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EXPLORATIONS - September 19, 2001: Space Digest - 2001-09-18


VOICE ONE:

This is Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Shirley Griffith with the Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Today, we tell about the latest flight of the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. We tell about a new high-flying aircraft. We report about new research into ocean storms. And we tell about new and exciting pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope that can be seen on a computer.

((THEME))

VOICE ONE:

Recent pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show a huge area of space where new stars are being born. The Wide Field and Planetary Camera on the space shuttle took the pictures.

The pictures show extremely clearly a cloud of gas and dust called the Thirty-Doradus Nebula. The cloud surrounds an area of star birth. The pictures show material being exploded into space from groups of stars in the nebula. This group of stars is called R-One-Thirty-Six. It includes some of the largest stars yet discovered.

Scientists say the young hot stars in R-One-Thirty-Six produce intense winds and streams of material traveling at several million kilometers an hour. The pictures show an event that took place about two-million years ago.

VOICE TWO:

The huge stars in Thirty-Doradus Nebula are very beautiful even though they are involved in violent activity. The stars look like a group of diamonds that shine a bright blue. They seem to have been dropped into an area of space, like large pieces of blue ice.

These extremely bright stars are surrounded by other stars that are a yellow color and are much less bright. The whole area is surrounded by what looks like thin clouds.

The space telescope image of the Thirty-Doradus Nebula combines five pictures. They were taken between January Nineteen-Ninety-Four and September of Two-Thousand.

VOICE ONE:

The Hubble space telescope has also taken beautiful pictures of a dying star in the Calabash Nebula. Stars like the sun in our universe grow very old and die. When this happens they expel most of their material as huge amounts of gas and dust.

A team of Spanish and American astronomers used the Hubble telescope to study how the huge amounts of gas from a dying star crash into surrounding material. The pictures show gas in yellow flowing at high speed from a star hidden at the center of the nebula. This yellow stream crashes into surrounding matter shown in blue.

Much of the violence seems to be caused very suddenly when huge amounts of gas from the dying star began speeding up to intense speeds. The scientists who are studying the new pictures say this event took place about eight-hundred years ago.

VOICE TWO:

If you have a computer you can see these beautiful pictures in bright colors. Ask your computer to search the World Wide Web part of the Internet. Enter the name Hubble. That is spelled H-U-B-B-L-E. Or search for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory by entering the letters, J-P-L.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))

VOICE ONE:

On August Thirteenth, an aircraft without a pilot sent a new record. It reached an altitude of almost thirty-thousand meters. It was flying for about seventeen hours. The aircraft is named Helios. It is controlled from the ground by people using a radio.

Helios was built by the AeroVironment Company of California, with support from the American space agency, NASA. The aircraft looks like a huge wing without a tail. The wing is more than seventy-five meters long. It has fourteen electric motors that each turn a propeller. Sixty-six thousand solar cells that make electricity from sunlight provide the power for the motors. The aircraft can take off only in full sun.

The Helios flying wing is able to fly three times higher than normal airplanes. NASA hopes that some time in the future Helios aircraft will be able to remain at extremely high altitudes for months. They could be used to measure atmospheric conditions. Or they could provide low cost communications links. And, NASA scientists say a Helios flying wing could be used to fly in the thin atmosphere over Mars.

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VOICE TWO:

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are learning about huge ocean storms. They are flying airplanes carrying new scientific instruments through the storms.

The goal of the experiment is to take the mystery out of ocean storms. The experiment is called the Fourth Convection and Moisture Experiment. The NASA scientists are examining how a storm grows more powerful and how it moves. They are flying airplanes from the United States Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. The two airplanes carrying the new instruments will fly over, through and around storms in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

VOICE ONE:

Bjorn Lambrigtsen is the leader of the research team. He designed an instrument that is used to gather information about the storms. A special aircraft that can fly more than twenty kilometers high carries the instrument.

The instrument looks below and from side to side. It records the temperature of the air, the amount of water in the air, and how the clouds are formed inside the storm. Mister Lambrigtsen and his team are on these extremely high flights.

VOICE TWO:

Other scientific teams are using different instruments on an airplane similar to a passenger plane. One instrument measures water in the air as the plane flies through the huge storms.

Other instruments provide information about the amount of heat found in the storm. This information is used to create a map of air temperature at different points. Another instrument on the airplane measures the amount of rain.

NASA began this ocean storm experiment August Sixteenth. It will continue until September Twenty-fourth.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))

VOICE ONE:

On August Twenty-Second, the American Space Shuttle Discovery landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Discovery returned with the second group of crew members of the International Space Station. They had spent one-hundred-sixty-seven days in space.

The returning crewmembers were the commander, Russian cosmonaut Yury Usachev, and two flight engineers, American astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms. The three were brought back to Earth in special seats designed to lessen the effects of their return to gravity.

VOICE TWO:

The Discovery space shuttle left the members of the third crew of the International Space Station in their new home. These crewmembers are astronaut Frank Culbertson, and cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin.

The Discovery crew also left supplies and equipment at the International Space Station. One piece of equipment is the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. The Leonardo module can be used several times to carry supplies. It can also be used as a permanent part of the space station. For this flight, twelve special containers of experiments and equipment were inside the Leonardo module.

VOICE ONE:

Discovery also carried into space something called the Student Experiment Module. The module contained ten small experiments designed by students in eleven different schools. These experiments are part of a NASA program to improve education in science, space and space technology.

NASA’s space shuttles have been carrying Student Experiment Modules for the past five years. More than ten-thousand students have taken part in the project. Both high school and college students design the student experiments.

The space shuttle carried a special experiment designed by students at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota. The purpose of their G-Seven-Eight-Zero experiment is to investigate cell growth in an extreme lack of gravity. The experiment has six growing areas that hold several kinds of seeds.

These experiments are part of the Hitchhiker Experiments Advancing Technology program, known as HEAT. The HEAT program permits students and others to take an active part in the American space shuttle program.

((THEME))

VOICE TWO:

This Special English program was written by Paul Thompson. This is Shirley Grifith.

VOICE ONE:

And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program in on the Voice of America.

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