Thursday, January 1, 2015

'Interstellar' Star Jessica Chastain Hails NASA Space Exploration

"Interstellar" star Jessica Chastain isn't content to explore the universe just on the silver screen. The actress appears in a new NASA video hailing the agency's efforts in space science and exploration.

"Next time you look up at the night sky, just think: Each point of light is a sun and likely has orbiting planets," Chastain says in the new video.

The 1-minute video opens with a brief overview of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, which has discovered nearly 1,000 alien worlds to date. Kepler is now embarked on a new mission called K2, during which the observatory uses the pressure of sunlight to compensate for two failed reaction wheels and help the telescope point precisely.

Astronomers recently announced that Kepler has found its first exoplanet using this new K2 strategy, a world about 2.5 times as large as Earth.

Chastain also mentions the work that NASA is doing to send astronauts out into the solar system. The video shows (but does not mention by name) NASA's Space Launch System megarocket (SLS), which the agency is developing to launch crews to asteroids, Mars and other destinations in deep space.

SLS is designed to fly with NASA's Orion crew capsule, which had its first test flight earlier this month. During that unmanned test, known as Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), Orion zoomed 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) from Earth, then came barreling back into the atmosphere at high speed to test a variety of the spacecraft's vital systems.

EFT-1, which blasted off on Dec. 4, marked the farthest a human-spaceflight vehicle had traveled from Earth since the Apollo moon-landing program came to an end in the early 1970s.

Chastain's video is one of a series of space-exploration advocacy pitches that celebrities and high-profile scientists have made for NASA. Past advocates include "Star Trek" actors Wil Wheaton and William Shatner, "Robot Chicken" co-creator Seth Green, actor Morgan Freeman, and physicist Stephen Hawking.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/interstellar-star-jessica-chastain-hails-nasa-space-exploration-053249719.html