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  • richardmitnick 5:29 am on September 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cassini at Saturn, , ESA   

    From ESA: “Cassini concludes pioneering mission at Saturn” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    15 September 2017
    Nicolas Altobelli
    ESA Cassini–Huygens Project Scientist



    Tel: +34 91 813 1201




    Email: nicolas.altobelli@esa.int

    Markus Bauer








    ESA Science Communication Officer









    Tel: +31 71 565 6799









    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954









    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    1

    The international Cassini mission has concluded its remarkable exploration of the Saturnian system in spectacular style, by plunging into the gas planet’s atmosphere.

    Confirmation of the end of mission arrived at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at 11:55 GMT/13:55 CEST with the loss of the spacecraft’s signal having occurred 83 minutes earlier at Saturn, some 1.4 billion km from Earth.

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    Last Enceladus plume observation

    With the rocket propellant for manoeuvering the spacecraft fully expended as planned touring Saturn and its moons for the last 13 years, the mission concluded with the intentional plunge into the gas planet. This ensures that Saturn’s icy moons, in particular ocean-bearing Enceladus, do not risk being contaminated by microbes that might have remained on board the spacecraft from Earth, and are left pristine for future exploration.

    Cassini spent the last five months diving between Saturn’s rings and atmosphere in a series of 22 grand finale orbits culminating in a final farewell to Titan on Monday, which set it on course for Saturn.

    The grand finale orbits were supported by ESA ground stations, which received signals from Cassini to gather crucial radio science and gravitational science data.

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    ESA DSA-1 New Norcia, Western Australia. Credit: ESA

    __________________________________________________________________
    NASA Deep Space Network
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    Canberra, AU

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    Madrid, Spain

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    Goldstone, Mojave Desert, USA

    __________________________________________________________________

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    Cassini’s final image – natural colour view

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    Ring Crossing: In this still from the short film Cassini’s Grand Finale, the spacecraft is shown diving between Saturn and the planet’s innermost ring. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Atmospheric entry began about a minute before loss of signal, and the spacecraft sent scientific data in near real-time until its antenna could no longer point towards Earth. Its last images were sent yesterday, before the final plunge, and during its final moments it made the deepest ever measurements of the plasma density, magnetic field, temperatures and atmospheric composition in Saturn’s atmosphere.

    “Cassini has been revolutionising our views of the Saturn system since the moment it arrived, and for 13 incredible years right until the very end today,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science.

    “This mission has changed the way we view ocean-worlds in the Solar System, offering tantalising hints of places which could offer potentially habitable environments, with Titan giving us a planet-sized laboratory to study processes that may even be relevant to the origin of life on Earth.”

    Launched on 15 October 1997 and arriving in Saturn’s orbit on 30 June 2004 (PDT), Cassini carried ESA’s Huygens probe that landed on Titan on 14 January 2005. During its two and half hour descent it revealed the surface that had been previously been hidden by the moon’s thick hazy atmosphere, showing a world with eerily Earth-like landscapes.

    Cassini would continue to make exciting discoveries at Titan from orbit, with its radar finding lakes and seas filled with methane and other hydrocarbons, making it the only other known place in our Solar System with a stable liquid on its surface. In the moon’s atmosphere Cassini detected numerous complex organic molecules, some of which are considered building blocks of life on Earth.

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    First colour view of Titan’s surface

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    Saturn’s moon zoo

    Saturn’s moons continued to surprise, with one of the major discoveries of the entire mission the detection of icy plumes erupting from fissures in the southern hemisphere of Enceladus. Later discoveries would indicate hydrothermal activity at the bottom of a sea floor, hinting at this world as one of the most promising places to search for life beyond Earth.

    The mission also showcased the unique characteristics of Saturn’s many other moons, from Iapetus and its equatorial ridge to Hyperion, which looks like a giant sponge, and from ravioli-shaped Pan, to Mimas, which resembles the Death Star from Star Wars.

    Many of Cassini’s discoveries can be attributed to the longevity of the mission, which included two mission extensions, allowing the spacecraft to cover half of Saturn’s seasonal cycle.

    First, a two-year extension was granted to observe changes as Saturn reached equinox, when the Sun shone edge-on to the rings. Subsequently, an additional seven years was given to follow up on earlier discoveries at Enceladus and Titan, and watch as summer sunlight fell on to the northern hemisphere of Saturn and its moons while winter darkness moved in on the south.

    This long-term monitoring allowed scientists to watch seasonal changes, including how weather patterns in Saturn’s dynamic atmosphere evolved, and revealing the long-lived north polar vortex inside a hexagon-shaped jet stream. Cassini also watched how Titan’s hydrocarbon cycle evolved with the seasons, its clouds raining methane onto the surface.

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    Saturn’s ring features

    The extended mission time was also crucial to track the evolution of small-scale dynamical features in the rings, like the ‘propellers’, disturbances in the rings created by moonlets. Over time the ‘spokes’ in Saturn’s rings – features that rotate along with the rings like the spokes in a wheel – appeared and disappeared with the seasons. And at equinox, the exquisite detail of the vertical structures in the rings, driven by gravitational perturbations of nearby moons, was revealed.

    “Cassini and Huygens represent an astonishing scientific, technological, and human achievement,” says Nicolas Altobelli, ESA’s Cassini project scientist.

    “The mission has inspired us with awe-inspiring images, including those humbling views looking across more than a billion kilometres of space back to the tiny blue dot of our home planet.

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    Cassini’s Pale Blue Dot
    Released 23/07/2013 9:16 am
    Copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
    In this rare image taken on 19 July, the wide-angle camera on the international Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and Moon in the same frame.
    The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The ‘breaks’ in the brightness of Saturn’s limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

    Earth, 1.44 billion km away in this image, appears as a blue dot at centre right; the Moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. The other bright dots nearby are stars.
    This is only the third time ever that Earth has been imaged from the outer Solar System. The first image was taken by NASA’s Voyager-1 in 1990 and famously titled “Pale Blue Dot”. In 2006, Cassini imaged Earth in the stunning and unique mosaic of Saturn called “In Saturn’s Shadow – The Pale Blue Dot”.
    The new images marked the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged. That opportunity allowed people around the world to join together in social events to celebrate the occasion.
    This view looks towards the unilluminated side of the rings from about 20º below the ring plane.
    Images taken using red, green and blue filters were combined to create this natural colour view. The images were obtained with Cassini’s wide-angle camera on 19 July at a distance of 1.212 million km from Saturn, and 1445.858 million km from Earth. The illuminated areas of both Earth and the Moon are unresolved here. Consequently, the size of each ‘dot’ is the same size that a point of light of comparable brightness would have in the wide-angle camera.

    While it is certainly sad when a mission ends, it is also a time to celebrate this pioneering journey, which leaves a rich scientific and engineering legacy to pave the way for future missions.”

    Mission planners already have the next generation of ocean-world explorers lined up, although this time it’s Jupiter that will get the limelight. ESA is preparing to launch the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, Juice, in 2022, with a key focus on the habitability potential of the large ocean-bearing satellites Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, while NASA is planning the Europa Clipper mission for dedicated flybys of that icy moon.

    ESA/Juice spacecraft

    NASA/Europa Clipper

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 4:28 am on September 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESA, IN3, Investing in Industrial Innovation   

    From ESA: “Investing in Industrial Innovation” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1

    6 September 2017

    A new ESA initiative, Investing in Industrial Innovation in Earth Observation – also known as ‘InCubed’ – kicked off today with an open call for European businesses to apply for a chance to gain financial and practical support for industry projects.

    Innovation, collaboration, partnership and speed are all key factors in making Earth observation a success in the up and coming Earth Observation commercial market. As part of its drive to shape Earth observation for the future, ESA has set up InCubed to help stimulate investment in industrial innovation for the Earth observation sector.

    The goal is to support industry-led initiatives that will open new market opportunities, bring innovative systems and products faster to market, and compete in the global marketplace.

    Through InCubed, companies developing innovative systems, components and products in the Earth observation business sector can approach ESA at any time for support to make their venture technically viable and commercially competitive. Proposals could be about satellites, constellations, instruments or big data analytics, for example.

    “Earth observation is undergoing a paradigm shift,” said Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes.

    “Commercial companies, big and small, are developing exciting assets, such as satellites, ground systems and data analytics solutions. ESA has set up a programme, called InCubed, to help European industry to establish a leading market position.

    “Speed and flexibility in deciding and implementing a partnership proposal are key ingredients for success. InCubed will do that.”

    With a budget of more than €35 million over the next four years, InCubed is now open for proposals from businesses in 13 participating states (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). They can ‘pitch their proposition’ through ESA’s Electronic Mailing Invitation to Tender System.

    InCubed will, in most cases, co-fund up to 50% of a proposed venture. It can also provide access to ESA expertise and technical support. Proposals must be of sufficient technical readiness and market viability, meaning that the project would eventually be sustained by the market, without further public funding.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:56 am on August 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA, GSI’s large particle accelerator in Darmstadt Germany, Radiation exposure, Understand the full biological effects of cosmic rays and accurately calculate how much exposure humans can safely withstand   

    From ESA: “Heavy but fast” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    17/08/2017

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    Gabi Otto/GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

    Living in space is no easy task, and one of the largest concerns for mission planners cannot even be seen: cosmic radiation poses a risk to the human body in the form of cancer, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular problems and tissue degeneration.

    Our atmosphere protects us on Earth from the constant barrage of cosmic radiation, but venture 50 km up – the International Space Station circles at around 400 km altitude – and the only thing protecting astronauts is the spacecraft hull or their spacesuits. Risk builds over time so we will need to develop ways of counteracting radiation on long missions to far-away planets.

    To understand the full biological effects of cosmic rays and accurately calculate how much exposure humans can safely withstand is where GSI, the Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, comes in. ESA is inviting researchers to investigate the biological effects of space radiation using GSI’s large particle accelerator in Darmstadt, Germany.

    Researchers from all over the world use this facility to gain new insights into the building blocks of matter and the evolution of the Universe, as well as developing new applications in medicine and technology.

    The SIS-18 ring accelerator can shoot ions at targets including biological cells, recreating cosmic radiation. Analysing how the ions interact will help mission designers to develop new ways of minimising the risks of cosmic radiation. The ions are accelerated with magnets to 90% of the speed of light, or 270 000 km/s.

    This image shows a beam diagnosis element, which allows scientists to analyse the shape of the ion beam as it passes through.

    Sounds interesting? Send a letter of intent by 15 September with your experiment idea, which should contribute to improving the risk assessments of cosmic radiation exposure or to studying countermeasures on cells to allow safe human space exploration.

    Results of such experiments will also have applications for life on Earth. Though well protected, humans are not immune from radiation exposure. Data from these studies inform us of risks of radiation exposure on Earth as well as improve radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:39 am on August 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESA, , Tracking a solar eruption through the Solar System   

    From ESA: “Tracking a solar eruption through the Solar System” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    15 August 2017
    Olivier Witasse
    European Space Agency
    Email: olivier.witasse@esa.int

    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    Ten spacecraft, from ESA’s Venus Express to NASA’s Voyager-2, felt the effect of a solar eruption as it washed through the Solar System while three other satellites watched, providing a unique perspective on this space weather event.

    NASA/Voyager 2

    Scientists working on ESA’s Mars Express were looking forward to investigating the effects of the close encounter of Comet Siding Spring on the Red Planet’s atmosphere on 19 October 2014, but instead they found what turned out to be the imprint of a solar event.

    ESA/Mars Express Orbiter

    While this made the analysis of any comet-related effects far more complex than anticipated, it triggered one of the largest collaborative efforts to trace the journey of an interplanetary ‘coronal mass ejection’ – a CME – from the Sun to the far reaches of the outer Solar System.

    Although Earth itself was not in the firing line, a number of Sun-watching satellites near Earth – ESA’s Proba-2, the ESA/NASA SOHO and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – had witnessed a powerful solar eruption a few days earlier, on 14 October.

    ESA/NASA SOHO

    NASA/SDO

    NASA’s Stereo-A not only captured images of the other side of the Sun with respect to Earth, but also collected in situ information as the CME rushed passed.

    NASA/STEREO spacecraft

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    In the firing line

    Thanks to the fortuitous locations of other satellites lying in the direction of the CME’s travel, unambiguous detections were made by three Mars orbiters – ESA’s Mars Express, NASA’s Maven and Mars Odyssey – and NASA’s Curiosity Rover operating on the Red Planet’s surface, ESA’s Rosetta at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, and the international Cassini mission at Saturn.

    NASA/Mars MAVEN

    NASA/Mars Odyssey Spacecraft

    NASA/Mars Curiosity Rover

    ESA/Rosetta spacecraft

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    Hints were even found as far out as NASA’s New Horizons, which was approaching Pluto at the time, and beyond to Voyager-2.

    NASA/New Horizons spacecraft

    However, at these large distances it is possible that evidence of this specific eruption may have merged with the background solar wind.

    “CME speeds with distance from the Sun is not well understood, in particular in the outer Solar System,” says ESA’s Olivier Witasse, who led the study.

    “Thanks to the precise timings of numerous in situ measurements, we can better understand the process, and feed our results back into models.”

    The measurements give an indication of the speed and direction of travel of the CME, which spread out over an angle of at least 116º to reach Venus Express and Stereo-A on the eastern flank, and the spacecraft at Mars and Comet 67P Churyumov–Gerasimenko on the western flank.

    From an initial maximum of about 1000 km/s estimated at the Sun, a strong drop to 647 km/s was measured by Mars Express three days later, falling further to 550 km/s at Rosetta after five days. This was followed by a more gradual decrease to 450–500 km/s at the distance of Saturn a month since the event.

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    Multispacecraft view

    The data also revealed the evolution of the CME’s magnetic structure, with the effects felt by spacecraft for several days, providing useful insights on space weather effects at different planetary bodies. The signatures at the various spacecraft typically included an initial shock, a strengthening of the magnetic field, and increases in the solar wind speed.

    In the case of ESA’s Venus Express, its science package was not switched on because Venus was ‘behind’ the Sun as seen from Earth, limiting communication capabilities.

    A faint indication was inferred from its star tracker being overwhelmed with radiation at the expected time of passage.

    Furthermore, several craft carrying radiation monitors – Curiosity, Mars Odyssey, Rosetta and Cassini ­­– revealed an interesting and well-known effect: a sudden decrease in galactic cosmic rays. As a CME passes by, it acts like a protective bubble, temporarily sweeping aside the cosmic rays and partially shielding the planet or spacecraft.

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    Cosmic ray drop

    A drop of about 20% in cosmic rays was observed at Mars – one of the deepest recorded at the Red Planet – and persisted for about 35 hours. At Rosetta a reduction of 17% was seen that lasted for 60 hours, while at Saturn the reduction was slightly lower and lasted for about four days. The increase in the duration of the cosmic ray depression corresponds to a slowing of the CME and the wider region over which it was dispersed at greater distances.

