Watch: What NASA Just Did Puts Us Closer To Sending Space Travelers To Mars

In an earth-shaking display of power and promise, NASA on Thursday successfully tested a huge rocket engine of the kind that may help propel astronauts on a deep-space mission to Mars. The test occurred at a NASA facility in Mississippi — the Stennis Space Center — where the RS-25 engine was put through its fiery paces with a new controller.

The massive engine’s 512,000 pounds of thrust was on display for 535 seconds, the time it would take to lift the Orion spacecraft crew capsule some 200 miles above the earth and send it on its way toward the red planet.

The rocket engine that was tested was a leftover from the agency’s shuttle program. It’s undergone a number of changes to make it more suitable for its next mission.

Onlookers watching from a safe distance got a bone-rattling, steam-plume-shooting show that lasted nearly nine minutes. By clicking on the video above, courtesy of RT America, you can watch a much shorter segment of the impressive NASA test.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Breaking: NASA Just Made A HUGE Announcement That Could Change Our View Of The Universe

What NASA just told the world might well change how people consider their answer when next someone asks the age-old question, “Are we alone in the Universe?”

The discovery of an “older, bigger cousin to Earth” was officially announced by the space agency at noon ET on Thursday. The NASA news release refers to the planet as Kepler-452b, the smallest such heavenly body discovered to date orbiting a far-away star much like our sun. And what’s particularly exciting, according to an agency spokesman, is the belief that liquid water could be present and pool on this planet.

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star.

Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.

The NASA announcement about what could certainly be called an “earth-shattering discovery” notes that Kepler-452b is in a distant solar system in the constellation Cygnus. Barring a different discovery — how man could travel incredible distances across space and live to tell about it — no one from old Earth will be visiting new Earth any time soon, as this planet is some 1,400 light-years away.

Still, thanks to the wonders of today’s technology, NASA researchers can tell us a lot about our distant cousin: “While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.”

While news of the identification of this intriguing planet that could be a virtual twin to our own watery world is certainly significant, NASA points out that its Kepler space telescope has “captured evidence of other potentially habitable worlds.” And of course, by “habitable,” the space agency means a planet on which humans or human-like beings could exist.

About a dozen habitable zone planets in the Earth-size ballpark have been discovered so far — that is, 10 to 15 planets between one-half and twice the diameter of Earth, depending on how the habitable zone is defined and allowing for uncertainties about some of the planetary sizes.

As for the exploration of our vast Universe enabled by the space observatory named for the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, the mission continues. Launched on March 7, 2009, the Kepler space telescope began its search for other Earth-like planets in mid-May of that year; and there’s no indication the search will cease, as long as the space observatory functions.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Today In History – America’s Space Program

“Godspeed, John Glenn,” radioed backup pilot Scott Carpenter from the blockhouse as the rockets fired up on February 20, 1962.

Astronaut John Glenn piloted Friendship 7, America’s first mission to orbit the earth.

Later that year, President Kennedy stated at Rice University in Houston, September 12, 1962:

Space is there and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and planets are there and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.

And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

The first mission to fly around the moon was Apollo 8 in 1968.

The tiniest mistake would have sent them crashing into the moon’s surface or plummeting off into endless space.

As they successfully went into lunar orbit, astronaut William Anders snapped the famous Earthrise photo that was printed in Life Magazine.

As Apollo 8’s three man crew looked down on the earth from 250,000 miles away on Christmas Eve, 1968, Commander Frank Borman radioed back a message, quoting from the Book of Genesis:

We are now approaching Lunar sunrise. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Borman ended by saying:

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.

Later Borman explained:

I had an enormous feeling that there had to be a power greater than any of us – that there was a God, that there was indeed a beginning.

The first mission to walk on the moon was Apollo 11, which blasted off JULY 16, 1969, from Cape Kennedy.

President Richard Nixon stated in Proclamation 3919:

Apollo 11 is on its way to the moon. It carries three brave astronauts; it also carries the hopes and prayers of hundreds of millions of people…

That moment when man first sets foot on a body other than earth will stand through the centuries as one supreme in human experience…

I call upon all of our people…to join in prayer for the successful conclusion of Apollo 11’s mission.

On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their lunar module, the Eagle.

They spent a total of 21 hours and 37 minutes on the moon’s surface before redocking with the command ship Columbia.

President Nixon spoke to the astronauts on the moon, July 20, 1969:

This certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House… The heavens have become a part of man’s world…

For one priceless moment in the whole history of man all the people on this earth are truly one…one in our prayers that you will return safely to earth.

