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  • richardmitnick 9:45 am on January 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Experiment resolves mystery about wind flows on Jupiter, Jupiter, ,   

    From UCLA: “Experiment resolves mystery about wind flows on Jupiter” 

    UCLA bloc

    UCLA

    January 23, 2017
    Katherine Kornei

    1
    Views Jupiter’s south pole (upper left and lower right) and images from the lab experiment to re-create the planet’s winds (upper right and lower left). Jonathan Aurnou.

    Jupiter’s colorful, swirling winds known as “jets” have long puzzled astronomers.

    One mystery has been whether the jets exist only in the planet’s upper atmosphere — much like the Earth’s own jet streams — or whether they plunge into Jupiter’s gaseous interior. If the latter is true, it could reveal clues about the planet’s interior structure and internal dynamics.

    Now, UCLA geophysicist Jonathan Aurnou and collaborators in Marseille, France, have simulated Jupiter’s jets in the laboratory for the first time. Their work demonstrates that the winds likely extend thousands of miles below Jupiter’s visible atmosphere.

    This research is published online today in Nature Physics.

    “We can make these features in a computer, but we couldn’t make them happen in a lab,” said Aurnou, a UCLA professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences, who has spent the past decade studying computer models of swirling winds. “If we have a theoretical understanding of a system, we should be able to create an analog model.”

    The challenge to re-creating swirling winds in the lab was building a model of a planet with three key attributes believed to be necessary for jets to form: rapid rotation, turbulence and a “curvature effect” that mimics the spherical shape of a planet. Previous attempts to create jets in a lab often failed because researchers couldn’t spin their models fast enough or create enough turbulence, Aurnou said.

    The breakthrough for Aurnou’s team was a new piece of laboratory equipment. The researchers used a table built on air bearings that can spin at 120 revolutions per minute and support a load of up to 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds), meaning that it could spin a large tank of fluid at high speed in a way that mimics Jupiter’s rapid rotation.

    The scientists filled an industrial-sized garbage can with 400 liters (about 105 gallons) of water and placed it on the table. When the container spun, water was thrown against its sides, forming a parabola that approximated the curved surface of Jupiter.

    [No image of experimental equipment is available.]

    “The faster it went, the better we mimicked the massively strong effects of rotation and curvature that exists on planets,” Aurnou said. But the team found that 75 revolutions per minute was a practical limit: fast enough to force the liquid into a strongly curved shape but slow enough to keep water from spilling out.

    While the can was spinning, scientists used a pump below its false floor to circulate water through a series of inlet and outlet holes, which created turbulence — one of the three critical conditions for the experiment. That turbulent energy was channeled into making jets, and within minutes the water flow had changed to six concentric flows moving in alternating directions.

    “This is the first time that anyone has demonstrated that strong jets that look like those on Jupiter can develop in a real fluid,” Aurnou said.

    The researchers inferred that the jets were deep because they could see them on the surface of the water, even though they had injected turbulence at the bottom.

    The researchers are looking forward to testing their predictions with real data from Jupiter, and they won’t have to wait long: NASA’s Juno space probe is orbiting Jupiter right now, collecting data about its atmosphere, magnetic field and interior.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    Initial results from the Juno mission were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco, and Aurnou was there.

    “The Juno data from the very first flyby of Jupiter showed that structures of ammonia gas extended over 60 miles into Jupiter’s interior, which was a big shock to the Juno science team,” Aurnou said. “UCLA researchers will be playing an important role in explaining the data.”

    This year, Aurnou and his team will use supercomputers at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, to simulate the dynamics of Jupiter’s interior and atmosphere.

    ANL Cray Aurora supercomputer
    Cray Aurora supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility
    MIRA IBM Blue Gene Q supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility

    They’ll also continue their work at the laboratory in Marseilles to make the spinning table simulation more complex and more realistic.

    One goal is to add a thin, stable layer of fluid on top of the spinning water, which would function like the thin outer layer of Jupiter’s atmosphere that’s responsible for the planet’s weather. The researchers believe this will help them simulate features like Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation Geophysics Program, the French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche and the Aix-Marseille University Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

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  • richardmitnick 10:49 am on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CB chondrites, Grand Tack, Jupiter, Jupiter would have stirred up the asteroid belt enough to produce the high-impact velocities necessary to form these CB chondrites, NASA's Solar System Exploration Virtual Institute, Southwest Research Institute, Vaporizing iron requires really high-velocity impacts   

    From Brown: “Research offers clues about the timing of Jupiter’s formation” 

    Brown University
    Brown University

    December 9, 2016
    Kevin Stacey
    kevin_stacey@brown.edu
    401-863-3766

    The new study shows that Jupiter had probably reached its present day size by about 5 million years after the first solids in the solar system formed.

    1
    Jupiter is the king of the planets of our solar system. http://cosmobiologist.blogspot.com/2016/02/jupiter-king-of-worlds.html

    A peculiar class of meteorites has offered scientists new clues about when the planet Jupiter took shape and wandered through the solar system.

    Scientists have theorized for years now that Jupiter probably was not always in its current orbit, which is about five astronomical units from the sun (Earth’s distance from the sun is one astronomical unit). One line of evidence suggesting a Jovian migration deals with the size of Mars. Mars is much smaller than planetary accretion models predict. One explanation for that is that Jupiter once orbited much closer to the sun than it does now. During that time, it would have swept up much of the material needed to create supersized Mars.

    But while most scientists agree that giant planets migrate, the timing of Jupiter’s formation and migration has been a mystery. That’s where the meteorites come in.

    Meteorites known as CB chondrites were formed as objects in the early solar system—most likely in the present-day asteroid belt—slammed into each other with incredible speed. This new study, published in the journal Science Advances, used computer simulations to show that Jupiter’s immense gravity would have provided the right conditions for these hypervelocity impacts to occur. That in turn suggests that Jupiter was near its current size and sitting somewhere near the asteroid belt when the CB chondrules were formed, which was about 5 million years after formation of the first solar system solids.

    “We show that Jupiter would have stirred up the asteroid belt enough to produce the high-impact velocities necessary to form these CB chondrites,” said Brandon Johnson, a planetary scientist at Brown University who led the research. “These meteorites represent the first time the solar system felt the awesome power of Jupiter.”

    Strange structures

    Chondrites are a class of meteorites made up of chondrules, tiny spheres of previously molten material, and are among the most common meteorites found on Earth. The CB chondrites are a relatively rare subtype that have long fascinated meteoriticists. Part of what makes the CB chondrites so interesting is that their chondrules all date back to a very narrow window of time in the early solar system.

    “The chondrules in other meteorites give us a range of different ages,” Johnson said. “But those in the CB chondrites all date back to this brief period 5 million years after the first solar system solids.”

    2
    Chondrules found in CB chondrites were formed in ultra-high-speed collisions.
    Alexander Krot, University of Hawai’i Manoa

    But to Johnson, who studies impact dynamics, there is something else interesting about CB chondrites: They contain metallic grains that appear to have been condensed directly from vaporized iron. “Vaporizing iron requires really high-velocity impacts,” Johnson said. “You need to have an impact speed of around 20 kilometers per second to even begin to vaporize iron, but traditional computer models of the early solar system only produce impact speeds of around 12 kilometers per second at the time when the CB chondrites were formed.”

    So Johnson worked with Kevin Walsh of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder to generate new computer models of the chondrule-forming period—models that include the presence of Jupiter near the present day position of the asteroid belt.

    Gravity boost

    Big planets generate lots of gravity, which can slingshot nearby objects at high speeds. NASA often takes advantage of this dynamic, swinging spacecraft around planets to generate velocity. Walsh and Johnson included in their simulations a scenario of Jupiter’s formation and migration considered likely by many planetary scientists.

    The scenario, known as the Grand Tack (a term taken from sailing), suggests that Jupiter formed somewhere in the outer solar system. But as it accreted its thick atmosphere, it changed the distribution of mass in the gassy solar nebula surrounding it. That change in mass density caused the planet to migrate, moving inward toward the sun to about where the asteroid belt is today. Later, the formation of Saturn created a gravitational tug that pulled both planets back out to where they are today.

    “When we include the Grand Tack in our model at the time the CB chondrites formed, we get a huge spike in impact velocities in the asteroid belt,” Walsh said. “The speeds generated in our models are easily fast enough to explain the vaporized iron in CB chondrites.”

    The most extreme collision in the model was an object with a 90-kilometer diameter slamming into a 300-kilometer body at a speed of around 33 kilometers per second. Such a collision would have vaporized 30 to 60 percent of the larger body’s iron core, providing ample material for CB chondrites.

    The models also show that the increase in impact velocities would have been short-lived, lasting only about 500,000 years or so (a blink of an eye on the cosmic timescale). That short timescale allowed the researchers to conclude that Jupiter formed and migrated at roughly the same time the CB chondrites formed.

    The researchers say that while the study is strong evidence for the Grand Tack migration scenario, it doesn’t necessarily preclude other migration scenarios. “It’s possible that Jupiter formed closer to the sun and then migrated outward, rather than the in then out migration of the Grand Tack,” Johnson said.

    Whatever the scenario, the study provides strong constraints on the timing of Jupiter’s presence in the inner solar system.

    “In retrospect, it seems obvious that you would need something like Jupiter to stir the asteroid belt up this much,” Johnson said. “We just needed to create these models and calculate the impact speeds to connect the dots.”

    Other co-authors on the paper were David Minton (Purdue University), Alexander Krot (University of Hawai’i, Mānoa) and Harold Levison (Southwest Research Institute). Funding was provided by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Virtual Institute (NNA14AB03A). Computer simulations were run on the National Science Foundation’s XSEDE computer cluster.

    See the full article here .

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    Welcome to Brown

    Brown U Robinson Hall
    Located in historic Providence, Rhode Island and founded in 1764, Brown University is the seventh-oldest college in the United States. Brown is an independent, coeducational Ivy League institution comprising undergraduate and graduate programs, plus the Alpert Medical School, School of Public Health, School of Engineering, and the School of Professional Studies.

    With its talented and motivated student body and accomplished faculty, Brown is a leading research university that maintains a particular commitment to exceptional undergraduate instruction.

    Brown’s vibrant, diverse community consists of 6,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, 400 medical school students, more than 5,000 summer, visiting and online students, and nearly 700 faculty members. Brown students come from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

    Undergraduates pursue bachelor’s degrees in more than 70 concentrations, ranging from Egyptology to cognitive neuroscience. Anything’s possible at Brown—the university’s commitment to undergraduate freedom means students must take responsibility as architects of their courses of study.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:42 am on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Jupiter,   

    From Weizmann: “Israeli Instrument Bound for Jupiter” 

    Weizmann Institute of Science logo

    Weizmann Institute of Science

    07.01.2016 [This just appeared in social media.]
    No writer credit found

    Sometime in the year 2030, if all goes according to plan, some dozen groups around the world will begin receiving unique data streams sent from just above the planet Jupiter. Their instruments, which will include a device designed and constructed in Israel, will arrive there aboard the JUICE (JUpiter ICy satellite Explorer) spacecraft, a mission planned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to investigate the properties of the Solar System’s largest planet and several of its moons.

    ESA JUICE
    esa-juice-spacecraft
    ESA JUICE

    Among other things, the research groups participating in JUICE hope to discover whether the conditions for life exist anywhere in the vicinity of the planet.

    “This is the first time that an Israeli-built device will be carried beyond the Earth’s orbit,” says Dr. Yohai Kaspi of the Weizmann Institute’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, who is the principal investigator on this effort. The project, conducted in collaboration with an Italian team from the University of Rome, is called 3GM (Gravity & Geophysics of Jupiter and Galilean Moons).

    The Israeli contribution to the project is an atomic clock that will measure tiny vacillations in a radio beam provided by the Italian team. This clock must be so accurate it would lose less than a second in 100,000 years, so Kaspi has turned to the Israeli firm AccuBeat, which manufactures clocks that are used in high-tech aircraft, among other things. Its engineers, together with Kaspi and his team, including Dr. Eli Galanti and Dr. Marzia Parisi, have spent the last two years in research and development to design a device that should not only meet the strict demands of the experiment but survive the eight-year trip and function in the conditions of space. Their design was recently approved for flight by the European Space Agency. Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology will fund the research, building and assembly of the device.

    For around two and a half years as JUICE orbits Jupiter, the 3GM team will investigate the planet’s atmosphere by intercepting radio waves traveling through the gas, timing them and measuring the angle at which the waves are deflected. This will enable them to decipher the atmosphere’s makeup.

    During flybys of three of the planet’s moons – Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – the 3GM instruments will help search for tides. Researchers observing these moons have noted fluctuations in the gravity of these moons, suggesting the large mass of Jupiter is creating tides in liquid oceans beneath their hard, icy exteriors. By measuring the variations in gravity, the researchers hope to learn how large these oceans are, what they are made of, and even whether their conditions might harbor life.

    The JUICE teams are preparing for a launch in 2022. That gives them three years to get the various instruments ready and another three to assemble and test the craft. In the long wait – eight years – from launch to arrival, Kaspi intends to work on building theoretical models that can be tested against the data they will receive from their instruments.

    See the full article here .

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    Weizmann Institute Campus

    The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research institutions. Hundreds of scientists, laboratory technicians and research students working on its lushly landscaped campus embark daily on fascinating journeys into the unknown, seeking to improve our understanding of nature and our place within it.

    Guiding these scientists is the spirit of inquiry so characteristic of the human race. It is this spirit that propelled humans upward along the evolutionary ladder, helping them reach their utmost heights. It prompted humankind to pursue agriculture, learn to build lodgings, invent writing, harness electricity to power emerging technologies, observe distant galaxies, design drugs to combat various diseases, develop new materials and decipher the genetic code embedded in all the plants and animals on Earth.

