|America's space agency is flourishing with visions of exploration and discovery, even as it strives to understand and protect Earth, explore the Universe, search for life, and inspire the next generation of explorers. NASA completed a comprehensive shift in management philosophy and structure during in 2002.|
Major Discoveries Continue To Be Recorded
- The Mars Odyssey spacecraft measured enormous quantities of water ice buried deep under the poles of the mysterious Red Planet during 2002. The robot explorer found enough water, if thawed, to fill Lake Michigan twice over.
- Are we alone in the Universe? NASA planet-hunters found a planetary system, which has some important similarities to our own, with a Jupiter-sized planet at about the same distance from its parent star as our own Jupiter is from our Sun. This discovery enhances the possibility that Earth-like planets could exist in similar systems.
- For the first time, astronomers tracked the life cycle of X-ray jets from a deep space black hole. A series of images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Center revealed the jets traveled at near light speed for several years before slowing down and fading.
- Chandra also produced stunning photographs of a high-energy panorama from the central regions of our Milky Way galaxy. The findings are an important step toward understanding the most active area of the Milky Way and other galaxies.
Protecting and Understanding Earth
- NASA is conducting research so health workers can track the spread of West Nile Virus and other diseases. NASA creates databases useful in efforts to combat disease.
- NASA observed the Antarctic Larsen Ice Shelf as well as the seasonal acceleration of the Greenland ice sheet, learning that glaciers affect ocean currents, marine life, terrestrial productivity, and the ocean food chain.
- The space agency observations are improving predictions of hurricane tracks and increasing warning times.
- NASA collects data on how clouds insulate the Earth and reflect heat in and out of our atmosphere. The agency's technologies will increase weather forecasting from the current three-to-five-day level out to a seven-to-ten-day level.
Hubble Is Upgraded 250 Miles From Home
- The crew of the space shuttle Columbia flight STS-109 installed new solar panels, a better central power unit, and a new camera that increased the Hubble Space Telescope's vision tenfold.
- The new Advanced Camera for Surveys sent back spectacular images.
- HST provided data to help measure of the age of the Universe by uncovering the oldest stars.
Better Living Through Space Age Technology
- NASA scientists developed life saving devices such as a Child Presence Sensor to alert parents when a child in an automobile infant or booster seat is left in the vehicle.
- Technology was adapted to a portable, non-invasive fetal heart monitor.
- NASA researchers built a prototype device to monitor air continuously for the presence of bacterial spores and biohazards like anthrax.
- A new high-strength aluminum-silicon alloy should lower engine emissions to improve air quality.
International Space Station Celebrates Anniversary
- The International Space Station is the largest and most sophisticated spacecraft ever built. During 2002, the human habitat and research lab celebrated a second year of continuous human habitation.
- Also in 2002, the NASA's space shuttle fleet turned 21 years old and successfully flew five missions — four to support space station expansion and one to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Astronaut John B. Herrington flew aboard shuttle Endeavour flight STS-113 and was the first Native American to walk in space.
Continuous Presence, Continuous Results
- Astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first NASA Space Station Science Officer, reflected the agency's increased research tempo.
- Approximately 48 research and technology development experiments were conducted.
- Crewmembers conducted the first materials science research, testing medical procedures for controlling negative effects of space flight and increased medical understanding of changes to bone and the central nervous system that occur in space.
- Astronauts conducted advanced cell culturing research, broke new ground in the study of dynamic systems, made up of tiny particles mixed in a liquid, colloids, and installed three new space station experiment equipment racks.
Inspiring the Next Generation
- Barbara Morgan was named the first Educator Astronaut and assigned as a crewmember on space shuttle Columbia flight STS-118 in November 2003. Educator Astronauts will be fully trained shuttle crewmembers. They will perform mission tasks, such as coordinating resupply operations and spacewalks, as well as interacting with students during space-to-ground communications to encourage interest in science, mathematics and the space program.
Sean O'Keefe became NASA's tenth Administrator
- Sean O'Keefe, the former Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, became the agency's tenth Administrator.
- Former Space Shuttle Commander, Frederick Gregory, was appointed as NASA's first African American Deputy Administrator.
Integrated Space Transportation Plan
- This ISTP dramatically changes the way the space agency does business. Using existing funds, it improves the existing Space Launch Initiative to benefit the International Space Station, space shuttles, the Orbital Space Plane Program, other science research objectives.
Quest To Go Faster and Farther
- NASA announced the Nuclear Systems Initiative, a five-year program to develop future spacecraft propulsion and power. The program will research nuclear reactor technology, nuclear electric propulsion and other advanced power systems for deep space exploration.
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