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  • richardmitnick 5:25 pm on December 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Goddard Space Flight Center,   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble via Goddard: “Hubble Traces Subtle Signals of Water on Hazy Worlds” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    Dec. 3, 2013

    Using the powerful eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

    Although exoplanets are too far away to be imaged, detailed studies of their size, composition and atmospheric makeup are possible. This video explains how researchers investigate those characteristics.
    Image Credit: NASA Goddard/ESA/Hubble

    The five planets — WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b — orbit nearby stars. The strengths of their water signatures varied. WASP-17b, a planet with an especially puffed-up atmosphere, and HD209458b had the strongest signals. The signatures for the other three planets, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b, also are consistent with water.

    “We’re very confident that we see a water signature for multiple planets,” said Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of an Astrophysical Journal paper, published today, describing the findings for WASP-12b, WASP-17b and WASP-19b. “This work really opens the door for comparing how much water is present in atmospheres on different kinds of exoplanets, for example hotter versus cooler ones.”

    The studies were part of a census of exoplanet atmospheres led by L. Drake Deming of the University of Maryland in College Park. Both teams used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to explore the details of absorption of light through the planets’ atmospheres. The observations were made in a range of infrared wavelengths where the water signature, if present, would appear. The teams compared the shapes and intensities of the absorption profiles, and the consistency of the signatures gave them confidence they saw water. The observations demonstrate Hubble’s continuing exemplary performance in exoplanet research.

    “To actually detect the atmosphere of an exoplanet is extraordinarily difficult. But we were able to pull out a very clear signal, and it is water,” said Deming, whose team reported results for HD209458b and XO-1b in a Sept. 10 paper in the same journal. Deming’s team employed a new technique with longer exposure times, which increased the sensitivity of their measurements.

    image
    To determine what’s in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, astronomers watch the planet pass in front of its host star and look at which wavelengths of light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed.
    Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    The water signals were all less pronounced than expected, and the scientists suspect this is because a layer of haze or dust blankets each of the five planets. This haze can reduce the intensity of all signals from the atmosphere in the same way fog can make colors in a photograph appear muted. At the same time, haze alters the profiles of water signals and other important molecules in a distinctive way.

    The five planets are hot Jupiters, massive worlds that orbit close to their host stars. The researchers were initially surprised that all five appeared to be hazy. But Deming and Mandell noted that other researchers are finding evidence of haze around exoplanets.

    “These studies, combined with other Hubble observations, are showing us that there are a surprisingly large number of systems for which the signal of water is either attenuated or completely absent,” said Heather Knutson of the California Institute of Technology, a co-author on Deming’s paper. “This suggests that cloudy or hazy atmospheres may in fact be rather common for hot Jupiters.”

    Hubble’s high-performance Wide Field Camera 3 is one of few capable of peering into the atmospheres of exoplanets many trillions of miles away. These exceptionally challenging studies can be done only if the planets are spotted while they are passing in front of their stars. Researchers can identify the gases in a planet’s atmosphere by determining which wavelengths of the star’s light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed.

    See the full article here.

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    NASA


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  • richardmitnick 7:20 pm on August 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Goddard: “NASA’s MMS stacked for shock tests” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    “Spacecraft must go through a series of rigorous tests before they are launched into space. NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission is undergoing those tests now in preparation for a late 2014 launch. The testing schedule is all the more complicated as the mission consists of four identical observatories. This picture from July 26, 2013, shows two of the four observatories stacked up for testing to make sure they can withstand the harsh shock of a rocket launch.

    mm
    Two of the four Magnetospheric Multiscale mission observatories are stacked for shock testing to make sure they can withstand the rigors of launch.
    Image Credit: NASA
    MMS Observatory #1 (bottom) and #2 (top) are shown here in their “mini-stack” configuration for shock testing. The gold ring seen between them is one of three that will be used when all four spacecraft are stacked in the fairing for launch. Once in orbit, the separation systems will fire, releasing them into the pyramid formation necessary for the mission.

    mms
    The Magnetospheric Multiscale mission will use four identical spacecraft, variably spaced in Earth orbit, to make three-dimensional measurements of magnetospheric boundary regions and examine the process of magnetic reconnection. Credit: Southwest Research Institute

    The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is a Solar Terrestrial Probes mission comprising four identically instrumented spacecraft that will use Earth’s magnetosphere as a laboratory to study the microphysics of three fundamental plasma processes: magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration, and turbulence. These processes occur in all astrophysical plasma systems but can be studied in situ only in our solar system and most efficiently only in Earth’s magnetosphere, where they control the dynamics of the geospace environment and play an important role in the processes known as ‘space weather.'”

