Tagged: NASA Ames Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:43 am on July 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Ames, NASA Frontier Development Lab,   

    From SETI Institute: “NASA Frontier Development Lab Returns to Silicon Valley to Solve New Challenges with AI” 

    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    Jun 24, 2019

    1

    Next week, NASA’s Frontier Development Lab, the SETI Institute, and FDL’s private sector and space agency partners will kick off its fourth annual summer research accelerator, applying the latest techniques in machine learning and artificial intelligence to address important science and exploration research challenges. This year, 24 early career Ph.Ds in AI and interdisciplinary natural science domains will be working in six interdisciplinary teams on challenge questions in the areas of space weather, lunar resources, Earth observation and astronaut health.

    “Since its inception, FDL has proven the efficacy of interdisciplinary research and the power of public-private partnership,” said Bill Diamond, president and CEO of the SETI Institute. “We are building on the extraordinary accomplishments of the researchers and mentors from the first three years and are excited to welcome another international group of amazing young scientists for this year’s program. We are also extremely grateful to all our private sector partners and especially to Google Cloud for their leadership role.”

    Partner organizations support FDL by providing funding, supplying hardware, AI/ML algorithms, datasets, software and cloud-compute resources. They also support working teams with mentors and subject matter experts and hosting key events, such as the first-week AI boot camp and the final public team presentations. This year, FDL is pleased to welcome back partners Google Cloud, Intel, IBM, KX, Lockheed Martin, Luxembourg Space Agency, and NVIDIA. We are also pleased to welcome our new partners Canadian Space Agency, HPE and Element AI.

    For the past three years, FDL has demonstrated the potential of applied AI to deliver important results to the space program in a very intense sprint, when supported in this way by a consortium of motivated partners. This approach has proven critical in unlocking meaningful progress in the complex and often systemic nature of AI problems.

    “NASA has been at the forefront of machine learning – e.g. robotics,” said Madhulika Guhathakurta, program scientist and heliophysicist on detail at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. “But we’re now witnessing an inflection point, where AI promises to become a tool for discovery – where the ability to process vast amount of heterogeneous data, as well as massive amount of data collected over decades, allows us to revisit the physics-based models of the past – to better understand underlying principles and radically improve time to insight.”

    Each team is comprised of two Ph.D. or postdoc researchers from the space sciences and two data scientists, supported by mentors in each area. This year’s participants come from 13 countries and will be working on these challenges:

    Disaster prevention, progress and response (floods)
    Lunar resource mapping/super resolution
    Expanding the capabilities of NASA’s solar dynamics observatory
    Super-resolution maps of the solar magnetic field covering 40 years of space weather events
    Enhanced Predictability of GNSS Disturbances
    Generation of simulated biosensor data

    Additionally, three teams in Europe will be addressing disaster prevention, progress and response (floods), ground station pass scheduling and assessing the changing nature of atmospheric phenomena, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).

    FDL 2019 kicks off next week at NVIDIA headquarters in Santa Clara, California, where teams will participate in a one-week intensive boot camp. The program concludes on August 15 at Google in Mountain View, California where teams will present the results of their work. Throughout the summer, teams will be working at the SETI Institute and NASA’s Ames Research Center near Mountain View.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute


    About the SETI Institute

    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute


    SETI@home, a BOINC project originated in the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:17 am on March 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ana Humphrey, , , , , , NASA Ames, , ,   

    From NASA AMES: Women in STEM-“High School Senior Uncovers Potential for Hundreds of Earth-Like Planets in Kepler Data” Ana Humphrey 

    NASA Ames Icon

    From NASA AMES

    March 28, 2019
    Frank Tavares
    NASA’s Ames Research Center

    1
    Ana Humphrey

    An 18-year-old high school senior has won a $250,000 prize for calculating the potential for finding more planets outside our solar system, called exoplanets, using data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope, and K2 March 7, 2009 until November 15, 2018

    Kepler, whose mission ended in 2018, discovered over 2,600 confirmed exoplanets, with thousands more candidate planets still being considered. But are there more planets that have yet to be found around stars Kepler looked at, leaving traces in the telescope’s data? Ana Humphrey, a student at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, has developed a mathematical model to find out. Her work calculated that there could be as many as 560 of these hidden planets and identified 96 areas of the sky where they might be found.

    For this research, Humphrey recently won first-place in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the oldest science and math competition for high school seniors in the United States, produced by the Society for Science & the Public. As a Cuban-American student, she is the first Hispanic winner of the top award in the last 20 years.

    “I think it’s hard for a lot of students to see themselves doing something like astrophysics,” said Humphrey. “I hope my background will allow me to connect with students, especially Hispanic students, and get them to think about going into science.”

    2
    Ana Humphrey (left), Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen (middle) and Sophia Roberts (right) on the NASA Science Live talkshow where they discussed her work using Kepler data to find planets that orbit other stars.

    For Humphrey, winning this award is a dream she’s had since the sixth grade and the culmination of two years of research. Her inspiration for the project was the idea that new worlds could be discovered based on data from other objects, before being directly observed. Neptune, for example, was discovered in 1846 by looking at data from Uranus and its orbit, and there have been recent predictions of a hypothetical ninth planet beyond Pluto, based on the orbits of objects at the very edges of our solar system. Using this concept to search for exoplanets was a natural next step, she said.

    “I was completely fascinated by this idea of finding new planets using mass, based on data that we already had,” said Humphrey. “I think it just shows that even if your data collection is complete, there’s always new questions that can be asked and can be answered.”

    We know exoplanets are abundant – in fact, thanks to Kepler, we know there are more planets than stars in our galaxy. But in order to detect a planet, Kepler had to observe repeated dimmings of the brightness of a star as a planet passed by.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    This is called the “transit method.” There are many planets left to be found that do not “transit” from the viewpoint of our telescopes, which means Kepler could not have found them. But Kepler data can lead to later discoveries of more planets that weren’t immediately obvious.

    Astrophysicist Elisa Quintana at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland is working with Humphrey as her mentor, exploring the idea that more planets could fit into systems that are already known. Quintana, who worked on the Kepler mission, also led the first discovery of an Earth-size planet in a habitable zone: Kepler-186f. The habitable zone is the area around a star where a planet could host liquid water. Kepler-186, a red dwarf star, is known to have five planets, but could potentially have more.

    “Take a system like Kepler-186,” Quintana said. “When we discovered the system, we noticed a big space between the four planets really close to the star and outer planet, enough where there could be another planet the size of Earth.”

    Many multi-planetary systems have similar gaps with the potential to house hidden Earth-size planets. Humphrey’s research aims to find out how many extra planets could fit into these systems, without disrupting the orbits we can observe.

    Her mathematical model places an “imagined” planet between two known exoplanets discovered by Kepler. Then, she uses two equations to describe how tight the space between the imagined planet and its two neighbors can be without disrupting their orbits. From this, she can use simple algebra to derive the possible mass and orbital distances of the hypothetical hidden planet. Using statistics, this model can determine not just if such a planet could exist, but the likelihood it’s actually there. When this technique is applied on the scale of a multi-planet star system, it reveals all the places planets might be hidden, and what those planets might look like.

    Humphrey designed her model so that it can be quickly applied to any exoplanet database. That means as more data comes in from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA’s active planet-hunting spacecraft, and other future missions, scientists can predict which planetary systems may have hidden planets there as well.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    She will continue working with Quintana to explore how likely it is that the hidden planets exist, and whether they can be detected with additional observations from other telescopes.

    Even before embarking on an astrophysics degree next year, Humphrey has already added an instrumental piece to the puzzle of searching for another life-harboring Earth in the cosmos. She plans to put her prize money toward her education and future research.

    “My goal going into any project is always to be the best scientist that I can be, to do the best research that I can do,” said Humphrey. “To get recognized by such a great award… I feel incredibly honored.”

    NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operated the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

    For more information about the Kepler and K2 missions, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 12:58 pm on February 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Ames, , Pedro Gerum, Planet discovery,   

    From Rutgers University: “Rutgers Student Helps NASA Discover Planets” 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    February 22, 2019
    Cynthia Medina
    c.medina@rutgers.edu

    Pedro Gerum explains how working on railway tracks led to an internship with the space agency.

    1
    Doctoral student Pedro Gerum recently started his internship in NASA’s Ames Research Center, where he will be a part of the TESS satellite mission to help discover new planets.
    Photo: Courtesy of Pedro Gerum

    NASA/MIT TESS

    Pedro Gerum is putting the skills he developed working to improve railroad track inspections in New Jersey as a graduate student toward helping NASA discover new planets outside our solar system.

    The fourth-year industrial and sytems engineering doctoral student at Rutgers-New Brunswick recently started an internship at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, which is part of the agency’s TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission that collects and analyzes data on exoplanets, those planets outside of our solar system that orbit around other stars but not the sun.

    The space telescope is designed to scan an area of the sky that is 400 times larger than the one covered by the recently retired Kepler mission, which searched for earth-sized planets orbiting stars.

    “My job is to see light curves from the satellite and try to detect if those curves represent a planet or not using computer algorithms,” Gerum said.

    Gerum’s role at NASA will have some similarities to his research at Rutgers under Melike Baykal-Gürsoy, an associate professor in the School of Engineering, working to detect rail track defects. He uses data and statistics to create patterns that can more accurately pinpoint where a problem originates and then develops a computer program to detect those patterns.

    “In the case of railways, I am looking for patterns, and those patterns will help detect the problem areas,’’ Gerum said. “In the case of NASA, I am looking for patterns, and those patterns will help determine whether a light curve indicates the presence of new planets.”

    Baykal-Gürsoy said this process of creating patterns in search of a conclusion is called building a stochastic model, which translates to the expertise NASA needs.

    “The first step in a stochastic model for the railway system is to figure out how to model a defect process found during inspections, and then the second step is to figure out how to predict a behavioral pattern from it,” Baykal-Gürsoy said. “Then you train a computer to detect problems on its own by plugging in examples of these patterns until it learns to do it accurately, and then it does the work for you, even better than you. This is called machine-learning.”


    Watch NASA scientists explain how the TESS satellite works to find undiscovered worlds around bright nearby stars, providing targets where future studies will assess their capacity to harbor life. (Video Courtesy of NASA.)

    Gerum will be doing that exact research with NASA, along with seven other students from across the globe who will be working on other projects. Gerum, originally from Brazil, completed his undergraduate degree at the Federal University of São Carlos and landed the position at NASA as a result of a partnership between the Brazilian Space Agency and NASA. Gerum said Baykal-Gürsoy helped him develop his expertise on data science and optimization and is grateful for how much assistance the university has offered to help him reach his goals.

    “I traveled to Rutgers to meet with Dr. Baykal-Gürsoy and I really liked her expertise in her field and she made me feel welcome,” Gerum said. “As an international student, I was lucky that Rutgers could fund part of my tuition. They really helped me get to where I am.”

    Gerum, who is the first Rutgers student in the industrial and systems engineering program to work at a NASA facility, hopes others from the university will be inspired to use their skills in areas outside of their immediate field of study. He said the relationship between tracking railway defects and discovering planets is more closely related than it seems.

    “There is usually a way to use your skill set in most fields,” said Gerum, who will return to Rutgers to complete his degree after his internship ends in May 2019. “You just have to stay open and get the right support.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:05 am on August 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bouncing barrier, , , , NASA Ames, NASA Researchers Find Evidence of Planet-Building Clumps, Planetesimal formation   

    From NASA Ames: “NASA Researchers Find Evidence of Planet-Building Clumps” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    From NASA AMES

    Aug. 21, 2018
    Darryl Waller
    NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley
    650-604-2675
    darryl.e.waller@nasa.gov

    Noah Michelsohn
    NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
    281-483-5111
    noah.j.michelsohn@nasa.gov

    1
    False-color image of Allendale meteorite showing the apparent golf ball size clumps. Credits: NASA/J. Simon and J. Cuzzi

    NASA scientists have found the first evidence supporting a theory that golf ball-size clumps of space dust formed the building blocks of our terrestrial planets.

    A new paper from planetary scientists at the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, provides evidence for an astrophysical theory called “pebble accretion” where golf ball-sized clumps of space dust came together to form tiny planets, called planetesimals, during the early stages of planetary formation.

    “This is very exciting because our research provides the first direct evidence supporting this theory,” said Justin Simon, a planetary researcher in ARES. “There have been a lot of theories about planetesimal formation, but many have been stymied by a factor called the ‘bouncing barrier.’”

    “The bouncing barrier principle stipulates that planets cannot form directly through the accumulation of small dust particles colliding in space because the impact would knock off previously attached aggregates, stalling growth. Astrophysicists had hypothesized that once the clumps grew to the size of a golf ball, any small particle colliding with the clump would knock other material off. Yet, if the colliding objects were not the size of a particle, but much larger – for example, clumps of dust the size of a golf ball – that they could exhibit enough gravity to hold themselves together in clusters to form larger bodies.”

    2
    Mosaic photograph of the ancient Northwest Africa 5717 ordinary chondrite with clusters of particles. Credits: NASA/J. Simon and J. Cuzzi

    The research provides evidence of a common, possibly universal, dust sticking process from studying two ancient meteorites – Allende and Northwest Africa 5717 – that formed in the pre-planetary period of the Solar System and have remained largely unaltered since that time. Scientists know through dating methods that these meteorites are older than Earth, Moon, and Mars, which means they have remained unaltered since the birth of the Solar System. The meteorites studied for this research are so old that they are often used to date the Solar System itself.

    The meteorites were analyzed using electron microscope images and high-resolution photomicrographs that showed particles within the meteorite slices appeared to concentrate together in three to four-centimeter clumps. The existence of the clumps demonstrates that the meteorites themselves were produced by the clustering of golf ball-sized objects, providing strong evidence that the process was possible for other bodies as well.

    The research, titled “Particle size distributions in chondritic meteorites: Evidence for pre-planetesimal histories,” was published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters in July. The publication culminated six years of research that was led by planetary scientists Simon at Johnson and Jeffrey Cuzzi at Ames.

    Dig up more about how NASA studies meteorites, visit:

    https://ares.jsc.nasa.gov/

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 4:10 pm on August 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Ames, Then Reborn in Ultrahot Jupiters, Water Is Destroyed   

    From NASA Ames and JPL: “Water Is Destroyed, Then Reborn in Ultrahot Jupiters” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From JPL-Caltech

    and

    NASA Ames Icon

    From NASA Ames

    Aug. 9, 2018

    Calla Cofield
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-393-1821
    Calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov

    Written by Adam Hadhazy

    1
    These simulated views of the ultrahot Jupiter WASP-121b show what the planet might look like to the human eye from five different vantage points, illuminated to different degrees by its parent star. The images were created using a computer simulation being used to help scientists understand the atmospheres of these ultra-hot planets. Ultrahot Jupiters reflect almost no light, rather like charcoal. However, the daysides of ultrahot Jupiters have temperatures of between 3600°F and 5400°F (2000°C and 3000°C), so the planets produce their own glow, like a hot ember. The orange color in this simulated image is thus from the planet’s own heat. The computer model was based on observations of WASP-121b conducted using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Vivien Parmentier/Aix-Marseille University (AMU)

    NASA/Spitzer Infrared Telescope

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Imagine a place where the weather forecast is always the same: scorching temperatures, relentlessly sunny, and with absolutely zero chance of rain. This hellish scenario exists on the permanent daysides of a type of planet found outside our solar system dubbed an “ultrahot Jupiter.” These worlds orbit extremely close to their stars, with one side of the planet permanently facing the star.

    What has puzzled scientists is why water vapor appears to be missing from the toasty worlds’ atmospheres, when it is abundant in similar but slightly cooler planets. Observations of ultrahot Jupiters by NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, combined with computer simulations, have served as a springboard for a new theoretical study that may have solved this mystery.

    According to the new study, ultrahot Jupiters do in fact possess the ingredients for water (hydrogen and oxygen atoms). But due to strong irradiation on the planet’s daysides, temperatures there get so intense that water molecules are completely torn apart.

    “The daysides of these worlds are furnaces that look more like a stellar atmosphere than a planetary atmosphere,” said Vivien Parmentier, an astrophysicist at Aix Marseille University in France and lead author of the new study. “In this way, ultrahot Jupiters stretch out what we think planets should look like.”

