NASA Associate Administrator and former astronaut Robert Cabana announced Monday his retirement, effective Sunday, Dec. 31 after more than 38 years of service. As associate administrator, Cabana has been the agency’s highest ranking civil servant, third highest ranking NASA official, and the senior advisor to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.
Among notable contributions to the nation during his NASA career that included being an astronaut, Cabana flew in space four times, including twice as commander. His final space shuttle flight was the first International Space Station assembly mission. Cabana also was the director of the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for more than a decade. There he led its transition from retirement of the space shuttle to a multi-user spaceport once again launching NASA astronauts to low Earth orbit, and for the first time, doing so with commercial partners.
“Bob is one of the finest leaders I’ve ever known. I’ve been fortunate to know him for decades, and I couldn’t be prouder to have had such a great colleague and friend throughout the years. Bob is an example of the American grit, passion, and excellence that are woven into the fabric of our nation,” said Nelson. “Pam and I are eternally grateful for the years of service and positive influence he has had on the United States, NASA, and space exploration and wish him all the best on his upcoming retirement.”
As associate administrator, Cabana leads NASA’s 10 center directors, as well as the mission directorate associate administrators at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He is the agency’s chief operating officer for more than 18,000 employees and oversaw an annual budget of more than $25 billion.
“Leading the exceptional people at NASA who explore the universe for the benefit of humanity has been a great honor,” said Cabana. “From flying in space to guiding teams across the agency in achieving NASA’s mission, I am grateful for an incredible career at NASA and in the space industry, and thankful for all the enriching friendships made throughout this journey. I have been blessed to be part of such an amazing team these last 38 years and serving as associate administrator alongside Bill and Pam has been a highlight.”
Cabana was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 1985 and completed training in July 1986. He logged 38 days in space during four shuttle missions. Cabana was a pilot aboard space shuttle Discovery on both the STS-41 mission in October 1990 that deployed the Ulysses spacecraft and the STS-53 mission in December 1992. He was the mission commander aboard space shuttle Columbia for the STS-65 mission in July 1994 that conducted experiments as part of the second International Microgravity Laboratory mission. He commanded space shuttle Endeavour for the STS-88 mission in December 1998.
Space Shuttle Endeavour Commander Robert Cabana prepares to return to Earth following successful delivery and mating of the first American module, Unity, to the International Space Station during the STS-88 mission.
Cabana was appointed a member of the Federal Senior Executive Service in 2000 and served in numerous senior management positions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, ultimately becoming deputy director. He was named director of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi in October 2007 and a year later was selected as the Kennedy director.
Born in Minneapolis, Cabana graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He became a naval aviator and graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1981. In his career, Cabana logged over 7,000 hours in more than 50 different kinds of aircraft. He retired as a colonel from the U.S. Marine Corps in September 2000.
Cabana’s many achievements have been recognized with induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and being named an Associate Fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He has received numerous personal awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. He also is a recipient of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement’s National Space Trophy.
For Cabana’s full bio, visit:
NASA Remembers Trailblazing Astronaut, Scientist Mary Cleave
Retired NASA astronaut Mary Cleave, a veteran of two NASA spaceflights, died Nov. 27. She was 76. A scientist with training in civil and environmental engineering, as well as biological sciences and microbial ecology, Cleave was the first woman to serve as an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Born in Southampton, New York, Cleave received a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, in 1969, and Master of Science in microbial ecology and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, both from Utah State University, Logan, in 1975 and 1979, respectively.
“I’m sad we’ve lost trail blazer Dr. Mary Cleave, shuttle astronaut, veteran of two spaceflights, and first woman to lead the Science Mission Directorate as associate administrator,” said NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. “Mary was a force of nature with a passion for science, exploration, and caring for our home planet. She will be missed.”
Cleave was selected as an astronaut in May 1980. Her technical assignments included flight software verification in the SAIL (Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory), spacecraft communicator on five space shuttle flights, and malfunctions procedures book and crew equipment design.
Cleave launched on her first mission, STS-61B, aboard space shuttle Atlantis on Nov. 26,1985. During the flight, the crew deployed communications satellites, conducted two six-hour spacewalks to demonstrate space station construction techniques, operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis experiment for McDonnell Douglas and a Getaway Special container for Telesat and tested the Orbiter Experiments Digital Autopilot.
Cleave’s second mission, STS-30, which also was on Atlantis, launched May 4, 1989. It was a four-day flight during which the crew successfully deployed the Magellan Venus exploration spacecraft, the first planetary probe to be deployed from a space shuttle. Magellan arrived at Venus in August 1990 and mapped more than 95% of the surface. In addition, the crew also worked on secondary payloads involving indium crystal growth, electrical storms, and Earth observation studies.