    The quest to maintain this increasing momentum compels Weizmann Institute scientists to seek out places that have not yet been reached by the human mind. What awaits us in these places? No one has the answer to this question. But one thing is certain – the journey fired by curiosity will lead onward to a better future.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on August 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jupiter, ,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Jupiter’s Extended Family? A Billion or More” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    August 26, 2016
    News Media Contact
    Preston Dyches
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-7013
    preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Pat Brennan
    NASA Exoplanet Program

    1
    Comparing Jupiter with Jupiter-like planets that orbit other stars can teach us about those distant worlds, and reveal new insights about our own solar system’s formation and evolution. (Illustration) Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around.

    Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

    It turns out the inverse is also true — we can turn our instruments and probes to our own backyard, and view Jupiter as if it were an exoplanet to learn more about those far-off worlds. The best-ever chance to do this is now, with Juno, a NASA probe the size of a basketball court, which arrived at Jupiter in July to begin a series of long, looping orbits around our solar system’s largest planet. Juno is expected to capture the most detailed images of the gas giant ever seen. And with a suite of science instruments, Juno will plumb the secrets beneath Jupiter’s roiling atmosphere.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    It will be a very long time, if ever, before scientists who study exoplanets — planets orbiting other stars — get the chance to watch an interstellar probe coast into orbit around an exo-Jupiter, dozens or hundreds of light-years away. But if they ever do, it’s a safe bet the scene will summon echoes of Juno.

    “The only way we’re going to ever be able to understand what we see in those extrasolar planets is by actually understanding our system, our Jupiter itself,” said David Ciardi, an astronomer with NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute (NExSci) at Caltech.

    2

    Not all Jupiters are created equal

    Juno’s detailed examination of Jupiter could provide insights into the history, and future, of our solar system. The tally of confirmed exoplanets so far includes hundreds in Jupiter’s size-range, and many more that are larger or smaller.

    The so-called hot Jupiters acquired their name for a reason: They are in tight orbits around their stars that make them sizzling-hot, completing a full revolution — the planet’s entire year — in what would be a few days on Earth. And they’re charbroiled along the way.

    But why does our solar system lack a “hot Jupiter?” Or is this, perhaps, the fate awaiting our own Jupiter billions of years from now — could it gradually spiral toward the sun, or might the swollen future sun expand to engulf it?

    Not likely, Ciardi says; such planetary migrations probably occur early in the life of a solar system.

    “In order for migration to occur, there needs to be dusty material within the system,” he said. “Enough to produce drag. That phase of migration is long since over for our solar system.”

    Jupiter itself might already have migrated from farther out in the solar system, although no one really knows, he said.

    Looking back in time

    If Juno’s measurements can help settle the question, they could take us a long way toward understanding Jupiter’s influence on the formation of Earth — and, by extension, the formation of other “Earths” that might be scattered among the stars.

    “Juno is measuring water vapor in the Jovian atmosphere,” said Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This allows the mission to measure the abundance of oxygen on Jupiter. Oxygen is thought to be correlated with the initial position from which Jupiter originated.”

    If Jupiter’s formation started with large chunks of ice in its present position, then it would have taken a lot of water ice to carry in the heavier elements which we find in Jupiter. But a Jupiter that formed farther out in the solar system, then migrated inward, could have formed from much colder ice, which would carry in the observed heavier elements with a smaller amount of water. If Jupiter formed more directly from the solar nebula, without ice chunks as a starter, then it should contain less water still. Measuring the water is a key step in understanding how and where Jupiter formed.

    That’s how Juno’s microwave radiometer, which will measure water vapor, could reveal Jupiter’s ancient history.

    “If Juno detects a high abundance of oxygen, it could suggest that the planet formed farther out,” Quintana said.

    A probe dropped into Jupiter by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 1995 found high winds and turbulence, but the expected water seemed to be absent. Scientists think Galileo’s one-shot probe just happened to drop into a dry area of the atmosphere, but Juno will survey the entire planet from orbit.

    NASA Galileo
    NASA/Galileo

    The chaotic early years

    Where Jupiter formed, and when, also could answer questions about the solar system’s “giant impact phase,” a time of crashes and collisions among early planet-forming bodies that eventually led to the solar system we have today.

    Our solar system was extremely accident-prone in its early history — perhaps not quite like billiard balls caroming around, but with plenty of pileups and fender-benders.

    “It definitely was a violent time,” Quintana said. “There were collisions going on for tens of millions of years. For example, the idea of how the moon formed is that a proto-Earth and another body collided; the disk of debris from this collision formed the moon.

    Theia collision with Earth
    Theia collision with Earth. William K. Hartmann

    And some people think Mercury, because it has such a huge iron core, was hit by something big that stripped off its mantle; it was left with a large core in proportion to its size.”

    Part of Quintana’s research involves computer modeling of the formation of planets and solar systems. Teasing out Jupiter’s structure and composition could greatly enhance such models, she said. Quintana already has modeled our solar system’s formation, with Jupiter and without, yielding some surprising findings.

    “For a long time, people thought Jupiter was essential to habitability because it might have shielded Earth from the constant influx of impacts [during the solar system’s early days] which could have been damaging to habitability,” she said. “What we’ve found in our simulations is that it’s almost the opposite. When you add Jupiter, the accretion times are faster and the impacts onto Earth are far more energetic. Planets formed within about 100 million years; the solar system was done growing by that point,” Quintana said.

    “If you take Jupiter out, you still form Earth, but on timescales of billions of years rather than hundreds of millions. Earth still receives giant impacts, but they’re less frequent and have lower impact energies,” she said.

    Getting to the core

    Another critical Juno measurement that could shed new light on the dark history of planetary formation is the mission’s gravity science experiment. Changes in the frequency of radio transmissions from Juno to NASA’s Deep Space Network will help map the giant planet’s gravitational field.

    NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia
    “NASA Deep Space Network Canberra, Australia, radio telescopes on watch.

    Knowing the nature of Jupiter’s core could reveal how quickly the planet formed, with implications for how Jupiter might have affected Earth’s formation.

    And the spacecraft’s magnetometers could yield more insight into the deep internal structure of Jupiter by measuring its magnetic field.

    “We don’t understand a lot about Jupiter’s magnetic field,” Ciardi said. “We think it’s produced by metallic hydrogen in the deep interior. Jupiter has an incredibly strong magnetic field, much stronger than Earth’s.”

    Mapping Jupiter’s magnetic field also might help pin down the plausibility of proposed scenarios for alien life beyond our solar system.

    Earth’s magnetic field is thought to be important to life because it acts like a protective shield, channeling potentially harmful charged particles and cosmic rays away from the surface.

    4
    Earth’s magnetic field, NASA

    “If a Jupiter-like planet orbits its star at a distance where liquid water could exist, the Jupiter-like planet itself might not have life, but it might have moons which could potentially harbor life,” he said.

    An exo-Jupiter’s intense magnetic field could protect such life forms, he said. That conjures visions of Pandora, the moon in the movie “Avatar” inhabited by 10-foot-tall humanoids who ride massive, flying predators through an exotic alien ecosystem.

    Juno’s findings will be important not only to understanding how exo-Jupiters might influence the formation of exo-Earths, or other kinds of habitable planets. They’ll also be essential to the next generation of space telescopes that will hunt for alien worlds. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will conduct a survey of nearby bright stars for exoplanets beginning in June 2018, or earlier.

    NASA/TESS
    NASA/TESS

    The James Webb Space Telescope, expected to launch in 2018, and WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope), with launch anticipated in the mid-2020s, will attempt to take direct images of giant planets orbiting other stars.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated
    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    NASA/WFIRST
    NASA/WFIRST

    “We’re going to be able to image planets and get spectra,” or light profiles from exoplanets that will reveal atmospheric gases, Ciardi said. Juno’s revelations about Jupiter will help scientists to make sense of these data from distant worlds.

    “Studying our solar system is about studying exoplanets,” he said. “And studying exoplanets is about studying our solar system. They go together.”

    To learn more about a few of the known exo-Jupiters, visit:

    https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/alien-worlds/strange-new-worlds

    See the full article here .

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    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 6:32 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jupiter,   

    From Science Alert: “Jupiter is so freaking massive, it doesn’t actually orbit the Sun” 

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    1
    NASA

    27 JUL 2016
    RAFI LETZTER

    Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun, gas giant, and subject of the Juno mission, is huge. Huge.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    It’s so huge, in fact, that it doesn’t actually orbit the Sun. Not exactly. With 2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, it’s big enough that the centre of gravity between Jupiter and the Sun doesn’t actually reside inside the Sun – rather, at a point in space just above the Sun’s surface.

    Here’s how that works.

    When a small object orbits a big object in space, the less massive one doesn’t really travel in a perfect circle around the larger one. Rather, both objects orbit a combined centre of gravity.

    In situations we’re familiar with – like Earth orbiting the much-larger Sun – the centre of gravity resides so close to the centre of the larger object that the impact of this phenomenon is negligible. The bigger object doesn’t seem to move, and the smaller one draws a circle around it.

    But reality is always more complicated.

    For example: when the International Space Station (ISS) orbits Earth, both Earth and the space station orbit their combined centre of gravity. But that centre of gravity is so absurdly close to the centre of Earth that the planet’s motion around the point is impossible to spot – and the ISS follows a near-perfect circle around the whole planet.

    The same truth holds when most planets orbit the Sun. The Sun is just so much larger than Earth, Venus, Mercury, or even Saturn that their centres of mass with the Sun all lie deep within the star itself.

    Not so with Jupiter.

    The gas giant is so big that its centre of mass with the Sun, or barycenter, actually lies 1.07 solar radii from the middle of the Sun — or 7 percent of a Sun-radius above the Sun’s surface. Both the Sun and Jupiter orbit around that point in space.