    “The comparison of the decrease in galactic cosmic ray influx at three widely separated locations due to the same CME is quite novel,” says Olivier. “While multispacecraft observations of CMEs have been done in the past, it is uncommon for the circumstances to be such to include so many spread across the inner and outer Solar System like this.

    “Finally, coming back to our original intended observation of the passage of Comet Siding Spring at Mars, the results show the importance of having a space weather context for understanding how these solar events might influence or even mask the comet’s signature in a planet’s atmosphere.”

    Interplanetary coronal mass ejection observed at Stereo-A, Mars, comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Saturn and New Horizons en route to Pluto. Comparison of its Forbush decreases at 1.4, 3.1 and 9.9 AU, by O. Witasse et al. is published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:38 am on August 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dwarf galaxy NGC 5949, ESA,   

    From Hubble via ESA: “Small but significant” 

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    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

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    Credits: NASA/ESA Hubble CC BY 4.0

    The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a dwarf galaxy named NGC 5949. Thanks to its proximity to Earth — it sits at a distance of around 44 million light-years from us, placing it within the Milky Way’s cosmic neighbourhood — NGC 5949 is a perfect target for astronomers to study dwarf galaxies.

    With a mass of about a hundredth that of the Milky Way, NGC 5949 is a relatively bulky example of a dwarf galaxy. Its classification as a dwarf is due to its relatively small number of constituent stars, but the galaxy’s loosely-bound spiral arms also place it in the category of barred spirals. This structure is just visible in this image, which shows the galaxy as a bright yet ill-defined pinwheel. Despite its small proportions, NGC 5949’s proximity has meant that its light can be picked up by fairly small telescopes, something that facilitated its discovery by the astronomer William Herschel in 1801.

    Astronomers have run into several cosmological quandaries when it comes to dwarf galaxies like NGC 5949. For example, the distribution of dark matter within dwarfs is quite puzzling (the “cuspy halo” problem), and our simulations of the Universe predict that there should be many more dwarf galaxies than we see around us (the “missing satellites” problem).

    See the full article here .

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    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.

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  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on August 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESA, Europe’s very first closed-loop life-support experiment to fly in space 30 years ago this week, MELiSSA experiment   

    From ESA: “Thirty year-old microbiology experiment” 

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    European Space Agency

    1
    Credits: ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    This humble parcel-sized hardware is Europe’s very first closed-loop life-support experiment to fly in space, 30 years ago this week.

    Today, ESA leads the 11-nation Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA) programme, seeking to perfect a self-sustaining life-support system that could in future be flown in space, supplying astronauts with all the oxygen, water and food they require.

    “A long-term effort, MELiSSA formally began in April 1990 and continues to this day,” explains Christophe Lasseur, heading the programme. “But this flight experiment, developed with France’s CNES space agency and flown with China, was an important precursor.”

    The experiment flew in space for five days on a recoverable ‘Fanhui Shei Weixing’ (FSW) recoverable capsule during 5–10 August 1987.

    Two types of microorganism – algae dependent on oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, plus cyanobacteria dependent on carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen – were placed in the glass vials, their mutually-dependent growth in weightlessness supported by nutrients and light, the latter supplied by a small light bulb.

    The experiment had to be entirely self-reliant while the FSW capsule was in space, so power came from a set of off-the-shelf Duracell batteries.

    The aim was to see how the algae grew in weightlessness, rather than being disturbed by the forces of reentry and landing. Accordingly, a shape-memory alloy released a fixative chemical after five days of flight. This stopped the cultures from growing any further, allowing accurate post-flight analysis of their behaviour in space.

    “The nerve-racking part was waiting for the hardware to come back to us,” adds Christophe. “If it was lost, we would have had no results.”

    Many further experiments have followed. Next month, the latest MELiSSA experiment is scheduled for the International Space Station, containing an advanced photo-bioreactor to see how algae growth rates are affected by microgravity and space radiation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 12:08 pm on August 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ESA, Lunar lava tubes, Lunar Nanobots,   

    From ESA: “Lunar Nanobot” 

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    European Space Agency

    1
    Lunar Nanobot
    Released 02/08/2017
    Copyright Lunatix

    This highly mobile, jumping Nanobot was designed by a team of space engineers challenged to develop a Moon mission that was not only technically viable but could also make a profit.

    The annual SpaceTech Master Programme of the Technical University of Graz, Austria trains space professionals to combine space and business engineering. ESA Director General Jan Woerner asked the 2016 participants to come up with a profitable business case to fit within ESA’s Moon Village concept.

    The eight SpaceTech 2016 participants presented the resulting Lunatix concept last month at ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

    “We want to enable you to leave your mark on the Moon,” explains ESA engineer Jorge Fiebrich. “Our ambition is to become the creative leader in lunar mobility experiences, through placing unique mobile platforms on the lunar surface.”

