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Huygens science update
One week after the Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan, scientists hold a news conference to announce additional results and describe more pictures from the mission. (69min 02sec file)

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ISS spacewalk preview
The upcoming spacewalk by the International Space Station's Expedition 10 crew is previewed by NASA officials at the Johnson Space Center on Jan. 21. (25min 04sec file)

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Launch of Deep Impact!
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Press Site view
A camera located at Cape Canaveral's Press Site 1 location offers this view of the Delta rocket's ascent. (1min 24sec file)
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Cocoa Beach
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Playalinda Beach
A Boeing Delta 2 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral carrying NASA's comet-smashing probe called Deep Impact. This extended clip follows the mission through second stage ignition and jettison of the rocket's nose cone. (5min 37sec file)
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Tower rollback
The mobile service tower is rolled back from the Boeing Delta 2 rocket, exposing the vehicle at launch pad 17B just before daybreak. (3min 21sec file)
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Rocket preps
Assembly of the Boeing Delta 2 rocket at launch pad 17B and mating of the Deep Impact spacecraft is presented in this video package with expert narration. (6min 12sec file)
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Spacecraft campaign
The pre-launch campaign of Deep Impact at Cape Canaveral is presented in this video package with expert narration by a spacecraft team member. (5min 32sec file)
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New Swift satellite images birth of a black hole
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: January 22, 2005

 
An artist's concept illustrates the Swift mission. Credit: Spectrum Astro
 
The NASA-led Swift mission has detected and imaged its first gamma-ray burst, likely the birth cry of a brand new black hole.

The bright and long burst occurred on January 17. It was in the midst of exploding, as Swift autonomously turned to focus in less than 200 seconds. The satellite was fast enough to capture an image of the event with its X-Ray Telescope (XRT), while gamma rays were still being detected with the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT).

"This is the first time an X-ray telescope has imaged a gamma-ray burst, while it was bursting," said Dr. Neil Gehrels, Swift's Principal Investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "Most bursts are gone in about 10 seconds, and few last upwards of a minute. Previous X-ray images have captured the burst afterglow, not the burst itself."

"This is the one that didn't get away," said Prof. John Nousek, Swift's Mission Operations Director at Penn State University, State College, Pa. "And this is what Swift was built to do: to detect these fleeting gamma-ray bursts and focus its telescopes on them autonomously within about a minute. The most exciting thing is this mission is just revving up."

Swift has three main instruments. The BAT detects bursts and initiates the autonomous slewing to bring the XRT and the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) within focus of the burst. In December the BAT started detecting bursts, including a remarkable triple detection on December 19. Today's announcement marks the first BAT detection autonomously followed by XRT detection, demonstrating the satellite is swiftly slewing as planned. The UVOT is still being tested, and it was not collecting data when the burst was detected.

Scientists will need several weeks to fully understand this burst, GRB050117, so named for the date of detection. Telescopes in orbit and on Earth will turn to the precise burst location provided by Swift to observe the burst afterglow and the region surrounding the burst.

"We are frantically analyzing the XRT data to understand the X-ray emission seen during the initial explosion and the very early afterglow," said Dr. David Burrows, the XRT lead at Penn State. "This is a whole new ballgame. No one has ever imaged X-rays during the transition of a gamma-ray burst from the brilliant flash to the fading embers."

When the UVOT is fully operational, both the XRT and UVOT will provide an in- depth observation of the gamma-ray burst and its afterglow. The burst is gone in a flash, but scientists can study the afterglow to learn about what caused the burst, much like a detective hunts for clues at a crime scene.

The origin of gamma-ray bursts remains a mystery. At least some appear to originate in massive star explosions. Others might be the result of merging black holes or neutron stars. Any of these scenarios likely will result in the formation of a new black hole.

Several of these bursts occur daily somewhere in the visible universe. No prompt X-ray emission (coincident with the gamma-ray burst) has been previously imaged, because it usually takes hours to turn an X-ray telescope towards a burst. Scientists expect Swift to be fully operational by February 1.

Swift, still in its checkout phase, is an international collaboration launched on November 20, 2004. It is a NASA mission in partnership with the Italian Space Agency and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, United Kingdom.

The spacecraft was built in collaboration with national laboratories, universities and international partners, including Penn State University; Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico; Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif.; Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Dorking, Surrey, England; the University of Leicester, England; Brera Observatory in Milan; and ASI Science Data Center in Frascati, Italy.

Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
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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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Expedition 21
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.
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Hubble Patch
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
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