Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Day 234: Astronaut Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko Give Live Interview From ISS

  Screenshot of cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (left) and Astronaut Scott Kelly (right) during the live interview from the International Space Station on November 17, 2015.

On November 17, 2015, Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko gave a live interview from the International Space Station (ISS) to The interview which lasted almost 8 minutes highlighted some of the current conditions the men where experiencing during their mission. Kelly and Kornienko  have spent twice as much time than a typical ISS crew member and have spent also eight months aboard the station as part of a one-year mission, to more understand the effects that weighlessness has on the human body.

One of NASA's future goals is towards the travel to the planet Mars and with this mission, effects on a human's mental state during long periods of time in harsh environments can be analyzed. Kelly recently completed his second space walk on November 6th and took his first ever space walk on October 28th.  Kelly has currently spent the longest time in space than any other American.

  Astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.
Source: NASA

The Kelly and Kornienko were interviewed by editor Alicia Maye of During the start of the interview Maye asked where they currently where located and Kelly replied with "We're over the Southern Hemisphere" and "going along the west coast of South America," and "heading South along the Andes." 

When Maye asked if they were feeling any effects from the 234 days they had spent on the ISS during the time of the interview, Kelly replied with he was sure about the muscle mass he may of lost or the radiation that he might have received while there and that they both wouldn't know the full effects until they get back home. Korinenko, through an interpreter said that he had, "better near vision, that he wasn't sure why and that scientist would tell him later. Kelly also said that he noticed that a "year in a long time," and that he felt that he lived his "whole life up here."

The men showed some cool tricks in their environment, like flipping with no hands and at one point in the interview at crew member floated past. Kelly said that the floating around makes some of the things that they have to do a bit harder but also provided a bit of humor saying that the environment was good for moving heavy things, than on Earth.  Maye asked a question from Twitter from topic #AskScottKellyOnAOL. The question was a inquiry on how the men stay mentally strong during their time in space. Kelly stated that NASA has a "good selection process and training," and that he felt "pretty well prepared." He also stated the sometimes he is "not 100% all of the time," but he "puts the whole thing in perspective," and that he will "be home someday" and that they do their "work with enough enthusiasm and energy to get job done." 

Much of their work includes running tests and collection data through use of imaging and ultrasounds as described by Kelly. He stated when asked about the ideal qualities for a candidate going on a journey to Mars, that ideally someone with a science and engineering background. Also having a military and operational background is good. He said that when things break down on the ISS they are the ones to fix them and though they have help on the ground it still is good for a person of kind of the "jack of all trades" to be in that kind of environment. There is a doctor on board the ISS and as Kelly mentioned if the doctor gets sick then they have to be the doctor, there is also a gym as stated by Korinenko.

 The full interview can be found on the website.

Here are a few more screenshots taken from the interview:

Korinenko floats the microphone over to Kelly.
Korninenko shows his weightlessness.

Since Kelly been living on the ISS, he has been very active on Twitter, posting pictures of the Earth and other science related features form his view.

Here are a few of those tweets:

If you are thinking of becoming an astronaut, NASA recently opened up their Astronaut Selection Program and they are presently accepting applications.

The ISS is constantly moving about in space and ISS AstroViewer is a great site to track the station's current location.

The date set for the trip back home is set for March 2016.

The International Space Station.
Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Ideas and $5 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!!!

Hey everyone! Wow it’s been almost a year since my last blog entry. Though I wasn’t posting I haven’t been completely quiet over since the last time I've posted. Recently in May 2014 I graduated from Howard University with a Masters in Atmospheric Science. My thesis is entitled “The Economic Value of Air Quality Forecasting” which focuses on how vital air quality forecasting is and how more forecasting and policies can help to prevent hospitalizations and deaths caused by poor air quality. My research was even presented at the 47th Annual American Geophysical Union Conference. I also took some time to take care of my very active and growing daughter and come up with new ideas for the blog.

I started the blog in 2009 as a platform for sharing knowledge about what I was learning in school and the world of Earth Science. Back then I was just starting my Bachelor’s in Earth Science at Kean University. Since then the blog grew to include events with  NASA social as well. I want to further include many new outlets to this blog such as polls, discussions and product reviews, as a way to get my readers more engaged. I also plan to post more entries and feature guest posts, especially about the environment and atmospheric phenomena both locally and around the globe. Occasionally I'll be running  giveaways too.

The world is ever changing and the climate is set for major changes in the very near future, such as reducing crop yields. Science is truly spectacular and voices should be heard. I want to thank everyone who has come to this blog and read some of my earlier postings. I’ve stayed pretty active on Twitter. Thanks for following me on there as well. Thanks again for coming to my blog and to show my appreciation I'm running my first giveaway, a  $5 Amazon Gift Card! Look for more giveaways soon!! Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions:  Contest ends August 9th at 12:00 AM EDT. Must be 18+ years or older to enter. This giveaway is in no way sponsored by Twitter, Amazon or Blogger. The winner drawn will have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail or another winner will be chosen. Prize will be emailed to the winner via a gift card code. Winner will be chosen via, which is drawn randomly. There will only be one (1) winner of the $5 Amazon e-gift card code. Open Worldwide.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test

The NASA social crew at the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA with the Orion Spacecraft in the background. (Credit: @NASASocial)

 Back in July, I applied for the NASA Social Orion Stationary Recovery Test. If you aren't familiar with what NASA Social is, it's a program that allows NASA social media followers, an inside look at what goes on at NASA. This may include tours of facilities, talking to astronauts and more. This social was the 4th social I've applied too. The three others where with Astronaut Joe Abaca, Astronaut Rob Garan, and the STS-135 talk with crew members Christopher Ferguson and Sandy Magnus. The latter being my first one. All of these previous social events were at the headquarters in Washington, DC.