Cleave transferred from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in May 1991. There, she worked in the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes as the project manager for SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing, Wide-Field-of-view-Sensor), an ocean color sensor which monitored vegetation globally.
In March 2000, she went to serve as deputy associate administrator for advanced planning in the Office of Earth Science at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington. From August 2005 to February 2007, Cleave was the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate where she guided an array of research and scientific exploration programs for planet Earth, space weather, the solar system, and the universe. She also oversaw an assortment of grant-based research programs and a diverse constellation of spacecraft, from small, principal investigator-led missions to large flagship missions.
Cleave’s awards included: two NASA Space Flight medals; two NASA Exceptional Service medals; an American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal; and NASA Engineer of the Year.
Cleave retired from NASA in February 2007.
Telescope Array detects second highest-energy cosmic ray ever
Newswise — In 1991, the University of Utah Fly’s Eye experiment detected the highest-energy cosmic ray ever observed. Later dubbed the Oh-My-God particle, the cosmic ray’s energy shocked astrophysicists. Nothing in our galaxy had the power to produce it, and the particle had more energy than was theoretically possible for cosmic rays traveling to Earth from other galaxies. Simply put, the particle should not exist.
The Telescope Array has since observed more than 30 ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, though none approaching the Oh-My-God-level energy. No observations have yet revealed their origin or how they are able to travel to the Earth.
On May 27, 2021, the Telescope Array experiment detected the second-highest extreme-energy cosmic ray. At 2.4 x 1020eV, the energy of this single subatomic particle is equivalent to dropping a brick on your toe from waist height. Led by the University of Utah (the U) and the University of Tokyo, the Telescope Array consists of 507 surface detector stations arranged in a square grid that covers 700 km2 (~270 miles2) outside of Delta, Utah in the state’s West Desert. The event triggered 23 detectors at the north-west region of the Telescope Array, splashing across 48 km2 (18.5 mi2). Its arrival direction appeared to be from the Local Void, an empty area of space bordering the Milky Way galaxy.
“The particles are so high energy, they shouldn’t be affected by galactic and extra-galactic magnetic fields. You should be able to point to where they come from in the sky,” said John Matthews, Telescope Array co-spokesperson at the U and co-author of the study. “But in the case of the Oh-My-God particle and this new particle, you trace its trajectory to its source and there’s nothing high energy enough to have produced it. That’s the mystery of this—what the heck is going on?”
In their observation that published on Nov. 24, 2023, in the journal Science, an international collaboration of researchers describe the ultra-high-energy cosmic ray, evaluate its characteristics, and conclude that the rare phenomena might follow particle physics unknown to science. The researchers named it the Amaterasu particle after the sun goddess in Japanese mythology. The Oh-My-God and the Amaterasu particles were detected using different observation techniques, confirming that while rare, these ultra-high energy events are real.
“These events seem like they’re coming from completely different places in the sky. It’s not like there’s one mysterious source,” said John Belz, professor at the U and co-author of the study. “It could be defects in the structure of spacetime, colliding cosmic strings. I mean, I’m just spit-balling crazy ideas that people are coming up with because there’s not a conventional explanation.”
Natural particle accelerators
Cosmic rays are echoes of violent celestial events that have stripped matter to its subatomic structures and hurled it through universe at nearly the speed of light. Essentially cosmic rays are charged particles with a wide range of energies consisting of positive protons, negative electrons, or entire atomic nuclei that travel through space and rain down onto Earth nearly constantly.
Cosmic rays hit Earth’s upper atmosphere and blasts apart the nucleus of oxygen and nitrogen gas, generating many secondary particles. These travel a short distance in the atmosphere and repeat the process, building a shower of billions of secondary particles that scatter to the surface. The footprint of this secondary shower is massive and requires that detectors cover an area as large as the Telescope Array. The surface detectors utilize a suite of instrumentation that gives researchers information about each cosmic ray; the timing of the signal shows its trajectory and the amount of charged particles hitting each detector reveals the primary particle’s energy.
Because particles have a charge, their flight path resembles a ball in a pinball machine as they zigzag against the electromagnetic fields through the cosmic microwave background. It’s nearly impossible to trace the trajectory of most cosmic rays, which lie on the low- to middle-end of the energy spectrum. Even high-energy cosmic rays are distorted by the microwave background. Particles with Oh-My-God and Amaterasu energy blast through intergalactic space relatively unbent. Only the most powerful of celestial events can produce them.
“Things that people think of as energetic, like supernova, are nowhere near energetic enough for this. You need huge amounts of energy, really high magnetic fields to confine the particle while it gets accelerated,” said Matthews.