    Articles are here and here.

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    NASA


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  • richardmitnick 3:09 pm on February 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Goddard: More on Cosmic Rays 

    A neat little video courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.


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  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on January 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Webb: “NASA’S Webb Telescope Team Completes Optical Milestone” 

    NASA WEBB

    Engineers working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope met another milestone recently with they completed performance testing on the observatory’s aft-optics subsystem at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp’s facilities in Boulder, Colo. Ball is the principal subcontractor to Northrop Grumman for the optical technology and lightweight mirror system.

    aft
    Ball Aerospace Technician Robin Russell inspects the Webb Telescope Aft Optics Subsystem during mirror integration activities. The Aft Optics bench, made of lightweight beryllium like the mirrors, holds Webb’s tertiary and fine steering mirrors. The installed, gold-coated tertiary mirror can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy Ball Aerospace.

    ‘Completing Aft Optics System performance testing is significant because it means all of the telescope’s mirror systems are ready for integration and testing, said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.”

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 1:27 pm on December 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA Webb: “The Webb Telescope’s Holiday Package” 

    NASA WEBB

    12.19.12

    This photo shows the James Webb Space Telescope’s “IEC” all wrapped up in a thermal blanket, and looking like a holiday package at a cleanroom in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) Electronics Compartment or “IEC” houses all of the electronics responsible for control, data handling, and telemetry for the Webb telescope’s scientific instruments.

    package
    Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

    The ISIM is one-of-a-kind living framework that provides electrical power, computing resources, cooling capability as well as extreme structural stability to the Webb telescope. It is a state-of-the-art bonded graphite-epoxy composite attached to the backside of Webb’s telescope structure.

    The ISIM will contain the four science instruments that will record images and spectra of astronomical objects whose light will be collected by the giant optics of Webb’s telescope element.

    The electronics boxes that control each instrument will be mounted in the gift-wrapped IEC and protected from the harsh conditions of space during the mission.”

    The original article is here.


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  • richardmitnick 1:38 pm on January 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    FromNASA JPL: “Stars Pop Onto the Scene in New WISE Image” 

    WISE

    ” A new, large mosaic from NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) showcases a vast stretch of cosmic clouds bubbling with new star birth. The region — a 1,000-square-degree chunk of our Milky Way galaxy — is home to numerous star-forming clouds, where massive stars have blown out bubbles in the gas and dust.

    wi
    This enormous section of the Milky Way galaxy is a mosaic of images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus are featured in this 1,000-square degree expanse. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

    ‘Massive stars sweep up and destroy their natal clouds, but they continuously spark new stars to form along the way,’ said WISE Mission Scientist Dave Leisawitz of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Leisawitz is co-author of a new paper reporting the results in the Astrophysical Journal. ‘Occasionally a new, massive star forms, perpetuating the sequence of events and giving rise to the dazzling fireworks display seen in this WISE mosaic.'”

    See the full article here. Also, there are links to larger images and more text.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on January 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Goddard Space Flight Center, , ,   

    From NASA Fermi: “NASA’s Fermi Space Telescope Explores New Energy Extremes” 

    “WASHINGTON — After more than three years in space, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is extending its view of the high-energy sky into a largely unexplored electromagnetic range. Today, the Fermi team announced its first census of energy sources in this new realm.

    i1
    New sources emerge and old sources fade as the LAT’s view extends into higher energies. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration and A. Neronov et al.

    Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT) scans the entire sky every three hours, continually deepening its portrait of the sky in gamma rays, the most energetic form of light. While the energy of visible light falls between about 2 and 3 electron volts, the LAT detects gamma rays with energies ranging from 20 million to more than 300 billion electron volts (GeV).

    At higher energies, gamma rays are rare. Above 10 GeV, even Fermi’s LAT detects only one gamma ray every four months.

    ‘Before Fermi, we knew of only four discrete sources above 10 GeV, all of them pulsars, said David Thompson, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ‘With the LAT, we’ve found hundreds, and we’re showing for the first time just how diverse the sky is at these high energies.’ “

    i3
    Fermi’s view of the gamma-ray sky continually improves. This image of the entire sky includes three years of observations by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT). It shows how the sky appears at energies greater than 1 billion electron volts (1 GeV). Brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources. A diffuse glow fills the sky and is brightest along the plane of our galaxy (middle). Discrete gamma-ray sources include pulsars and supernova remnants within our galaxy as well as distant galaxies powered by supermassive black holes. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

    i5
    This all-sky Fermi view includes only sources with energies greater than 10 GeV. From some of these sources, Fermi’s LAT detects only one gamma-ray photon every four months. Brighter colors indicate brighter gamma-ray sources.
    Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

    See the full article here.

    The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope , formerly referred to as the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), is a space observatory being used to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit. Its main instrument is the Large Area Telescope (LAT), with which astronomers mostly intend to perform an all-sky survey studying astrophysical and cosmological phenomena such as active galactic nuclei, pulsars, other high-energy sources and dark matter. Another instrument aboard Fermi, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM; formerly GLAST Burst Monitor), is being used to study gamma-ray bursts. The mission is a joint venture of NASA, the United States Department of Energy, and government agencies in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.

     
    • Solar System Science 11:53 pm on January 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ola! Sciencesprings,
      This question may be a little off-topic, and they do not know what it is..
      What do you think it is?

      Nov. 19, 2008: An international team of researchers has discovered a puzzling surplus of high-energy electrons bombarding Earth from space. The source of these cosmic rays is unknown, but it must be close to the solar system and it could be made of dark matter

      But it may be possible to find the cloud by looking for other annihilation products, such as gamma-rays. Again, the Fermi Space Telescope may have the best chance of pinpointing the source.

      “Whatever it is,” says Adams, “it’s going to be amazing.”

      This is a big discovery,” says co-author John Wefel of Louisiana State University. “It’s the first time we’ve seen a discrete source of accelerated cosmic rays standing out from the general galactic background.”
      http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/…

      Good Job!

      Like

  • richardmitnick 12:37 pm on September 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Goddard Space Flight Center,   

    From NASA: “NASA’s Webb Telescope Completes Mirror-Coating Milestone” 

    09.13.11
    Trent J. Perrotto
    Headquarters, Washington

    Lynn Chandler
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major milestone in its development. The mirrors that will fly aboard the telescope have completed the coating process at Quantum Coating Inc. in Moorestown, N.J.

    The telescope’s mirrors have been coated with a microscopically thin layer of gold, selected for its ability to properly reflect infrared light from the mirrors into the observatory’s science instruments. The coating allows the Webb telescope’s “infrared eyes” to observe extremely faint objects in infrared light. Webb’s mission is to observe the most distant objects in the universe.

    ‘Finishing all mirror coatings on schedule is another major success story for the Webb telescope mirrors,’ said Lee Feinberg, NASA Optical Telescope Element manager for the Webb telescope at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ‘These coatings easily meet their specifications, ensuring even more scientific discovery potential for the Webb telescope.”

    The Webb telescope has 21 mirrors, with 18 mirror segments working together as one large 21.3-foot (6.5-meter) primary mirror. The mirror segments are made of beryllium, which was selected for its stiffness, light weight and stability at cryogenic temperatures. Bare beryllium is not very reflective of near-infrared light, so each mirror is coated with about 0.12 ounce of gold.

    The last full size (4.9-foot /1.5-meter) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segment that will fly aboard the observatory recently was coated, completing this stage of mirror production.

    i2
    The first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

    The Webb telescope is the world’s next-generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Webb telescope will provide images of the first galaxies ever formed, and explore planets around distant stars. It is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.”

    See the full article here.

     
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