I applied for the social because I also was very interested in what the social was to offer. The social included a tour of the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton,VA, the  NASA Langley Research Center also in Hampton and a view of the Orion Spacecraft Stationary Recovery Test in Norfolk,VA as well as a tour of the USS Arlington. I was a little apprehensive because only 30 of NASA's social media followers would be selected. The previous ones I've went to included over 100 social media followers. The selections are random.  I wasn't really worried about the drive. The NASA Langley Research Center is about 3 hours and 8 minutes from my home in Maryland, though this social was the farthest I've applied too.

A few days after I applied I got an email saying I was on the wait list. This wasn't the first time I had been put on the wait list. I was put on the wait list for the very first one I went too, the STS-135 talk. When I saw I was on the wait list for this event I was a little upset because I knew the limit was much smaller than before, but I still kept my fingers crossed. About two days after that, I got an email saying the I was off the wait list. I was in! I was so happy!

The dates were August 14 and 15th for the event. Unfortunately my husband wasn't able to schedule off for the 14th and 15th. So I decided I'd leave the morning of the 14th and leave after the events on the 15th. It was hard leaving our daughter. That night was the first time I spent a night away from her. My husband stayed with her while I was gone and I know they had some good  father/daughter bonding :-) The ride down to Hampton was good. I meet up with a couple of social media followers who were selected for the event for a late lunch. We went ate at the SurfRider. After the lunch we all went to the Virginia Air and Space Center. There we got to tour to facility after hours and to see an IMAX movie, Elysium, at a discounted price. Here are some pictures from the center:

 The Apollo 12 Command Module.

Me in front of the Apollo 12 Command Module. 

I didn't stay to watch the movie. I went back to the hotel to get some sleep. We went to the NASA Langley Research Center the next morning. The events started at 8am. It was nice tour and we got an overview of the facility.  There the center does a lot of aeronautics research and looks to improve the performance and safety of commercial air crafts. That includes reducing fuel burn by 50% and reducing noise. The center also does research to understand climate change and was effective in forming a policy to eliminate CFCs.  Here's a video further describing the center:

We got a tour the Landing Facility where they test airplanes and helicopters. The Landing Facility is also the place where the Orion Capsule was drop tested in the Hydro Impact Basin. The crew of the Apollo spacecraft trained at the Landing Facility as well. Here's some pictures:

 My badge.

 Crash dummies.

 Overview of the facility.

 The Hydro Impact Basin.

 The NASA Social crew in front of the Hydro Impact Basin. (Credit: @NASASocial)

After the Landing Facility, we went to the National Transonic Facility, where aeronautics are tested. That facility is one of two wind tunnels in the world that can achieve high Reynold's numbers (My college classes came back to me with that one.) Here's a few pics from the facility:

 Inside the control room.

We also got to tour another facility at the NASA Langley Research Center and go inside a space habitat.

 Little alien dude.

 Inside the space habitat.

After the tour of the space habitat, we ate lunch at the cafeteria were we heard more about LADEE which stands for Lunar Atmospheric and Dust Environment Explorer. LADEE is set to launch next month from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  After lunch we went to the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA. That's where the US Navy on the USS Arlington was to recover the Orion Spacecraft. The last time a recovery of a spacecraft done in the water was the Apollo spacecraft back in the 1970s! It was so cool to be there to watch the recovery. NASA, the US Navy and Lockheed Martin did a great job. The recovery was a success! Here are some pics:
 The Orion Spacecraft.

 Me with Orion in the background.

 Starting the recovery.
 All attached.

Lastly we got to tour the USS Arlington by some of the US Navy. Part of the heel of the ship is infused with a piece of the pentagon from 9/11. Here's those pics:

 Orion on the ship.

 Never forget.

 The landing pad.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. It was so nice meeting everyone and seeing the facilities and the recovery test. Thanks to everyone who made this opportunity possible. Here's to the launch of Orion in 2014!

My future scientist:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rainbow Over The Atlantic

Yesterday, my husband, our daughter, a couple of my in-laws and I, took a trip to Ocean City, MD. Not too long after we all go there, there was an isolated shower along the beach. The shower cleared within 15 minutes and not too long after that I saw a beautiful rainbow over the Atlantic Ocean. Though the rainbow was faint, it was still a nice sight to see. Here's the picture below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore Tornado 2013

Yesterday a massive EF 5 tornado, struck Moore, Oklahoma and left behind major destruction. Reports are that the tornado reached a length of 1.3 miles wide at it's peak. The death is at 24, though that number is expected to rise and there are reports there are nearly 240  who are injured. Close to 100 have been pulled from the rubble, alive. This is not the first time, Moore has been struck by a tornado. There have been five in the past 15 years. Three, including yesterday's storm, have been of great magnitude. The first one was an EF 5 tornado on May 3, 1999, the other was back on May 8, 2003. That tornado was an EF 4.

This image from the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma shows the path of the May 20, 2013 tornado, with that of the May 3, 1999 tornado. That path is almost identical.

 At the time, the 1999 was the most costliest tornadoes in the United States to date and the death toll from that tornado was 36. In 2011 it was surpassed by the tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The wind speed of the 1999 tornado was 302 mph, and was the highest wind speed ever measured in a tornado. Yesterday's storm had winds of over 200. 

Here's the satellite image showing the rotation of the systems, as they passed over the region:

There are also reports that residents had a 30 to 40 minute warning before the tornado hit. According to CNN, "As Gov. Mary Fallin had said Monday night, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said he believed residents had time to prepare for the storm. 'My understanding is that the warning system was good. It was adequate,' he said."

Below is a picture of some of the destruction caused by the tornado:

 Here's an aerial photo of the path:

In looking at the destruction, many homes where completely leveled from the winds. Schools and the town's only hospital were also in the direct path of the storm. Of the 24 reported killed, 9 were children.Oklahoma is known to be tornado prone, however tornadoes can occur anywhere. May is also a very active month for tornadoes. I wrote about tornado safety back in 2011 in this blog entry and in the wake of this tornado it is important to know the difference between tornado watches and warnings, as well as tips on how to stay safe.

Monday, March 4, 2013

'Snowquester/Saturn' Is On The Way

The Weather Channel has the storm named 'Saturn' and the rest of the DC metro is naming it 'Snowquester,' regardless, this winter storm is currently moving towards the region. The storm will be impacting the area Tuesday night into Wednesday night. I saw some television stations stating the DC metro area could be receiving anywhere from 2 to 10 inches from this system. I'm thinking that the overall total will be around 5 inches. So far the region has received 4.8 inches which is 13.9 inches below normal.  The record snowfall was on March 6, 1962 in which 10 inches fell.
Accuweather is predicting 3 to 6 inches for the metro area:

The total snowfall will vary due to the track of the storm. The NAM model shows a direct hit on the DC metro region, while the GFS has the system more on a southerly track.



Currently much of the area is under a winter storm watch, while more towards the Northwest is under a winter storm warning.
Wind will also accompany this system.  Tuesday night the region can expect winds from the east at 7 to 17 mph. The winds will be from the north Wednesday and Wednesday night at 18 to 23 mph. Stay safe and warm, DMV!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beijing's Air Quality Is Way Unsafe

A big area of research that I'm working on is air quality.  Recently I was browsing the web and saw a New York Times article stating that the quality of air for Beijing, China reached 755. That's 20 times over what is deemed safe. The EPA says the levels between 301 and 500 are “hazardous” and outdoor activity should be avoided. This is alarming that Beijing’s air quality is so high. In fact, in 2012 the American Lung Association State of the Air report stated that though there is an improvement in air quality in many places, “over 127 million people—41 percent of the nation—still suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe.” Air is what we need to survive and if the air is polluted, many people can get sick or die.

According to the article, Beijing’s embassy's Twitter called the reading “crazy bad” and that terminology was used back in November 2010. It was quickly deleted off the Twitter feed then. NASA released images of Beijing, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, on January 3 and January 14, 2013.

 January 3

 January 14

You can see the difference between the two days with significantly less visibility appearing on the latter date. This is really bad. People should not have to wear masks or like one man in the article said; he had air purifiers running at full power.

Much of the pollution is caused by particulate matter (PM) which is trapped in the air. This particulate matter can be caused by factories, cars and biomass burning, though the structure of the region can have effect on the air quality as well. Much of the particulate matter that is measured is PM 2.5. PM 2.5 refers to the diameter of matter itself is 2.5 microns or smaller. Here is a graph showing the comparison of PM 2.5 to a human hair.

PM 2.5 might seem small but this matter can get into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and other health problems. The matter can also contribute to premature deaths. In fact one article states that, "Hospitals have also reportedly admitted 20 to 30 percent more patients, who complained of respiratory issues that were likely caused by breathing heavily polluted air." Talk about visibility too. With that much particles hanging in the atmosphere, visibility can be little to none, which makes it hard for transportation like buses and planes. Here is a comparison of Beijing's skyline. The top is from August 29, 2010 and the bottom is January 14, 2013.

 According to the article, “Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Dec. 31 that Beijing’s air quality had improved for 14 years straight, and the level of major pollutants had decreased. A municipal government spokesman told Xinhua that the annual average concentration of PM 10, or particles 10 microns in diameter or smaller, had dropped by 4 percent in 2012, compared with one year earlier.” Through this statement and actuality however, something should really be done about Beijing’s air, as the pollution is a big danger for the people who live there. The article states there is an outcry for more data about the PM 2.5 levels in the area. The PM 2.5 data should be released as it can be more deadly.