NPR: Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

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1:32pm

Wed August 3, 2011
Space

Early Earth May Have Been Orbited By Two Moons

This artist's illustration shows a collision between the moon and a companion moon. Scientists say the collision could be responsible for the moon's asymmetric shape.
Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug Nature

The early Earth had two moons instead of just one — our familiar moon, as well as a smaller companion moon that also rose and set in the sky for tens of millions of years.

That's according to a new theory that says this smaller moon eventually went careening into our moon and is still there, in the form of mountains on its far side.

Scientists have long puzzled over those mountains, and the fact that the two sides of our moon are very different. The near side has flat lowlands, while the far side is high and mountainous.

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12:01am

Wed July 20, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

Questions Hang Over NASA's Post-Shuttle Future

Atlantis lifts off from Kennedy Space Center on its final flight on July 8. There are plans for a next-generation space vehicle, but some space experts aren't sure if the vehicle will ever be completed.
Tony Gray and Tom Farrar NASA

The final space shuttle mission means that the 30-year-old shuttle program is about to enter the history books alongside the famous Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.

And as the end of the shuttle era looms, NASA leaders say they're about to build a new vehicle, one that will let astronauts go exploring deep into space. But some experts doubt that plan will ever get off the ground.

To understand the big question mark hanging over NASA's future, it helps to first turn the clock back to 2004 — the year after the space shuttle Columbia disaster.

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12:01am

Tue July 19, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

Ready For Retirement, Shuttles Get A Deep Clean

A large section of Discovery's nose, called the forward reaction control system, which helped seer the shuttle while in orbit, was removed from the shuttle in March. The spacecraft will be cleaned and detoxified before being put on display in museums.
Jim Grossmann NASA

Once space shuttle Atlantis touches down on Earth later this week, workers will start the process of transforming the spaceship into a museum piece.

To see how that mothballing process will unfold, I recently went on a rare tour of Discovery, one of NASA's other shuttles.

Discovery was set up with its landing gear down in a secure hangar at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where technicians normally do work on the shuttles after each flight.

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12:01am

Mon July 18, 2011
The End Of The Space Shuttle Era

Crafting Shuttles: Labor Of Love, Vanishing Art

A worker tests components on a model of the space shuttle before wind tunnel testing.
NASA

As space shuttle Atlantis orbits the Earth on NASA's last shuttle mission, it's worth remembering that key parts of this high-tech spaceship were handmade by people back here on Earth.

Five years ago, NPR profiled a few of the workers who make pieces of NASA's shuttles, using everyday tools like sewing needles and X-ACTO knives. With the shuttle program ending, NPR revisited those people to see how their lives are changing now that the shuttles will no longer need them.

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5:00am

Sat July 9, 2011
Space

Shuttle Legacy: Grand, Though Not What Was Planned

Originally published on Sun July 10, 2011 8:53 am

The shuttle, as seen in this mid-1970s illustration, was envisioned as a low-cost, quick-turnaround truck to space.
NASA

If you opened up a copy of the magazine Popular Science back in 1974, you'd see an artist's conception of a blastoff for the new spaceship that NASA was building. The headline: "Reusable Space Shuttle ... Our Biggest Bargain In Out-Of-This-World Research." The era of cheap, routine spaceflight was about to begin.

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4:00am

Fri July 8, 2011
Space

Thousands Of Reporters Converge On Space Center

As hordes of reporters wait for the launch, it's unclear if they'll see a blast off or a lot of rain.

12:01am

Wed June 8, 2011
Space

Scientists Undeterred By Hubble Successor's Costs

NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six primary mirror segments for the James Webb Space Telescope are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The telescope will have 18 primary mirror segments.
David Higginbotham NASA

The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is facing cost overruns and years of delay before it launches, but that hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of scientists who are meeting in Baltimore this week to talk about the amazing research they want to do with the James Webb Space Telescope.

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12:01am

Tue May 31, 2011
Space

Who Will Shuttle The Last Shuttle? The Crawler Crew

The crawler's titanic treads grip the dirt of the "crawlerway," a special road between the launch ad and the hangar-like structure where the shuttle is assembled. The road is designed to hold the combined 18 million pounds of the crawler and the shuttle it carries.
NASA

Before space shuttle Atlantis can carry astronauts up on the very last shuttle mission ever, workers on the ground first have to carry Atlantis to the launch pad.

The last shuttle launch is planned for July 8. But the shuttle's final trek to the launch pad is Tuesday night. It's a historic milestone for NASA — and a very personal one for the people in charge of taking the shuttle on this first leg of its final journey.

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4:00am

Mon May 16, 2011
Space

Endeavour Prepares To Launch For Final Mission

The space shuttle Endeavour earlier launch was delayed because of technical issues.

12:01am

Fri April 29, 2011
Space

On The Shuttle, A $2 Billion Bid To Find Antimatter

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:56 am

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is loaded into the vehicle that would take it to the space shuttle launchpad on March 15. The $2 billion cosmic ray detector will be carried to the International Space Station on Endeavour's final flight.
NASA

Space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to blast off Friday afternoon on its final mission before becoming a museum exhibit out in California.

President Obama is expected to be there, becoming only the third sitting president to view a human spaceflight launch. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) will also attend — she was shot in the head earlier this year, but her doctors have OK'd her trip to see her astronaut husband, Commander Mark Kelly, launch into space.

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5:24pm

Fri April 22, 2011
Animals

Steady As A Whale? Humpbacks Swim Straight Lines

Humpback whales swim in amazingly straight lines during their seasonal migrations that cross thousands of miles of open ocean, and a new study says it's not clear how they're able to chart such a steady course.

"It's just absolutely remarkable how straight these courses are," says Travis Horton, an environmental scientist at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, who studies animal migrations. "They're doing something rather precise. They're actively and deliberately navigating within some sort of external reference frame."

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12:01am

Wed April 20, 2011
Around the Nation

Indie Truckers: Keep Big Brother Out Of My Cab

Terry Button is a fifth-generation farmer from upstate New York who also works as a long-distance trucker, hauling hay and produce up and down the East Coast.

He's proud of his truck and likes it just the way it is. Inside, the cab is homey and low-tech, with a bed behind the two seats and a CB radio. There's no cruise control and no GPS telling him where to go.

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