    The team designed these video camera-equipped Nanobots to tap into the $100 billion gaming market. After raising initial enthusiasm among Earth’s 1.8 billion gamers with controlling a virtual Nanobot on a simulated lunar surface, there will be the possibility to control real Nanobots on the Moon, in Pokemon Go!-style augmented reality scenarios.

    Science would be another business line, with the highly agile Nanobots able to probe sites of scientific interest such as lunar lava tubes.

    The Nanobots are designed to jump up to 3 m high and 10 m in distance in the one-sixth gravity of the Moon, which allows them to clear obstacles while offering an exciting gaming aspect.

    A series of Nanobots – formally known as Small Mobile Platforms – together with the Main Mobile Platform larger rover would be deployed on the Moon. Along with additional scientific payloads, the larger rover would recharge the Nanobots and give them shelter during the two-week lunar night.

    The SpaceTech team carried out a rigorous end-to-end design process, ensuring their robots could survive harsh lunar temperature swings and radiation and dust exposure, as well as continuously communicate with Earth – and their customers.

    “Through the Nanobots, humans will be experiencing the Moon in near-real time, with a two-way delay of around three seconds,” adds Jon Reijneveld, system engineer at Airbus Defence and Space. “They could be seen as the first inhabitants of the Moon Village.”

    Now the study has been completed, the participants are investigating plans to establish the company next year. For more information read the full summary here.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:42 am on August 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA, ,   

    From ESA: “Gravity waves detected in Sun’s interior reveal rapidly rotating core” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    1 August 2017

    Eric Fossat
    Laboratoire Lagrange
    Université Côte d’Azur
    Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, France
    Email: Eric.Fossat@oca.eu

    Bernhard Fleck
    ESA SOHO Project Scientist
    Email: bfleck@esa.nascom.nasa.gov

    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799
    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954
    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    1
    Solar interior. No image credit.

    Scientists using the ESA/NASA SOHO solar observatory have found long-sought gravity modes of seismic vibration that imply the Sun’s core is rotating four times faster than its surface.

    2
    ESA/NASA SOHO

    Just as seismology reveals Earth’s interior structure by the way in which waves generated by earthquakes travel through it, solar physicists use ‘helioseismology’ to probe the solar interior by studying sound waves reverberating through it. On Earth, it is usually one event that is responsible for generating the seismic waves at a given time, but the Sun is continuously ‘ringing’ owing to the convective motions inside the giant gaseous body.

    Higher frequency waves, known as pressure waves (or p-waves), are easily detected as surface oscillations owing to sound waves rumbling through the upper layers of the Sun. They pass very quickly through deeper layers and are therefore not sensitive to the Sun’s core rotation.

    Conversely, lower frequency gravity waves (g-waves) that represent oscillations of the deep solar interior have no clear signature at the surface, and thus present a challenge to detect directly.

    In contrast to p-waves, for which pressure is the restoring force, buoyancy (gravity) acts as the restoring force of the gravity waves.

    “The solar oscillations studied so far are all sound waves, but there should also be gravity waves in the Sun, with up-and-down, as well as horizontal motions like waves in the sea,” says Eric Fossat, lead author of the paper describing the result, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    “We’ve been searching for these elusive g-waves in our Sun for over 40 years, and although earlier attempts have hinted at detections, none were definitive. Finally, we have discovered how to unambiguously extract their signature.”

    Eric and his colleagues used 16.5 years of data collected by SOHO’s dedicated ‘Global Oscillations at Low Frequencies’ (GOLF) instrument. By applying various analytical and statistical techniques, a regular imprint of the g-modes on the p-modes was revealed.

    In particular, they looked at a p-mode parameter that measures how long it takes for an acoustic wave to travel through the Sun and back to the surface again, which is known to be 4 hours 7 minutes. A series of modulations was detected in this p-mode parameter that could be interpreted as being due to the g-waves shaking the structure of the core.

    The signature of the imprinted g-waves suggests the core is rotating once every week, nearly four times faster than the observed surface and intermediate layers, which vary from 25 days at the equator to 35 days at the poles.

    “G-modes have been detected in other stars, and now thanks to SOHO we have finally found convincing proof of them in our own star,” adds Eric. “It is really special to see into the core of our own Sun to get a first indirect measurement of its rotation speed. But, even though this decades long search is over, a new window of solar physics now begins.”

    The rapid rotation has various implications, for example: is there any evidence for a shear zone between the differently rotating layers? What do the periods of the g-waves tell us about the chemical composition of the core? What implication does this have on stellar evolution and the thermonuclear processes in the core?

    “Although the result raises many new questions, making an unambiguous detection of gravity waves in the solar core was the key aim of GOLF. It is certainly the biggest result of SOHO in the last decade, and one of SOHO’s all-time top discoveries,” says Bernhard Fleck, ESA’s SOHO project scientist.

    ESA’s upcoming solar mission, Solar Orbiter will also ‘look’ into the solar interior but its main focus is to provide detailed insights into the Sun’s polar regions, and solar activity. Meanwhile ESA’s future planet-hunting mission, Plato, will investigate seismic activity in stars in the exoplanet systems it discovers, adding to our knowledge of relevant processes in Sun-like stars.

    NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter

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    ESA > Our Activities > Space Science >

    Solar interior
    1 August 2017

    Scientists using the ESA/NASA SOHO solar observatory have found long-sought gravity modes of seismic vibration that imply the Sun’s core is rotating four times faster than its surface.

    Just as seismology reveals Earth’s interior structure by the way in which waves generated by earthquakes travel through it, solar physicists use ‘helioseismology’ to probe the solar interior by studying sound waves reverberating through it. On Earth, it is usually one event that is responsible for generating the seismic waves at a given time, but the Sun is continuously ‘ringing’ owing to the convective motions inside the giant gaseous body.

    Higher frequency waves, known as pressure waves (or p-waves), are easily detected as surface oscillations owing to sound waves rumbling through the upper layers of the Sun. They pass very quickly through deeper layers and are therefore not sensitive to the Sun’s core rotation.

    Conversely, lower frequency gravity waves (g-waves) that represent oscillations of the deep solar interior have no clear signature at the surface, and thus present a challenge to detect directly.

    In contrast to p-waves, for which pressure is the restoring force, buoyancy (gravity) acts as the restoring force of the gravity waves.

    “The solar oscillations studied so far are all sound waves, but there should also be gravity waves in the Sun, with up-and-down, as well as horizontal motions like waves in the sea,” says Eric Fossat, lead author of the paper describing the result, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
    SOHO

    “We’ve been searching for these elusive g-waves in our Sun for over 40 years, and although earlier attempts have hinted at detections, none were definitive. Finally, we have discovered how to unambiguously extract their signature.”

    Eric and his colleagues used 16.5 years of data collected by SOHO’s dedicated ‘Global Oscillations at Low Frequencies’ (GOLF) instrument. By applying various analytical and statistical techniques, a regular imprint of the g-modes on the p-modes was revealed.

    In particular, they looked at a p-mode parameter that measures how long it takes for an acoustic wave to travel through the Sun and back to the surface again, which is known to be 4 hours 7 minutes. A series of modulations was detected in this p-mode parameter that could be interpreted as being due to the g-waves shaking the structure of the core.

    The signature of the imprinted g-waves suggests the core is rotating once every week, nearly four times faster than the observed surface and intermediate layers, which vary from 25 days at the equator to 35 days at the poles.

    “G-modes have been detected in other stars, and now thanks to SOHO we have finally found convincing proof of them in our own star,” adds Eric. “It is really special to see into the core of our own Sun to get a first indirect measurement of its rotation speed. But, even though this decades long search is over, a new window of solar physics now begins.”

    The rapid rotation has various implications, for example: is there any evidence for a shear zone between the differently rotating layers? What do the periods of the g-waves tell us about the chemical composition of the core? What implication does this have on stellar evolution and the thermonuclear processes in the core?

    “Although the result raises many new questions, making an unambiguous detection of gravity waves in the solar core was the key aim of GOLF. It is certainly the biggest result of SOHO in the last decade, and one of SOHO’s all-time top discoveries,” says Bernhard Fleck, ESA’s SOHO project scientist.

    ESA’s upcoming solar mission, Solar Orbiter will also ‘look’ into the solar interior but its main focus is to provide detailed insights into the Sun’s polar regions, and solar activity. Meanwhile ESA’s future planet-hunting mission, Plato, will investigate seismic activity in stars in the exoplanet systems it discovers, adding to our knowledge of relevant processes in Sun-like stars.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:52 am on August 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ESA,   

    From ESA: “How each Galileo satellite is tested ahead of launch” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    31 July 2017
    No writer credit found.

    ESA/Galileo Spacecraft

    1
    Galileo in Maxwell chamber
    Released 31/07/2017 11:28 am
    Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury

    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite inside the Maxwell test chamber of ESA’s Test Centre in the Netherlands. Note its search and rescue antenna, left, and main navigation antenna, covered in silver ‘single layer insulation’ as it will be in space. Two further S-band telemetry, tracking and telecommand antennas are seen jutting out of the satellite body to its left and right sides. These 9 m-high spike-lined walls enclose the hushed interior of the chamber, isolating the satellite from all external influences to assess its electromagnetic compatibility. Once its main door is sealed, the metal walls of the chamber form a ‘Faraday Cage’, screening out external electromagnetic signals. The ‘anechoic’ foam pyramids covering its interior absorb internal signals – as well as sound – to prevent any reflection, mimicking the infinite void of space. The satellite’s systems are then switched on to detect any harmful interference as its various elements operate together.

    Each Galileo satellite must go through a rigorous test campaign to assure its readiness for the violence of launch, airlessness and temperature extremes of Earth orbit.

    Each one is despatched to a unique location in Europe to ensure its readiness prior to launch: a 3000 sq m cleanroom complex nestled in sandy dunes along the Dutch coast, filled with test equipment to simulate all aspects of spaceflight.

    The test centre in Noordwijk – Europe’s largest satellite test site – is part of ESA’s main technical centre, but it is maintained and operated on a commercial basis on behalf of the Agency by a private company created for the purpose: European Test Services (ETS) B.V.

    “Our company was founded 2000 as a joint venture between two of Europe’s leading satellite environmental test companies, Intespace in France and IABG in Germany,” explains Pierre Destaing, ETS test programme support manager for Galileo.

    2
    Aerial view of ESA’s technical centre. ESA – Jan Van Haarlem/Gallery Imaging bv, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    “That business setup is a source of flexibility: there are 30–35 people working here throughout the year, but if extra specialists are needed for a given campaign we can call on our parent companies.”

    ETS has been responsible for supporting many historic test campaigns – including space-certifying Europe’s 20-tonne ATV space truck and Envisat, the world’s largest civilian Earth-observing mission. But in terms of scale alone, its work with Galileo is the company’s greatest challenge.

    ETS is about to complete its contracts with OHB System AG, covering the environmental test of 22 ‘Full Operational Capability’ Galileo satellites, preceded by the testing of the very first of the first–generation ‘In-Orbit Validation’ Galileo satellites on a previous, separate contract.

    3
    Galileo arrival. Released 31/07/2017 11:48 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury.
    Description

    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being slid out of its transport containers into the cleanroom environment of ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in the Netherlands. Some 22 Galileo FOC satellites have gone through testing here, along with the very first Galileo ‘In-Orbit Validation’ satellites. The Test Centre contains a collection of facilities to simulate every aspect of the launch and space environments. Galileo’s search and rescue antenna is visible in the foreground, with the circular navigation antenna in the middle of the satellite.

    The pressure has been steady to ensure satellites are available in time to meet Galileo’s launch schedule.

    “Traffic management is a big part of the job – it’s like a game of Tetris.” Pierre comments. “We have a steady stream of Galileo satellites to accommodate, along with other missions such as the BepiColombo Mercury orbiter, Solar Orbiter, the Cheops exoplanet detector and currently the latest MetOp weather satellite, with a fixed set of test facilities.

    “The biggest challenge is definitely ensuring that every project can have the access to the facility they need at the right time, which demands complicated logistics and security adherence.”

    4
    Moving Galileo. Released 31/07/2017 10:53 am. Copyright ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Task list for testing

    ETS has built up to a steady rhythm with the OHB System team, typically accommodating multiple satellites in storage on site, at the same time as others undergo further active testing.

    “When each new satellite arrives, it is first unpacked within the carefully filtered and air conditioned Test Centre environment,” explains Pierre.

    5
    Galileo beside Phenix chamber. Released 31/07/2017 11:53 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury.
    Description
    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being removed from the Phenix thermal vacuum chamber after a fortnight-long ‘hot and cold’ vacuum test.

    “Its next stop is the Phenix thermal vacuum chamber within which the satellite undergoes ‘bake out’ – heated up to ensure a suitably pristine vacuum ahead of the turning on of sensitive instruments.

    “This is followed by a prolonged, fortnight-long ‘hot and cold soak’ in vacuum to prove the spacecraft performance and workmanship. Next is radio-frequency testing in the Maxwell chamber – shielded against all external radio signals and coated in radio-absorbing foam, to simulate the infinite surroundings of space – to assess the performance of the satellite antennas as well as their compatibility with onboard systems.”

    Also on the task list are mechanical properties measurements – pinpointing each individual satellite’s precise centre of mass and gravity. This is a requirement for compatibility with Galileo’s two types of launch vehicle types – Soyuz and Ariane 5 – as well as helping with controlling their orientation in a fuel-efficient way, elongating their working lifetimes in orbit.

    And each satellite also needs to be plugged into the larger Galileo system for testing, to check its end-to-end compatibility as if already serving in space.

    Each Galileo has its dedicated solar wings mounted – they come from Airbus Defence and Space in nearby Leiden – for performance testing. They are then brought into launch configuration, making the satellite ready for acoustic testing in the Large European Acoustic Facility where it is blasted with the equivalent noise of the various types of rocket at take-off.

    “After further performance tests by OHB, the satellite is at its final stages of verification before shipment to Kourou: the alignment of its antennas and thrusters. Then the propulsion system is filled with neutral gas to check for any leaks – preparing for the actual fuelling of the satellite with hydrazine at the launch site.”

    6
    Galileo in acoustic test chamber. Released 31/07/2017 9:34 am. Copyright ESA/OHB–S. Bury
    A Galileo Full Operational Capability satellite being prepared for testing inside ESA’s Large European Acoustic Facility, which subjects test items to the equivalent noise of launch – note the sound horns to the left. The satellite is in its launch configuration, so its solar arrays are folded up on each side.

    Ahead of the majority of tests, ETS works closely with the OHB environmental test team to supply them with supporting information such as thermal and accelerometer data monitoring (typically adding up to dozens of different channels) as well as radio-frequency measurements: “It is ETS’ job to ensure that our customer, OHB , receives all the data they need from our infrastructure, operated in a suitably secure and clean mode.”

