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NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star | JPL-Caltech | Feb. 22, 2017: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water — key to life as we know it — under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Answering the question 'are we alone' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal."

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated — scientists believe it could be an icy, "snowball-like" world, but further observations are needed.

"The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star," said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. "It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds."

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star — classified as an ultra-cool dwarf — is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet's surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky.

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing — transits — of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer's ability to observe transiting planets during Spitzer's "warm mission," which began after the spacecraft's coolant ran out as planned after the first five years of operations.

"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations," said Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. "Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets."

Following up on the Spitzer discovery, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone. These observations aim at assessing the presence of puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, typical for gaseous worlds like Neptune, around these planets.

In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

"The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets," said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecraft's observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system. The K2 observations conclude in early March and will be made available on the public archive.

Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet's atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets' temperatures and surface pressures — key factors in assessing their habitability.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA..

For more information about Spitzer, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/spitzer

For more information on the TRAPPIST-1 system, visit:
https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1

For more information on exoplanets, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/exoplanets

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
+Space Telescope Science Institute
+Prof. Sara Seager
+Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
+Université de Liège (ULg)

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM #Education #Infographic
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NASA & TRAPPIST-1: A Treasure Trove of Planets Found | JPL
Feb. 22, 2017: Seven Earth-sized planets have been observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope around a tiny, nearby, ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. Three of these planets are firmly in the habitable zone.

Over 21 days, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone, where liquid water might be found.

The video features interviews with Sean Carey, manager of the Spitzer Science Center, Caltech/IPAC; Nikole Lewis, James Webb Space Telescope project scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute; and Michaël Gillon, principal investigator, TRAPPIST, University of Liege, Belgium.

The system has been revealed through observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the ground-based TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) telescope, as well as other ground-based observatories. The system was named for the TRAPPIST telescope.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer and http://spitzer.caltech.edu.

Video Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Duration: 2 minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
+Prof. Sara Seager
+Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
+Université de Liège (ULg)
+Space Telescope Science Institute
+Space Telescope Science Institute

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM #Education #Animation #Video

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NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star | NASA Science News Briefing
Event starts at 14 minute mark.
Original air date: Feb. 22, 2017 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET, 1800 UTC)
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water—key to life as we know it—under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

The briefing participants were:

· Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington

· Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium

· Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California

· Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore

· Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

For more information on exoplanets, visit: http://exoplanets.nasa.gov

Credit: NASA/JPL
Duration: 40 minutes
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+Prof. Sara Seager
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
+Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
+Université de Liège (ULg)
+Space Telescope Science Institute
+Space Telescope Science Institute


#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM 

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TRAPPIST-1: Weirdest habitable worlds | NASA JPL | Feb. 22, 2017: A new discovery by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed seven Earth-sized planets around the M dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1. Three of them lie in what is known as the habitable zone -- where there is the potential for liquid water. It is the largest batch of Earth-sized worlds ever discovered in the habitable zone of a single star. While we don’t know if there is life on the TRAPPIST-1 planets, we do know that any life discovered there would likely be very different from life on Earth. It would have to survive the stormy solar flares of an M dwarf, adapt to a planet that might have extreme temperature swings, and thrive in red and infrared light. All seven worlds are early ambassadors of a new generation of planet-hunting targets that promise a new vision of the word “habitable.”

For more information about life around an M dwarf, visit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1416
For more information about TRAPPIST-1, visit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/E.Jehin/J. Major
Video Credit: NASA/JPL
Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM 

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TRAPPIST-1 Planets - Flyaround Animation | NASA JPL | Feb. 22, 2017: This video depicts artist's concepts of each of the seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star. Over 21 days, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone where life is possible. The study established the planets' size, distance from their sun and, for some of them, their approximate mass and density. It also established that some, if not all, these planets are tidally locked, meaning one face of the planet permanently faces their sun.

The planets appear in the order of innermost to outermost planets.

These artist's concepts were designed as follows: TRAPPIST-1b, closest to the star, was modeled on Jupiter's moon Io, which has volcanic features due to strong gravitational tugs. TRAPPIST-1c is shown as a rocky, warm world with a small ice cap on the side that never faces the star. TRAPPSIT-1d is rocky and has water only in a thin band along the terminator, dividing the day side and night side.

TRAPPIST-1e and TRAPPIST-1f are both shown covered in water, but with progressively larger ice caps on the night side. TRAPPIST-1g is portrayed with an atmosphere like Neptune's, although it is still a rocky world. The farthest planet, TRAPPIST-1h, is shown as covered in ice, similar to Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

The background stars are what you would see if you were in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Orion passes behind the planets, recognizable but distorted from what we’re familiar with, in addition to Taurus and Pleiades.

For more information about Spitzer & TRAPPIST-1, visit: www.spitzer.caltech.edu/trappist-1

Credit: NASA/JPL
Duration: 1 minute, 10 seconds
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM #Education #Animation #Video

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The Seven Wonders of TRAPPIST-1 | NASA JPL | Feb. 22, 2017: This video details a system of seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a discovery of the Spitzer Space Telescope, operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. TRAPPIST-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf star. Over 21 days, Spitzer measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone where life is possible. The study established the planets' size, distance from their sun and, for some of them, their approximate mass and density. It also established that some, if not all, these planets are tidally locked, meaning one face of the planet permanently faces their sun.

For more information about Spitzer & TRAPPIST-1, visit: www.spitzer.caltech.edu/trappist-1

Credit: NASA/JPL
Duration: 2 minutes, 37 seconds
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM #Education

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NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star | Feb. 22, 2017: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated.

Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated – scientists believe it could be an icy, "snowball-like" world, but further observations are needed.

"The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star," said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. "It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds."

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star – classified as an ultra-cool dwarf – is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky.

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing – transits – of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer’s ability to observe transiting planets during Spitzer’s “warm mission,” which began after the spacecraft’s coolant ran out as planned after the first five years of operations.

"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations," said Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. "Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets.”

Following up on the Spitzer discovery, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone. These observations aim at assessing the presence of puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, typical for gaseous worlds like Neptune, around these planets.

In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

"The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets," said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecraft's observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system. The K2 observations conclude in early March and will be made available on the public archive.

Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet's atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets' temperatures and surface pressures – key factors in assessing their habitability.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

For more information on the TRAPPIST-1 system, visit: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1

Credit: NASA/JPL
Release Date: February 22, 2017

+Spitzer Space Telescope
+NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

#NASA #Astronomy #Exoplanets #Trappist #Earth #Astrobiology #Science #Water #Exploration #Discovery #JPL #Spitzer #STEM #Education
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The UAE wants to colonize Mars by 2117. Seriously.
Miami Herald: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants to establish the first “inhabitable human settlement” on planet Mars by 2117. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said his country will spearhead the “dream” of landing people on other planets.
“Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into the scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realise the most important human dream,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a press release.
A team of Emirati engineers have a plan to construct a city on Mars — built by robots. The UAE’s Mars 20117 Project will work to accelerate research in space science that could make such a settlement possible. The Emiratis said they will work with an international scientific consortium to collaborate on efforts to put humans on Mars, the fourth planet from the sun...
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article132983279.html

Credit: +Miami Herald
Release Date: February 15, 2017

+UAE Exchange

#Mars #UAE #Planet #NASA #Space #Science #Astronomy #UnitedArabEmirates #MiddleEast #RedPlanet #Colonization #Human #Future #Engineering #STEM #Education #SpaceX #ElonMusk

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Stars & Galaxies | Hubble
This image was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), a highly efficient wide-field camera covering the optical and near-infrared parts of the spectrum. While this lovely image contains hundreds of distant stars and galaxies, one vital thing is missing — the object Hubble was actually studying at the time!

This is not because the target has disappeared. The ACS actually uses two detectors: the first captures the object being studied — in this case an open star cluster known as NGC 299 — while the other detector images the patch of space just ‘beneath’ it. This is what can be seen here.

Technically, this picture is merely a sidekick of the actual object of interest — but space is bursting with activity, and this field of bright celestial bodies offers plenty of interest on its own. It may initially seem to show just stars, but a closer look reveals many of these tiny objects to be galaxies. The spiral galaxies have arms curving out from a bright center. The fuzzier, less clearly shaped galaxies might be ellipticals. Some of these galaxies contain millions and millions of stars, but are so distant that all of their starry residents are contained within just a small pinprick of light that appears to be the same size as a single star!

The bright blue dots are very hot stars, sometimes distorted into crosses by the struts supporting Hubble’s secondary mirror. The redder dots are cooler stars, possibly in the red giant phase when a dying star cools and expands.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Release Date: February 13, 2017

+Hubble Space Telescope
+European Space Agency, ESA
+NASA Goddard
+Space Telescope Science Institute

#NASA #Hubble #Space #Astronomy #Science #Stars
#NGC299 #Galaxies #STScI #Goddard #ESA #Telescope #Astrophysics
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NASA's Space to Ground: Who Doesn't Enjoy a Good View of Planet Earth? | Feb. 10, 2017: NASA's Space to Ground is your weekly update on what's happening aboard the International Space Station.

Happy Birthday Wishes, Peggy!

Credit: NASA/JSC
Duration: 2 minutes, 39 seconds
Release Date: February 10, 2017

+Thomas Pesquet
+European Space Agency, ESA
+NASA Johnson Space Center

#NASA #Space #Earth #ISS #Astronauts #Experiment #Research #Science #Microgravity #Laboratory #Spacecraft #Aerospace #Technology #JSC #Houston #Texas #UnitedStates #Expedition50 #STEM #Education #Video #HD
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