Ultra-high-energy cosmic rays must exceed 5 x 1019 eV. This means that a single subatomic particle carries the same kinetic energy as a major league pitcher’s fast ball and has tens of millions of times more energy than any human-made particle accelerator can achieve. Astrophysicists calculated this theoretical limit, known as the Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin (GZK) cutoff, as the maximum energy a proton can hold traveling over long distances before the effect of interactions of the microwave background radiation take their energy. Known source candidates, such as active galactic nuclei or black holes with accretion disks emitting particle jets, tend to be more than 160 million light years away from Earth. The new particle’s 2.4 x 1020 eV and the Oh-My-God particle’s 3.2 x 1020 eV easily surpass the cutoff.
Researchers also analyze cosmic ray composition for clues of its origins. A heavier particle, like iron nuclei, are heavier, have more charge and are more susceptible to bending in a magnetic field than a lighter particle made of protons from a hydrogen atom. The new particle is likely a proton. Particle physics dictates that a cosmic ray with energy beyond the GZK cutoff is too powerful for the microwave background to distort its path, but back tracing its trajectory points towards empty space.
“Maybe magnetic fields are stronger than we thought, but that disagrees with other observations that show they’re not strong enough to produce significant curvature at these ten-to-the-twentieth electron volt energies,” said Belz. “It’s a real mystery.”
Expanding the footprint
The Telescope Array is uniquely positioned to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. It sits at about 1,200 m (4,000 ft), the elevation sweet-spot that allows secondary particles maximum development, but before they start to decay. Its location in Utah’s West Desert provides ideal atmospheric conditions in two ways: the dry air is crucial because humidity will absorb the ultraviolet light necessary for detection; and the region’s dark skies are essential, as light pollution will create too much noise and obscure the cosmic rays.
Astrophysicists are still baffled by the mysterious phenomena. The Telescope Array is in the middle of an expansion that that they hope will help crack the case. Once completed, 500 new scintillator detectors will expand the Telescope Array will sample cosmic ray-induced particle showers across 2,900 km2 (1,100 mi2 ), an area nearly the size of Rhode Island. The larger footprint will hopefully capture more events that will shed light on what’s going on.
GOODYEAR AND THE U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVE TEAM UP TO DELIVER HOLIDAY CHEER TO LOCAL FAMILIES
AKRON, Ohio /PRNewswire/ — Today, Goodyear (NASDAQ: GT) announced its continued partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for the 13th consecutive year in support of the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation. This year’s toy drive events will take place at Goodyear’s Blimp bases in California, Florida and Ohio. These drives will provide the public with a unique opportunity to donate to Toys for Tots while enjoying an up-close view of the iconic Goodyear Blimp.
From Dec. 1 to 3, Ohio residents can drive through the Wingfoot Lake blimp hangar from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look before dropping off their donation to a U.S. Marine representing Toys for Tots. In Florida, the event will be held on Dec. 3, offering open house tours of the hangar from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The California event on Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., welcomes registered attendees to enjoy guided tours of the base. Blimp enthusiasts in California can secure their tour spot here.
For those unable to attend the drives in person, toys can also be shipped to Goodyear’s hangars through Dec. 3. Toys being donated must be new and in the original packaging to be accepted.
Visuals from previous Toys for Tots events at Goodyear’s Blimp bases can be found here.
“The enduring partnership between Goodyear and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in support of the Marines Toys for Tots Program is a source of immense pride for us,” said Laura Duda, Goodyear’s senior vice president and Chief Communications Officer. “For the 13th consecutive year, we’re excited to open the doors of our three blimp bases to the public, offering a unique chance to contribute to Toys for Tots while experiencing the magic of the Goodyear Blimp up close.”
Since its founding in 1947, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program has been on a mission to collect new, unwrapped toys throughout the months of October, November and December, distributing them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the local community.
“As we celebrate our 76th year of assisting children in need, we are thrilled to welcome Goodyear back for their 13th year as a National Corporate Sponsor of the Marine Toys for Tots Program,” said retired Marine Colonel Ted Silvester, vice president of the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation.
“Their community service goals continue to align with those the Marine Corps has promoted for over seven decades through our Toys for Tots Program.” Silvester concluded, “With their continued generous support, we will be able to fulfill the Christmas dreams of thousands of disadvantaged children who might otherwise be forgotten.”
The Goodyear Blimp base locations accepting in-person and mailed toy or monetary donations for this program include:
California Goodyear Airship Base
19200 S Main St, Carson, CA 90248
Florida Goodyear Airship Base
1500 NE 5th Ave, Pompano Beach, FL 33060
Ohio Goodyear Airship Base
841 Wingfoot Lake Rd., Mogadore, OH 44260
About The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Goodyear is one of the world’s largest tire companies. It employs about 74,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.
SOURCE The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
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