    This not-to-scale gif from NASA illustrates the effect:

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:53 pm on July 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Jupiter   

    From GIZMODO: “Heating of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere above the Great Red Spot” 

    GIZMODO bloc

    GIZMODO

    7.27.16
    Ria Misra

    1
    Artist’s concept of heating above the Great Red Spot (Image: Karen Teramura, UH IfA with James O’Donoghue and Luke Moore)

    There’s a mystery above Jupiter. The planet is five times farther from the sun than Earth is—and yet has similar atmospheric temperatures to our own. So where’s all that extra heat coming from? It turns out, Jupiter may have a second heat source in its Big Red Spot.

    In a new paper out today in Nature, researchers from Boston University explain how they constructed a heat-map of the atmosphere using infrared emissions thrown off by the planet. With that heat map, researchers were able to trace the temperature spike to its source. The highest temperatures were consistently over the planet’s Great Red Spot, an ever-present storm system larger than two Earths.

    Researchers had previously flagged the turbulent storm as a potential heat source but, until this study, had no way to back up their hunch. Now that this team pinned the heat to a likely source, though, researchers have even more questions.

    The precise mechanism by which the storm system’s heat transfer works, for instance, has yet to be uncovered. Equally intriguing is the question of what will happen to Jupiter’s atmosphere as the Great Red Spot changes. This “perpetual hurricane,” as researchers describe it, has raged for centuries at least—but that doesn’t mean it’s going to keep on going forever. Previous studies have shown that the giant spot appears to be steadily shrinking with age.

    If the Great Red Spot is indeed one of the primary heat sources for the planet, then it would make sense to see Jupiter cool down as it shrinks. If nothing else, a gradual cooling of the planet’s temperature would confirm that scientists have indeed solved the mystery of Jupiter’s extra heat.

    See the full article here .

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    “We come from the future.”

    GIZMOGO pictorial

     
  • richardmitnick 2:37 pm on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Application Specific Integrated Circuits, , , Jupiter,   

    From Goddard: “Tiny Microchips Enable Extreme Science” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    July 12, 2016
    Lina Tran
    kathalina.k.tran@nasa.gov
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    The Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, are integral to JEDI’s investigation of unique space environments like that surrounding Jupiter. They will measure the speed, energy and position of particles and photons in space with incredible accuracy.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng

    As NASA spacecraft explore deeper into space, onboard computer electronics must not only be smaller and faster, but also be prepared for extreme conditions. A prime example is shown in these images: a family of Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, microchips specifically designed to measure the particles in space – the very stuff that can create radiation hazards for satellite computers.

    These tiny, radiation-resistant chips play a crucial role in one of the instruments nestled inside the radiation-shielded electronics vault on NASA’s Juno spacecraft – which entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    The microchips aboard Juno are part of the Jupiter Energetic Particle Detector Instrument, or JEDI, a cutting-edge instrument that will measure the composition of the immense magnetic system surrounding the planet, called a magnetosphere.

    2
    The image shows the magnetic field of Jupiter based on a realistic model[1] and co–rotation enforcing currents.[2] Positions of the Galilean moons are also shown. Ruslik0

    The ASICs measure the speed, energy and position of particles and photons in space with time accuracy down to a fraction of a billionth of a second. The largest chip is barely the size of a saltine cracker. Without these chips, satellite electronics would be much heavier and require substantially more shielding and power – potential problems for any satellites traveling into space.

    “Before my work, you had electronics that were very big – over two pounds,” said Nikolaos Paschalidis, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Paschalidis conceived of and first developed ASICs when he worked at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “A great deal of my early work was on miniaturization of space instruments and systems with advanced technologies like electronics onto a microchip.”

    Paschalidis is the chief technologist for heliophysics at Goddard. Heliophysics is the study of the sun and how it affects the particles and energy in space. Far from being empty, the space surrounding planets is filled with fast moving particles and a complex electromagnetic system often driven by the sun. Near Jupiter, this system includes intense aurora and giant radiation belts surrounding the gas giant. It’s the job of JEDI, led by Barry Mauk at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, to observe this complex system.

    Better understanding of a planet’s space environment helps us understand how it was formed and continues to evolve. Moreover, it helps us learn more about how to prepare spacecraft to travel through such harsh radiation conditions.

    Juno isn’t the first spacecraft to carry these microchips. ASICs have been incorporated in many other NASA missions to study a diverse range of space environments from close to the sun to the heart of Earth’s radiation belts to the edge of the solar system. However, the Juno mission required a significant advance in ASIC performance over prior spaceflight electronics: The Juno ASICs were specially developed to be radiation-hardened, enabling them to withstand the harsh, radiative environment of Jupiter’s magnetosphere where high-energy particles constantly bombard objects and deposit large doses of radiation.