President Nixon greeted the astronauts on the USS Hornet, July 24, 1969:

The millions who are seeing us on television now…feel as I do, that…our prayers have been answered…

I think it would be very appropriate if Chaplain Piirto, the Chaplain of this ship, were to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

Addressing a joint session of Congress, September 16, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong stated:

To those of you who have advocated looking high we owe our sincere gratitude, for you have granted us the opportunity to see some of the grandest views of the Creator.

On the Apollo 14 mission, February 6, 1971, Astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard left a tiny microfilm copy of the King James Bible aboard the lunar module Antares on the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands.

On Apollo 15’s mission, 1971, Astronaut James Irwin became the 8th person to walk on the moon. He spoke of leaving Earth:

As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine.

That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart.

Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God.

Later becoming an evangelical minister, Irwin spoke of his experience walking on the moon:

I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before.

Astronaut Mike Mullane flew the Space Shuttle Discovery, 1984, then, after the Challenger disaster, flew the Space Shuttle Atlantis, 1988, 1990.

In his book, Riding Rockets, Mullane wrote of the night before a launch. Sleepless with apprehension, he checked his nightstand for a Bible but found none. He then wrote:

I didn’t need a Bible to talk to God. I prayed for my family. I prayed for myself. I prayed I wouldn’t blow up and then I prayed harder that I wouldn’t screw up.

On October 28, 1998, John Glenn flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

At age 77, he was the oldest person to go into space – 36 years after he had been the first American to orbit the earth in 1962.

Glenn observed the heavens and the earth from his window and stated:

To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith. I wish there were words to describe what it’s like.

In 2010, NASA’s Constellation program was building new rockets and spaceships capable of returning astronauts to the moon, but President Obama canceled it.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlined new priorities in an interview with the Middle East news agency in Cairo, Al Jazeera, June 30, 2010:

When I became the NASA administrator…President Obama charged me…perhaps foremost…to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good.

Brought to you by AmericanMinute.com

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Startling New NASA Images Reveal Something Very Scary About The World’s Water Supply

A key water source for the world has been significantly depleted over the last decade, according to new data.

The Washington Post reported that 21 of the world’s 37 largest underground aquifers have passed their sustainability tipping points. Researchers pointed to satellite data from NASA, which has been tracking the aquifers for the last ten years. Two separate studies documenting this phenomenon were published in the Water Resources Research journal.

“The situation is quite critical,” Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and principal investigator of the University of California Irvine-led studies, told The Post. Underground aquifers supply water for 35 percent of the world’s population. One staggering figure is in California, which is tapping into 60 percent of its aquifers, up from its usual 40 percent. Some scientists speculate the Golden State aquifers could run dry by the end of the year.

The Post points out that the most endangered aquifers are in densely populated areas including northwest India, Pakistan, and North Africa. It is worth noting that the satellites could not measure the capacity of the aquifers, however. The abstract of the article titled “Quantifying Renewable Stress with GRACE” gives further background:

We find that the current state of knowledge of large-scale groundwater storage has uncertainty ranges across orders of magnitude that severely limit the characterization of resilience in the study aquifers. Additionally, we show that groundwater availability, traditionally defined as recharge and re-defined in this study as total storage, can alter the systems that are considered to be stressed versus unstressed.

We find that remote sensing observations from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) can assist in providing such information at the scale of a whole aquifer. For example, we demonstrate that a groundwater depletion rate in the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System of 2.69 ± 0.8 km3 per year would result in the aquifer being depleted to 90% of its total storage in as few as 50 years given an initial storage estimate of 70 km3.

Are you worried about the future of the world’s water? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Watch: What The Air Force Is About To Do Will Launch A New Phase For This HUGE Mystery Project

Just last week, Western Journalism told you about the major milestone reached in the U.S. Navy’s new carrier-based drone program. Called the X-47B, the unmanned combat air vehicle was successfully refueled in mid-air for the first time. That means the tail-less, jet-powered drone is moving even closer to becoming the battlefield-ready aircraft that never has to land.

Now, fast on the heels of the Navy’s progress in proving the capabilities of the X-47B, the Air Force announces the next phase in the testing of its own super-advanced unmanned vehicle, the X-37B. Resembling a miniature version of NASA’s now-retired space shuttle, the X-37B military space plane is scheduled to launch on its fourth mystery mission on May 20th from Cape Canaveral. The website Space.com reports that the official Air Force line about the launch is that the vehicle will be subjected to “testing of experimental payloads.”

“The X-37B’s payloads and specific activities are classified, so it’s unclear exactly what the spacecraft does while zipping around the Earth.”

A recent CNN report noted that the Air Force mystery plane on its last flight spent some 22 months orbiting the Earth, sparking all sorts of speculation about what exactly it was doing high above the planet. You can watch the CNN coverage of the X-37B, or the Air Force Ortibal Test Vehicle, by clicking on the video above.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth