NASA FAQs, Part 5

NASA and the Internet

How is NASA's Web site set up?

The term " NASA's Web site" is actually a misnomer. NASA's presence on the Internet comprises hundreds of World Wide Web home pages and FTP sites. The main URL ( is the front door to the agency's Internet resources. Through it, you can get information on current happenings across the agency, NASA Fact Sheets, updates on Space Shuttle missions and links to the Home Pages of NASA's Centers.

This central site consists of approximately two dozen pages managed by NASA's Office of Public Affairs. In addition to this site, many of the offices at NASA Headquarters and the centers maintain hundreds of other sites available to users. A subject index (at the bottom of the NASA Organization page) and search engines are available to help users explore the NASA Web.



What are the best starting points for navigating NASA's Web site?


There are several places from which you can start: will tell you the most recent happenings at NASA.
Information on NASA's five strategic enterprises can be found by clicking on their respective links on NASA's Home Page.
To find the latest information on an upcoming Space Shuttle launch or ongoing mission, go to the Space Shuttle Home Page.
You can obtain the latest public information-releases by clicking on " News and Information" on the NASA Home Page.
If you are looking for information on a specific topic, the Subject Index on the NASA Organization page will take you there.




Can I link to NASA's pages from my Web pages?


Please do--provided the link you design is strictly for information and does not convey NASA's implicit or explicit endorsement of any goods or services you might be offering. You may use a NASA photo from the Photo Gallery, but not the NASA insignia, logotype or seal.



Can I use a screen shot of NASA pages as an example in my class? How about in a guide to various Web sites?


The rules for screen shots are the same as for photographs. Their use must be strictly for informational or educational purposes and must not convey NASA's implicit or explicit endorsement of any goods or services you might be offering. If your use meets that criteria, go ahead. You don't need to e-mail for explicit permission.


Can I use a screen shot of NASA pages in an ad?

See above, then check with Mr. Bert Ulrich (202/358-1750) of our Public Services Division to see how NASA material can be used in ads.

Can I use the NASA logo (a.k.a. " the meatball" ) as a graphic link from my page to the NASA Home Page?

No. There are strict guidelines on the use of NASA symbols such as the NASA Insignia and the NASA Logo. Since personal homepages are not the property of NASA, we cannot permit our emblems to be used on them. However, an image that is in the public domain, such as a Shuttle image, can be used on a homepage as long as a recognizable astronaut or other NASA employee doesn't appear in it.








Where can I get information on the planets that have been discovered outside our Solar System?


Those discoveries have been made by researchers outside NASA, including a Swiss team and two astronomers at San Francisco State University and the Lick Observatory in California. These planets all appear to be large bodies similar to Jupiter. At least two--circling stars in Virgo (70 Virginis) and the Great Bear (47 Ursa Majoris) are in orbits that might allow some liquid water to exist. That in turn raises the possibility of life existing on those planets, but that is pure speculation at this point. More details have appeared in the popular press and in scientific journals, such as Science and Nature.





What is the U.S. government doing to investigate UFOs?


No branch of the United States Government is currently involved with or responsible for investigations into the possibility of alien life on other planets or for investigating Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO's). The U.S. Air Force (USAF) and NASA have had intermittent, independent investigations of the possibility of alien life on other planets however, none of these has produced factual evidence that life exists on other planets, nor that UFO's are related to aliens.


Under Project Blue Book (1947 to 1969), the Air Force investigated UFO's then in 1977, NASA was asked to examine the possibility of resuming UFO investigations. After studying all of the facts available, it was determined that nothing would be gained by further investigation, since there was an absence of tangible evidence.

In October 1992, NASA was directed by Congress to begin a detailed search for artificial radio signals from other civilizations under the NASA Towards Other Planetary Systems (TOPS)/High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS) program (also known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project). Congress directed NASA to end this project in October 1993, citing pressures on the US Federal budget. The HRMS did not detect any confirmed signal before it was stopped. However, similar work will continue in a more limited manner through efforts of private groups and through academic institutions. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI Institute) in Mountain View, CA, effectively replaced the Government project, borrowing the signal processing system from NASA. The SETI Institute is a nonprofit corporation conducting research in a number of fields including all science and technology aspects of astronomy and planetary sciences, chemical evolution, the origin of life, biological evolution, and cultural evolution.

During several space missions, NASA astronauts have reported phenomena not immediately explainable however, in every instance NASA determined that the observations could not be termed " abnormal" in the space environment.

The 1947 to 1969 USAF investigations studied UFO's under Project Blue Book. The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated December 17, 1969. Of the total of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remain " unidentified."

The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, " Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects " a review of the University of Colorado's report by the National Academy of Sciences previous UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

As a result of experience, investigations, and studies since 1948, the conclusions of Project Blue Book were: (1) no UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force was ever a threat to our national security (2) there was no evidence submitted to, or discovered by, the Air Force that sightings categorized as " unidentified" represented technological developments or principles beyond the range of modern scientific knowledge and (3) there was no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as " unidentified" were extraterrestrial vehicles.

With the termination of Project Blue Book, the USAF regulation establishing and controlling the program for investigating and analyzing UFO's was rescinded. Documentation regarding the former Project Blue Book investigation was permanently transferred to the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Service, in Washington, DC 20408, and is available for public review and analysis.

Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the USAF or NASA. Given the current environment of steadily decreasing defense and space budgets, it is unlikely that the Air Force or NASA will become involved in this type of costly project in the foreseeable future.

Since neither NASA nor the Air Force is engaged in day-to-day UFO research, neither one reviews UFO-related articles intended for publication, evaluates UFO-type spacecraft drawings, or accepts accounts of UFO sightings or applications for employment in the field of aerial phenomena investigation.

UFO Points of Contact

For further information on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, see the The SETI Institute's Web Site.
News media requiring Project Blue Book files should contact the National Archives Public Affairs Office, (202) 501-5525. Public queries should be addressed to the Project Blue Book archivist at (202) 501-5385. For queries not related to Project Blue Book, contact the National Archives receptionist at (202) 501-5400. Documentation is available from: Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Service, Eighth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408.
The Air Force publication, " The Roswell Report: Fact Vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert," a lengthy document providing all of the details available from the Air Force on the Roswell incident, is available for $52 from the US Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328.
There are a number of universities and professional scientific organizations that have considered UFO phenomena during periodic meetings and seminars. A list of private organizations interested in aerial phenomena may be found in Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations.
Persons wishing to report UFO sightings are advised to contact law enforcement agencies.





Did NASA discover life in Jupiter's atmosphere?


No. That " story" was a hoax perpertrated by America Online as their " Story of the Day" for April Fool's Day, 1996. For details, contact Ms. Kathy Johnson in AOL's PR deparment (703/453-1899) or Ms. Margaret Ryan in the marketing department (703/918-1625). AOL's toll free number is 800-827-6364 press 1, 2 or 6 to speak to an AOL representative. You can also send e-mail to



What kind of animal research was done on the Bion mission?


Unfortunately, there has been a lot of inaccurate information circulating about the Bion mission. Bion is an international project using the uncrewed and retrievable Russian Bion satellite, developed to perform detailed studies of how biological systems, including non-human primates, respond to the absence of gravity.

The procedures planned for the Bion mission are designed to eliminate pain and provide a comfortable environment for the Russian rhesus monkeys. The animals are surgically instrumented under anesthesia. During the flight of the Bion, a vest worn by the animals restrains them in their seats to prevent injury on launch and landing. The vest minimally constrains their arms and protects them from injury. If the monkeys were to experience suffering during their flight, the Bion experiments would not produce reliable results. Therefore, any experiment which would cause suffering would not pass peer review as the Bion experiments have. Cruel experiments certainly would not be approved by the multiple Animal Care and Use Committees (ACUC) that have approved the Bion experiments.

After the monkeys are returned to Earth, all monitoring devices will be surgically removed, again under anesthesia. Following recovery and having made their important contribution, the monkeys will then be retired from research to live out their natural life span in a Russian monkey habitat. Experiments scheduled to fly on the Bion were reviewed and selected by multiple, external and independent review panels both for scientific merit and for compliance with strict Federal standards for the ethical treatment of animals.

The Bion project was subjected to extensive, rigorous, and strict evaluations. Each experiment proposal for the Bion Program was reviewed and approved by the sponsoring institution's internal ACUC before being re-reviewed for scientific merit. Following selection, research protocols were then reviewed and approved by the ACUC at NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountainview, CA, before any research activities involving animals were begun.

These experiments are being conducted so that physician-scientists can better understand how the health and well-being of space travelers is affected--so that we can make space flight safer for them. In addition, data from space-borne biomedical experiments have important applications here on Earth in advancing our understanding and treatment of medical conditions such as osteoporosis and balance disorders in the elderly. In addition, these data are used to improve veterinary care to the animals.

NASA is deeply concerned about the welfare of research animals and is fully committed to conducting animal research programs in conformance with accepted ethical standards and applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. In many cases, NASA's internal regulations governing the conduct of animal research exceed those mandated by Federal law.

NASA policies and procedures for the review and assessment of experiments and protocols involving animals are thorough and rigorous. The Bion experiments have been reviewed both within NASA and by outside panels of experts to ensure that they meet the highest ethical standards. These experiments pursue worthwhile and important scientific objectives that cannot be achieved without the use of animals.



What is " The Face on Mars" ?


The Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft took three images of the planet's Cydonia region in April 1998.

One of the three images shows the feature popularly known as the "Face On Mars," at a sharpness of 14.1 feet (4.3 meters) per camera pixel, meaning that the smallest objects that can be seen distinctly in the picture are about the size of a small truck. This resolution is about 10 times sharper than the best of the famous pictures of the "Face" taken by NASA's Viking 1 Mars orbiter in 1976.

As a federal research agency made up of individual scientists and engineers, NASA does not take official "yes/no" positions on matters of scientific inquiry. Most scientists who study Mars believe, on the basis of the Viking data, that the "Face" and other features in the Cydonia region are the result of natural geologic processes. There has been a relatively small number of professionals, however, who believe these features may be artificial.

Given public interest in this controversy, NASA planned and successfully executed special observations of Cydonia by MGS during a hiatus in the spacecraft's aerobraking campaign. (This activity gradually reshapes the mission's initial elliptical orbit into a circle using drag from the upper atmosphere of Mars the aerobraking campaign was slowed to compensate for post-launch damage to one of the spacecraft's solar panels, creating an unanticipated set of opportunities for limited science observations.)

In the view of most planetary scientists, the new MGS images strengthen the conclusion that the Cydonia features have been produced by natural processes. Here is a sample of quotations by well-respected planetary scientists, engineers and journalists regarding the MGS Cydonia images that reflect the majority viewpoint:

"'The area is geologically very interesting,' says Arden Albee, project scientist [for MGS] at the California Institute of Technology. 'It looks like there were a number of layers of material laid down in the planet's formation with different hardnesses. These layers then eroded, so you get craters that are perched up in the air sort of like on a pedestal. We've seen them elsewhere on Mars." - story by Paul Hoversten, USA Today, May 11, 1998, p. 4A


"The 'Face' and neighboring hills in the Cydonia region were revealed to be natural plateaus where resistant cap-rock layers eroded to form elevated plateaus with ridges and valleys that cast intricate shadow patterns." - William K. Hartmann of the Planetary Science Institute, writing in Astronomy magazine, August 1998, p. 22


"NASA took the first new pictures of the Face in two decades. The result: it doesn't look like a face anymore." - TIME magazine, April 20, 1998, p. 71


"...the 'face' is shown to be an eroded hill as scientists expected." - reporter Michael Dornheim, Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, April 13, 1998, p. 58


Although no special maneuvers are planned, MGS likely will be able to take more images of the region during its primary global mapping mission, which is due to begin in April 1999 a precise projection of when the orbit of MGS will pass over Cydonia during the spacecraft's primary mission will not be available until that time.

The recent MGS images of Cydonia can be viewed on the Internet at the following address:




Can I buy a star and name it for someone, or have it named for me?


Some commercial firms may claim to officially register a name of your choice for a star. However, stars and other scientific discoveries are most often named by their discoverers. The names of stars are formally certified by the International Astronomical Union.

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Last Updated: Dec 6, 1999