    The company also needs to anticipate the sometimes formidable logistical needs of each test campaign – thermal vacuum testing for instance requires two liquid nitrogen trucks daily to top up on-site supplies, requiring 50 000 litres of superchilled nitrogen per day of each 14-day test.

    Their future link with Galileo is not yet assured; ETS will put in a bid to test Europe’s next set of Galileo satellites – ‘Batch 3’ – for OHB along with other European competitors.

    OHB Galileo Environmental test campaign Manager Stephen Bury comments, “OHB and ETS have had a long and successful collaborative relationship during Galileo testing, completing 20 out of the 22 satellites at Noordwijk to date, with the final two progressing well.

    “All OHB and ETS employees are proud of their role in readying the current constellation for space, and we look forward to possibly returning to work with ETS in the future, for the next set of Galileo satellites awarded to OHB in Batch 3.”

    Pierre concludes: “There’s something very special about working directly with the satellites, ahead of their trip to orbit.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on July 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA, Has Cassini found a universal driver for prebiotic chemistry at Titan?, ,   

    From ESA: “Has Cassini found a universal driver for prebiotic chemistry at Titan?” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    26 July 2017

    Ravi Desai
    Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London
    Email: r.t.desai@ucl.ac.uk

    Andrew Coates
    Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London
    Email: a.coates@ucl.ac.uk

    Nicolas Altobelli
    ESA Cassini–Huygens Project Scientist



    Tel: +34 91 813 1201




    Email: nicolas.altobelli@esa.int

    Markus Bauer








    ESA Science Communication Officer









    Tel: +31 71 565 6799









    Mob: +31 61 594 3 954









    Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

    1
    Chemistry in Titan’s atmosphere.

    The international Cassini-Huygens mission has made a surprising detection of a molecule that is instrumental in the production of complex organics within the hazy atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft

    Titan boasts a thick nitrogen and methane atmosphere with some of the most complex chemistry seen in the Solar System. It is even thought to mimic the atmosphere of early Earth, before the build-up of oxygen. As such, Titan can be seen as a planet-scale laboratory that can be studied to understand the chemical reactions that may have led to life on Earth, and that could be occurring on planets around other stars.

    In Titan’s upper atmosphere, nitrogen and methane are exposed to energy from sunlight and energetic particles in Saturn’s magnetosphere. These energy sources drive reactions involving nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon, which lead to more complicated prebiotic compounds.

    These large molecules drift down towards the lower atmosphere, forming a thick haze of organic aerosols, and are thought to eventually reach the surface. But the process by which simple molecules in the upper atmosphere are transformed into the complex organic haze at lower altitudes is complicated and difficult to determine.

    One surprising outcome of the Cassini mission was the discovery of a particular type of negatively charged molecule at Titan. Negatively charged species – or ‘anions’ – were not something scientists expected to find, because they are highly reactive and should not last long in Titan’s atmosphere before combining with other materials. Their detection is completely reshaping current understanding of the hazy moon’s atmosphere.

    In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists identified some of the negatively charged species as what are known as ‘carbon chain anions’. These linear molecules are understood to be building blocks towards more complex molecules, and may have acted as the basis for the earliest forms of life on Earth.

    The detections were made using Cassini’s plasma spectrometer, called CAPS, as Cassini flew through Titan’s upper atmosphere, 950–1300 km above the surface. Interestingly, the data showed that the carbon chains became depleted closer to the moon, while precursors to larger aerosol molecules underwent rapid growth, suggesting a close relationship between the two, with the chains ‘seeding’ the larger molecules.

    “We have made the first unambiguous identification of carbon chain anions in a planet-like atmosphere, which we believe are a vital stepping-stone in the production line of growing bigger, and more complex organic molecules, such as the moon’s large haze particles,” says Ravi Desai of University College London and lead author of the study.

    “This is a known process in the interstellar medium, but now we’ve seen it in a completely different environment, meaning it could represent a universal process for producing complex organic molecules.

    “The question is, could it also be happening within other nitrogen-methane atmospheres like at Pluto or Triton, or at exoplanets with similar properties?”

    “The prospect of a universal pathway towards the ingredients for life has implications for what we should look for in the search for life in the Universe,” says co-author Andrew Coates, also from UCL, and co-investigator of CAPS.

    “Titan presents a local example of exciting and exotic chemistry, from which we have much to learn.”

    Cassini’s 13-year odyssey in the Saturnian system will soon draw to a close, but future missions, such as the international James Webb Space Telescope and ESA’s Plato exoplanet mission are being equipped to look for this process not only in our own Solar System but elsewhere.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    ESA/PLATO

    Advanced ground-based facilities such as ALMA could also enable follow-up observations of this process at work in Titan’s atmosphere, from Earth.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    “These inspiring results from Cassini show the importance of tracing the journey from small to large chemical species in order to understand how complex organic molecules are produced in an early Earth-like atmosphere,” adds Nicolas Altobelli, ESA’s Cassini–Huygens project scientist.

    “While we haven’t detected life itself, finding complex organics not just at Titan, but also in comets and throughout the interstellar medium, we are certainly coming close to finding its precursors.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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