    Goddard Heliophysicist Waits Nearly 10 Years for Pluto Flyby

    See the full article here.

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    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.

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  • richardmitnick 5:57 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jupiter, ,   

    From JPL: “NASA’s Juno Spacecraft in Orbit Around Mighty Jupiter” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    July 4, 2016
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    Dwayne C. Brown
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1726
    dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

    1
    The Juno team celebrates at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after receiving data indicating that NASA’s Juno mission entered orbit around Jupiter. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at JPL, is seen at the center hugging JPL’s acting director for solar system exploration, Richard Cook. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4.

    NASA/Juno
    Juno

    “Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

    Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Denver. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

    “This is the one time I don’t mind being stuck in a windowless room on the night of the Fourth of July,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission team did great. The spacecraft did great. We are looking great. It’s a great day.”

    Preplanned events leading up to the orbital insertion engine burn included changing the spacecraft’s attitude to point the main engine in the desired direction and then increasing the spacecraft’s rotation rate from 2 to 5 revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it..

    The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began on time at 8:18 p.m. PDT (11:18 p.m. EDT), decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 mph (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter. Soon after the burn was completed, Juno turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

    “The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from JPL. “Jupiter orbit insertion was a big step and the most challenging remaining in our mission plan, but there are others that have to occur before we can give the science team members the mission they are looking for.”

    Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.

    “Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”

    Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

    The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

    More information on the Juno mission is available at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on June 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jupiter, ,   

    From Hubble: “Hubble Captures Vivid Auroras in Jupiter’s Atmosphere” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    June 30, 2016
    Ray Villard
    Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
    410-338-4514
    villard@stsci.edu

    Mathias Jäger
    ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
    011-49-176-6239-7500
    mjaeger@partner.eso.org

    Jonathan Nichols
    University of Leicester, Leicester, England, United Kingdom
    011-44-116-252-5049
    jdn4@leicester.ac.uk

    Astronomers are using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to study auroras — stunning light shows in a planet’s atmosphere — on the poles of the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. This observation program is supported by measurements made by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, currently on its way to Jupiter.

    1
    Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is best known for its colorful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot. Now astronomers have focused on another beautiful feature of the planet, using the ultraviolet capabilities of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

    The data are from the HST proposals: 2014 WFC3/UVIS Data: 13631 PI: A. Simon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), G. Orton (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), J. Rogers (University of Cambridge, UK), and M. Wong and I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley); and 2016 STIS Data: 14105 PI: J. Nichols (University of Leicester), J. Clarke (Boston University), G. Orton (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), S. Cowley, E. Bunce, and T. Stallard (University of Leicester), S. Badman (Lancaster University), D. Grodent, B. Bonfond, and A. Radioti (Universite de Liege), R. Gladstone (Southwest Research Institute), F. Bagenal (University of Colorado, Boulder), J. Connerney (NASA/GSFC), D. McComas (Princeton University), B. Mauk (JHU/APL), W. Kurth (University of Iowa), I. Yoshikawa (University of Tokyo), M. Fujimoto (ISAS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), C. Tao (NICT, Japan), and T. Kimura (ISAS, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

    Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)
    Release Date: June 30, 2016
    Color: This image is a composite of separate exposures acquired by the STIS and WFC3/UVIS instruments. Several filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues (colors) to each monochromatic (grayscale) image associated with an individual filter. In this case, the assigned colors are:
    STIS CCD blue
    WFC3/UVIS F395N (395 nm) blue
    WFC3/UVIS F502N (502 nm) green
    WFC3/UVIS F631N (631 nm) red

    The extraordinary vivid glows shown in the new observations are known as auroras. They are created when high-energy particles enter a planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and collide with atoms of gas. As well as producing beautiful images, this program aims to determine how various components of Jupiter’s auroras respond to different conditions in the solar wind, a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun.

    This observation program is perfectly timed as NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently in the solar wind near Jupiter and will enter the orbit of the planet in early July 2016.

    NASA/Juno
    NASA/Juno

    While Hubble is observing and measuring the auroras on Jupiter, Juno is measuring the properties of the solar wind itself — a perfect collaboration between a telescope and a space probe.

    “These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen,” said Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, and principal investigator of the study. “It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a fireworks party for the imminent arrival of Juno.”

    To highlight changes in the auroras, Hubble is observing Jupiter almost daily for several months. Using this series of far-ultraviolet images from Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, it is possible for scientists to create videos that demonstrate the movement of the vivid auroras, which cover areas bigger than the Earth.

    Not only are the auroras huge in size, they are also hundreds of times more energetic than auroras on Earth. And, unlike those on Earth, they never cease. While on Earth the most intense auroras are caused by solar storms — when charged particles rain down on the upper atmosphere, excite gases, and cause them to glow red, green, and purple — Jupiter has an additional source for its auroras.

