramjet experiment over the Pacific Ocean.
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This date in history
On April 5, 1991, space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Kennedy Space Center carrying the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory -- NASA's second Great Observatory. (3min 15sec file)
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Invisible giants exposed in new Spitzer image
NASA/JPL NEWS RELEASE
Posted: April 14, 2004


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/A. Marston (ESTEC/ESA)
Download larger verison here

 
Hidden behind a curtain of dusty darkness lurks one of the most violent pockets of star birth in our galaxy. Called DR21, this stellar nursery is so draped in cosmic dust that it appears invisible to the human eye.

By seeing in the infrared, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has pulled this veil aside, revealing a fireworks-like display of massive stars. The biggest of these stars is estimated to be 100,000 times as bright as our own Sun.

"We've never seen anything like this before," said Dr. William Reach, an investigator for the latest observations and an astronomer at the Spitzer Science Center, located at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "The massive stars are ripping the cloud of gas and dust around them to shreds." The principal investigator is Dr. Anthony Marston, a former Spitzer astronomer now at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, the Netherlands.

Located about 10,000 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation of our Milky Way galaxy, DR21 is a turbulent nest of giant newborn stars. The region is buried in so much space dust that no visible light escapes it. Previous images taken with radio and near-infrared bands of light reveal a powerful jet emanating from a huge, nebulous cloud. But these views are just the tip of the iceberg.

Spitzer's highly sensitive infrared detectors were able to see past the obscuring dust to the stars behind. The new false-color image spans a vast expanse of space, with DR21 at the top center. Within DR21, a dense knot of massive stars can be seen surrounded by a wispy cloud of gas and dust. Red filaments containing organic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons stretch horizontally and vertically across this cloud. A green jet of gas shoots downward past the bulge of stars and represents fast-moving, hot gas being ejected from the region's biggest star.

Below DR21 are distinct pockets of star formation, never captured in full detail before. The large swirling cloud to the lower left is thought to be a stellar nursery like DR21's, but with smaller stars. A bubble possibly formed by a past generation of stars is visible within the lower rim of this cloud.

The new view testifies to the ability of massive newborn stars to destroy the cloud that blankets them. Astronomers plan to use these observations to determine precisely how such an energetic event occurs.

Launched on August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Spitzer Space Telescope is the fourth of NASA's Great Observatories, a program that also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

JPL manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center. JPL is a division of Caltech. Spitzer's infrared array camera, used to capture the new image of DR21, was built by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The development of the camera was led by Dr. Giovanni Fazio of Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.

Mars rover collectible patch

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This commemorative patch celebrates NASA's Curiosity rover mission of the Mars Science Laboratory in search of clues whether the Red Planet was once hospitable to life.
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Gemini 7
Gemini 7: The NASA Mission Reports covers this 14-day mission by Borman and Lovell as they demonstrated some of the more essential facts of space flight. Includes CD-ROM.
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Apollo patches
The Apollo Patch Collection: Includes all 12 Apollo mission patches plus the Apollo Program Patch. Save over 20% off the Individual price.
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Mars Rover mission patch
A mission patch featuring NASA's Mars Exploration Rover is available from our online.
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Apollo 9 DVD
On the road to the moon, the mission of Apollo 9 stands as an important gateway in experience and procedures. This 2-DVD collection presents the crucial mission on the voyage to the moon.
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STS-134 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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STS-133 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!
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Anniversary Shuttle Patch

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This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
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Mercury anniversary

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Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
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Apollo 11 special patch
Special collectors' patch marking the 35th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing is now available.
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