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Celebrating NASA’s Big Year – On Science

December 31, 2013

NASA’s 2013 Year in Review.

Looking ahead to the skies in 2014.

Why is 2014 going to be so super?

And NASA’s dropping the ball. Coming up today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

Today we bid adieu to 2013 and welcome another year of science discoveries and technological advances. But you can’t know where you’re going without taking a look back at where you’ve been.

Here’s our 2013 Year in Review for NASA. It’s been a big one. The space agency announced it had identified 261 new planet candidates using the Kepler Telescope—including four that mirror the size and distance from the sun as Earth. Curiosity rolled on into 2013, digging its way into the Martian surface and collecting the first-ever sample of Martian soil. The rover also found evidence of water and conditions that could have once supported life on the Red Planet. NASA was on the case this year when fireballs lit up the skies above Russia and the Southeast U.S. The space agency also revealed its superhero robot named Valkyrie for the DARPA Robotics Challenge. But perhaps most rewarding, NASA finally left the solar system in 2013 as the Voyager probe officially reached interstellar space. Congratulations on a successful 2013, NASA. Onward and upward in 2014!

And a new year brings with it a new opportunity to watch shooting stars, so NASA released a list of the easiest to observe and most active meteor showers stargazers can expect to see in 2014. And we don’t have long to wait. The Quadrantids will kick off this week, peaking on January 3 with the moon providing good viewing conditions. Both the Lyrids and the Eta Aquariids will light up the skies in April. A summer shower of the Southern Delta Aquariids will be seen from mid-July to late August. The Perseids will also steal a bit of the show in the summer sky. The last quarter of 2014 will see the Orionids, the Leonids, and the Geminids. NASA said the upcoming year should be a “favorable year” for October’s Orionid shower. Cheers to that!

In fact, 2014 is already sounding pretty super! What better way to celebrate the New Year than with a supermoon. January 1 will see one of two supermoons to occur the first month of 2014 and the first of five that will take place by the end of the calendar year. The second supermoon will occur on January 30. But on both days, it will be in the new phase so very few people will actually be able to see it. Despite what most of us might think, the moon doesn’t have to be full to be super. The term refers to any moon at or within 90% of its closest approach to Earth. However, we are in luck with the other three in 2014, because they are full. Another reason to celebrate.

It wasn’t just the moon lighting up the sky last week! More than a thousand people reported seeing a fireball in the skies over Iowa and Minnesota on December 26. The National Weather Service caught the incident on security cameras. Witnesses reported that the object was as bright as the sun. They said it shot across the sky for several seconds before seemingly breaking apart. It’s believed to have been a meteor but that has yet to be confirmed

NASA’s helping to ring in the New Year in Times Square tonight. Astronaut Mike Massimino will participate in the annual New Year’s Eve Countdown celebration in Times Square and will be introducing a video greeting from Expedition 36 flight engineer Karen Nyberg, who recently returned from the International Space Station, and the three astronauts currently on board the ISS. The video will be shown on the Toshiba LED Vision screen atop One Times Square, right below the countdown ball.

And that’s what’s happening this year On Science. Happy New Year’s On Scientists! Here’s to 2014!



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