    The strong magnetic field of the gas giant grabs charged particles from its surroundings.

    3
    Jupiter’s magnetosphere

    This includes not only the charged particles within the solar wind, but also the particles thrown into space by its orbiting moon Io, known for its numerous and large volcanos.

    The new observations and measurements made with Hubble and Juno will help to better understand how the sun and other sources influence auroras. While the observations with Hubble are still ongoing and the analysis of the data will take several more months, the first images and videos are already available and show the auroras on Jupiter’s north pole in their full beauty. In support of the Juno mission, Hubble will continue to monitor Jupiter auroras several times a month for the duration of the Juno mission.

    The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

    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 3:38 pm on June 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jupiter, ,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “NASA’s Juno Peers Inside a Giant” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    JPL-Caltech

    June 29, 2016
    DC Agle
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-9011
    agle@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Scientists will use the twin magnetometers aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft to gain a better understanding about how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its long anticipated arrival at Jupiter on July 4. Coming face-to-face with the gas giant, Juno will begin to unravel some of the greatest mysteries surrounding our solar system’s largest planet, including the origin of its massive magnetosphere.

    Magnetospheres are the result of a collision between a planet’s intrinsic magnetic field and the supersonic solar wind. Jupiter’s magnetosphere — the volume carved out in the solar wind where the planet’s magnetic field dominates –extends up to nearly 2 million miles (3 million kilometers).

    2

    If it were visible in the night sky, Jupiter’s magnetosphere would appear to be about the same size as Earth’s full moon. By studying Jupiter’s magnetosphere, scientists will gain a better understanding about how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. They also hope to determine whether the planet has a solid core, which will tell us how Jupiter formed during the earliest days of our solar system.


    Access mp4 video here .

    In order to look inside the planet, the science team equipped Juno with a pair of magnetometers. The magnetometers, which were designed and built by an in-house team of scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will allow scientists to map Jupiter’s magnetic field with high accuracy and observe variations in the field over time.

    “The best way to think of a magnetometer is like a compass,” said Jack Connerney, deputy principal investigator and head of the magnetometer team at Goddard. “Compasses record the direction of a magnetic field. But magnetometers expand on that capability and record both the direction and magnitude of the magnetic field.”

    The magnetometer sensors rest on a boom attached to one of the solar arrays, placing them about 40 feet (12 meters) from the body of the spacecraft. This helps ensure that the rest of the spacecraft does not interfere with the magnetometer.

    However, the sensor orientation changes in time with the mechanical distortion of the solar array and boom resulting from the extremely cold temperatures of deep space. This distortion would limit the accuracy of the magnetometer measurements if not measured.

    To ensure that the magnetometers retain their high accuracy, the team paired the instruments with a set of four cameras. These cameras measure the distortion of the magnetometer sensors in reference to the stars to determine their orientation.

    “This is our first opportunity to do very precise, high-accuracy mapping of the magnetic field of another planet,” Connerney said. “We are going to be able to explore the entire three-dimensional space around Jupiter, wrapping Jupiter in a dense net of magnetic field observations completely covering the sphere.”

    One of the mysteries the team hopes to answer is how Jupiter’s magnetic field is generated. Scientists expect to find similarities between Jupiter’s magnetic field and that of Earth.

    Magnetic fields are produced by what are known as dynamos — convective motion of electrically conducting fluid inside planets. As a planet rotates, the electrically susceptible liquid swirls around and drives electric currents, inducing a magnetic field. Earth’s magnetic field is generated by liquid iron in the planet’s core.

    “But with Jupiter, we don’t know what material is producing the planet’s magnetic field,” said Jared Espley, Juno program scientist for NASA Headquarters, Washington. “What material is present and how deep down it lies is one of the questions Juno is designed to answer.”

    The observations made by Juno’s magnetometers will also add to our understanding of Earth’s dynamo, the source of our planet’s magnetic field, which lies deep beneath a magnetized layer of rocks and iron.

    Imagine Earth’s crust strewn with refrigerator magnets as you try to peer beneath the surface to observe the dynamo. The magnetization of Earth’s crust will skew your measurements of the magnetic field.

    “One of the reasons that the Juno mission is so exciting is because we can map Jupiter’s magnetic field without having to look through the crustal magnetic fields, which behave like a jumble of refrigerator magnets,” Connerney said. “Jupiter has a gaseous envelope about it made of hydrogen and helium that gives us a clear and unobstructed view of the dynamo.”

    These observations will also add to the general understanding of how dynamos generate magnetic fields, including here on Earth.

    “Any time we understand anything about another planet, we can take that knowledge and apply it to our knowledge about our own planet,” Espley said. “We’ll be looking at Juno’s observations in a big-picture perspective.”

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft.

    For more information about the Juno mission, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/juno

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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