    While telescopes like Spitzer and Hubble can gather some information about the daysides of ultrahot Jupiters, the nightsides are difficult for current instruments to probe. The new paper proposes a model for what might be happening on both the illuminated and dark sides of these planets, based largely on observations and analysis of the ultrahot Jupiter known as WASP-121b, and from three recently published studies, coauthored by Parmentier, that focus on the ultrahot Jupiters WASP-103b, WASP-18b and HAT-P-7b, respectively. The new study suggests that fierce winds may blow the sundered water molecules into the planets’ nightside hemispheres. On the cooler, dark side of the planet, the atoms can recombine into molecules and condense into clouds, all before drifting back into the dayside to be splintered again.

    Water is not the only molecule that may undergo a cycle of chemical reincarnation on these planets, according to the new study. Previous detections of clouds by Hubble at the boundary between day and night, where temperatures mercifully fall, have shown that titanium oxide (popular as a sunscreen) and aluminum oxide (the basis for ruby, the gemstone) could also be molecularly reborn on the ultrahot Jupiters’ nightsides. These materials might even form clouds and rain down as liquid metals and fluidic rubies.

    Star-planet hybrids

    Among the growing catalog of planets outside our solar system — known as exoplanets — ultrahot Jupiters have stood out as a distinct class for about a decade. Found in orbits far closer to their host stars than Mercury is to our Sun, the giant planets are tidally locked, meaning the same hemisphere always faces the star, just as the Moon always presents the same side to Earth. As a result, ultrahot Jupiters’ daysides broil in a perpetual high noon. Meanwhile, their opposite hemispheres are gripped by endless nights. Dayside temperatures reach between 3,600 and 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 and 3,000 degrees Celsius), ranking ultrahot Jupiters among the hottest exoplanets on record. Nightside temperatures are around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit cooler (1,000 degrees Celsius), cold enough for water to re-form and, along with other molecules, coalesce into clouds.

    Hot Jupiters, cousins to ultrahot Jupiters with dayside temperatures below 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 Celsius), were the first widely discovered type of exoplanet, starting back in the mid-1990s. Water has turned out to be common in their atmospheres. One hypothesis for why it appeared absent in ultrahot Jupiters has been that these planets must have formed with very high levels of carbon instead of oxygen. Yet the authors of the new study say this idea could not explain the traces of water also sometimes detected at the dayside-nightside boundary.

    To break the logjam, Parmentier and colleagues took a cue from well-established physical models of the atmospheres of stars, as well as “failed stars,” known as brown dwarfs, whose properties overlap somewhat with hot and ultrahot Jupiters. Parmentier adapted a brown dwarf model developed by Mark Marley, one of the paper’s coauthors and a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, to the case of ultrahot Jupiters. Treating the atmospheres of ultrahot Jupiters more like blazing stars than conventionally colder planets offered a way to make sense of the Spitzer and Hubble observations.

    “With these studies, we are bringing some of the century-old knowledge gained from studying the astrophysics of stars, to the new field of investigating exoplanetary atmospheres,” said Parmentier.

    Spitzer’s observations in infrared light zeroed in on carbon monoxide in the ultrahot Jupiters’ atmospheres. The atoms in carbon monoxide form an extremely strong bond that can uniquely withstand the thermal and radiational assault on the daysides of these planets. The brightness of the hardy carbon monoxide revealed that the planets’ atmospheres burn hotter higher up than deeper down. Parmentier said verifying this temperature difference was key for vetting Hubble’s no-water result, because a uniform atmosphere can also mask the signatures of water molecules.

    “These results are just the most recent example of Spitzer being used for exoplanet science — something that was not part of its original science manifest,” said Michael Werner, project scientist for Spitzer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “In addition, it’s always heartening to see what we can discover when scientists combine the power of Hubble and Spitzer, two of NASA’s Great Observatories.”

    Although the new model adequately described many ultrahot Jupiters on the books, some outliers do remain, suggesting that additional aspects of these worlds’ atmospheres still need to be understood. Those exoplanets not fitting the mold could have exotic chemical compositions or unanticipated heat and circulation patterns. Prior studies have argued that there is a more significant amount of water in the dayside atmosphere of WASP-121b than what is apparent from observations, because most of the signal from the water is obscured. The new paper provides an alternative explanation for the smaller-than-expected water signal, but more studies will be required to better understand the nature of these ultrahot atmospheres.

    Resolving this dilemma could be a task for NASA’s next-generation James Webb Space Telescope, slated for a 2021 launch. Parmentier and colleagues expect it will be powerful enough to glean new details about the daysides, as well as confirm that the missing dayside water and other molecules of interest have gone to the planets’ nightsides.

    “We now know that ultrahot Jupiters exhibit chemical behavior that is different and more complex than their cooler cousins, the hot Jupiters,” said Parmentier. “The studies of exoplanet atmospheres is still really in its infancy and we have so much to learn.”

    The new study is forthcoming in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at IPAC at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Hubble. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations.

    Further information from
    mwatzke@cfa.harvard.edu

    The Kreidberg et al. paper reports observations of the ultra-hot Jupiter WASP-103b by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Spitzer Space Telescope. The researchers estimate the dayside temperature of the planet is 4800 degrees Fahrenheit (2700 degrees Celsius) making it one of the hottest exoplanets known. The nightside temperature of the planet is much cooler, at 2900 degrees Fahrenheit (1600 degrees Celsius).

    Unlike the case for cooler hot Jupiters, Kreidberg and collaborators do not detect any sign of water vapor in WASP-103b using Hubble data. As explained in papers led by Vivien Parmentier, Jacob Arcangeli and Megan Mansfield, and the JPL press release, the water is being torn apart by radiation from the planet’s host star. However, Kreidberg and collaborators do detect evidence for carbon monoxide on the dayside of WASP-103b using Spitzer data. This is a much hardier molecule than water.

    They also detect evidence for a temperature inversion, formed by the same mechanism as temperature inversions on the Earth. In both planets this effect is caused by ultraviolet radiation being absorbed in the upper atmosphere, causing it to become hotter. In the case of Earth, ozone is the molecule most responsible for the absorption, while in the case of WASP-103b sodium might be responsible or perhaps exotic molecules like titanium or vanadium oxides.

    A crucial observational advance by Kreidberg and her team was that they observed the planet for an entire orbit, enabling them to map the climate at every longitude and derive detailed information about the temperatures on the planet’s dayside and nightside. This is only the second time that such a complete exoplanet observation has been performed with HST.

    Kreidberg and collaborators also use modeling of the WASP-103b data to estimate the magnetic field of the planet. They estimate that the magnetic field is about twice that of the Earth and half that of Jupiter.

    “WASP-103b is unlike anything in our Solar System”, said Kreidberg. “It orbits right next to its parent star — less than 2 million miles, 20 times closer than Mercury is to the Sun. The planet completes a full orbit (its “year”) every 22 hours, and the strong pull of its star’s gravity distorts it into an egg-like shape. It’s heated up on the permanent hot dayside to 4800 degrees F, which is hotter than many stars. You definitely wouldn’t want to live there! And yet in some ways, the planet isn’t so exotic — we found that it has a thermal inversion in its atmosphere that formed in a very similar way as the stratosphere on Earth. It serves as a reminder that even on the most unwelcoming of extrasolar worlds, they’re still subject to the same laws of physics and chemistry that we abide by here on Earth.”

    The Kreidberg et al. paper is available online at https://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1805.00029 and has been published in The Astronomical Journal.

    Other papers included in the JPL press release are:

    • Mansfield et al: https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.00424 and published in The Astronomical Journal: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/aac497/pdf
    • Parmentier et al: https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.00096 and published in Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Arcangeli et al: https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.02489 and published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aab272/pdf

    Contact information for Dr Laura Kreidberg:
    laura.kreidberg@cfa.harvard.edu
    775-233-7497

    Contact information for Professor Avi Loeb:
    aloeb@cfa.harvard.edu
    617-913-5598

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 6:22 pm on December 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Ames, NASA has selected nine university teams to collaborate on the development and demonstration of new technologies and capabilities for small spacecraft   

    From NASA Ames: “NASA Selects University Partners for Small Spacecraft Collaboration” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    Dec. 4, 2017
    Editor: Loura Hall

    1
    CSUNSat1, designed by California State University, Northridge in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was awarded Smallsat Technology Partnership funding in 2013. The 2U CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station in May 2017 and successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of JPL’s energy storage system that is targeted to help small spacecraft explore deep space in extremely cold temperatures. Credits: California State University, Northridge

    NASA has selected nine university teams to collaborate on the development and demonstration of new technologies and capabilities for small spacecraft. Beginning this winter, each university team will work with NASA engineers and scientists on two-year projects.

    These collaborations are directed toward making small spacecraft, some of which weigh only a few pounds, into powerful and affordable tools for science and exploration missions. This is the fourth round of projects selected under the Smallsat Technology Partnerships initiative, managed by the Small Spacecraft Technology program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

    “U.S. universities are great partners for space technology research and development and this may be especially true with small spacecraft,” said Chris Baker, the Small Spacecraft Technology program executive. “The ability for educational institutions to take technology from the laboratory to orbit with low cost small spacecraft provides an immense source of innovation and fresh perspective in the development of new space capabilities.”

    Proposals were requested in three topic areas: instrument technologies for small spacecraft; technologies that enable large swarms of small spacecraft; and technologies that enable deep space small spacecraft missions.

    The selected project teams will have the opportunity to establish a cooperative agreement with NASA, through which each university will be funded up to $200,000 per year. As part of the agreement, researchers and technologists from NASA’s centers across the country will collaborate in the project work.

    The following university teams were selected from a highly competitive pool of proposals:

    “Active Thermal Architecture for Cryogenic Optical Instruments,” Utah State University in Logan, collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California

    This award will develop a system-level thermal control solution for electro-optical instrumentation on 6U and larger CubeSats. Building on prior work, this current effort will produce a proto-flight unit thermal system with an additively manufactured deployable radiator, vibration isolation for the cooled detector, and the required mechanisms and elements for deploying the actively controlled radiator.

    “SPRINT: Scheduling Planning Routing Intersatellite Network Tool,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, collaborating with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley

    This award will develop a software tool that schedules satellite observations, intersatellite crosslink communications, and downlink activities to enable large constellations of hundreds of resource-constrained small satellites for scientific observation. At completion of the effort, the software will be delivered as a complete open-source package.

    “High SPecific-impulse Electrospray Explorer for Deep-space (HiSPEED),” Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaborating with JPL

    This award will address the current life limitations of developing a staged system that will eject degraded thruster heads, revealing new thruster heads beneath. The thruster heads are currently the life-limiting component of the system and staging multiple thruster heads may be a low-cost way to extend the life of the overall thruster.

    “Autonomous Nanosatellite Swarming using Radio Frequency and Optical Navigation,” Stanford University, California, collaborating with NASA’s Ames Research Center

    This effort integrates novel dynamics, guidance, navigation, and control algorithms to overcome current limitations for autonomous operations in the vicinity of near-Earth objects (NEOs). The algorithms developed will enable autonomous fuel-optimal operations for a swarm of spacecraft and onboard characterization of NEO shape, gravity, and dynamical properties while remaining compatible with commercial-off-the-shelf CubeSat systems.

    “Application of Machine-learning Algorithms for On-board Asteroid Shape Model Determination and Spacecraft Navigation,” University of Arizona in Tucson, collaborating with Michigan State University in East Lansing, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    This effort is designed to address challenges associated with navigation around asteroids and precision targeting of asteroid surface locations for sample collection by applying natural cognitive algorithms (commonly referred to as machine learning) to perform on-board image processing and shape model generation of asteroids.

    “Move to Talk, Talk to Move: Tightly Integrated Communication and Controls for Coordinated Swarms of Small Spacecraft,” Colorado School of Mines in Golden, collaborating with JPL

    This effort will develop and evaluate algorithms for dynamic spacecraft networking and network-aware coordination of dissimilar multi-spacecraft swarms and sub-swarm ensembles for distributed data collection around small-bodies or other targets of interest. An integrated prototype system using a swarm of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones will be tested in an underground mine to evaluate the algorithms in a challenging wireless network environment.

    “Enabling Deep Space SmallSat Missions using Magnetoshell Aerocapture,” University of Washington in Seattle, collaborating with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia

    This effort builds off of a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts study exploring a technology that can enable aerocapture and orbit insertion using magnetic fields and plasma instead of a physical decelerator. Magnetoshell aerocapture could be enabling for interplanetary small spacecraft missions where the size and weight constraints of low-cost small spacecraft can prohibit the carriage of sufficient propellant, physical aeroshell or other deceleration devices for orbital insertion, braking, or atmospheric entry.

    “Distributed Attitude Control and Maneuvering for Deep Space SmallSats,” Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, collaborating with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama

    This award will further develop a film-evaporation micro-scale thruster that uses water as a propellant for precision pointing and attitude control of small spacecraft and deployable structures.

    “Milli-Arcsecond (MAS) Imaging with Smallsat-Enabled Super-resolution,” University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, collaborating with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    This award will conduct laboratory testing of novel computational diffractive optical sensing and advanced image processing that makes use of small satellite formation flying to enable extremely high-resolution imaging capability that is otherwise unattainable with conventional approaches.

    “These partnerships between the university community and NASA help cultivate the rapid, agile and cost-conscious small spacecraft approaches that are evolving in the university community, as well as increase support to university efforts and foster a new generation of innovators for NASA and the nation.” said Jim Cockrell the Small Spacecraft Technology program chief technologist.

    Managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, the Small Spacecraft Technology program expands U.S. capability to execute unique and more affordable missions through rapid development and in-space demonstration of capabilities for small spacecraft that are applicable to exploration, science, and the commercial space sector. The program enables new mission architectures through the use of small spacecraft while seeking to expand the reach of small spacecraft to new destinations and challenging new environments.

    For more information about the Small Spacecraft Technology program, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/small_spacecraft

    For more information about NASA’s small satellite activities, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 2:41 pm on May 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Ames,   

    NASA Ames: “NASA Selects New Research Teams to Further Solar System Exploration Research” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    March 17, 2017 [How did this slip by me?]
    Kimberly Williams
    Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley
    650-604-2457
    kimberly.k.williams@nasa.gov

    1
    No image caption or credit

    In an effort to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system through scientific discovery, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute or SSERVI. The institute fosters collaborations with science and exploration communities, which enables cross-disciplinary partnerships with research institutions, both domestic and abroad.

    NASA has selected four new research teams to join the existing nine teams in SSERVI to address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners.

    “We look forward to collaborative scientific discoveries from these teams,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These results will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans.”

    SSERVI members include academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. The new teams – which SSERVI will support for five years at a combined total of about $3-5 million per year – were selected from a pool of 22 proposals based on competitive peer-review evaluation.

    The selected SSERVI member teams, listed with their principal investigators and research topics, are:

    Network for Exploration and Space Science (NESS); Jack Burns, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. NESS will implement cross-disciplinary partnerships to advance scientific discovery and human exploration at target destinations by conducting research in robotics, cosmology, astrophysics and heliophysics that is uniquely enabled by human and robotic exploration at the moon, near-Earth asteroids and comets, and Phobos and Deimos.

    Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX); Amanda Hendrix, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. TREX aims to develop tools and research methods for exploration of airless bodies, like the moon and asteroids, that are coated in fine-grained dust in order to prepare for human missions. Laboratory spectral measurements and experiments will accompany studies of existing datasets to understand surface characteristics and to investigate potential resources on airless bodies.

    Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces (REVEALS); Thomas Orlando, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. The REVEALS team will explore radiation processing of natural regolith and human-made composite materials to understand the condensed-matter physics and radiation chemistry that can lead to volatile formation, sequestration and transport. This team also will explore how novel materials and real-time radiation detectors can minimize risks and exposure to dangerous radiation during human exploration missions.

    Exploration Science Pathfinder Research for Enhancing Solar System Observations (ESPRESSO); Alex Parker, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. Team ESPRESSO will focus on characterizing target surfaces and mitigating hazards that create risk for robotic and human explorers. It will work to assess the geotechnical and thermomechanical properties of target body surfaces to help us understand and predict hazards like landslides, and to improve our understanding of impact ejecta dynamics.

    “We are extremely pleased that the community responded with such high-quality proposals, and look forward to the many contributions SSERVI will make in addressing NASA’s science and exploration goals,” said SSERVI Director Yvonne Pendleton.

    The SSERVI central office, located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, is funded by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and manages national and international collaborative partnerships, designed to push the boundaries of science and exploration.

    For more information about SSERVI and selected member teams, visit:

    http://sservi.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 10:33 am on March 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , NASA Ames, , Sardines in Space   

    From astrobites: “Sardines in Space: The Intensely Densely-Packed Planets Orbiting Kepler-11” 

    Astrobites bloc

    Astrobites

    Title: A Closely-Packed System of Low-Mass, Low-Density Planets Transiting Kepler-11
    Authors: Jack J. Lissauer, Daniel C. Fabrycky, Eric B. Ford, et al.
    Lead Author’s Institution: NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, 94035, USA

    Status: Published in Nature 2011 [open access]

    The dawn of the Kepler Space Telescope data has unearthed a treasure trove of new and unusual celestial objects. Among these new discoveries is the planetary system Kepler-11. The system contains six transiting planets that are packed incredibly close around the Sun-like star, much like sardines are packed very closely in cans. The first five of these planets fall within the orbit of Mercury, and the sixth one falls well within the orbit of Venus. Few systems like this have been discovered; most planetary systems have a much larger separation between the planets, yet this system has its planets arranged in an extremely packed, yet extraordinarily still stable, way.

    1
    Figure 1: This figure from the NASA website is a visual representation of the Kepler-11 system, overlaid with the orbits of Mercury and Venus.

    When a single planet orbits a star, its period follows Kepler’s Laws to a tee; however, when other planets are introduced in the system, the orbiting bodies tend to perturb each other’s orbits. Their periods differ slightly according to the gravitational perturbations, and this variation is called a transit timing variation (TTV). Since Kepler-11 has five planets orbiting in extreme proximity to one another, it is the perfect illustration of measurements from transit-timing variations.


    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    The photometric Kepler data marked the discovery of this system. The transits for each of the planets appeared separately in the light curve of the system. The light curve is just a measurement of the brightness of the star over time, so when a planet passes in front of the star, the brightness decreases, causing the dip in the light curve. The shape varies with each planet based on differences in size of the planet and orbital radius. From this data, it is possible to measure the radius of the transiting planet. This team followed up their photometric data with spectroscopic analysis from the Keck I telescope. This additional data allowed for the precise measurements of transit-timing variations, which yielded mass measurements for the inner five planets.

    For the first five planets, the TTVs were successfully measured, and with this information, the research team found the densities of the inner five planets, which yielded a surprising result. These planets, despite being densely packed, are not made of very dense material. Kepler-11b is both closest to the Sun and densest, but only with an overall density of 3.31 g/cm3. For comparison, Earth has an overall density of about 5.5 g/cm3. The densities of the planets orbiting Kepler-11 are depicted in Figure 2.

    2
    Figure 2: This shows the mass versus radius of the planets in the Kepler-11 system. The planets orbiting Kepler-11 are represented by the filled in circles. The other marking on the graph indicate planets in our solar system, shown for comparison. Figure 5 from today’s paper.

    While transit timing variations worked like a charm for the inner five planets, the sixth planet (Kepler-11g) was too distant from the others for this method to work well, so to confirm this planet, another method was employed. This team used several simulations to rule out alternate scenarios, which include chance alignment of the Kepler-11 system with and eclipsing star or with another star-planet system. This analysis successfully confirmed Kepler-11g , but because no TTVs could be measured for this particular planet, its mass and radius remain unknown.

    Even though this system has been more closely studied than most, the measurements have raised nearly as many questions as they have answered. The inner five have small inclinations and eccentricities, which implies some planetary migration process. However, since the periods of these planets are not in resonance, slow and convergent migration theories—which would naturally force the planets into resonant orbits—seem unlikely to be at play in this system. Formation of such a system is still a bit of a mystery. After all, such low-density planets are unusual and do not completely fit within the current understanding of planet formation.

    Kepler-11 continues to be one of the more intriguing planetary systems discovered, and its formation is not fully understood. Even though this system has been more closely studied than most, the measurements have raised nearly as many questions as they have answered. Systems like this extend our understanding of astrophysics, perhaps in a bit of an unexpected way; these closely packed planets have so much more to teach us about their system formation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    What do we do?

    Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
    Why read Astrobites?

    Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
    Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:40 pm on March 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Ames,   

    From NASA Ames: “NASA Selects New Research Teams to Further Solar System Exploration Research” 

    NASA Ames Icon

    March 17, 2017
    Kimberly Williams
    Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley
    650-604-2457
    kimberly.k.williams@nasa.gov

    1
    No image credit

    In an effort to advance basic and applied research for lunar and planetary science, and advance human exploration of the solar system through scientific discovery, NASA created the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute or SSERVI. The institute fosters collaborations with science and exploration communities, which enables cross-disciplinary partnerships with research institutions, both domestic and abroad.

    NASA has selected four new research teams to join the existing nine teams in SSERVI to address scientific questions about the moon, near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and their near space environments, in cooperation with international partners.

    “We look forward to collaborative scientific discoveries from these teams,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These results will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans.”

    SSERVI members include academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. The new teams – which SSERVI will support for five years at a combined total of about $3-5 million per year – were selected from a pool of 22 proposals based on competitive peer-review evaluation.

    The selected SSERVI member teams, listed with their principal investigators and research topics, are:

    Network for Exploration and Space Science (NESS); Jack Burns, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. NESS will implement cross-disciplinary partnerships to advance scientific discovery and human exploration at target destinations by conducting research in robotics, cosmology, astrophysics and heliophysics that is uniquely enabled by human and robotic exploration at the moon, near-Earth asteroids and comets, and Phobos and Deimos.

    Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX); Amanda Hendrix, Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. TREX aims to develop tools and research methods for exploration of airless bodies, like the moon and asteroids, that are coated in fine-grained dust in order to prepare for human missions. Laboratory spectral measurements and experiments will accompany studies of existing datasets to understand surface characteristics and to investigate potential resources on airless bodies.

    Radiation Effects on Volatiles and Exploration of Asteroids and Lunar Surfaces (REVEALS); Thomas Orlando, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia. The REVEALS team will explore radiation processing of natural regolith and human-made composite materials to understand the condensed-matter physics and radiation chemistry that can lead to volatile formation, sequestration and transport. This team also will explore how novel materials and real-time radiation detectors can minimize risks and exposure to dangerous radiation during human exploration missions.

    Exploration Science Pathfinder Research for Enhancing Solar System Observations (ESPRESSO); Alex Parker, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. Team ESPRESSO will focus on characterizing target surfaces and mitigating hazards that create risk for robotic and human explorers. It will work to assess the geotechnical and thermomechanical properties of target body surfaces to help us understand and predict hazards like landslides, and to improve our understanding of impact ejecta dynamics.

    “We are extremely pleased that the community responded with such high-quality proposals, and look forward to the many contributions SSERVI will make in addressing NASA’s science and exploration goals,” said SSERVI Director Yvonne Pendleton.

    The SSERVI central office, located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, is funded by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and manages national and international collaborative partnerships, designed to push the boundaries of science and exploration.

    For more information about SSERVI and selected member teams, visit:

    http://sservi.nasa.gov

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ames Research Center, one of 10 NASA field Centers, is located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. For over 60 years, Ames has led NASA in conducting world-class research and development. With 2500 employees and an annual budget of $900 million, Ames provides NASA with advancements in:
    Entry systems: Safely delivering spacecraft to Earth & other celestial bodies
    Supercomputing: Enabling NASA’s advanced modeling and simulation
    NextGen air transportation: Transforming the way we fly
    Airborne science: Examining our own world & beyond from the sky
    Low-cost missions: Enabling high value science to low Earth orbit & the moon
    Biology & astrobiology: Understanding life on Earth — and in space
    Exoplanets: Finding worlds beyond our own
    Autonomy & robotics: Complementing humans in space
    Lunar science: Rediscovering our moon
    Human factors: Advancing human-technology interaction for NASA missions
    Wind tunnels: Testing on the ground before you take to the sky

    NASA image

     
  • richardmitnick 8:02 pm on October 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA Ames, ,   

    From SETI and UNLV: “A New Species of Planetary System” 

    SETI Logo new
    SETI Institute

    1

    UNLV

    Oct 11, 2016
    Shane Bevell

    2
    Artist’s rendition of a hot Earth-sized planet. (Courtesy of NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

    Using the most recent results from the Kepler space telescope, scientists from UNLV and the SETI Institute, which searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, have identified a new kind of planetary system.

    UNLV astrophysicist Jason Steffen and SETI scientist Jeffrey Coughlin have shown that there must be a population of planetary systems whose formation or dynamical history are distinct from their counterparts across the galaxy. The results of their study, A Population of Planetary Systems Characterized by Short-period, Earth-sized Planets, will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The key feature of these systems is an isolated, very hot, rocky planet.

    “We’ve shown that a large fraction of systems with hot earths can’t have the same makeup as other planetary systems discovered so far,” Steffen said. “They aren’t like the solar system, they aren’t like most Kepler systems, and they aren’t false positives.”

    Hot Jupiters

    The best analogy, he indicated, is the population of hot jupiters — giant planets on three-day orbits that dominated the initial discoveries in the field two decades ago. Hot jupiter systems are widely viewed as having had a major difference in their formation and evolutionary past compared with other systems, and a variety of theories have been put forward to explain their origins. The number of hot earth systems is similar in number to the hot jupiters and may yield a similar advancement in our understanding of the processes involved in making planets.

    To identify this new group of planets, Steffen and Coughlin relied on the process of elimination. Starting with a sample of about 150 hot earth systems, they systematically tallied the number that could be from known origins – eclipsing binary stars, noise in the data, “typical” planetary systems, and other sources.

    “When we were done counting,” said Coughlin, “we still had about 20 percent that were left over — at least one in six of these systems has a different story to tell.”

    Prevailing Theories

    The scientists noted a few existing theories that may explain the origins of these systems. They may be the leftover planet cores of hot jupiters, where the giant planet lost its large atmosphere to the central star. They may be the consequence of interactions between the planets and the last vestiges of the gas disk from which they formed. They may result from strong dynamical interactions from a newly formed system where the planet’s orbit eventually passes very close to the central star and is captured as its orbital energy is dissipated through tides. Or, they could come from some other process not yet considered.

    While the origin of these systems is not known, more information about them should be forthcoming. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which is slated for launch within the next few years, should find many similar systems that can be studied in more detail using ground-based instruments.

    NASA/TESS
    NASA/TESS

    (Kepler targets are often too dim for such follow-up observations). As scientists learn more about these systems, the information gathered should provide additional clues to their past, and help researchers better understand how unique our own solar system is, or isn’t.

    “We are hopeful that this, and future studies, will steer us toward a more complete picture of how planets form and how the systems then evolve.” said Steffen. “Finding and understanding different planetary systems can tell us a lot about our own origins and how we fit into that picture.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: