It’s a busy time for NASA, and as the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) celebrated the successful touchdown of its InSight Mars lander today (Nov. 26), agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine is focused on the future.
Bridenstine shared a few words from the bustling mission control center, moving away from the celebrations to talk with NASA TV.
“I’ll tell you, it was intense, and you could feel the emotion,” Bridenstine told Gay Yee Hill, a spokesperson for JPL, during the landing webcast. “It was very, very quiet when it was time to be quiet and, of course, very celebratory with every little new piece of information that was received. It’s very different being here than watching it on TV, by far. I can tell you that for sure now that I’ve experienced both.” [NASA’s InSight Mars Lander: Amazing Landing Day Photos!]
Bridenstine added that right after the landing was confirmed he got a call from a number that came up “with all zeros” on his phone. It proved to be Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president, calling to congratulate the team. Pence is also chairman of the National Space Council.
InSight’s successful landing after a nearly seventh-month journey is hugely significant for Mars scientists, who now have a tool to probe deeper into the planet than ever before. After its solar arrays successfully deploy, the lander will probe below the planet’s surface and measure meteor impacts and other seismic activity to learn about Mars’ interior structure. Researchers said during the webcast that the first science data should come in around March of 2019.
Looking forward to the agency’s future, Bridenstine rattled off a long list of upcoming events for NASA: A U.S. astronaut is launching to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Dec. 3, the first science data from the Parker Solar Probe comes back Dec. 7, and OSIRIS-REx will reach the asteroid Bennu near the end of December.
Then, on Jan. 1, the New Horizons probe that flew by Pluto in July of 2015 will reach the distant solar system object Ultima Thule, sending back images taken at close range of the incredibly faraway object.
“You ask what’s happening next?” Bridenstine said. “Right now, at NASA there is more underway probably than [since] I don’t know how many years past. It’s like there’s a drought and all of a sudden all these activities at once. So, we’re busy. We’re going to be working through the holiday — a lot of amazing discoveries to be made, and we’re looking forward to them.”
Coming back to InSight, Bridenstine added that everything we learn about Mars, such as whether it has water below its surface, will help humans eventually visit and access resources on the planet. He added that the agency’s current directive is to send humans back to the moon first — that “we need to use the moon as a proving ground to accelerate our path to Mars” — but that “in the meantime, we’re doing missions like InSight to learn as much about Mars as possible.”
At a press briefing later in the day, Bridenstine talked at length NASA’s plans for moon exploration, but emphasized again that Mars was on the horizon.
“We’re proving capability and technology to go to Mars even faster than we could go if we didn’t use the moon as a tool,” Bridenstine said. “The reality is, yes, your nation right now is extremely committed to getting to Mars, and using the moon as a tool to achieve that objective as fast as possible.”
Get Ready! A ‘New York Undercover’ Reboot Could Be Coming To ABC
Good news 90s TV fans! Dick Wolf’s groundbreaking drama, New York Undercover could actually be returning to TV in the near future.
According to Deadline, ABC, which is currently in the process of reviving Steven Bochco’s critically acclaimed series NYPD Blue, may be looking to add the hip police procedural to its lineup as well.
Recently, Rick Rosen, Wolf’s agent, hinted that his client “is reviving one of his shows from years ago,” which many assume is New York Undercover. Rosen said several networks are bidding on the project, and Deadline writer Nellie Andreeva predicts ABC will be the winner.
New York Undercover premiered on FOX in 1994 and ran for four seasons before airing its final episode in 1999.
The show debuted to praise from both critics and fans alike, thanks to its super diverse cast, which featured two people of color — Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo — as leads.
While both men have has gone on to have a long career full of interesting roles, Yoba said New York Undercover holds a special place in his heart.
“I’ve been a serious lead in thirteen series, and New York Undercover is the most enduring of all of it,” he told ESSENCE back in August. “So that just — you know — speaks to the importance of what type of programming it was.”
Yoba also believes the trailblazing series has even more stories to tell.
“You gotta have the things that people are dealing with and resonating with right now that inspire,” he said, suggesting the reboot could tackle today’s fraught political climate and the tense relationship between communities of color and the police.
While the future of a New York Undercover revival isn’t certain just yet, this is definitely one show we’d like to see on TV again.
WATCH THE NEW CAPTAIN MARVEL TRAILER NOW
“Would you like to know what you really are?” That’s a query posed to Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson) in the just-released second trailer for next year’s Captain Marvel. And it’s a variation on a question Marvel fans have been asking themselves for the last year or so: Just who is this big-screen Captain Marvel—and what role will she play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it readies to enter Phase 4?
Judging by the the new trailer, we at least know that Larson’s character will stay true to her comic-book roots. Her Danvers is an ace military pilot who gets caught up in an intergalactic battle between two species, the Krees and the Skrulls, resulting in her being gifted with extraordinary super-powers. (She also has an extraordinarily cool mohawk-like ‘do, which makes a few quick cameos in the trailer). Captain Marvel takes place in the nineties, as Danvers is back on Earth, trying to make sense of how she got there. “I keep having these memories,” she tells Nick Fury (played by a digitally de-aged, two-eyed Samuel L. Jackson). “Something in my past is the key to all of this.”
We see quite a few glimpses of that past, including her rescue by the Krees—”a race of noble warrior-heroes,” she explains—who find her near-dead and devoid of memory. One of their leaders, played by Annette Bening, explains that Danvers was rebirthed as a Kree, so that she could live “longer, stronger, superior.” That explains why Captain Marvel can shoot bright blue bolts of energy from her hands: It’s Krees’ lightning!
Just how great those powers are, however, is a key question: Captain Marvel finds our hero facing down a new threat led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a pointy-eared Skrull—a guy that can’t get no love from Brie, so a showdown is inevitable. We also see her taking to the subways to beat up an old woman suspected of a Skrull-in-disguise, and taking guidance from Kree mentor, played by Jude Law. But will Captain Marvel posses the kind of near-atomic powers she maintains in the comics—the kind of abilities that could, say, propel her forward in time and take on Thanos? For the Marvel fans who watched many of their favorite heroes vanquished last years by the Snap in Avengers: Infinity War, that’s one of the big head-scratchers of Captain Marvel: Once she finds out who she really is, but will be it enough to save the day?
We’ll know soon enough. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the filmmakers behind such revered indie dramas as Half Nelson and Sugar, the supercharged Captain Marvel arrives March 8. That’s less than two months before the long-awaited Avengers: Infinity War follow-up—hopefully titled Avengers: Snap 2 It!—that will also feature Larson flying in for what promises to be more than just a cameo. Hopefully, the big screen ready for two meme-friendly superheroes named Carol.
Sprucing up NYC: Rockefeller Center lights Christmas tree
A massive Norway spruce has been lit up in a tradition that ushers in Christmastime in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch Wednesday night to light the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree following a televised extravaganza that featured performances by Diana Ross and Tony Bennett.
The 72-foot-tall tree is decorated with 5 miles (8 kilometers) of multicolored LED lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star. Rockefeller Center has hosted the ceremony since 1931.
Police officers were plentiful, and spectators were funneled through security.
The 75-year-old tree was donated by a couple in Wallkill, 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the city.
It will remain on display until Jan. 7. Then it will be given to Habitat for Humanity to help build homes.
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