Roger Harrington works on making a thin section in our @NASA_ARES Thin Section Lab

Roger Harrington, one of our @NASA_ARES Curation staff, is seen here as he works on polishing a sample in our Thin Section Lab.  To the left of Roger is a picture of Antarctic meteorite sample LAR 12011 and a petrographic thin section of this meteorite taken under polarized light. So what is a thin section?  A thin section is an extremely thin slice or sliver of a rock mounted onto a glass slide with epoxy.  They are prepared in order to help scientists investigate the textures and mineralogy of the rock using tools such as a polarizing petrographic microscope, scanning electron microscope, or an electron microprobe. This work is a part of petrology and helps to reveal the origin and evolution of the parent rock.  A thin section sample is approximately 30 micrometers (0.03 mm) thick – which is a little less than half the thickness of a human hair!  Petrographic thin section samples are available for check out by college and university professors.  For more information go to:



The @NASA_ARES led Biomolecule Sequencer will facilitate important @Space_Station research

Principal investigator and @NASA_ARES scientist Aaron Burton has been working with team members from NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies Inc. on the Biomolecule Sequencer (MinION) that is scheduled to head to the International Space Station this summer.  Sequencing is a powerful molecular biology technique that helps us to understand the molecular basis of biological activity at the level of DNA, RNA, and proteins, and with the analysis of sequence data we can identify organisms, and track how they respond to changes in their environment.  The objectives of the Biomolecule Sequencer are to provide proof-of-concept for the functionality and crew operability of a DNA sequencer in the space environment. Some of the capabilities that would be provided by incorporating sequencing into space exploration are in-flight microbial identification for crew and vehicle health assessments, monitoring changes at the DNA and RNA level in astronauts and microbes, and analyzing life based on DNA or DNA-like molecules on other worlds, if present. As mentioned in the “State of NASA” address by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in May, astronaut Kate Rubins will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) and plans to become the first person to perform DNA sequencing in space after she arrives at the ISS.

To read more about the Biomolecule Sequencer go to:

Watch a video interview with Dr. Aaron Burton at:



2015/16 #ANSMET Team at #McMurdo Station preparing for #Antarctic Search for #Meteorites

ANSMET2015_16This season’s ANSMET team has arrived at McMurdo Station and is preparing for their expedition in the Miller Range.  Team members include John Schutt, Jim Karner, Brian Rougeux, Constantine Tsang, Morgan Martinez, Ellen Crapster-Pregont, Nina Lanza, and NASA_ARES scientist Cindy Evans.  At McMurdo the team is preparing gear and receiving training.  Training includes snow mobile classroom training! Aside from a little bit of jetlag from the 7+ hour flight on a Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft from Christchurch New Zealand to McMurdo Station, this year’s team is raring to go!   (Images courtesy of Case Western Reserve University and the 2015/16 Field team)

To read more about this year’s 2015/16 Field Season, go to:

The View From Up There, Down Here

HDEV View from ISS to Central California
HDEV View Northward to Central California

HDEV View from Mexico Northward to Central California Credits: NASA

Completed flight assembly of the HDEV

The completed flight assembly of the HDEV unit before it was launched to the ISS in April 2014.    Credits: NASA

The View From Up There, Down Here.

When many people saw the first stunning photos of the fragile blue marble of Earth from space, it changed their outlook of humanity. It was a singular moment in time when people around the world were watching and looking toward the future as NASA began to turn small steps into giant leaps.

As we continue our recent Earth Day celebration, an investigation on the International Space Station that provides unprecedented panoramic views of our home will celebrate its first year in space.

The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) investigation sent four commercially available cameras housed in a single unit to the station last year on the third SpaceX resupply mission. One year ago, April 30, 2014, a robotic arm extracted the unit from the SpaceX trunk, attaching it to the exterior of the orbiting laboratory, and activated the cameras — transmitting the mesmerizing views of Earth.

The view switches between the four fixed cameras and streams live online along with a real-time map to track the location of the station for anyone to watch their home planet and enjoy the same view experienced by space station crew members. Since the cameras began broadcasting a live stream a year ago, the number of views is approaching 50 million — attesting to the popularity of the project.

The primary purpose of the project is not, however, just to share amazing images of Earth.

“The investigation has become multi-purpose for us,” said Susan Runco, principal investigator for HDEV at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We are testing the resiliency of long-term exposure of the cameras to space, but in making this live streaming video available for anyone to watch anytime, I think we remind people of just how beautiful our home is and that there are humans on this orbiting platform right now, living and working off the Earth, for the Earth.”

See the HDEV Live Streaming Video on USTREAM also at:

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