When Eilene Galloway was born, the Wright Brothers’ historic flight was less than three years old. This centenarian, having celebrated her 102nd birthday in May, can claim credit for helping to create the agency that landed humans on the moon and is planning to send them back.
Fifty years ago, on July 29, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, leading to the birth of NASA on Oct. 1, 1958. Galloway helped make it all happen.
Galloway began work with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress in 1941, researching and writing House and Senate documents including “Guided Missiles in Foreign Countries,” released just before the Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957.
In 1958, then-U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson asked her to help with Congressional hearings that led to the creation of NASA and America’s entry into the Space Race. “The only thing I knew about outer space at that time,” she said, “was that the cow had jumped over the Moon.”
Galloway helped write the legislation, emphasizing international cooperation and peaceful exploration. Later, she served as America’s representative in drafting treaties governing the exploration and uses of outer space and launched the field of space law and international space law. She also served on nine NASA Advisory Committees.
Galloway also worked for several decades with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and was also instrumental in creating the International Institute of Space Law, which serves as the forum for legal scholars and others from around the world in studying and debating the legal issues associated with the exploration and utilization of space, according to the AIAA.
NASA Confirms Liquid Lake on Saturn Moon
NASA scientists have concluded that at least one of the large lakes observed on Saturn’s moon Titan contains liquid hydrocarbons, and have positively identified the presence of ethane. This makes Titan the only body in our solar system beyond Earth known to have liquid on its surface.
Scientists made the discovery using data from an instrument aboard the Cassini spacecraft. The instrument identified chemically different materials based on the way they absorb and reflect infrared light. Before Cassini, scientists thought Titan would have global oceans of methane, ethane and other light hydrocarbons. More than 40 close flybys of Titan by Cassini show no such global oceans exist, but hundreds of dark, lake-like features are present. Until now, it was not known whether these features were liquid or simply dark, solid material.
“This is the first observation that really pins down that Titan has a surface lake filled with liquid,” said Bob Brown of the University of Arizona, Tucson. Brown is the team leader of Cassini’s visual and mapping instrument. The results will be published in the July 31 issue of the journal Nature.
Ethane and several other simple hydrocarbons have been identified in Titan’s atmosphere, which consists of 95 percent nitrogen, with methane making up the other five percent. Ethane and other hydrocarbons are products from atmospheric chemistry caused by the breakdown of methane by sunlight.
Some of the hydrocarbons react further and form fine aerosol particles. All of these things in Titan’s atmosphere make detecting and identifying materials on the surface difficult, because these particles form a ubiquitous hydrocarbon haze that hinders the view. Liquid ethane was identified using a technique that removed the interference from the atmospheric hydrocarbons.
The visual and mapping instrument observed a lake, Ontario Lacus, in Titan’s south polar region during a close Cassini flyby in December 2007. The lake is roughly 20,000 square kilometers (7,800 square miles) in area, slightly larger than North America’s Lake Ontario.
“Detection of liquid ethane confirms a long-held idea that lakes and seas filled with methane and ethane exist on Titan,” said Larry Soderblom, a Cassini interdisciplinary scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. “The fact we could detect the ethane spectral signatures of the lake even when it was so dimly illuminated, and at a slanted viewing path through Titan’s atmosphere, raises expectations for exciting future lake discoveries by our instrument.”
The ethane is in a liquid solution with methane, other hydrocarbons and nitrogen. At Titan’s surface temperatures, approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, these substances can exist as both liquid and gas. Titan shows overwhelming evidence of evaporation, rain, and fluid-carved channels draining into what, in this case, is a liquid hydrocarbon lake.
Earth has a hydrological cycle based on water and Titan has a cycle based on methane. Scientists ruled out the presence of water ice, ammonia, ammonia hydrate and carbon dioxide in Ontario Lacus. The observations also suggest the lake is evaporating. It is ringed by a dark beach, where the black lake merges with the bright shoreline. Cassini also observed a shelf and beach being exposed as the lake evaporates. “During the next few years, the vast array of lakes and seas on Titan’s north pole mapped with Cassini’s radar instrument will emerge from polar darkness into sunlight, giving the infrared instrument rich opportunities to watch for seasonal changes of Titan’s lakes,” Soderblom said.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona.